Monday, April 28, 2008

New Light update

It's getting more and more exciting to see the way the New Light community is forming. We've had this little influx of new people lately - 8 newcomers, all in their 20's, most of them invited by a friend. Most of them are already well connected into the community. Last night we had our monthly community gathering at our house - a yummy potluck dinner followed by conversation and worship. It was great to have the full community together.
Some of the things we've been up to:
  • We have a Monday night LIFE Group that alternates between Oliver & Alison's house and Paul & Carlie's house, and a Thursday night LIFE Group that meets at our house.

  • On Tuesday mornings we gather for Morning Prayer, just to pray for one another and people we know who are in need, for the New Light community, for Portland, and for the world.

  • Now and then we've been getting together specifically to build community. Last week a bunch of us went to a Kutless concert in Lewiston. Next Monday we're having a Cinco de Mayo party. Good times.

  • This Saturday we begin a new ministry. We haven't come up with a snazzy name for it yet, but on the first Saturday of every month we'll come together for a mission project... this first one being a Potato Planting Party with Cultivating Community, an organization that grows organic vegetables and distributes them to people who live in low-income and elderly housing in the Portland area, who might not otherwise have access to fresh, locally grown produce.

  • We're putting together the plans for Journey Groups, which will be three-person, gender-specific groups specifically for accountability, support, and intentional spiritual growth. We'll be rolling out men's and women's pilot groups very soon.
Four of us, a group which we're calling the Leadership Community, have been meeting weekly to develop a strategic plan and a discipleship system. We recently finalized some statements that articulate our Core Values, which we're pretty excited about...

Core Values:
  • Community: Faith is a journey best traveled with others who share common values and a common commitment to life together. We strive to be formed as a community steeped in God’s love, expressed in loving relationships with one another, and engaged in the larger community in which we live.
  • Inclusivity: No one is outside the bounds of God’s grace. We strive to practice generous hospitality, welcoming and embracing everyone with the same love we have received from God. We affirm the sacred worth of every human being – no exceptions.
  • Creativity: At the foundation of our faith is the story of a God we call Creator – a God who is continually in the process of creating, who gifts us with creativity and invites us to create. We strive to incorporate music, drama, visual arts, dance, and other creative elements in all that we do.
  • Transformation: As we journey inward, we strive for transformed lives that better reflect the love of Christ; as we journey outward, we strive for a transformed world that better reflects God’s vision of peace and justice.
  • Simplicity: In a world preoccupied with materialism, consumption, and greed, we long for a simpler way. We strive to live simply, both individually and in our life together; to generously share our resources and practice faithful stewardship of God’s Creation.
So, please keep the New Light community in your prayers! It really feels like God is doing some exciting things among us!

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Pope Visits

I'm finding the reporting of the Pope's visit to the United States to be very interesting, and a bit puzzling. Today's Portland Press Herald features a front-page story about the Pope praying at Ground Zero and leading mass at Yankee Stadium. On one hand, I think it's really good to see this level of enthusiasm for something of a spiritual nature. I mean, how often does a religious leader, other than the likes of Billy Graham, draw crowds enough to pack Yankee Stadium? (Well, I suppose Joel Osteen does it every week, but I'll save that for another post...) On the other hand, though, it seems to me there's something just a little off when it's a human being that draws all the attention, rather than the One whom we worship.
A quote from today's article:

John Urban, 71, of Scranton, PA, left his home at 3:30 am and drove two and a half hours to arrive by 6 am.

He could only see the top of the pope mobile.

"It was enough," Urban said. "He's the head of our church. It's probably as close as I'm going to get to him, but that's fine."

Does this strike anyone else as a bit odd? Isn't Jesus Christ the head of the church?

I really don't mean offense to my Roman Catholic sisters and brothers. I have incredible respect for the rich tradition of the Catholic Church, and I think there are many, many things to celebrate about Roman Catholicism (as well as a few things to critique, such as their refusal to ordain women, which is also a topic for another post...). However, the whole mystique about the person of the Pope is one part I just don't get.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Spring has sprung (finally!)

Winter doesn't let go easily here in Maine! Finally the crocuses are in bloom, and finally... finally... finally... the last little strip of snow along the sidewalk in front of our house has disappeared!
Is it possible that spring has finally sprung? Or am I just ensuring, by saying this, that we’re in for another storm before winter finally releases its grip?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Back from the Walk to Emmaus

I spent Thursday-Sunday serving on the team for Crossroads Emmaus Men's Walk # 41, Walk to Emmaus, at Singing Hills Conference Center in Plainfield, NH. I am feeling renewed in spirit, spiritually strengthened, and somewhat sleep-deprived.

I've been thinking about a few highlights of the weekend which intensify my confidence in the way God uses the Walk to Emmaus as one tool in transforming lives:
  • seeing guys take big steps in their faith, confront places in themselves that need to change, and move beyond a place of taking faith for granted
  • experiencing agape love
  • remembering again, for myself, the transforming power of God's grace
  • seeing guys step beyond their comfort zone to give a talk
  • experiencing Communion that really is communion in its truest sense: Communion with God and communion with one another
  • laughing until it hurt
  • crossing boundaries: interacting with people I otherwise might never encounter
  • witnessing the breaking of emotional barriers
  • realizing that public speaking is not just about excellent elocution skills, but more importantly, hearts transformed by grace.
  • learning once again (in the words of a fellow spiritual director) that "rough hewn" works just as well - that sanctification is not the same thing as education or elevation

Have you been on the Walk to Emmaus? If so, what would you add to the list?

Time to Weed

I have 15,723 e-mails in my Outlook in-box. Does anyone think this is a problem?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


Rachel has a really bad cold today. It started on Saturday and Sunday, when she was just kind of lethargic. Monday she slept until 9:00 and stayed home from daycare with a congested cough. Today she has a full-blown cold: her nose is running constantly, she's sneezing a lot, and we have to keep wiping the boogers out of her nose and off her little friend Dodo. She's spent a good part of the day in tears... Any little thing is traumatic.

Poor Rachel. I'd much rather have the cold myself (and give me a day or two... I well may!) than to watch my little girl be so miserable.