Animate: Week 3

Jesus | The Revolution Of Love • Mark Scandrette
What does it mean to walk in the way of Jesus? To explore this question, Mark Scandrette looks to the ancient Japanese concept of the Dojo. What if our churches became places where we practiced being like Jesus? What if we were serious about joining in with Jesus’ Revolution of Love? What if we took the kind of social and economic risks Jesus took and reshaped what it means to be a Christian? As Mark invites us into the Dojo, we find ourselves looking at a Master who might be asking us to walk down a path we never imagined.

Here’s an additional clip of Mark Scandrette talking about the Jesus Dojo:

How did this idea of the life of faith as a dojo change your thinking? Did it? Is it something you connect with? What are you still ruminating on from that week’s conversation?


Animate: Week 2

Religion | Spirituality Is Not Enough • Lillian Daniel
What does it mean to be spiritual? Is it the same as being religious? Lillian Daniel pushes back at this question that has been stirring up the cultural conversation for a while now. She asks us to consider how the seeds of faith to take root and thrive. What role does organized religion play in helping—or hindering—growth? If religion is the problem, why has it held fast for thousands of years? In this age of religious pluralism, is it possible or even desirable to stick with our age-old traditions?

Thanks for a great conversation last week at our Animate Adult Education Class. I’ve been gone this week at a retreat, so just now getting to put up a short post. As I was thinking about our conversation on what religion is, what spirituality is, etc., a few things came to mind:

  1. Sarah, who is getting her PhD in Christian Spirituality has defined spirituality as such: “Spirituality is the reception of, and response to, the Spirit (understood to be God at work in this world).”
  2. The video below went viral on YouTube about a year ago, and currently has over 22 million views. It’s an interesting take on our question – someone who says that he hates religion, but loves Jesus. You might be interested in watching it. For many people, it’s very easy to separate the two. There are a series of books written by an emerging church pastor, Dan Kimball, and one of them is titled: “They Like Jesus but Not the Church.”

I’m interested in seeing if anyone else is comfortable sharing where they placed themselves in that drawing between the religious side and the spiritual side?

One of the questions we didn’t get to was where you would place Jesus on that same drawing. Where do you think Jesus fit if you had to place him between “religious” and “spiritual”?

As I shared during the conversation, I don’t have as many pleasant thoughts about tradition, like Lillian does. I do think that we need to be thinking beyond our own individual selves, I think it does mean something that we believe in something bigger than ourselves. But I think our tradition, and our traditions, have really screwed a lot of things up. We’ve hurt a lot of people. Our opinions, and beliefs, and theologies and doctrines…which have all been a part of our tradition, have caused scores of people to leave the church and not want to have anything to do with God.

So…I think that’s an issue. We are the church reformed and always reforming. I think that Presbyterians spend a bit too much time on the “reformed” side, and not enough on the “always reforming” side.

Anyway – would love to hear some of your thoughts, what have you been thinking about this past week? What questions still linger for you?

Animate: Week 1

God | Faith is a Quest • Brian McLaren
“If you ask me, ‘Is God real?’ I first have to ask, ‘Which God are we talking about?’” With these words, Brian McLaren gives voice to a common struggle among people of faith—who exactly is this God we worship? Is God a mighty fortress, solid and unchanging? Is God a mystical, unknowable force that floats around us like a vapor? How can we speak of faith if we can’t even speak of God with any certainty? How can we chart a course through the often-murky waters of Christian tradition and find our way to God?

Well – we covered a lot yesterday morning. Sorry if it felt a bit rushed – we did have some introductions to do that I think were important. Next week (and all of the remaining 6 weeks), we’re going to be starting the video RIGHT at 9:05am, to make sure that we have a solid 30+ minutes after the video for discussion.

So, first off I’d just be interested to know what your overall thoughts were on this topic of God, apophatic vs kataphatic theology, fortress people vs cloud people, etc. What did you hold onto from this morning, and what lingering questions do you still have?

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Collaborative Preaching: James 1:17-27

I’ve done this from time to time, and I thought I’d try it again this week. Over the next couple days, I’d like to work on writing a collaborative sermon based off the passage James 1:17-27. This is how it will work:

  1. Read the passage below.
  2. Read any of the progress that I’ve made on the sermon so far.
  3. Leave any thoughts that you have on the passage below in the comments section.
  4. I’m going to work on incorporating your comments into the actual sermon that I’ll preach next Sunday. It will all be one flowing sermon, and I won’t use your name unless I ask you specifically.
  5. Let’s have some fun with this and write a sermon together.

The idea behind this is that we interpret the scripture best together as a community – and so we’re going to try and do that this week. Here is the scripture – and let’s all interact and engage in this experiment together.

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Anyone Interested in the Blog Continuing?

It’s been a lot of fun to write this blog over the course of Lent this year. Many of you have let me know that you’ve been reading this blog and have found it enjoyable. And while some of you have been commenting, I know (because you’ve told me!) that many more of you are out there who haven’t been commenting but actively reading.

Anyway – I’m wondering if there is any interest in seeing this blog continue throughout the year. And if so – what would you be interested in seeing posted here? Devotional type of posts? Interesting questions and discussions? Reviews of books or articles that we might be able to read together?

I’m open to any and all ideas. But see – here is where you HAVE to comment so that I know what you’re interested in. If we don’t continue the blog, we can just leave it up and active until Advent, and then the following season of Lent and use it again for another Lenten iStudy. Anyway – let me know what your thoughts are. Thanks!


Session 6 Reflection

Before we begin our last blog before Easter, please join me in prayer:

God, we gather today to learn from the example of your Messiah, Jesus. As we move into this final week of the season of Lent, show us how rightly to use the power you give us. Give us ears to hear your word, eyes to see your face, and courage to follow the path you set before us. Through Christ we pray. Amen. 

In my sermon for this past week, you heard me talk about the theater group Improv Everywhere. You can learn a lot more about them on their website, including a list of their missions. If you want to see the video I referred to of the founder, Charlie Todd, talking about why he does what he does, you can check that one out here on YouTube, or on my blog. Also – if you want to read my sermon from Palm Sunday 2012, you can find it here.

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