Recapping Last Week: Q Conference, Teaching at Gordon, Nepal and Baltimore

I am following the advice in one of those blog help posts on what to write when you don’t know what to write. The advice was write what is on exactly your mind. Well, there’s a lot on my mind and I definitely feel the log jam of thoughts and so I’m recapping my week a bit, tring to avoid rambling and see if it leads to some follow-up posts.

Substitute Taught at Gordon College

I have a good friend adjuncting there and she was looking for a local pastor to talk about discipleship and give an introduction to the missional church which happen to be among my favorite subjects (had she asked for a crash course on fantasy baseball, it would be have been a trifecta!). That class went well and was followed by another discussing the doctrines of heaven, hell and the afterlife with a dozen [Read more…]

The Aaron Hernandez Situation – A Failure of Community?

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I was in our our Teaching Team meeting when my phone alerted that a verdict for the Aaron Hernandez was finally about to be announced. A few minutes later, another alert came through and I could scan the words, “Found Guilty of 1st- degree murder.” My first thought was that it felt like justice was served.

For me, this wasn’t one of those moments where I needed to remember where I was when I heard the news. I did not even feel compelled to interrupt the thought of our meeting with this breaking news. What I was struck by however was who I am often in the room with and the disparity between a guy like Aaron Hernandez and me.

I’ve been following the Aaron Hernandez case since the beginning. I am a Giants fan living in Massachusetts. I cheer against the Patriots (yes, congrats again on your well-deserved Super Bowl win, lucky you didn’t play the Giants though :). I love the drama, the rivalry, the players and the storylines found throughout the NFL. This part of sports culture is quite fun, it’s why we watch and follow.

But there’s another side of sports culture that I resent – the scandals, the criminal violence, and the actions of selfish people that have deluded themselves (and perhaps others) that the rules of society and civility do not apply to them. To be sure, I loath such things in any scenario, whether it be political, or from the entertainment industry or when it’s a church pastor/ministry scandal. In essence, when we hear stories of those who abuse their power, we as a community feel we have been robbed of something.  [Read more…]

Reflecting on Easter 2015

Been thinking about our Easter celebration last week and throughout the week, I have tried to meditate on the hope the resurrection of Jesus brings. Here are a few of my highlights and follow-up thoughts:

– I loved that our new series series unBELIEVEable is about faith and doubt. I loved being part of a church, that creates space for skeptics, seekers, and invites life-long believers to perhaps re-examine hidden corners of their faith.

To be clear, I’m not trying to get people to doubt more as a final destination. The hope is for us to believe and deepen our faith more and more. But I, along with others, believe one of the ways we grown in our faith is by embracing our lingering doubts, exploring new questions and possibilities, confronting our ignorance, our fears our naïveté, our presuppositions and our weak beliefs. In short, exploring our doubts can lead to greater belief. Sometimes a particular doubt may be answered, sometimes it’s tempered, sometimes we find it to be no longer relevant and sometimes it becomes part of the journey.

Doubt is not weakness as some may have implied somewhere along you spiritual journey. Nor is it as I heard in a sermon, the “weak muscles of belief” that simply must be exercised. To remain in [Read more…]

No Mercy on Good Friday and Somehow that is Good

“He did not die for the sake of a good world, he died for the sake of an evil world, not for the pious, but for the godless, not for the just, but for the unjust, for the deliverance, the victory and the joy of all, that they might have life.”   Karl Barth, Good Friday, 1957

I hope you had a beautiful Holy Week. Mine began slow and contemplative then took off quickly.

Among my highlights was spending a bit of time at our church’s Sacred Spaces. It’s a self-guided tour of various stations set up throughout our building for prayer and reflection. It’s hard to get to, even if you do work a few hundred yards away, but it’s so worthwhile. Grateful to the wonderful and talented people that make that happen every year.

Sitting there on Friday, I remembered  one of our planning meetings, when we revisited the question of why Good Friday is called “good?” The Googled answer always points us back to the medieval German [Read more…]

What If Judas Decided to Not Betray Jesus?

Holy Week brings a number of thoughts to the mind. Among them are the various what if scenarios. This past Sunday, Pastor Bryan gave an amazing and forever-memorable monologue from Judas’ perspective. Instantly we find Judas back at the table at the Upper Room, shortly after Jesus is beaten and sentenced to be crucified. We see a bewildered Judas, guilt-ridden, and reteling the accounts from his mind. You can watch/listen to it here.

It’s in these moments that we are reminded the Scriptures can come to life if we would let them. Personally, I love how the same story can bring various angles to a brilliant, deep truth. I love how the Holy Spirit illuminates, I love how the Word invites me to imagine, to consider, to press, and hopefully grows and stretches me as I live my faith and follow Jesus.

And so I find myself wondering, “What if Judas decided to not betray Jesus? I consider a few “what if” scenarios:

The first speculation is the exact opposite of what happened, “What if Judas was heroic?” What if he sensed the nearing danger and acted to protect Jesus? What if Judas intentionally misled the high priests and told them that Jesus would be at a different location? Having led them far away from the Upper Room, Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane is answered, the cup has passed over him, his time had not come – there are more hours. [Read more…]