Monthly Archives: May 2013

Salty Bread

As a child or an adult – try to remember what it felt like the last time you’d been away from someone you really love for any considerable amount of time. I don’t mean just a day or even just a couple days… but weeks… maybe even months or years. How does it feel? What’s going through your mind as the day draws closer that you would get to be in the company of that person again? Do you play over and over again in your mind how you will run to him/her? How you will embrace them and feel their warmth and strength? When the time finally comes, can you stand to wait at all?

embrace

The church I attend is not really a very conservative or liturgical assembly. If I had to find an incomplete labeling paradigm I might call us progressive and even perhaps moderate if not occasionally liberal non-denominational quasi-evangelical protestants. We have rock ‘n roll worship, we drink coffee in the sanctuary, we have stage lights, computers and projectors, and some of us (like me) wear t-shirts and shorts to church services.

One of the more unique things we do as a church is we take communion every week. At my last church (a similar style of church) we took communion once every 3 months… maybe… if it fit into the preaching schedule. You’ll find that latter kind of pattern to be the more common one in this style of church.

At first it seemed really weird that we did it weekly and it took some getting used to. Then after some time I started to really appreciate it. Taking symbolic communion every week gives me an opportunity to remember more often exactly what it all really means. I don’t take it for granted and I don’t get robotic about it. God allows every week to be a new experience and I consider that alone to be a gift of His Grace in itself.

So here’s the confession. I RUSH into communion. Sometimes we take it together as a congregation and sometimes we take it on our own time. In either case, if there was a race to get the bread into your mouth – I’d win it every time. Irreverent, right? I’ve been contemplating within myself for weeks now why it is I seem to do this. Sometimes I wonder if someone is watching me shove that salty grape-juice soggy bread into my mouth and quietly judging my haste.

I really do eat it like a gluttonous child getting a candy bar for the first time in a week.

It’s the funniest thing. I know that the bread isn’t magical. I don’t go for magic bread or magic water, that’s not in my personal book of theology. I know it’s just a reminder of what happened, who I really am and who my God really is…. but I just can’t wait to get there. I can’t wait to get back into that place where I feel like I belong, in my father’s house. Maybe it has something to do with this?

Romans 5:6-8 (ESV): 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

In my heart, I know that Christ RUSHED into forgiving me. He RUSHED to my rescue, while I still didn’t know or want him, while I was still a sinner, while I was still an Atheist, while I still HATED every idea of him… He came anyway, he RUSHED to my salvation. With divine Love and great urgency, God RUSHED to take me home.

So it is while I’m still quite sure of my unworthiness, while I’m still unsettled in my state of readiness – that I rush into worship through communion – that I rush into his arms. I want to be there before I’ve had a chance to convince myself that I’ve paid enough reverence or enough prayer or enough quiet to be there. I want to rush there while my mind is still scattered, while my heart is still dirty, and while my hands are still busy.

That’s when he loved me first. While I was still broken. So that’s how I want to come to him every week, while I know that I’m still broken…. RUSHING into his love.

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Suing for Divine Intervention

For the past several years I’ve participated in a great message board with some online friends that I’ve made over the years.  This board is available to the public but it’s kind-of tucked away in a quiet little corner of the internet, way down in Australia.  Some of my friends on this board live in Australia (of course) but many are scattered around the globe.  All of them speak English either as a first or second language and live in relatively first-world free nations (many also in the U.S.).

I’m really the only Christian on that board that I know of.  The other active board members seem to represent what is actually a really healthy cross-section of the young (under 40) first world.  We used to have a devout Catholic friend, but he’s been busy lately and not around.  Some of the discussions on there can be downright nasty in terms of their content, stuff that makes me uncomfortable.  Most of them are amazing talks about “isn’t this cool” or “doesn’t that suck” or “how do you guys process this?”.

What I love the most about this message board is that it’s just bleeding with authenticity and mutual respect.  If you come in and present a well thought out argument about almost anything, you’ll get a lively and respectful discussion or debate about it.  You won’t get posts filled with personal insults or “you are wrong you stupid head!”.  I’ve tried my hardest to live up to that standard of communication on that system although sometimes I fail.

Some of the the theological thought experiments that I’ve participated in on that system have really caused me to grow and changed my own mind about some things.  I think I will start to share some of my own responses here to those concepts just to expand the audience a little and share more about my thoughts with whatever audience it is that seems to enjoy reading this narcissistic blog about ME.

—- introduction complete —-

A friend today posted an article about a real court case happening right now in Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil.  (the link is a Google Translate copy of the article)

A quote from the article (translated into English):

In Fortaleza, Ceará, owner Tarcília Bezerra built an expansion of its cabaret, whose activities were in constant growth after the creation of unemployment insurance for fishermen and various other types of bags.

In response, the Church Universal site launched a strong campaign to block the expansion, with prayer sessions in his church in the morning, afternoon and evening.

The expansion and renovation work progressed rapidly until a week before reopening when lightning struck the cabaret burning electrical installations and causing a fire that destroyed the roof and much of the construction.

After the destruction of the cabaret, the pastor and the church believers began to brag about “the great power of prayer.”

So Tarcília sued the church, the pastor and all the congregation, on the grounds that they “were responsible for the end of your building and your business” using divine intervention, direct or indirect, and the actions or means. “

In its response to the lawsuit, the church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection with the end of the building.

The judge to whom the case was referred to the author read the complaint and the answer of the defendants and to the oral opening, said:

– “I do not know how I’m going to decide this case, but one thing is evident in the records. Here we have an owner of a cabaret that firmly believes in the power of prayer and an entire church declaring that prayers are worthless “.

After I remarked that this makes absolutely no sense to me, my friend then challenged me as a Christian with this very good question

“what would you do if someone tried to sue you over some action that you believed was accomplished through your prayer?”

This was my response:

I’ve never considered prayer as a liability.

See the problem is this:  God doesn’t answer to me.  He does what he wants.  I try to pray/petition as little as possible because I seldom feel worthy to ask for anything specific… instead I’ll ask for things like “God’s will in this matter” and “peace and strength to endure for the people involved”.  That’s typically the kind of prayer I make in times of hardship.  I don’t like the idea of suggesting to God what he should do.

The funny part about that is – there IS allowance in the Bible for us to challenge God and in times of PERSONAL crisis, I have done that and seen results.  Even still, I have to think that even my part in petitioning had to be a part of his plan to teach me dependence and build my faith and if my request hadn’t been in accordance with that overall plan, then it certainly wouldn’t have been “granted”.  Relevant example – would God have saved my wife’s life miraculously (it really was a miracle) had I and others not prayed directly for healing?  I can’t really guess, because that’s not what happened.

but to be liable?

when I pray to God – I’m not hiring a hitman who’ll do my bidding in exchange for a favor.  I am no less a favored child of God than any other human and so I haven’t EARNED POINTS with him for good deeds or obedience or whatever that I can cash in for certain requests at my personal whim… and THANK GOD it doesn’t work that way.  I’m asking God… like hey dude… this sucks… if you can do something about it, would you?  If you won’t, will help me understand why not?  I think that’s almost verbatim what I prayed every night while my wife was in a coma.

So am I responsible for God’s actions?  Never.

Can a court hold me personally responsible through circumstantial cause and effect relationships?  I suppose they could try.  I’d try the argument I just gave above, but they might not buy it… they might blame me.

If they blamed me for God’s actions and I was punished, I’d file that under ‘persecution’ and you can bet I’d be praying about that too… in the same way… like hey dude… this sucks, I’m taking this rap for you… will you help me out?  and if not, will you help me understand why not?

The bible also has examples of people literally taking the rap for believing in God (boiled in oil, hung on an upside-down crucifix).  They didn’t escape their death… but then again… we really like martyrdom in ancient philosophies, don’t we?

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What do you think?