Just a Thought

“In the same way, let your light shine before others that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  -Matthew 5:16

 

A little contingency of the Celebration tribe just returned from the Exponential Conference in Orlando, Florida. I’m still a little dazed. In just four short days, we experienced a whirlwind of potent insights, fruitful conversation and a little dose of Disney, too (no, shocker there!). Before I share more, I want to say thank you. I’m grateful to serve among a people who value leadership development and creative experiences. Celebration folks are intentional about learning and growing both in faith and in being the church. Thank you!

It was my first time to experience Exponential, a conference focused on church planting and new missional communities. A variety of speakers shared their experience in their own context and faith traditions. One speaker in particular really captured my attention. Michael Frost suggested that outreach is less about telling and more about living. Frost suggests that Christians are called to live questionable lives. Don’t get your hopes up, he didn’t mean morally questionable. We aren’t called to run-amuck. Frost suggested that we live in such a way that others might be curious about our lifestyle, our motivations, curious enough to ask questions.

As believers, one of our primary concerns should be the arousal of curiosity among unbelievers leading to questions and faith sharing.” –Michael Frost

Questionable living. This idea really resonates with me. I must confess, I can become a little leery, and weary, of aggressive Christians who push their faith on others. But I am all about living wholeheartedly among others; living a life saturated by God’s love for us. A life that entails walking humbly, turning the other cheek, feeding the hungry, and loving the neighbor; a life that both shows that I believe, and helps me believe more fully along the way.

This form of outreach grows from relationship and integrity. This form of outreach invites others into conversation. And in conversation, we have the opportunity to share our faith. To explain that the way we treat our friends, our spouses and our children – are modeled after Jesus’ compassion and respect of others. To explain that our generosity with time and talents – are simply in response to God’s overflowing generosity to us. This is the Good News in real life.

So, my friends…

  • How are you living a questionable life?
  • How are you responding to people’s questions?

It’s just a thought,
Vicar Jen

Just a Thought…

We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors.  We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.  2 Corinthians 6:8-10 NLT

 

bishop3
Bishop

 

So my dog died this week.  His name was Bishop.  He was 14 years old.  A beautiful cocker spaniel he was. I got him the first year of my first call as a pastor, while serving in Philadelphia.  He’s been with me through think-and-thin. He lived a very long and happy life, and he died in his sleep after spending lots of quality time with those who loved him.

It’s still sad, though, because I miss him. And it wasn’t the best week for him to die, as this is has been an extra-busy week. But that always seems to be the case. Tragedy is never convenient. But it comes nonetheless.

The week has also been filled with some great things- I had the chance to spend time with friends and colleagues at the first Youth and Family Ministry Network meeting of the Fall. I had the opportunity to see the awesome Broadway musical Book of Mormon and ran into some good friends while there. This weekend dream-leaders from Celebration will be meeting in retreat to dream together about our church’s future. And Saturday night is Lutherhill’s always-spectacular S’mores and Champagne Gala.  Sometimes, good things come, even when we don’t plan for them or expect them.

That’s the truth about life, isn’t it?  It can’t be all tragedy, all the time.  It can’t be all good stuff, all the time.  The bad helps give meaning to the good and the good helps makes the tragic bearable.

I would rather have not had to grieve the death of Bishop.  But I wouldn’t trade in the amazing 13 years we had together as companions.

As a church, we’ll have moments of joy together, and moments of sadness.  Sometimes we’ll agree and sometimes we’ll disagree.  And sometimes we’ll go through periods of excitement and periods of boredom.   But this all adds up to life.  Life in Christ.  A household of faith.  And I wouldn’t trade that in for anything, either.

So, here’s to life!

It’s just a thought.

 

+pax et bonum

pc

Just a Thought…

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,  fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”  Hebrews 12:1-3

I’ve never ran a marathon, but I know it takes a lot of work (just ask Mary Lee!). Marathoners take months, even years, to train their bodies. That’s A LOT OF PRACTICE!  If you’ve never run long distances, if you’ve never walked, or biked, or jogged or swam athletically, if you’re overweight, sedentary, and can’t even walk up a flight a stairs without becoming breathless, then you aren’t ready to run a marathon.

But even the most out-of-shape people can move towards health. You might not be able to run out of your door and immediately complete the 26+ miles of a marathon, but you can start somewhere.  It takes getting up and doing something instead of sitting there and doing nothing.

That’s kind of like life, isn’t it? Sometimes when life is filled with difficulties, it’s easier to do nothing than to do something.  But this isn’t the healthiest of ways to respond. If I know I have poor eating habits, or that I come home after work and crash on the couch and yet do nothing to change the situation, then I will not move towards health.  And I definitely won’t run a marathon!  And if I’m spending beyond my financial means, or if my relationship with my spouse has been rocky, and yet do nothing to change the situation, then I will not move towards the abundant life Jesus desires for each of us.

Faith is the same.  Ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. We as baptized followers of Jesus are being trained for the long-haul.  It won’t always be easy.  In fact, if following Jesus comes easy to you, you’re probably not doing it right! It should sometimes feel like a marathoner experiencing the muscle pain as she pushes her body to be ready for the race.  Following Jesus should be like spiritual sweating… and sacrificing… and pushing yourself… and refocusing, so that you’re prepared to cross that finish line.

So how is your faith life?  What is getting in the way of your “running the race?”

Just a thought!

+pax et bonum

pc