Saturday, July 01, 2006

Middle Age, Making a Difference, and Rapid Change

Several days ago, I mentioned that I would be writing more about my own internal reflections on middle age, the things that occupy our time and attention, and what really matters in this life.

How is that for sampling of light, easy, topics? Well, its either this, or you get to hear me hold forth on my latest Presbyterian naming of the Trinity: "Rock, Paper, Scissors". Anyway.

There are lots of things swimming around in my mind these days, as I face the declining health of my own parents (85 and 86 years old, respectively) coming to grips for the first time with my own mortality, the bittersweet maturing of my wonderful teenage daughters, and more recently, the beginning steps in rebuilding a divided and broken church. Other than these things, not much else is going on. I play a lot of solitaire. Oh yeah, Sports Center and Baseball Tonight. Do that too.

This past week, I participated in a leadership meeting at our church, and one of the recurring thoughts I kept having was "we are working with a leadership model, and discussing concepts here that are 30 years old, maybe we need to change some things". The other alternating thought was "I am so bored, I wonder what is on Baseball Tonight!" And so, might I start with some recurring themes I have noticed recently?

To Find New Life, We Must Die

Dietrick Bonhoeffer is one of my favorite theologians. I have mentioned this
before. When it became clear that war was coming to his Germany in the late 1930s, Bonhoeffer's friends urged him to leave Germany, or risk imprisonment and death. For a time, he listened, and came to New York prior to the outbreak of World War II. Yet as Bonhoeffer walked around the streets of the city, he became convinced that, like Jonah fleeing from Nineveh, he had refused the call of God to fight the Nazis from within Germany. And he knew what that call meant after all, as he once wrote: "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die." So Bonhoeffer boarded a ship and sailed back toward his homeland, where he taught, formed Christian community, lead the church, spoke out against the Nazis, plotted to kill Hitler, and finally met his doom in the death camps.

To Die We Must Give Up Old Stuff, and Embrace New

A number of months ago, I had
an email conversation regarding our painful church split with Mark Galli, the managing editor of Christianity Today magazine. I found Mark to be a former Presbyterina pastor who is a very thoughtful man. Then, just the other day, I read an article in the most recent edition (no link yet) of Christianity Today about what we Christian folk THINK matters. Great article. Mark talks a lot about "relevance", and "power", and "success". These are very over used words and ideas in the American church.

I have to quote just a bit of it for you, it is worth repeating, perhaps several thousand times:

"Jesus loves us so much, he sometimes slaps our vague idealism in the face with a healthy does of reality. This shocks us, and we find ourselves speechless and blushing with either anger or shame."


"Like Peter, we have to die to our notions of relevance and successs, and let God - through a crucified Savior, though and amateurish church, through a stiff Communion service - raise up his people when He will and how He will, with a power and glory we can hardly fathom."

Amen to that, and help me Lord! Help my need to be powerful, cool, successful, and relevant. Help me to love those you place in my path, whether their ministry model is 30 years old or not. Help me to love. Help me also to dance, like Matt. See above the post below....

Next up...

Help! The world is changing, and it makes me afraid, and I don't like it!!

File Under: Church Thoughts
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