One Ingredient of a Healthy Church

10.1.2014

In a recent interview on the website PARSE, which is run by Christianity Today, Kara Powell, Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute at Fuller Theological Seminary and co-author of the book “Sticky Faith”, responded as follows to this question

4) How would you advise pastors and church leaders to create a healthy culture where faith is nurtured?

Another one of our key Sticky Faith findings is the power of intergenerational relationships. Sadly, we in the church have ended up segregating (and that’s not a verb I use lightly) the generations. We are well-intentioned, and there is certainly a time and a place for age-based ministries that are developmentally-targeted. One of my life mantras is that balance is something we swing through on our way to the other extreme. The typical church has swung too far to the extreme of generational segregation.

Following the wisdom of my colleague, Chap Clark, we encourage all families and congregations to make sure each young person is surrounded by five adults. Five adults who are on their team. Five adults who pray for them, who show up at soccer games, and who will be there for them when they stumble and fall in their faith. Not only do these cross-generational relationships change young people, they also bring greater life and vitality to adults and entire congregations.

His Eye Is On Sparano

9.30.2014

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It is sad times for the Raider Nation, and I fight to keep composure even as I post this.

Let me just say that I called the firing of most recent Raider’s head coach Dennis Allen four weeks ago.  I said that he would be gone after the game in London since it would give the Raiders two weeks (next week is a bye) to reorganize, which is a polite word for raising themselves about Div. 1 football).

It isn’t just that we embarrassed ourselves before the Queen (though I doubt she even clicked on the game).  Ten straight losses going back to last year, a pitiful pre-season followed by four straight poorly played games in the regular season, and a coach who had no answers.

I am hearing from people all over.  Jason Stevens texted me last night - while I am in bed and trying to get some sleep, mind you (those musicians always stay up too late) -to report the firing, which I had been expecting all day.

Just hours ago my nephew in the Bay Area - a Raider season ticket holder - said this is the first time in his young life that he has been embarrassed to be a Raider fan.  I used all the pastoral care techniques I know to shore him up.

There are just too many emails in my box to even respond to.

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So Tony Sparano is the interim head coach.  He was named in a press conference just hours ago, though most of us who follow the Silver and Black saw this coming.  The best we can hope for is respectability and a few wins at this point.  I would be happy just to see a team that is prepared for a game and has some fire.

To adapt the words of that old, classic spiritual,

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for a Super Bowl?
When the Raiders are my chosen, My favorite team are they,
His eye is on the Sparano, and I know we’ll win someday.

I sing because I need to.  I sing, and watch, and pray.

For his eye is on Sparano, and I know (and hope) we’ll win someday.

The bye week is advantageous.  I need a Sunday to recover and get emotionally stable again.

Merton Monday

A man becomes a saint not by conviction that he is better than sinners but by the realization that he is one of them, and that all together need the mercy of God!

Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
Sabbath

This Sunday we end our sermon series on Sabbath (“Rest”) by actually doing the Sabbath.

Find a short devotion to help you enter your Sabbath day at the Mount Olympus Presbyterian Church Blog

A Sabbath Story

Here is a Sabbath Story from the Gospel of Luke (13:10-17).  We will read it this Sunday:

Now he [Jesus] was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

Apparently Jesus sees the Sabbath as a day to set people free.  From what do you need to be set free?  Maybe a physical ailment.  Or maybe an emotional block, a grudge, or mental burden.

Drawing attention to being able to refresh a work animal but not cure on the Sabbath, Jesus makes the point that a hypocritical life treats what is truly valuable less than what it deserves.  This woman was much more valuable than an ox or donkey.  Are there ways we treat those who should be the most important to us less than they deserve?  Can the Sabbath be a day to correct that?

Merton Monday

Solitude is not and can never be a narcissistic dialogue of the ego with itself.

Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
Sunday Evening Prayer

9.21.2014

Lord, teach us the silence of humility,

the silence of wisdom,

the silence of love,

the silence that speaks without words,

the silence of faith.

Lord teach us to silence our own hearts and minds that we may listen for the movement of your Holy Spirit, and feel your presence in the depths of our being.

(Take a few moments and be still and silent with the Lord)

Amen.

      a prayer from the Wild Goose Worship Community

Sunday (Sabbath) Morning Prayer

9.21.2014

You are the voice we can scarcely hear

because you speak to us about dying and suffering,

and we are impacted by so many voices

that have to do with power and competence

and success.

We do know that you are the voice that gives life,

that you are the voice that opens futures to people who are hopeless.

We are a part of a hopeless people,

because the other voices eat at our hearts,

and we are immobilized

and we become deaf.

So we pray for new ears.

We pray that your voice may be more audible to us,

that we may be able to sort out the death-giving

from the life-giving voices among us.

We pray in the name of Jesus,

through whom you have spoken

in such inscrutable ways.

Amen.

                   Walter Brueggemann

Saturday Evening Prayer

9.20.2014

O gracious and holy Father,

Give us wisdom to perceive you,

intelligence to understand you,

diligence to seek you,

patience to wait for you,

eyes to see you,

a heart to meditate on you,

and a life to proclaim you,

through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord.

                                    St. Benedict (480-547)

Saturday Morning Prayer

9.20.2014

Show me, O Lord, your mercy, and delight my heart with it.  Let

me find you whom I so longingly seek.  See, here is the man whom

the robbers seized, mishandled, and left half dead on the road to

Jerico.  O kind-hearted Samaritan, come to my aid!  I am the sheep

who wandered into the wilderness – seek after me, and bring me home

again to your fold.  Do with me what you will, that I may

stay by you all the days of my life, and praise you with all those

who are with you in heaven for all eternity.

                                    St. Jerome (c.347-420) Biblical scholar and hermit