Sunday, June 27, 2010

Going Off the Air

As mentioned in a previous post, our church home for the past seven years since moving back to NH is going off the air. That may strike you as a mixed metaphor (a home and a TV broadcast), but confusing images seems suitable. The event is so jangling, so dissonant, that the only way to describe it may well be to compare apples to elephants.

I found myself driving home from work tonite realizing that soon, for the first time in a long time, I'm going to have to think about where, and with whom, I will be worshiping on a Sunday morning. For many people I suppose that an odd choice (I suspect most people don't worry much about what to do on a Sunday morning), but it makes sense when you realize that throughout my adult life my most meaningful relationships have always been found through the churches we attend. Work relationships were good, because I get along with most everyone. But the friendships I formed at church have always been the most important and significant. It has been at church that I formed the most foundational aspects of my identity, and at church that I perform what I believe to be my most important labor outside the work I do with and for my family.

 Tomorrow is the day we throw the going away party.

We will gather for a final worship service, to hear the Word, to share the Meal, to make our offerings together. Then we will gather on a high grassy ridge overlooking the Merrimack Valley and have a picnic. We'll eat, and there will be talking and laughing, likely some crying, and more eating and talking. We are good at talking (and eating), so that also fits.

We have plans to meet again periodically through the summer on Wednesday afternoons, as has been our custom over the past years, but these will not be worship services. That part of our fellowship officially ends tomorrow.

I'm still unsure this is right. I think it is, but feel it isn't, and I don't know quite what to make of that. I have no fear or worry about the future. I am confident that it will turn out all right. I just don't like the way the notes are sounding right now. The chord seems all wrong and I can't sense how the composer will resolve the piece.

I have given some thought to why this is all happening. Stay tuned. Analysis later.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Black Kettles and Ebony Pots

There is no doubt the situation in the Gulf of Mexico is deplorable. Awful. Terrible. Disastrous.

And BP screwed up. Monumentally.


These congressional dog and pony shows make me want to throw up. Documentaries often seem to like talking about how back in the day, hundreds of people would show up for a public hanging. It was great entertainment. Of course, today we don't do that because we are so much more sensitive and civilized than our primitive ancestors of 120 years ago.

Instead we pay actors to pretend to be violent.

And we watch our elected officials publicly and loudly flog the nearest dog they can put their hands on. Millions gather via the glowing screen to see the officials strut and pontificate -- as if they had nothing to do with it.

Here's the problem. BP screwed up, but the oil is on our hands. They were just the delivery boys.

We need to stop being so self-righteous about where our petroleum comes from.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Backwards soduM idnarepO

I suppose I have missed most of a classic blogging opportunity.

Later this month, our church is intentionally closing its doors. The action is not a sudden spur-of-the-moment thing, but the result of much prayer, study and discussion. It has been discussed openly and directly for about 2 years now, and would have made great blog fodder. Such a blog might not have the wide appeal as, say, cooking your way through Julia Child's cookbook, but it still would have been a unique chronicle of an unusual event. Now that we are a few weeks away from our last official worship service, it seems a little late to start. I guess I won't get rich from writing a book about it.

I spent the evening with some good friends planning the last three worship services. As usual the discussion ranged widely, coming back to the task at hand often enough to get the planning done. The problem we faced was very much about how to plan these with the proper focus ( on Jesus, not on our church) and with the proper tone (not telling people what to feel, but going about the business of worshiping God and letting the chips fall where they may).

Although we believe, for a variety of reasons, that this is the right thing to do, it still strikes a false note. It seems things should work out differently, that the Holy Spirit should be pulling some kind of spiritual rabbit out of the ecclesiastical hat right now. It's such an odd thing. Who ever hears about churches closing? It all seems so backwards.

But then...I guess a lot of things God does seem pretty backwards when you think about it. Seems like its just part of the old Modus Operandi. Who am I to argue.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

An Incomplete Manuscript

"What we must notice at this stage is that, both in the Old Testament and in the New, the present suffering of the world – about which the biblical writers knew every bit as much as we do – never makes them falter in their claim that the created world really is the good creation of a good God. They live with the tension. And they don’t do it by imagining that the present created order is a shabby, second-rate kind of thing, perhaps (as in some kinds of Platonism) made by a shabby, second-rate sort of god. They do it by telling a story of what the one creator God has been doing to rescue his beautiful world and to put it to rights. And the story they tell…indicates that the present world really is a signpost to a larger beauty, a deeper truth. It really is the authentic manuscript of one part of a masterpiece. The question is, What is the whole masterpiece like, and how can we begin to hear the music in the way it was intended?

The point of the story is that the masterpiece already exists – in the mind of the composer. At the moment, neither the instruments nor the players are ready to perform it. But when they are, the manuscript we already have – the present world with all its beauty and puzzlement – will turn out to be truly part of it. The deficiencies in the one part we possess will be made good. The things that don’t make sense at the moment will display a harmony and perfection we hadn’t dreamed of. The points at which today the music seems almost perfect, lacking just one small thing, will be completed. That is the promise held out in the story. Just as, in one of the New Testament’s greatest claims, the kingdoms of this world are to become the kingdom of God, so the beauty of this world will be enfolded in the beauty of God – and not just the beauty of God himself, but the beauty which, because God is the creator par excellence, he will create when the present world is rescued, healed, restored and completed."

N.T. Wright in Simply Christian:Why Christianity Makes Sense. Harper Collins hardcover p 47.