Sunday, December 16, 2007
As the people gathered and began to mingle a sense of family began to emerge. People who would never have spoken to one another in other circumstances began to talk. Generations were mingling. New members began engaging in serious dialogs with elders leaders and others. This was an atmosphere I had not experienced here in a long time.
This church has gone through a lot of heartache over the last few years. I don’t want to get into the details of all the drama, but the life, which once caused the church to grow and flourish, had become dim and the heart of the people has become callused in many ways.
This morning, however, in the unexpected, and uncalculated intervention of the weather it seemed the congregation had been hoodwinked into becoming a family again. And in the after-math of hope I feel I want to give a few reflections on church, life, and high school.
When I first entered high school I remember the feeling of complete inadequacy I felt. Everyone seemed so much cooler and had it more together. I remember how I often shifted friends, style, and look so that I could emulate those who I felt were cooler them me, the peoples whose lives I waned to emulate.
But then I realized the most important lesson of high school. The lesson EVERY high school student discovers. The primary thing high school is there to help you learn.
YOU ARE NOT COOL
No one is. Cool is an illusion. What I also discovered, which was equally important, was who I was. And it turned out I was an amazing person! People liked me. People followed me, and I found that in being who I was somehow the illusion that I was cool was born.
Dear youth leaders, parents, and teachers,
Please stop trying to be cool. It’s sad. No seriously it makes me throw up a little in my mouth every time I see it.
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS DO NOT LIKE PEOPLE TO TRY TO BE LIKE THEM. THEY LIKE PEOPLE THEY WANT TO TRY TO BE LIKE!
It’s a fact. You know it’s true. STOP LIVING THE LIE!
Dear Pastor, and church leaders,
PEOPLE ARE NOT LOOKING FOR A CHURCH THAT IS TRYING TO BE LIKE ANOTHER CHURCH, OR A MALL, OR A ROCK CONCERT. People want a community they can be a part of.
Don’t get me wrong I respect a job well done. If something shows care in its creation I appreciate it. In fact there are few things that anger me more then a sacrifice of quality for so someone can be lazier or get an extra buck. I like thing that look good. But when aesthetics trumps authenticity all you are putting on is a show.
I love leaders of vision. I long for causes I can fight for. My heart burns for a battle worth fighting, and a cause worth dying for. However in our churches when the congregations Identity is ignored for a single individual or group’s ideas or ideology you will find that when you look back at who is following you no one will be there.
It’s a difficult line to walk. I know I’ve miss-stepped along it so many times! But if we don’t do it we wind up breaking those who get in our way, who don’t fit our aesthetic, or who just don’t believe what we do.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Here in the United States we are constantly manipulated by forces around us to seek Joy in what we do not have. Society tells us true joy lies in the materialism propounded by the barrage of advertisements around us, the American dream foisted upon us by our schools, true love as portrayed by Hollywood, and the fame that fuels the gossip machine. However none of these guarantee a life of Joy anymore then a cup of coffee or an icy sidewalk.
Joy is not something one reaches; it is something someone has. The new iPod does not provide a sustainable Joy; neither does a home, a spouse, or a legacy. Sustainable joy comes from inside rather then outside.
In my life the place in which I have found that joy which sticks with me through the hard times is not in the superfluous acquisition of what I do not have, but a deep love of my God, and a life lived with him. The love of God is beyond words, but even his love does not guarantee joy in my life. In Matthew 13 Jesus shows us an allegory of the message of God’s love reaching people in this story he is paralleled with a sower who throws seed around on many kinds of soil. Some receive it with Joy, but have hearts that allow it to take “root.” God wants into the deepest parts of your life. He doesn’t promise it will be easy or conventional, but he does promise to be with us and with God there is joy.
As the psalmist says: “You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)
Monday, December 10, 2007
Epoch is an attempt to create a forum in which anyone, and everyone has a voice in the dialogue. Unlike most conferences which focus primary on speakers and seminars the focus of Epoch is discussion, and interaction with the topics we will be focusing on.
The focus of discussion will center around two central themes. First is communication. In a world where language has been deconstructed creating new paradigms in history, politics, literature, and scripture where does Jesus fit. With new forms of communication involving facebook, myspace, youtube, and a societal vernacular that is made up of pop-culture references more then a common dialect how can we be effective in communication and speak in authentic meaningful ways to the people around us.
The second topic is authority. In a world saturated with skepticism, and distrust in organized religion. How can we embrace who and what we are without giving up the ability to embrace truth, and other perspectives? Is there the possibility of objectivity? Do the categories we associate ourselves with define us, and how does one deal with the idea of being categorized by others as a Christian, a particular race, gender, or philosophy when there is so much ambiguity surrounding these terms.
Please join us December 27th at the University Lutheran Chapel from 10am to 9pm.
1511 Washtenaw Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
This will hopefully be the first in a series of gatherings that will allow us to engage in the issues that touch us the strongest in an honest, open, and interactive way. It is open to anyone who is a senior in high school, a senior citizen, and anyone in between.
For more info check out the web page here