Sunday, April 23, 2006
Lets Go Bowling Together for Jesus
The gentleman to the left is Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
For Some Odd Reason, I have been asked to help lead a young married couples class at my church. The people who asked me to do this are dear friends, but I also think they may be nuts. Either way, the thoughts below are excerpted from our time together this morning.
We are going on a journey. Will you come along? A journey toward discovering how we can grow closer together in Christ, and perhaps build a genuine community of fellow Believers.
I would like to think that I am somewhat the exemplary Christian fellow. I would like to think that I model all that is best in a life spent following Jesus. I would like to think that I have the best of Christian friends, and that our relationships, our Christian community, show in myriad ways the love of Christ. I would like to think that other, non-believing folk in my life see these traits and are lead directly to wonder about what following Jesus is about, and that they might even considered visiting or becoming a part of my church. My church, because it is a place where all the best things of the Christian life are modeled.
I'd like to think this, but it is just not so. Not now at least. And yet, we serve a God of hope.
Over the past several years, the life of our church has been quite painful, confusing, and disconnected. Relationships have splintered, accusations have been made, sides taken. We Christian people know how to pick a really good fight, and then, how to carry it out. To the end. Recently, Christian song writer Sara Groves offered this hauntingly ironic glimpse of the darker side of the church:
Taking Our Church to the Moon
To the Moonby Sara Groves
It was there in the bulletin
We're leaving soon
After the bake sale to raise funds for fuel
The rocket is ready and we're going to
Take our church to the moon
There'll be no one there to tell us we're odd
No one to change our opinions of God
Just lots of rocks and this dusty sod
Here at our church on the moon
We know our liberties we know our rights
We know how to fight a very good fight
Just get that last bag there and turn out the light
We're taking our church to the moon
We're taking our church to the moon
We'll be leaving soon
I would like to think that I, and my Christian friends, have it all together. But its not so. My life is, in many ways broken and disconnected. I struggle with finding time to meditate on God's Word. I am distracted by all kinds of "white noise" and static in my life; television, radio, satellite radio, the internet, emails, the busy-ness of work, family, and kid activities. I long to find God in more abundance in each day, but so many times, I fall short. Where is the Still, Small Voice, and where are my brothers and sisters in Christ. Oh, I forgot, they are busy too. I am modern man, information saturated, yet soul starved.
And so, this journey we begin is as much about all of us, as it is about my own longing.
In a groundbreaking book, "Bowling Alone", based on vast new data, Robert Putnam of The Kennedy School at Harvard shows how we have become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, neighbors, and our democratic structures-- and how we may reconnect.
Putnam warns that our stock of social capital - the very fabric of our connections with each other, has plummeted, impoverishing our lives and communities. Putnam draws on evidence including nearly 500,000 interviews over the last quarter century to show that we sign fewer petitions, belong to fewer organizations that meet, know our neighbors less, meet with friends less frequently, and even socialize with our families less often. We're even bowling alone. More Americans are bowling than ever before, but they are not bowling in leagues. Putnam shows how changes in work, family structure, age, suburban life, television, computers, women's roles and other factors have contributed to this decline.
America has civicly reinvented itself before -- approximately 100 years ago at the turn of the last century. And America can civicly reinvent itself again - find out how and help make it happen at our companion site, BetterTogether.org, an initiative of the Saguaro Seminar on Civic Engagement at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
In a life span of 39 years, pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, lead, taught, and modeled a new kind of Christian community - one that is still relevant 60 years amartyrdomartyredom in a Nazi death camp. His book Life Together is an exploration of what Christian community can be. Our couples class is going through this book together.
Our lives are disconnected. We need reconnection to what is really important. Thoughts from Bonhoeffer:
"It is not simply to be taken for granted that the Christian has the privilege of living among other Christians."
"It is by the grace of God that a congregation is permitted to gather visibly in this world to share God's Word and sacrament."
God cares about gathering his people together. We are not created to live in isolation. Zech 10:8-9 God is gathering together. And guess what? Jesus talked about gathering together in John 11:52. Matt 24:31 gathering in the end times.
Gotta have a Body - The Body of Christ
What the heck does the Body of Christ mean? Well, according to Brother Dietrich:
"Man was created a body, the Son of God appeared on earth in the body, he was raised in the body, in the sacrament the believer receives the Lord Christ in the body, and the resurrection of the dead will bring about the perfected fellowship of God's spiritual-physical creatures."
"The prisoner, the sick person, the Christian in exile see in the companionship of a fellow Christian a physical sign of the gracious presence of the triune God."
1 Corinthians 12:26-28 (New International Version)
26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.
We are "a physical sign of the gracious presence" of God. In all we do. In the fellowship we keep.
Would not a life spent together, enjoying one another, coming beside each other in places of pain and celebration, learning together, seeking Christ, listening for his call; a Life Together perhaps not be something well worth considering?
In listening to the thoughts of this gentle German theologian of almost 70 years ago, we can find ways to begin to build a community graced by God's love, acceptance, and grace. A home. A place wherewe can begin, in the words of Christianity Today Editor, Andy Crouch, rebuild "the hilarious high calling that is the birthright of every Christian; to be an agent of improbable, impossible life in the midst of the world".
Finally, for a wonderful touch of what community in Christ can be, go read this, from my buddy KC.
Posted by Steve at 8:46 PM