Monday, December 24, 2007
Tonight should be awesome!
Merry Christmas, everyone!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
In Search of Our Kneeling Places
In each heart lies a Bethlehem,
an inn where we must ultimately answer
whether there is room or not.
When we are Bethlehem-bound
we experience our own advent in his.
When we are Bethlehem-bound
we can no longer look the other way
conveniently not seeing stars
not hearing angel voices.
We can no longer excuse ourselves by busily
tending our sheep or our kingdoms.
This Advent let’s go to Bethlehem
and see this thing that the Lord has made known to us.
In the midst of shopping sprees
let’s ponder in our hearts the Gift of Gifts.
Through the tinsel
let’s look for the gold of the Christmas Star.
In the excitement and confusion, in the merry chaos,
let’s listen for the brush of angels’ wings.
This Advent, let’s go to Bethlehem
and find our kneeling places.
— Ann Weems, from Kneeling in Bethlehem
(Philadelpha: The Westminster Press, 1980)
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Plans are coming along for our Christmas Eve celebrations... more on that once all the final details are in place... but it's very exciting!
Tomorrow our District Superintent, Mike Davis, is meeting with our Staff-Parish Relations Committee, and then he'll come over to our house to meet with us following. We're looking forward to sharing with him some of the progress we're making toward establishing this new community of faith, New Light! We're having lunch with a young couple -- both in seminary, newly married -- who are feeling called to church planting and co-pastoring. It'll be great to share experiences and ideas!
Ministry in this season and this setting is filling me with such joy!
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
It's this interesting movie that someone told us about, playing right now at the little alternative theater in the Old Port, called "What Would Jesus Buy?" The movie tells the story of Rev. Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping.
Odd: I guess that's the best way to describe the flim. And it was even odder for us, because after the first half hour of the 90-minute movie, all of a sudden the picture was upside down and backward on the screen, and the voices were all speaking backward. Sara and I looked at each other with puzzled expressions, but the movie was odd enough that we initially thought this was just part of the oddity. Soon it became apparent to everyone, though, that something was very wrong. Then the lights came on, and someone stepped out of the projection room to state the obvious: one of the reels of the movie was backward. It would require some work to splice the reels together correctly, but that couldn't happen until the movie was ended. We had two choices: we could wait it out (15 minutes, he estimated) until that reel was finished, and then the rest of the movie would be okay, but we'd miss that 20 minutes or so... or they'd give us a free pass to come back another time. We decided to opt for the latter.
So we only saw the first third of the movie, and I'm not sure I'd rank it as a must-see, but there were some take-aways:
- For the first time since the Depression, the average household savings rate in the United States is below zero. In other words, not savings at all, but debt.
- 15 million Americans are clinically addicted to shopping.
- This year, Americans will spend a half trillion dollars on Christmas and we'll generate five million tons of waste.
I really appreciate the film's message about the dangers of consumerism -- it's a message I think our society needs to hear, and for that I applaud Rev. Billy and his "congregation," if that's what you can call them. But honestly, this guy is just so outrageous -- the stereotypical televangelist of the worst kind, complete with bleached blonde preacher's hair, the soapbox hell-and-damnation preaching style, and the theatrical "Stop Shopping Gospel Choir" -- that I don't know how anyone can take his message seriously.
It's too bad, because I think the movie's title asks an important question: What would Jesus buy? And why do we celebrate his birthday -- the birthday of one who said, "Take only one tunic for the road," and "Drop your nets and follow me" -- the one who was homeless but who offers the gift of abundant life -- with such excessive spending and overconsumption?
For me, though, the movie (at least the part we got to see) failed because it highlighted the sensational personality of a crazy nut with an important mission and a style that was more off-putting than convicting.
Have you seen this film? Am I missing something? Please tell me... I'm hoping the final 2/3 of the movie, right side up and forward, might have been a little less outrageous and a little more compelling...