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Worship Jars

Pardon the narcissism, but i left a post on the Bridge Blog that I've been meaning to record here for my personal reference as I continue to digest my thoughts.
...The idea that worship may be less about what we sing, and more about how we live is something I've known for sometime, but I don't know if I've really considered the weight of that. That maybe our singing should be born out of the living offering of our lives, and not just be considered the offering itself.

And I think that has something to do with how profoundly impactful Shawna's story, Michel's story, Linus', Martha's--and the rest of the communities' stories are on me--they ARE worship. Shawna shared her worship. The rest of us share the worship of our lives with each other...And there is something deeply spiritual about the sharing of our stories--the true sharing of collaborative worship--that fill us with reverence and awe.



Community of Jars

Mental traffic jam, thoughts trying to escape the chaos...

Sunday's gathering of The Bridge Communities was ridiculous. So many layers--I don't even know where to begin. Rain, tears, individuality, community, jars, and purpose all converged to create one of the most deeply symbolic, synergistic nights of conversation in memory.

People are encouraged after a time of expression in song to take the jar on their table, with the people that sit around them, to go and collect rain form outside. Ironically, it had stopped raining by that time, and people were forced to search for where the rain had been collected by its environment. Some stooped down to collect from the gutters; others turned their heads in disgust. Interesting...

As everyone returned to the room, Greg created the landscape of where we were going in conversation, and gave the exercise context. We discussed the variability in the sizes and shapes of the various types of jars, their capacity, and the varying difficulty with which some have to get filled. Interesting...

A woman from our community then shared her story. She's in her early 30's, and it's been almost a year since her husband died in a fatal car accident. It just so happened, that this was also during the rain. He left her with five kids (including a four month old) and no house; all of their dreams of ministry, after 12 years, were crushed. As she began to share her story, it started to pour outside. The juxtaposition of her emptiness and the downpour outside tore at me. While people were outside collecting water for their jars, and it was scarcely found. One woman tells her story of brokenness--her struggle with resolution and healing that still has not come, and pain that still groans inside of her--and all the jars in the room couldn't contain the rain that fell.

It felt strangely like a movie--an environment I often imagine I am in--and a couple of things could be discerned from the intentional contrast. For one, maybe there was a parallel--maybe the skies poured because she did. Maybe creation, in all of its connectedness, was moved by the aching woman. Maybe God was.

And yet, there was something else burning inside me. Was there a connection between her tears--her story--and our response? Was there something in the shared burden with others, something in what happens to us when we are moved to become "other-centered"?

Maybe it is in the sharing of true community, in true compassion and love, that our jars are filled. There seems to be too little to go around when we focus on filling our own jars. And yet, I've never been so fulfilled or satisfied as I am when I'm pouring my life out on others. It's a holistic reality in which we are all connected--a reality that draws us to give away--without reciprocation--and in that giving, receive more than we could ever give away. In this way, Christ brings us to our knees on the sidewalks of culture, and reveals that we cannot have holistic fulfillment outside of one another. It is found in community; it is found in the collaboration that allows others to be loved.

Our jars themselves are only half of the story.



Conversations With Gina : 2.0

A while ago, I was journaling about a few thoughts my wife had on our posture in prayer, and I was brought back to them last night in a conversation with the advisors.

I started ruminating on Christ as the Intercessor.
Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Do you ever think about something you've known or believed for a long time, but really never given any thought to? I was sitting there, and just started madly scribbling in my journal...
Does Christ really intercede before the Father on our behalf? I mean, I've quoted that for years--and I'm not one to assimilate things that I don't understand into metaphor or symbolism--but does He? Why would the Son of God, the figure we worship and connect with God through, the incarnation of God himself (as Phil 2 tells us)--why would he need to intercede on our behalf? Is he not God himself? Isn't praying to the Father for us a bit redundant?
It got my wheels spinning. First of all, we may have to find a word less loaded than "interecede", as most of us limit that word to prayer--not a bad association, but limited nonetheless. The word intercede can also means to intervene, to arbitrate, & to plead on someone's behalf.

It's started to make more sense. I can imagine Christ, always moved with compassion for us, wanting desperately to pull us from pain and strife, wanting to protect--and I can imagine the Father, part of the balance of who God is, righteous and just in every way. I can sense in that imagery, an inner wrestling that maybe God goes through in his desire to interact with us, intervene in our lives, and yet protect our ability to choose him and the necessity of character that rough situations create in our lives. In my mind's eye, I can see him weeping over the earthquake in Iran--right before it happened--realizing he must in that instance allow an aspect of the brokeness of this world to destroy people whom he loved so dearly. I wonder what the moments right before that were for him...the wrestling...Not that he exists in time, because he liekly sees the fullness of time's dimension--forward and backward. I can imagine that the wrestling might look like it did in the Garden of Gethsemane. Christ has no less compassion on the world now. He still carries in his body the marks of compassion.

In context, it seems to me that Paul wrote that to combat a fear of the evil one, and to combat the guilt we so often face. He wrote, "Who is it that condems you?" as a predicate for Christ being our intervention. But I think the implications may be even deeper. I wonder if we are given that example so that in our efforts to model life after Christ, we would never give up the fight for the intervention of God on behalf of humanity. Christ didn't even give up after his life--when he had all the power to end the struggle we find ourselves in--let alone during it. There's something so valuable about the wrestling, so representative of the heart of God. Maybe Christ's unending intercession for us is why it is necessary for us to do the same. Not that God needs our prayers in order to be empowered, but that we need them because of what it creates in us, and because of how it connects us with the rest of humanity.

God create the same in me. Though I do not possess the capacity to begin to carry the compassion for humanity that you have, fill me with what I can bear, and draw me to lace of unending wrestling, in prayer, and in acts of love, for those you wrestle for. May I represent your intervention to the culture around me.



The Bridge Community Blog is really taking off. The last three stories are huge--and I have a feeling that this is only the beginning. Three new blogs have been created, and our list of authors is growing daily.

++ God, allow this virtual communication to become the offering of our lives, a sweet incense to you. Bring people from different perspectives to the conversation, and shape us in the sacirfice that is your mission. Allow prayer and song to emerge from the stories of life; and bring us to that deep place of collaboration and unity that you envision. Release the creative within our lives as our personal lives find their identity within true community.




Somehow Mike knew exactly what I was going to post this morning. Could it be that he was blogiarizing my mind? Probably not, but I'd like to think that one good act of blogiarism deserves another. Since he is considerably more articulate than I (shameless flattery), I will take the opportunity to redirect you to his thoughts on two particular things that I found blogworthy.

First one:: The Passion goes Primetime. This link will carry you to a video and transcript from last night's interview with Mel Gibson. Mel was gracious, composed, and so authentic; his counterpart Diane seemed skeptical at best, and condescending at worst.

The second:: Lost in Translation. Apparently, Gina and I weren't the only ones that saw this movie over the weekend. It was fantastic. I hope they win at least one of those four Oscar Nominations.

And I agree Mike, the epic quote of the movie had to be "Everyone wants to be found."



Whale Rider

Jon Reid's got some great thoughts on the movie in this post.
The first time we watched it, the question it raised for me was: What if the only way to save the old ways is to break them? I love the climax of the film, when we are looking at the face of Koro, the staunch traditionalist, as his paradigm comes crashing down and he realizes that he has been opposing the very thing he thought he was seeking...
If you haven't seen the movie yet, it is fantastic, and well worth renting.


Permanence 1.2

As I continue to meditate on the permanent, and our temporal perception of faith, a good friend shattered the silence of my thoughts with his. In the last post's comments, Tim offered the following:
"I'm beginning to believe the only permanence that I can grasp is change. Change is certainly permanent. Change is the breeder of movement. I know that we both share a love for movement.

I think a love for movement ultimately can be the link between us and Christlikeness. C.S. Lewis said, 'Progress means not just changing, but changing for the better.' "
Change. Change is an interesting part of the landscape of permanence, because it is almost counter-intuitive. Change communicates life, pro- and di-gression, birth, death, action and reaction; we normally equate permanence with a lack of change. We often consider those things that are permanent to be those these that hold a perpetual value--a static, immovable presence.

Change may in fact be not just part of the landscape of the permanent, but the means by which we enter it. I cannot think of one permanent thing that isn't constantly changing. (If anyone comments that "God never changes", I may throw my blog out the window.) Sure, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever" and there is no shifting of shadows in God's character. But who knows God? (Again, no cliches please). We all know in part--albeit a very, very, small part--but in a way, our understanding of God changes as our ability to comprehend more of him changes. And yes, in the end it is not he that changes, but us--and yet change is the avenue through which we enter his permanence.

Maybe change is the raw material of permanence, and faith the door.

On another note, every day we have an inner office mini newspaper that our branch manager circulates. This morning, it seems I was destined to consider permanence. Here's a quote he put in it:

"The influence of each human being in this life is a kind of immortality" -- John Quincy Adams

Influence. Permanent. I'm going to have to stew on that a while.



Blog for Hire

I know this last week's been a bit light on the blogging, but for good reason. Two new blogs have since entered the world, one for The Bridge Communities, and one for a friend who desperately needed to cave into the blogwagon. The Bridge Community Blog has officially begun, though most of the would be authors haven't been notified yet, leaving the posting up to me to get us off of the ground. (Little do they know i have plans for world domination! Muh mwa mwa-ha-ha!!)

Eh-hem. Anyways, after several renditions of the Bridge Blog, you may now see it here. Though it was created primarily as a conversational tool for the community, please feel free to jump into the conversation.




Been creating another blog over the past few days--one for The Bridge Communities. It's almost up and running--I can't wait. I think a community blog, equipped to facilitate conversation about our ongoing communal evolution is an idea long overdue. This will allow people to not only stir the conversations we have in our gatherings, but to share their stories intra-week, without the complicated nature of forums.


What is Permanent?

It is the quest of nearly every human being to find permanence. Permanence offers peace, confidence, and stability. But are any of the vehicles we employ to grasp permanence, indeed themselves permanent?

It may sound like unnecessary lexi-acrobatics, but let's think about it. What do we employ in our search for stability and peace? Our emotions, routines, assets, understanding of truth--little, if any, are anything more than temporary pacifiers.

So, the question remains, what is permanent? Sure, Love is permanent. But who really knows that love? Many of us have experienced a love from God that surpasses knowledge or description, but we've only tasted it in small quantities.

I think actions are permanent as well. Every one of your actions is inextricably linked to the rest of mankind. You create history every day--and create reactions that you can never go back and undo. And not only that, but in the heavenly realm resides a permanent record of our actions, whether they stand alone or whether they are marked "paid in full".

I wonder whether prayer might be permanent as well. Our prayers are also translated to this other realm, and are said to fill the throne room of God like a sweet smelling incense. Interesting, an echo of our prayers--and of the rest of our actions--is emitted in another realm as we realease them--including our tears. It is written that our Father stores up every tear that we cry. I wonder how many I have? I wonder how many have been stored because me?

Ultimately, Truth is permanent. Not our derivatives and theologies, but Truth itself. While I was contemplating this, another thought came to me.
It seems that in order to grasp the permanent--the Truth and our permanent role in his story--we must employ what appears temporary and raw. Faith, our God-given ability to see the permanent, appears as a door that is subjective and imperfect--birthed from our own hope.
And yet it is the door. The gateway to the permanent may seem a temporary function of our heart's desire to believe, but it is the door through which we must pass though to embrace the true permanence that God has created for us.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
"By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible."


"Blog You Like A Hurricane"

Great thoughts on Our Daily Blog yesterday. "Few Love the Cross of Christ". Thanks Andrew.



good riddance

Apparently, the madness ended over the weekend. The LordCo URL and its sacriledge is nowhere to be found. Here's to not missing much.


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