Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
We Christians often think the only important part of the Jerusalem story is Calvary, and, yes, suffering and killing in that place still seem to be the loudest news. But Calvary was a waypoint in the larger arc of God’s dream – it’s on the way to Jerusalem, it is not in Jerusalem. Jesus’ passion was and is for God’s dream of a reconciled creation. General Convention opening address, 7 July 2009, The Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and PrimateIndeed, according to the Episcopal Life Online news service, denominational President of the House of Deputies Bonnie Anderson, in addressing the ECW Triennial July 14, asked the rhetorical question, "Am I keeping my eye on the prize here? ...God's dream ... (in which) we are all in peaceful relationship with each other. We are whole and happy; the lions lie down with the lambs. There is enough to eat for everyone. (It's) the world as it should be -- a world reconciled, as God made it."
In all fairness to the leadership of TEC, the coinage preexisted their usage by some 35 years, making us surprised we hadn't heard it before. There's a lengthy analysis of "God's dream" in two posts on the blog Herescope that's well worth checking out. Here are just a couple of highlights.
The first use of "God's Dream" appears to be in the work of televangelist Rev. Robert Schuller: "He has a dream for your life and your church. He will reveal His dream by causing you to desire what He wants.…Listen to this dream, 'For it is God at work within you, giving you the will and the power to achieve His purpose'…," Schuller writes in his 1974 book, Your Church Has Real Possibilities.
Now, this use of the idea of God dreaming is... Californian, but not otherwise objectionable. Substitute a tougher noun like "plan" or "purpose" for "dream" and there's really nothing to bother a person. But while Schuller refers to God's "dream" for a person's life and ministry (over which the individual person still exerts free will), TEC leadership and others refer to God's "dream" for the world, and that takes on a whole different dimension.
This wider use of the phrase originates with Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town Desmond Tutu: "God says to you, 'I have a dream. Please help me to realize it.' It is a dream of a world whose ugliness and squalor and poverty, its war and hostility, its greed and harsh competitiveness, its alienation and disharmony are changed into their glorious counterparts," he writes in God Has a Dream: A Vision of Hope for Our Time, 2004. This book includes a chapter titled "God Only Has Us", and this is where we start to feel a bit twitchy.
Let's deconstruct this a little, starting with the meaning of "dream". Merriam-Webster includes the following applicable definitions:
1: a series of thoughts, images, or emotions occurring during sleep
2: an experience of waking life having the characteristics of a dream: as a visionary creation of the imagination
4: a strongly desired goal or purpose.
We can rule out the first definition on the grounds that the great I AM lives in the eternal present and neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:4). We can rule out the second on the grounds that there's no need for God to "imagine" a perfect world when it was originally created perfect (Genesis 1), which leaves us with "a strongly desired goal or purpose", a definition which seems to fit the use of the word "dream" by the Presiding Bishop, Dr. Anderson and Archbishop Tutu.
The definition begs the question, "If God strongly desires a certain goal or purpose, what prevents God from achieving that goal or purpose?" Archbishop Tutu would appear to answer with the claim that "God only has us." And that's where the problem arises.
We run into dangerous territory when we start to assume that Almighty God needs anything from us. We are reminded of this when John the Baptist warns those proud of their lineage, "from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham." (Luke 3:8). God created the laws of physics and nature but is not bound by them. Anything God wants for the world can and will be done with or without any "help" from us.
Secularists enjoy saying that man created God in his own image. While humanity is, indeed, in God's image, this is an image in miniature. God's power is vast, God's ways unknowable, and to diminish the Almighty by claiming we are needed rather than just loved is profoundly disrespectful.
In God's Sovereign power, holiness, love and grace, Jesus -the very Son of God- offered up His Life to save us. This is not a dream, it is sacred reality for all who repent and believe. Alleluia!
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
In his sermon, Fr. David posed the question: "Will we ever have enough?" The answer, he said, was that "the jar is fuller than you think," in reference to the popular saying, "is the jar half full or half empty." The point of this saying, and of Fr. David's message, is that our attitude can greatly influence how happy or desperate we are. He quoted Pastor Chuck Swindoll about the importance and influential power of our attitude: "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. ...I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it". David+ asked: "Do we approach the challenges in life with an attitude of crisis or opportunity?"
This is a daunting task, and we may be tempted to see our lives as a jar half empty rather than full enough. And there truly is no human solution. Rather, we rely on God's strength to carry us through the tough times. And we remember that "with God, small resources can be more than enough. We offer up what we do have, with thanks." As the story of the feeding of the multitude with a few loaves of bread and fish illustrates, God can make even a little become plenty and to spare. And so we must remember to have an "attitude of gratitude," trusting that God, in His wisdom, will take care of us. As Hudson Taylor, one of the first missionaries to mainland China, noted, "God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supplies." A day in the life of an ordinary person, spent well and with humble trust in God, is surely an expression of God's work. And so, as Fr. David reminded us, we should resolve that "with God's help, we will do our best." We will see over and over again that we will always have 'enough' as we learn to trust in God and His magnificent supply of resources.
A small group including members of All Saints and of Reformation then joined for a time of sharing which included refreshments. The discussion centered around reflecting upon the Lord's encouragement toward maintaining an attitude of trust in God as the present challenges of each congregation are being considered.
Church Activities Coming Soon:
The Women's Book Group will meet Tuesday, Aug. 4, 7 pm at the
McDonald's McCafe, 3781 Ridge Rd. W. in Greece.
It's on the left, just beyond the Ridgemont Country Club and before
the intersection with Rt. 386 (Elmgrove Road).
McDonald's? Well, you probably haven't seen one like this: gas fire-
place, flat-screen TVs, plus the usual great coffee drinks at all hours.
Even if you haven't read the books yet (see 7/14 post at end for titles),
come join us!
Next Week's Sermon title: 8/2/09
The Nathan Ministry [2 Samuel 11:26---12:13a]
Thursday, July 23, 2009
As Christians, we are called to love others as God loves us. But how do we respond when the world's corruption and needs are overwhelming? We may believe that in this fallen world, there is nothing we can do to help that will really make a difference. Or we may be looking for an excuse not to work toward positive change, but to continue to focus solely on our own lives.
"...when God gave us His two greatest commands, love Him and love others as much as we love ourselves, He didn't say, unless you live in a fallen world. There was no caveat that gave us the freedom to give less than love if the world we're living in is less than perfect. If anything, a fallen world is a world that needs love the most."
Check out the original post at: http://stufffchristianslike.blogspot.com/2009/07/571-using-we-live-in-fallen-world-as.html or JUST CLICK THE TITLE OF THIS POST TO GO TO THIS SITE >>> .....(and then leave a comment with us back here at our church's blog to let us know your thoughts)
Monday, July 20, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
As iMonk says, "this is not a game I am going to play with God. I’m not cooperating with what amounts to saying “God is toying with us to see what we’ll do.” If God wants to say something to me, no game is necessary. And I am not required to demonstrate my desperation to know God’s will to know it. There may be places in my journey I need to be before God’s will unfolds, but God isn’t being gamey. He’s not playing hide and seek. He isn’t constantly dangling guidance in front of me like bait."
Take a look at the full article and let us know what you think-