Feeds:
Posts
Comments


As I continue to think through and formulate a new understanding and vision for what ‘church’ is it’s becoming very clear that it probably isn’t what we think or have come to love and or hate.

I’ve been reading some of Henri Nouwen’s thoughts about the Church.  I love the way that man could think and understand and communicate so deeply and simply at the same time.

Here is another mind-blowing thought about the Church:

The Church, God’s People

As Jesus was one human person among many, the Church is one organization among many. And just as there may have been people with more attractive appearances than Jesus, there may be many organizations that are a lot better run than the Church. But Jesus is the Christ appearing among us to reveal God’s love, and the Church is his people called together to make his presence visible in today’s world.

Would we have recognized Jesus as the Christ if we had met him many years ago? Are we able to recognize him today in his body, the Church? We are asked to make a leap of faith. If we dare to do it our eyes will be opened and we will see the glory of God.

Maybe it’s just me, but that really cuts to my heart.  Am I arrogant enough to think that I would be one of the very few humans on the planet who recognized and followed Jesus the self-proclaimed Messiah when He was on the earth?  How many people could I talk to who would claim that they would have been one of the few?

Remember this from Isaiah?

Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.

I find myself very critical of the Church, mostly because I’ve had a lot of time to see and know the deficiencies it has mastered.  What should be expected?  I’m not saying we can’t think and pray and listen and change and grow and become more effective.

I need to come to love the ugly things about groups of humans that get together with the worship of God Almighty and His Son through the power of the Holy Spirit.  That is beautiful.  No matter what.

I release my pride, my need to criticize and analyze and, for lack of a better word…to judge.

I have come to expect to be treated better and to have better than my Master.  That is so messed up.

Recognition is not a good barometer of the Church.  It’s ugly.  I worry too much about attractive things.

If recognition is the point, then Jesus really blew it.

Advertisements

Henri Nouwen has this to say about the Church, as in the people, the Body of Christ….

Superabundant Grace

Over the centuries the Church has done enough to make any critical person want to leave it. Its history of violent crusades, pogroms, power struggles, oppression, excommunications, executions, manipulation of people and ideas, and constantly recurring divisions is there for everyone to see and be appalled by.

Can we believe that this is the same Church that carries in its center the Word of God and the sacraments of God’s healing love? Can we trust that in the midst of all its human brokenness the Church presents the broken body of Christ to the world as food for eternal life? Can we acknowledge that where sin is abundant grace is superabundant, and that where promises are broken over and again God’s promise stands unshaken? To believe is to answer yes to these questions.

I’m meditating on this today:  the idea that God Almighty had it in mind to entrust us with His work, even though He knew and knows the crap we’re capable of.

He calls Peter a rock and me His Beloved.

Certainly I have to believe it if He says it, right?

Father, I love the Church in it’s many forms.  I love that You are more than capable of making it all work even though we screw up much and often.  It’s good to know that it’s really all up to You.

What is a family?

To me, a family is a group of people who are committed to each other, not just through blood or law, but through a willful choice.

Each individual in that family must choose to look from their place of hurt, from their soul, through tears of pain and joy, into the eyes of another til they see their soul and heart.  Each one, when they look from their deep to the other’s deep, has a choice to make.  A claim must be made.

When I participate in this, I feel safe and loved and have an overwhelming urge to love.  Not because of love I may or may not receive, but because of the beauty I see deep inside the others.

Family is priceless.

Who is your family?

I claim mine today:  Linda, Geri, Lauren, Jamie, David, Katie Rose and Luke.

I love you all very, very much….

Is And Does

do you? no I
believe
I can’t believe
it reaches out it reaches
lover, leaver, same and found
lost and found.

here and well
can you tell the reason
the rhyme it sounds so good
and all the ins and outs
of yesterday
are tomorrow, are fine.

It just is and does
It is and does
It just is and does
It is and does

not up to you
Truth is true
and that’s for sure
i’m living toward
what life is for
i can’t believe i’m found, i found

It just is and does
It is and does
It just is and does
It is and does

Its Love Love
winsome calling me is Love Love
ravage wooing me is Love Love
It is and does

the sound of Love
the Love of sound of
Love Love

i hear Love i hear Love


My wife Linda took this picture while we were crossing the Golden Gate Bridge last Sunday morning on our way into the city from my brother’s house in Novato.

It looks like one of those pictures you pose for in front of a printed out background they pull down like a movie screen in a photo studio.  You can choose the city scape, the beach, the surface of the moon…you know the ones.  I usually go for the ol’ west saloon.

Anyway, if people didn’t know we lived here and that we were actually on the bridge on Sunday they would look at this picture and say, “Sure you were…right.  How many wallet sized did you get?”

The way the flash hits her face and helmet compared to the natural lighting of the background creates this cool look.

It’s an issue of perception.

It’s not like it looks.

My eyes may be telling me one thing, but it’s completely skewed and way off.

It may look that way, but it’s not the truth.

Well, now, that’s deep isn’t it?

This obviously causes me to pause and ask what other things in my life do I see one way when the reality is something completely different.

Sorry to be nosey, but what about you?  I’m not gonna be the only introspective one around here.

What do you see, or think you see, that is way off?

Maybe I won’t be able to point anything out that I’m misreading.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t any.  There probably are many.  I’m seeing through a mist, and then in a mirror.

Things aren’t what they seem.  And, just like the picture, they are far better than what it looks like.

See, we were on the bridge.  Sunday morning.  Perfectly clear.  Not cold.  Not hot.  No traffic.  On our bike.  Linda did snap that shot while we were riding across.  That’s the reality.  It doesn’t matter what it looks like.  Doesn’t matter what seems to be.  Reality is not up to me and my perception.

That’s good news because I would hate to have to rely on my ability to perceive.

I’m breathing in deeply, exhaling a peace that is resting in gratitude that He can see it all very clearly.

He knows.  Even if it doesn’t look like it.

So, join me today in having the kind of faith that sees one thing, but believes the Truth is there and it’s crazy better than what I’m looking at.  Even when I don’t know what that Truth is.

Thanks, Papa….

To Wander….


My wife and I had another chance to steal away on the bike last weekend.

I can’t seem to get enough and I want to ride more and more.

Not just around town but long, leg stretching jaunts into the mountains, up or down the coast, through the city….anywhere.

It’s therapeutic to have so much time looking through the face shield of a helmet.

Thoughts come and go.

Some of them rattle through checklists of supplies and gear and things we should have grabbed on the way out the door.  Others analyze the road, the wind and the air temperature;  the traffic and cockpit display.  They sometimes turn into words spoken to the people in the cars around me who can’t seem to get out of my way.  It doesn’t matter that the tones simply reflect off of the plastic of my visor and become amplified as they return to my head in a condescending reminder that I’m the one breaking the law.

Sometimes I think about the next ride.  The whens, wheres, hows.  I’d love to see the Redwoods.  Oregon’s not far then when you’re there….

It’s a very anonymous place.  No one can see or know me.  It’s safe there.

One of my many ruminations on this trek was this poem from The Lord of the Rings (no, not the movie).  Mr. Tolkien masterfully hides so much of what’s going on and what will happen into some short verse:

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

Yeah, you should read it again…maybe a few times.

It’s beautiful.

For the purposes of this post and the divigulgence of thoughts from the road I’m forced to just reflect on one portion of this poem.

The line “Not all those who wander are lost” sang to me all weekend.

I used to be so into the destination.

Let’s get there.

Leave on time, arrive on time.

The trip is wearying at best.  Get it over with.

To be out there on the road, on the way, was a necessary evil.  God forbid if I ever got stuck there.  Oil levels, tire pressure, gas and snacks all checked pre-trip insured that all would go well and that I would arrive unscathed.

To get stuck or delayed or diverted was not going to happen.  It couldn’t happen.

I was scared that it might happen.

That was then.

I’m not like that anymore.  At least not as much.

I’m starting to get it, I think.  The journey.

What I see from here is that it is beautiful.

Sometimes it’s even much better than the destination.

My anxiety.  My fear.  My lack of control.

Those things have taken much from me.  I should say that I’ve allowed them to.

Maybe it’s peeking at 40, maybe it’s the loss of all opportunity to have control.  Maybe both, maybe neither.  What ever it is that’s got me seeing differently, I’m glad for it.

I love to wander.  More so on my motorcycle than in life, though.

But as it is, I wander in wonder at least.  Most of the time.  Well, sometimes.  It’s hard.  It sucks sometimes.

I love to realize that I’m not lost in this wandering.  My default is to see those who wander as aimless and purposeless and hopefully arriving somewhere soon.  I used to feel sorry for them or offer a hand.

Naive.  Arrogant.  “Privileged.”

The hope of the whole world rests on the shoulders of a homeless man.

That’s really mind boggling.

I think it might be raining in Oregon though.

My rain suit is out in the garage.  I guess I’ll just have to pack it, too.

photo by Linda Everly, late day shadows, HWY 101 North in Marin


Today trust is definitely a place to be willing to just sit and wait and relax. Damn.

I try to talk to the Father when I wake up every morning and tell Him that I trust Him.  I give up my attempts to be the judge of myself and others, I allow Him to be in that place.  I ask Him to empower me to see myself and others the way He does;  I ask to receive and give love and forgiveness.  It all sounds good, and honestly, some days are better than others.  I also have learned to allow myself to be a human.  I’m not an animal, nor am I an angel.

Today trust is being honest with myself, others and the Father.

It’s calling out the lies and not listening to them.

So today its kinda hard to take.  I want to DO something, GET something, FIND something….I’m fighting the urge to STRIVE and try to make things happen.  I can’t give in to that.  But I feel like I can and then I’ll be ok.  There’s an evil pride and soothing masochism in feeling like I’m the exception.

The invitation for me is to take a seat on the bench in the sun, to trust by breathing in, waiting, and relaxing.  In life I’m like my 6 year old son Luke as he trys to sit still at the dinner table or while doing homework.  It’s almost impossible for him.  Yet I constantly tell him, “Luke, sit still.”

I hear You saying that to me, Papa.  I’m trying.  I’m longing for distraction and the calming of busyness.  The anxiety and nervous energy is hard to just sit with.

I think the desire for having things all together is an idol.  When I’m looking at the waves, my eyes aren’t on You.  I feel like I’m sinking then.  But I still look at them.  The wind is blowing, the water is cold and very rough.  It doesn’t make any sense to be trying to walk on water.  Why did I think I could do this?  What if I would have just stayed in the boat?  I’m not this, or I’m not that.  I don’t have this or I don’t have that.  I need this, I need that.  I don’t want this, I don’t want that.  Help me.  Fix me.  Save me.

Its funny, I think, to ask God for things and then just fixate on the waves.

Look at Me.

Trust Me.

Sit still.  Stop trying.

Just be.  You can lose it all and be very ok.  You can be fine without having what you think you need.  Remember, you see things through some skewed reflection and fog.  I see things perfectly, clearly.  Some day you will see as I do.  Someday you will know as you are known.  Until then, sit still.

This is a song by Waterdeep.  I’ll be singing it today.

Hush

by Lori Chaffer

When you feel like the days just drone on and on and on
And you feel like the nights are quickly gone

And on the inside your heart is gaping wide
And on the inside you feel like no one’s on your side
Well, I am

When you thought you could rest, but you found out you were wrong
And there’s another need another battle
Another one more thing that comes along

And on the inside
You hear the fall but you hate the falling sound
And on the inside
You can’t pick another broken piece up off of the ground
Well I know

CHORUS

Hush little baby don’t say a word
Daddy’s gone and bought you a great big heaven to rest in
He’s bought it with blood and put the seal in your heart
It’ll give you the hope you need to get up and start again

When all the things you thought you left behind are still hanging on
And everything you try to do right ends up all wrong

And on the inside everyone else seems basically fine
But on the inside even they won’t let go of the dead and cling to what’s alive
Well I AM