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The Journey Of Christianity

A short version of the history of Christianity, and it goes like this:

Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship (community); it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise.”        – Rev. Sam Pascoe

What’s it going to take to get back to a community?

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Holy Week…

Holy week, the final week of Lent, commemorates the events of Christ’s last week before his death. For many of Christ’s followers, it was a roller coaster ride, beginning with his triumphal entry into Jerusalem and ending with his death on the cross.

On the Sunday before Passover (Palm Sunday), Jesus came out of the wilderness on the eastern side of the Mount of Olives (just as the prophecy said the Messiah would come).

People spread cloaks and branches on the road before him. Then the disciples began, joyfully, to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen? (Luke 19:37) The crowd began shouting, “Hosanna,” a slogan of the ultra-nationalistic Zealots, which meant, “Please save us! Give us freedom! We’re sick of these Romans!”

The people also waved palm branches, a symbol that had once been placed on Jewish coins when the Jewish nation was free. Thus the palm branches were not a symbol of peace and love, as Christians usually assume; they were a symbol of Jewish nationalism, an expression of the people’s desire for political freedom.

Yet Jesus came to the people as the Lamb of God. Jesus, the sinless Messiah who would die on humankind’s behalf, appeared on the very day that people chose their spotless Passover lambs!

It’s almost as if God said to the world, “Here’s my Lamb. Will you chose him?” But instead of turning to Jesus as the Lamb of God, the crowds misunderstood his proclamation that he was the Messiah. They wanted him to be their political-military deliverer.

In response, Jesus wept. The tears Jesus shed as the people cried out their political “Hosannas” were tears of grief for the hearts of his people.

Jesus foresaw the terrible devastation of Jerusalem that would result because the people did not recognize him as God’s Messiah. The people were looking for a messiah who offered political deliverance and a political kingdom. However they would have nothing to do with the Messiah who offered forgiveness and deliverance from sin. In his grief over their distorted beliefs, Jesus wept out loud.

This final week before Easter, will we chose the Lamb of God? Will we leave the things of this life that hold us in bondage and cause us to misunderstand who Jesus is, for the best kind of life that only comes in the life of Jesus?

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Lessons From The Garden…Christine Sine

Gardening is an important part of the rhythm of my life. I have always loved God’s creation, but it is only since I settled in Seattle that I have become an avid gardener. As part of our commitment to simplicity and selfsustainability, we grow as much of our ownfruits and vegetables as possible on our urban lot. Fortunately the climate in the Pacific Northwest is ideal for this venture. At this time of the year, our front porch bulges with seedlings ready to be planted. I know of no more satisfying experience than to eat produce freshly harvested and cooked from the garden.

Celebrating God’s presence in the garden is one way I absorb the soothing rhythms encased in the seasons of the year. Early monastic communities recognized gardening as part of God’s mandate to care for the Earth and believed gardens enabled them to re-create the paradise man and woman once shared with God.

Gardening not only renews and refreshes me; it has also taught me important lessons about our Creator God. In her book Looking For God, Nancy Ortberg says, “Nature holds more beauty than our eyes can bear,” which beautifully sums up why I have developed such a love affair with the garden. We can try to recreate an experience of heaven in our churches with bells, smells, and rich ornamentation, but that doesn’t come close to the wonder of God experienced in the fragrance of flowers, the melody of birdsong, and the beauty of plants and animals.

I think that one reason people are moving away from Christianity at time-warp speed is because we have so divorced our faith from the natural world. We confine our worship to a small, stuffy church building and restrict our devotion to reading words about God without connecting to the glory of God all around us. I read about the death and resurrection of Christ in the Bible, but I experience it every time I plant a seed and watch it burst into life. I read about the faithfulness of God to Israel, but I experience it every time I watch the rain fall and nourish the seeds I have planted. I read about the miracle of the fish and the loaves, but I experience a miracle every time I am overwhelmed by the generosity of God’s harvest.

Gardening has also taught me to pay attention to the beauty, diversity, and creativity of God’s world. As I watch the days and the seasons follow in their expected patterns, I am reminded of the faithfulness of a God who comes to us in all seasons of our lives. I am also reminded that our God, who poured out his great love in the complexity, beauty, and diversity of creation, still cares for us and for all creation and will never abandon what he has made.

Probably my most profound garden lessons come from winter. Why, I wonder, do we prune our fruit trees in the winter when they seem so bare and vulnerable? Or probably more to the point, why does God insist on pruning our lives during the difficult winters of suffering that all of us endure? Winter pruning encourages roots to go down deeper and strengthen the tree. The harder we prune, the more vigorous the spring growth will be and the greater the harvest. Maybe it is the same in our lives; God often prunes us during the frigid seasons of struggle and pain, when the branches seem bare and our souls feel most vulnerable. And often the pruning is just as severe as what I inflict on 24 my trees. If we really want to be fruitful during the seasons of harvest that God allows us, then we need to be willing to be pruned and shaped not during the times that life is good when we can handle a little painful cutting, but during those wintery season when we feel spring will never come again.

Perhaps you don’t enjoy gardening like I do, but as we move into the summer and the rich abundant harvest of God’s provision, you may like to spend time thinking about how God reveals himself to you through creation.

In particular, think about and pray for those who earn their living through interaction with God’s creation. Farmers, forestry workers, landscape gardeners, and conservationists are but a few of the professions that labor in God’s creation who need our prayers. We all reap the benefits of their efforts as we eat their produce, admire their landscapes, and walk amongst the parks they preserve.

The wonder and glory of God is all around us. May we all open our eyes to see and experience God in new ways this year.

 

WEEKLY CHALLENGES FOR 4/3 – 4/9

– Replace your coffee and tea with fair-trade brands. Find out where you can buy other fair-trade food items in your neighborhood

– Visit the local farmers market and use only produce that comes from the market.

–  Send a note of thanks to local organic farmers as a sign of appreciation for their efforts to preserve God’s creation while providing food for your table.

– Take a special lunch to migrant farm workers on a local farm. They often do backbreaking work for little pay.

– Buy local. When purchasing items this week, consider the distance they had to travel in order to reach you and the amount of petroleum used in the process. Whether in the grocery or hardware store, factor the proximity of the source into your purchasing criteria.

– Enjoy the “100 Mile Diet” for a week. Only consume food that has been grown within one hundred miles of your home.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

The Journey of Homelessness…

Homelessness, or house-lessness as it is now often called, is a huge and complex challenge throughout our world. It is reported that over one billion of the world’s six billion residents live in inadequate housing, mostly in the sprawling slums and squatter settlements in developing countries. They estimate that by the year 2050 this figure could rise to
over three billion.

In the U.S., an estimated four or five million people go homeless each year. In Australia, an estimated 100,000 are homeless and in Britain 100,000 households live in temporary accommodation and are therefore classified as homeless. In every country, the numbers have increased in the last few years, and the fastest growing segment of the homeless population is young women with children. Millions of others live without a safety net and constantly struggle with the knowledge that loss of a job or serious illness could quickly push them onto the streets.

Imagine yourself in the place of people who are homeless. Sit for a few moments and look around your house. Focus on the things you value most—your family photos, the tablecloth lovingly embroidered by your grandmother, the gifts from your mother and father. How would you feel if these were suddenly lost? Even worse, how would you feel if everything else was stripped away too, including your job and your life savings?

Weekly Challenge:

1. Read reflections on homelessness from those who have lived on the streets, like http://thehomelessguy.blogspot.com.

2. Find out where the homeless people in your neighborhood congregate and plan a visit.

3. Walk around your neighborhood with a friend. Talk to at least one homeless person you encounter and ask them about their life. If possible, find out why they became homeless and why they remain homeless.

4. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or community for an evening.

5. Take a homeless person out for a cup of coffee or for lunch.

6. Talk to people who have been refugees. Ask them about their experiences of homelessness.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

“A Christian?”

Which of these is necessary for a person to be rightly called “a Christian?”

 

1. Right beliefs?  (This was the emphasis I heard as a young person and is the basis for traditional evangelism)

2. Right community?  (This is about having people who model the way and provide accountability)

3. Right heart?  (This emphasizes motives and character)

4. Right actions?  (This is supported by biblical passages such as sheep and goats story)

 

Are all of these necessary? One? Two?

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2011 in Reflection, Uncategorized

 

We Are About Life, We Have Two Hands…

Half the world—three billion people—live on less than $2 per person per day. Global food production, already under strain from the credit crunch, must double by 2050 to head off mass hunger, according to the head of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. The food crisis pushed another 40 million people into hunger, bringing the global number of undernourished people to 973 million last year out of a total population of around 6.5 billion. Sixteen thousand children under the age of five still die every day as a result of hunger related diseases—that is one every five seconds. Hunger and malnutrition are the number-one risk to global health, killing more people than AIDS, malaria, and TB combined. Hunger is not just a problem in poor countries, however. In the U.S., 38 million people are at risk of hunger, and as a consequence, the US has the highest infant mortality rate of any Western nation.

Forecasts show the price of corn rising by another 25 percent by 2020 due to the increased demand for ethanol the production of which took 30% of the US cereal crop in 2008. Filling an SUV’s tank with ethanol and can use enough corn to feed a person for a year.

During this second week of Lent, we want to identify with those in our world who are chronically hungry and investigate ways that we can assist them in their struggle to establish food security.

Here are some suggestions for the week:
1. Each time you shop during the week, buy an extra bag of groceries and donate them to a local foodbank.
2. Prepare all your meals at home and donate what you would normally spend on eating out to an organization that works with the poor.
3.  Halve your food budget for the week and donate the money you save to an organization that works with the poor.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Our Prayer for Today

God we thank You that in a world filled with selfish ambition, where too often our tendency is to turn inward and contemplate our own desires despite the suffering that surrounds us. We are grateful that this 40-day journey calls us deeper into a story that reminds and informs us of the truth of who we really are, and that You came into this world to reveal Yourself in love and in grace. To show us and to lead us to turn outward and share that love. Lord, we ask that You:

* Expand our hearts that we may learn to truly love.

* Give us ears to hear the scriptures in a new way and discover the path of our own exodus.

* Give us the patience required to learn, and the faith to know that you are all that we truly need.

We believe that just as the Hebrews needed an exodus from Egypt, and from the slavery under Pharaoh that we in our culture, are being called in many ways into the wilderness. We live surrounded by a wealth that defies the imagination of our poorer brothers and sisters, yet we live with this fear that there will never be enough. May we hear your Voice and respond by answering the call. Amen.

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2011 in Uncategorized