Cool Stuff on Saturday, Cool Stuff for Sunday

Saturday, Fellowship Church is hosting this barbecue.

There will be free bugers and music and this ridiculously huge easter egg hunt. 

On top of this enormous undertaking, we are serving the community somewhere every single day this week through our unbelievable small groups.

And as if this weren’t enough, tomorrow, before the festivities, will be a work day focused on the church itself.

Good people with busy schedules and strapped resources have put an almost decadent amount of time, treasure, and talent into all this.

Through out the planning and implementation of all this, leadership has kept all of on a really clear vision: reaching out to the community with hope.  We’re not trying to trick people into coming to church.  We’re not trying to bait-and-switch: you think you’re getting a burger, but then you have to listen to a sermon to get it.   Church leadership has had to keep even my own liberal post-modern self focused on the importance of what we’re doing.

Despite the fact that I’ve had a few flirtations with heading in the wrong direction, there is something that has apealed to me, at a gut level about all this: Reaching out with hope at Easter time.

Tonight, I had it all put into words.  I was reading “Surprised by Hope” (If you’re sick of reading me blog about the book hang in there: I’m almost done.) 

Firstly, he says some amazing things about how out-of-balance Lent is with Easter.  Forty days of going without something, forty days of somber reflections, forty days of despair… And then one day of celebration?  No wonder people people don’t see what we have as good news!  He goes on:

“If Lent is a time to give things up, then Easter ought to be a time to take things up… Christian holiness was never meant to be merely negative… If Calvary means putting to death things in your life that need killing off… then Easter should mean planting, watering, and training things up in your life… The forty days of the Easter season ought to balance out Lent by taking something up, some new task or venture, something wholesome and fruitfull and self-giving.  You may be able to do it only for six weeks, just as you may be able to only go without beer or tobacco only for the six weeks of Lent.”

And so I find myself wondering: what will my new task or venture be?  What am I going to take up for Easter? 

Will you join me?  Perhaps even inspire me?  What will you take up for Easter?

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

5 thoughts on “Cool Stuff on Saturday, Cool Stuff for Sunday”

  1. Garret, you have a rather Jesus-like ability to use questions in a dizzying range of ways. Thanks for using those questions to get me to be more specific.

    It seems to me that abstention, reflection, negation are necessary steps to being Christ-like. But they aren’t enough. Eventually, if we were super-lent celebrators, we’d be empty, blank, nothing. Some of the Buddhists can live with this nihlism. I think, we as Christians, can’t.

    This idea could certainly perverted into a post-easter Mardi Gras, where we engage in all the bad things that we denied ourselves. We, in short, eat all the cake we missed out on…
    If we did this, the sum total of our change is zero. We still ate the same amount of cake. Probably worse than the fact, though, that we effected no change is the fact that we’re still operating from a book keeping mentality, where it’s all about adding up all the good stuff, subtracting all the bad stuff, and thinking that heaven is for the people who end up with a positive balance.

    I tried to make this example work with cake, since you brought it up. But it sounded sillier. It works better with alchohol or cigerettes, though, so let’s go with those:
    I think it would be a good thing for some people to give up alchohol for lent. I have in mind somebody who maybe has a couple drinks a week after work. I’m not thinking about an alchoholic. Nor am I thinking about somebody who only drinks once in a blue moon. I think the holy spirit will lead us into the truth of what we should give up. I can imagine that for some people, this would be booze.
    Now, for 40 days, this person hasn’t been drinking. This means that they have been healthier. They have slept better. They’ve got a little more energy. A little bit healtheir relationships. A little more time on their hands, because the time they would have been drinking, they could have used it for something more productive. They have leaned on God more for stress release, hopefully, rather than just bottling up the frustration that would have been “dealt with” through the beer. They’ve even saved some money.

    At best, they’ve only reaped half the harvest that God offered if they return to their normal life. If the extra money goes to cigerrettes instead of booze, what was the point? If the extra time goes into removing our brains via TV rather than alchohol, why bother? If the potential for increased relationship with our family or are savoir was squandered, what was it all for?

    I guess I’m calling for a reinvestment of the profits reaped at Lent. Clearly, we shouldn’t enter into lent with this profit motive in mind. But I can’t think of many things that we’d be called to give up that didn’t we weren’t made better people by giving up.

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  2. Here’s another spin on the topic. I suppose it might be more dangerous in that it’s a little harder to be honest with yourself about this one, but I don’t think that totally invalidates it.

    I think a lot of Lenten observance is like a communal attempt for individuals to break habits. I think that can be a holy endeavour–it can also be like New Year’s resolutions, that are more about “shoulds” (and often failure) than about talking with God about how He wants to recreate your life–allowing Him to put His finger on the thing I need to give up.

    But I think the “giving up” of Lent can also, or instead (depending on the circumstance) be a spiritual “re-set” button, where we aren’t giving up something we think we shouldn’t have or be doing, but where we are temporarily setting something important aside so that we can gain God’s perspective on it. This can be with openness to the idea that we will take up that very same thing at Easter, but that thing transformed for us by distance and meditation and a new perspective, and ideally by God’s bearing it for us and living in our interaction with it.

    Sometimes Lent/Easter needs to be about putting off the old and taking on the new. Sometimes, though, I think it’s about putting something to death so that God can resurrect it.

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  3. To put it quite simply; The Resurrection of Jesus Christ has absolutely nothing to do with what we give up for Lent (or any other so-called religious servitude).

    The Resurrection is everything to do with what God gave up! Namely, His precious, dear Son, Jesus Christ.

    So, in summation:

    Now (the time between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday) would be a great time to focus, not on what we do, but on what He DID!

    Once we get to Sunday we can see the true hope that is in Christ Jesus.

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  4. Jenn:
    I think you’re absolutely right. It seems to me that we might even set aside things temporarily that we couldn’t possibly set aside forever, (such as food when we fast) to set that spiritual reset button, and to get God’s perspective on it.

    Bobbo-
    I certainly didn’t mean to imply that Easter is about anything other than Jesus’ resseruction. I’d be interested to hear what portions of this discussion lead you to believe this was my position.
    For many of us, though, sacrificing in our own lives is a great object lesson in helping an understanding really penetrate us regarding “What He DID.” Certainly our little sacrfices can be turned into idols. Unquestioningly, we can pervert the focus of these things.

    Jesus was obviously and clearly not talking about lent. But he did quite specifically adress the question of fasting, and people who try to focus attention on themselves by groaning and walking around unkempt.
    He did not say “Since some people will abuse the spiritual practice of fasting by stealing attention from me, we should all give up on fasting entirely.”
    He simply said “Don’t get your attention wrong-headed. Continue to fast, but do it the right way.”
    While I would agree that he was most clearly and specifically talking about food, he was also most clearly talking to people who lived in a world where they thought they needed less than us because they had so much less. I don’t think it is at all a stretch to imagine if Jesus walked among us today He would recognize our false sense of dependence on dozens of things in addition to food.

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