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Archive for December, 2008

Food

December 30, 2008 Leave a comment

What’s the good word? I’m eating too much! I received a present from my wife, a work out video. Believe me, it’s not rude, I’m starting to need it. But I have vowed not to do a single sit up, or place the video in the DVD player until AFTER the holidays are over. It seems that every day I am constantly eating. It got me to thinking back to a class that I took in seminary called “Visceral Theology”. Basically, the theology of food! It’s interesting if you think about it. For many of us there is a lot of meaning in food. Food can be a symbol of sharing one’s self. It can also be a symbol of communion (read- unity). Or food can be a symbol of remembrance or caring. No wonder Lutherans love potlucks, but the question is, do we love them for these reasons. Do we see the sharing of meals, especially the Lord’s supper, as symbols of unity, caring, remembrance, or sharing one’s self. Right in the middle of this discussion, Jesus gives us two GREAT examples, ultimate examples of this. Think back to the Feeding of the 5000 and the Last Supper scene. Both stories revolved around food. In both, Jesus shared a bit of himself, the act was seen as unifying, and most of all about caring. In the end they were both about remembering the power of Jesus and the sacrifice he made on our behalf. Next time you “share” a meal, remember the meaning behind the meal you are sharing. Next time you are at the Lord’s Table, try to focus on the meaning behind the meal. It helps us to remember our dependence on God because ultimately food is about just that, dependence.

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Performing the Word

December 22, 2008 1 comment

We just finished with our production of this year’s Christmas drama, “The Christmas Shoes”. I am reminded again about the importance that drama has in our proclamation of the Word. Whether we like it or not, actors and preachers have a great deal in common. I happen to be both! I believe that, if anything, drama allows common everyday people to step into the shoes of a pastor and proclaim God’s life giving and redeeming love for all people. They get to be the ones proclaiming, not the ones listening. All of those actors on that stage this past weekend, those people whose age ranged from 10-82, proclaimed the message of Christmas. Most people think it’s a bad idea to say that preachers and actors are similar because actors are putting on a show. But are they really just only doing that?  I think it goes beyond imitating or pretending, I believe it’s about communicating a story, communicating a message. In worship and in ministry, that story happens to be the greatest love story of them all. That message happens to be about a love and a sacrifice for all people. Jana Childers points out the following: “Theater and preaching share the essential qualities and characteristics that can be said to be true of art in general: each probes for meaning; each is organic by nature; interest and integrity and requisite; distance plays a role; experience is the goal.” I believe, as she believes, that the root of the problem in the church is the misunderstaning of art itself and of performance arts in particular. Long before the Bible was written down, it was communicated orally. People put passion into their telling of the stories. They were told in households, around campfires, and on the sides of roads. We can all be proclaimers of the Word. It’s been amazing to me how Covenant’s drama ministry has come to fruition and has begun to show people this, whether they realize it or not. I have been amazed at seeing so many different age groups work together for a common purpose, a purpose so simple you don’t need a hammer, or know how to use an air gun. That purpose is simply proclaiming the good news to people. And that is most certainly worthy of what is today’s good word!

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Letting Loose

December 17, 2008 Leave a comment

What’s the good word? Today it comes from the Christmas story in the Gospel According to Luke. I often break out Eugene Patterson’s “Message” translation of the Bible. It’s basically the Bible told in contemporary language. I used it last night at our Junior and Senior High night, DIVE. We sang some Christmas carols and then I read the Christmas story. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Right there, in the 20th verse of the 2nd chapter, “The sheepherders returned and let loose, glorifying and praising God for everything they had heard and seen.” Did you get that? They “let loose!” I was shocked! I wondered how many times in my Christian journey I “let loose” about my faith. Outside of Sunday morning sermons that is!  I can remember letting loose about that favorite movie I saw a while back. I can remember letting loose to my wife about that new album I just downloaded. But what about what God has done for me? Have you “let loose” about anything lately? How about your faith? How about the good news? We often find other things to let loose about. Am I ever glad the shepherds didn’t do what we sometimes do about the faith. Not many people would have known about what they just saw that night. They may have chalked it up to coincidence, but they didn’t! They LET LOOSE! Here’s hoping that you let loose this holiday season. May you let loose about all you hear and see. May you let loose about the ways in which God has worked in your life. Here’s to letting loose!

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Advent?

December 11, 2008 Leave a comment

So what’s the good word? I came across this video and website entitled “Advent Conspiracy” and it got me to thinking about how I am spending these days before Christmas. What am I doing? What are we doing? Are you stressed yet? I sure am! Questions every day: What am I going to get people? How am I going to pay for it? Then I think of all that this season brings as a pastor. It’s one of the most busiest times of the year for us. I think Christmas changed for me once I became a pastor. I can’t really say that it isn’t as special, but it is…different. It really does go by so quickly now. More quickly that in years past. And then after it’s all over, there’s this huge deep breath we all take, and we stop and ask ourselves, “What just happened?” 

I was reminded about all of this when I saw the video by the folks at Advent Conspiracy. I was also reminded about giving a gift with the power to make a difference. Our youth of Covenant are raising money for the organization Water 2 Thrive. It’s an organization that has partnered with Thrivent to help bring clean water to rural Ethiopia by building water wells. Perhaps one of your gifts this Christmas is to give a gift for this cause. If you are a part of our church and you want to give, you can give to this cause any morning at services on Sunday. Just write “Well” in the memo line.  May you take this time to slow down, enjoy this time of year, prepare for our Lord’s coming, and make a difference in the life of someone. Here’s where you can view Advent Conspiracy

Peace!

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Vision

December 4, 2008 Leave a comment

What’s the good word? Well, this week has been a week about vision. I went to a Youth and Family visioning meeting the other day for our synod. We wanted to talk about where we needed to go in terms of Youth and Family as a synod. Then, last night, I attended the back half of our congregation’s long range planning meeting. It got me to thinking about visioning.  I decided to google “visioning, bible verses.” I noticed this one verse that kept coming up. It was Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and not a future.” Now I have heard that verse so many times and have seen it on so many posters around meetings regarding visioning.  Funny thing about that verse, this comes as God’s judgement of the people after 70 years of captivity. Why were they there in the first place? They didn’t listen to God!!  Knowing this, that verse doesn’t seem so warm and fuzzy now does it? God is reminding them that they have hope for a future, but they need to listen to where God is calling them.  I reminded our Youth and Family leaders of our synod of this point, and I want to remind our congregation as well.  It’s not about what we want, it’s about where God is calling us.  That may mean we need to make sacrifices. Things that we “like” may not be where God is calling us.  So visioning gets harder when we think of it in those terms.  But we need to question ourselves: Are we willing to go where God is calling us? It makes me think about my life as well.  Am I going and doing what God is calling me to, or am I just trying to make myself happy. Hmmmm? Interesting question. I’ll get on that.

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Faith Like A Child

December 2, 2008 1 comment

I have often been told, and have told others, to have faith like a child. But really, what does that mean? We went out for our DIVE night tonight, and there were a lot of kids that showed up. We went to the mall to do a scavenger hunt, and then I split them into teams. Some brought friends and had a fit because I took them away from their friends. Not that it doesn’t surprise me, but one was REALLY scared to go without her friend, even though she knew others in the group. She was completely paralyzed and thought she wouldn’t have a good time. Is this what Jesus meant? To me it doesn’t seem that way. In order to get into the kingdom of God, Jesus tells us though that we must have faith like a child. Lately I haven’t seen what that actually looks like. Besides, doesn’t Paul kind of go against that in 1 Corinthians 13- “When I was young, I thought like a child, I spoke like a child, I reasoned like a child…but now I have cast off childish ways” 

Then I think back to my childhood. What was it that made it so great? Well, I remember innocence, free spiritedness, happiness, anticipation (especially around the holidays!). As I think about what it was like to be a child, I think having faith like a child comes down to three things: 1. Believing God has the power to do anything. I remember as a child I thought my dad could do no wrong. 2. It means admitting unbelief and asking for help. I knew I couldn’t sometimes do everything, so I had to ask my parents for help. 3. Watching as God does the impossible. I can think of no greater example than the movie The Polar Express. If you have time this holiday season, take time to watch it. It will truly help you see what it means to have faith like a child again.  And perhaps you too will be able to say as the boy says, “I believe!”

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