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Showing posts from June, 2009

Life in Greencastle - Work, Play, Worship

I remember sitting in class on the third floor of an older building in Pasadena about five years ago. The windows were open behind me and the sun’s perpetual rays fell on my shoulders. Outside were the sounds of the city: the garbage trucks and whir of traffic. But, my attention was neither on the traffic nor endless summer. I was focused on my professor as he talked about living well.

"There are three rhythms of life. Play, work and worship. And when we are living well, we do all three things well: we play at our play, we work at our work, and we worship God."

I think that is true for individuals just as it is for whole communities. Individually, it is important to find rhythms of recreation, just as it is important to find time for good work and time to honor something bigger than just "I". I think that's also true for us as a community, as a church. We need a balance of work, play and worship because we become less than human when we lose any of t…

Life in Greencastle - Young and Old

As I step out of my office I feel like Max in Where the Wild Things Are for the entire church has become a jungle with trees all around. And just like the book, the wilderness continues to grow. Above our kitchen in the fellowship hall a mighty bear stares out upon us like medieval times. The sanctuary is full of park vista scenes and tents. And, yes, the children of Round Barn Daycare play the role of the wild things perfectly - "showing their terrible claws" until myself or Ms. January tame them.

Yes, we are about to enter the week of Vacation Bible School, and last night Susan Lorimer, Sue Resner, Mary Jane Jones, Megan, Catharine and Carolyn McKee all chipped in to transform our church into a hidden wilderness. I'm sure I've missed many others. But thanks to all of you who are helping - including the many who picked up an item here and an item there (including the kiddie pool for my station! ... you are very brave to give me such access and freedom). And - …

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the Life of Faith

I am preparing today for the sermon on Sunday. And, as we are exploring the meaning of time together we look this week at the teachings of our Lord - specifically his teaching about worry, money, shelter and food. It is these three things (money, shelter and food) that make us feel that we must maximize our time, to use it well, so that we can have security and provision. But, Jesus - conversely - invites us to remember that using our time wisely is not what leads to our security. This is a major thrust of his Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5 & 6).

Dietrich Bonhoeffer comments on Jesus' teachings and adds:

"Fellowship with Jesus and obedience to his commandment come first, and all else follows. Worldly cares are not a part of our discipleship, but distinct and subordinate concerns. Before we start taking thought for our life, our food and clothing, our work and families, we must seek the righteousness of Christ ... Again we have here either a crushing burden, which holds o…

Life in Greencastle - Check-up

"If, then, we desire a simple test of the quality of our spiritual life, a consideration of the tranquility, gentleness and strength with which we deal with the circumstances of our outward life will serve us better than anything that is based on the loftiness of our religious notions, or fervor of our religious feelings. It is a test that can be applied anywhere and at any time. Tranquility, gentleness and strength, carrying us through the changes of weather, the ups and downs of the route, the varied surface of the road; the inequalities of family life, emotional and professional disappointments, the sudden intervention of bad fortune or bad health, the rising and falling of our religious temperature. This is the threefold imprint of the Spirit on the souls surrendered to his great action: Tranquility, gentleness and strength." - Evelyn Underhill, The Spiritual Life

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentlene…

Looking at the Heart of God

"What is the issue that haunts the prophet's soul? It is not a question, but a bitter exclamation: How marvelous is the world that God has created! And how horrible is the world that man has made!" - Abraham Joshua Heschel, The Prophets

This past Sunday some of us ventured through the passion of Jesus Christ. We have been studying Mark's Gospel, and we entered those final scenes leading up to Jesus crucifixion and death.

We talked a great deal about irony - irony being a dissonance or difference between what should be and what is. In this case, the tragic irony of Jesus' humiliation, crucifixion and death is that the religious leaders who should have been the first to herald him as King where the very ones who initiated his humiliation. There is more. There is irony in the way the religious leaders and powerful soldiers mocked and stripped Jesus - cruelly doing the exact opposite of what Jesus deserves. There is the irony that Jesus - the Way, the Truth and t…

Life in Greencastle - Extending Roots

I love being able to see the seasons change in Greencastle and to see the growth of spring. I was with some friends yesterday and they mentioned the same thing. They were appreciating seeing new life in fields and forests. And together we talked about what was coming up in the garden.

Many of you are having similar conversations. You’re watching the tomato plants reach to the sky, giving thanks for the first shoots of the corn coming up in rows, and hoping the rabbits don’t deforest your bean-plants during a nocturnal buffet.

And, even if you don’t have your own garden, you no doubt drive by the fields. You doubtless see the tilled earth even if you don’t see the hidden seeds.

Well, what about those seeds? Jesus, of course, found within them the rhythms of faith and life and discipleship: entering darkness only to emerge with new life (John 12:25). But, I was also reminded of another truth that plants teach us by another man, a philosophy professor named Dallas Willard.

As a good …

Celebration of Discipline

Last night a small group of people - including myself - finished a three month journey together. Our main focus was to help one another become better disciples of Jesus Christ. And, to aid us in our growth we practiced a weekly discipline - some habit or behavior intended to make us more aware of God's activity in our life.

And what I want to tell you is that every single person in the group last night shared how life-giving this journey was. What's more: many people came to discover that practicing our faith does not have to be drudgery and deadening.

For various reasons (some true, some false), spirituality has been associated with most things negative. It is often characterized as strict, boring, drab, dry, serious and harsh. We tend to think of burlap undergarments, piles of ashes and stale bread.

But, in reality true spirituality is the exact opposite of life-killing. True spirituality is life-giving.

"Spirituality is not a pious pose. It is not a 'Thou shalt not'…