Sunday, December 30, 2007

Well, hello.

Christmas was weird this year. Really weird. I always hate to be Debbie Downer. But I can't help but to point out what I see. Call it what you will, I'm just pointing it out. Asking questions and such...

Christmas is awful, if I may be blunt. The signs of "Jesus is the reason for the season" make my stomach turn. Because its not. Its just not anymore. I don't know a ton about the beginnings of it all. I do know that the Church decided to celebrate a new holiday (Christmas) to offset Saturnalia (a pagan holiday) and that we get a lot of our traditions from said day. I don't know what Christmas was like 100 years ago. But now... its just not about Jesus. Its about us. Its about money. Its about gifts. Not that I don't enjoy those things. Who doesn't like getting nice things? Its just so hard to live like I'm used to. To "celebrate" like I'm used to.

What's it like to be poor and starving and to have nothing and to see those around you who have more than enough? What's it like to not be us white, middle-class Americans this time of year? I read a survey that said the average household spends $800 on gifts. I would venture to say that its much higher than for the majority of us. And the problem isn't the gifts. The problem is what we are ignoring by spending money where we do.

I don't know.
I don'tknowdon'tknowdon'tknow. I just don't know how to feel.
What to say
what to think
what to feel
what to do
who I am
who we are
who we're meant to be
I just don't know.

I don't mean to ruin anything for anybody. But in the process of examining me, it makes me think a lot about us. When someone doesn't have clean water to drink, doesn't have anything to eat, doesn't have medicine to give their dying child... how can I continue to "celebrate" like this? How can we?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I thought this was a great article. Worth a couple minutes of your time to read...

Pardon my foolishness, but...

I'm pissed. It happens often, I know. But tonight, I'm especially pissed. And not about something someone wrote on my blog or an email I received or my job... none of the usual.

I'm pissed because I think we make God boring. At our churches. With our corporate worship songs. In our lives. The way we present things. Our services. I think its incredibly insulting to God.

I follow a God who is creative and imaginative and inventive. I follow a God who inspires and pushes limits. But the ways in which we sometimes portray God... its awful. Lots of things about church tend to piss me off. But as someone who cares about what others think about when they look at our lives and our faith, it drives me nuts to have boring music at church. Or to have a corporate church service that isn't engrossing. Or to introduce people to God through a five point presentation of why they're a sinner and they need to be saved. Or to only be concerned about tradition and white bread American values not about being relevant to culture.

I'm ranting. But I hope you get the intended meaning. Blaine Bartel always makes the point that "relevancy is not an option." We need to always be aware of who we make God out to be. Jesus obviously captured people with the way he talked, the way he treated them, the way he simply interacted with the world around him. Look at the world... the universe. Quantum physics and the DNA helix and penguins and banana trees and mountain ranges and the Grand Canyon and nebulas and black holes... so much beauty and thought put into the design. Its mind blowing.

People need to meet God. Interact. See the big picture. Yes. But... freakin A... let's be interesting. Let's make sure we don't make God boring. It pisses me off. I bet it pisses him off, too.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Its finally been asked...

So Josh finally put it out there: how do we (as the church) approach homosexuality? I'm glad someone asked...

I write a lot on here. And I really appreciate those of you who take the time to read, comment, and discuss these topics that I put out there. I apologize if I get defensive (which happens easily when I feel like people are asking questions that could easily be answered if they actually read what I'm writing). I am arrogant and stubborn--but the whole reason I write is to share ideas and to get your opinions and viewpoints. It helps me grow and develop these thoughts that are resounding in my head and heart. I am working through these topics and I like being able to do it in an odd communal way. It really is quite helpful. You challenge me and I hope I do the same for you...

But back to the question at hand.

Josh, I think about it a lot. I really, really thought hard today about a way to respond to this. I think I can boil it down to this: For homosexuals, healing will start when the church accepts them as children of God who are worthy of love and respect. That has to be first and foremost. I feel like we tend to tell people they have to clean up their lives, THEN they can be a part of this community we call Christianity. When in fact, that's reverting back to the old system of sacrifices and laws. That's ignoring what Jesus did for humanity. That's not Christ-centered.

I just know that God would have us to accept and love people for who they are: his children. I know people need to hear that. People need to know they are accepted no matter what they do, no matter who they are. God accepted me, chief of sinners. Who are we to say that someone else doesn't deserve that unless they change everything they are first? People need love, first and foremost, people need to be shown love. Unconditional love. No strings attached kind of love. I love you no matter what kind of love. The love God has shown us.

Its easy for us to say "those" people. We compartmentalize so much of our world. It makes it easier for us to not have to deal with it. To push it to the back of our minds and say that "those" people are bound for hell and we can't change the fact that there's a huge rift between the homosexual community and the Christian community. We are so separated. Its going to take all of us breaking down the barriers that divide us and being willing to honestly be like Jesus. I think we try to force things because we think its our job to change people. Its not. Our job is to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Our job is to love. Our job is to point people to the God who loves them so much. Our job is to let people know about the choice we've made. Our job is to live our lives in pursuit of Jesus.

I think we agree that this lifestyle we are discussing is outside of what God intended for us. But I don't have a list of bullet points that are "Here's What We Do" when it comes to homosexuality. I don't think there's a black and white process we could print up hand out to churches world wide to explain to everyone: here's how to handle this issue we've all messed up so badly. I think the response will differ based on the situation and the location. I know sometimes I don't provide all the answers. I may lead you to believe something, but not actually come to that conclusion. For that, I don't apologize. I haven't got it all worked out yet. Some things are still up in the air (gasp! and that's okay!). That's why I write. But I've said what I need to say for now... I'd like to hear your (everybody's) thoughts on the question Josh has posed. I'd like to keep this conversation community oriented--not just me telling you what I think. I want to keep this as US talking about things TOGETHER.

As always, thanks...