Monthly Archives: March 2014
Love that opens wide our hearts
and draws us to Your throne;
In Whose presence fear departs;
We turn to You alone.
Love that sets our spirits free
So merciful and true;
We rejoice, Your Face to see
And put our trust in You.
Jesus, Lover of our souls,
Glory to Your name!
Only You can make us whole;
Your goodness we proclaim!
So joyfully we sing
To You, oh Jesus, Living Word,
To You, the King of Kings!
This was sent to me:
Hannah, you wrote about Christian community. What it is. How breaking bread was more than just sharing bread, it was a core value of a community of people. This was “church”. You asked folks about their own interpretation of Christian community and Church. Your question is timely in view of one of the cases the US Supreme Court is hearing. In this case, a corporation named Hobby Lobby does not want to provide birth control coverage in the insurance policies of employees because the owners have personal religious beliefs against certain types of birth control.
This is bringing up all sorts of questions. Can a corporation impinge on the rights of their employees based off of “personal beliefs”? Are Corporations “ people” who have beliefs? If Corporations are people and can have religious beliefs than would you include them in your definition of Christian community and “Church”. That would imply that when you break bread; companies such as Walmart, Hobby Lobby, General Electric, Halliburton, etc. could break bread with you as well. I guess that if Walmart were part of the community they could bring the bread. Maybe a nice red wine as well.
I don’t know about you but to think of a Corporation being ruled as a “people” with the right to put their religious beliefs on employees is scary stuff. God knows (and I mean God knows) how the Corporations have already dis-assembled our Democracy. What would they do to Christianity?
Something to think about.
In general, the American family has become defused. We still have traditional neuclear families; then we have single parent households, blended families and same-sex parents. There are also some extended and clan families.
One form the “clan” has taken in the US is neighborhoods. While I don’t know that I would call this a norm, it is worth recognizing that there are groups in cities and rrural areas alike, who are built around ethnicity, faith or proximity. These groups function as clans in that they share common values, build relationships and help each other. Some are a little more fluid, in that people come and go. Newcomers can join and will be welcomed. Others are more closed: People are there for life and newcomers are not accepted.
Our need for a clan is great. I am absolutely intrigued by the fact that the neuclear family was not really established until the 1940’s. By the end of the 1960’s, just twenty years later, the divorce rate was at 50%. it has not decreased; in fact, it has increased a bit. One statistic I have heard is that the divorce rate among evangelical christians is 66%. In all fairness, this could simply be because the sample group is smaller, so the numbers will look a bit different. Having said that, it is notable that being in the Church has made little or no difference in the divorce rate.
My interpretation of this is that the neuclear family system is too fragile to withstand the pressures of life, work, children and everyday demands. Couples who have the help of parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends fare much better.
The Church needs this. In her book on sacraments, Monica Helwig described church as a community set apart, able to withstand the chaos of the world. Sunday Morning only won’t accomplish this. We must be involved with each other on a much more relational basis.
Even if we start by doing small things, such as calling people or greeting neighbors when we see them, isolation begins to lose its hold on us Fear melts away and we begin to build caring, loving communities. We learn that being known by others is delightful and not shameful; we find that we have time to get everything done because we have encouragement and help.
What is your clan like? What can you do to build and strengthen it?
“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,…” (Acts 2:46)
Since the late 1990’s, my observation has been that the Church “goes to temple” in the form of Sunday Morning gatherings, and possibly a midweek service of some kind.
We have lost the practice of breaking bread from house to house, however, and we need it back.
One big reason for knowing the needs of others was that these people were spending real time together and building close relationships.
This fit their culture well: The family structure at that time was the clan family, which included people who were related biologically or through marriage, friends, servants and strangers who attached themselves to a particular clan. That is why Mary and Joseph could be in caravan for three days before they realized Jesus was not with
them. As far as they knew, he was with Uncle Caleb or cousin Nathan and their friends. (see Luke 2:43-46)
The church is described in a few different ways now:
Family, community, fellowship…
One challenge with calling the Church “family” is that it does not fit our cultural norm, which makes this description a little hard to embrace.
Church as community might feel more comfortable, but it fails to call us to the deeper levels of relationship we need.
Fellowship is only one aspect of Church, making it a bit incomplete.
So, how do we become more relational? How do we move from being “Temple only” to believers who really engage with each other?
I will add comments to explore these and other questions. Meanwhile, I would love to hear from you.
What is “Church” to you?
Do you have ideas about how we can begin to “break bread each day?”
I have a couple of suggestions:
*One is to begin with relationships that make more sense to us. For me, that might be my neighborhood. For someone else, that might be a group of friends.
*Small groups might try being less structured, even if that is once a month.
*If only a couple of believers begin to meet and share; they might be able to invite others.
Such precious love has god my King
That warms and fills my soul;
His presence lifts my heart to sing;
His power makes me whole.
Such mighty love has God my Lord
That sends my foe to flight;
He saved my life, I am restored
To walk in His delight.
Such joyous love has God Most High
That fills my soul with praise;
“Holy, Holy Lord,” I cry,
How glorious are Your ways!
Oh God of love, of wonderous power,
Magnificent and true,
May every moment, every hour,
Be spent in praise to You.
I wrote the first poem in a humorous way, but make no mistake: The message is serious and real:
What’s this that you are telling me!
How can this actually be
That there are greater mysteries
I cannot begin to see!
Surely, you are kidding;
This can’t possibly be real!
The universe is limited
To what I know and feel.
There’s One whose ways are higher?
Ouch, that really hurts my pride!
I thought I was important,
But for me He died?
You certainly don’t mean that!
I’m really not that bad,
That God would sacrifice His Son
You’re making me feel sad!
Come on, I’m self sufficient!
There’s nothing I can’t do!
Yet you tell me I am helpless
And need to be born anew?
What kind of nonsense is this!
I can’t be a baby again!
Born of water and the Spirit?
Of God, not just of man?
You say my life depends on this;
Apart from god I’m dead.
You say I cannot serve myself;
I must turn to Him instead.
You’re giving me a headache;
I’m baffled through and through;
Yet there is something deep inside
That knows your words are true.
It seems, no matter how I try,
I can’t remove this stain.
It’s made of sin and fear and guilt;
Of poverty and pain.
You say there’s hope in Jesus,
Salvation in Him alone,
But how can I be so sure
He’ll love me as His own?
You say He’s loved me all along,
He knows my every need;
That all I really have to do
Is turn to him, Indeed!
He’ll welcome me with open arms
And wash away my sin.
He’ll restore my life and heal me;
He’ll make me new within.
Okay, then, let’s be practical,
What must I pay for this?
I have to give Him everything!
And old things I won’t miss?
Yikes! That’s down right scary!
I’ll have nothing left at all!
You say that I’ll have everything
If I listen to His call?
You’re right, these are true mysteries,
They are boggling my mind!
How confounding and yet wonderful
That there’s a God so Kind!
I can’t make heads or tails of it;
And yet, I can’t ignore
This invitation you are extending,
Let’s run through it once more.
Apart from God, you tell me,
I can do nothing at all,
But if I give Him all I am,
If I answer His sweet call,
He’ll make me a new creation;
he’ll cleanse and make me whole.
I’ll live with Him in Heaven,
He’ll sanctify my soul.
All right, then, let’s get started!
What do I have to do?
Confess that I’m a sinner,
That He is God most True?
Admit that I’m not able
To save myself and say,
I know I really need You, Lord,
fill my heart today.
That’s it, I really did it!
I guess that wasn’t bad
And what’s this warm sensation
I’ve never really had?
It feels like something special,
I don’t have words to say!
I gave my life to Jesus,
He is the Only Way.
The second poem is a little more serious:
Lord Jesus I confess to You
I am but one so weak;
Unable to redeem myself,
It’s truly You I seek.
Your mysteries seem invisible;
I long to see Your face.
But only through Your gift of faith
And through Your precious grace.
I come into Your presence
And bless Your Holy Name.
Your Kingdom is more clear to me;
Your greatness I proclaim!
Until one day I find myself
Before Your royal throne,
Singing Holy, Holy Holy
All praise to You alone!
With all the saints in harmony,
We’ll sing the hymn again:
All glory, power and blessing, Lord,
To You belong,
This blog is dedicated to expressing all of the good things of God. It is specifically christian on purpose.
If you’re thinking, “Oh no: Religion!” Relax. To quote a saying from the Jesus Movement, “Christianity: Not a religion, a relationship.” This is about knowing the loving god. It is not about “do’s and don’ts,” doctrine or dogma (sorry dogs!) Do feel free to raise contravercial topics; just be respectful. Please refrain from name calling, criticizing specific people and crude language. Thank you.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” 1 Peter 1:3
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13