Archive for August, 2016

The scandal of heaven

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

I have been cogitating on, thinking about, and digesting comments made by a graduating teen.  This particular person is no slouch in terms of brains and is particularly articulate.  They are also invested heavily in serving this world.

The next world is irrelevant to them.  Or rather, they have no belief that there is life beyond this life. 

This belief system carries me back a few years to conversations with a senior who also shared this thread of belief.  His life was to end with his last breath and he believed his eternity was merely carried on through his progeny – those he had sired.

My wise brother once commented that, had he not been a Christian, he would have leaned heavily towards this existential belief, best portrayed by Jean Paul Sartre.  Life, which is meaningless in this belief system, is given a faint glimmer of hope by serving others and siring the next generation.

Heaven dispels this type of faint wishing.  The scandal of heaven is that life is never done, merely transferred to a different dimension.  Death is not your saviour – ridding you of your mistakes and accomplishments.  Instead, you are given an opportunity in this life to prepare for continued life. 

In which case, seeking an understanding of heaven becomes rather important.

Watching it grow

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Most of you are already thinking, “What is it?” 

Perhaps our waistline, or our investments or even our “capacity” (just had to throw in a well worn management term just for the fun of “it”).

Actually, this is more about rain, and rain, and rain, and rain, and . . .

In West Central Saskatchewan this is usually harvest season.  Harvesters are out in the field with their combines, grain trucks are hauling to bins over well used dusty country roads, and field suppers are not unusual.

Not this year.  Sump pumps are churning, water channels have widened, lakes are at new levels, and mosquitos have been seen forming their own clouds!

This is the new normal for this summer.  Watching the weather radar has become redundant.  All you need to do is plan for one day of sunshine, two of rain, then repeat.

As one astute optimistic observer mentioned, “Weeds can be rather beautiful.” 

Most of us have made sure that only grass grows.  This year our efforts to control those “it” plants have been rather fruitless.  I sprayed some herbicide on a beautiful summer day and a rain shower decided to come by in the next few hours for a visit.  I’m sure attracted by the newly sprayed weed inhibitor.

And so, the flowers of the myriad of plants God has created have sprouted and bloomed.  Colors I’ve never seen have appeared.  The rainbows are having a hard time matching the earth tones and prismatic hues found in the garden, lawn and yard.

As the rain falls, and the sun peaks through, I look out from the front window and enjoy.

Just watching it grow!

Church done different

Monday, August 8th, 2016

I just got off a website that proclaimed they were “church done different.” 

Now, I still have my English teachers in the back of my head saying that this is awkward English (OK, they would have said the phrase was just grammatically wrong).  In the front of my head is the question – “What is church done differently?”

As a retired pastor, that question has popped up more than once in my lifetime.  If church is an activity, this particular website talked about happenings – with their illustrations looking eerily similar to other churches.  If church is a building, the pictures looked like many other church buildings (in a day and age when church buildings range in size and splendour).  If church is relationships, the exposure to leadership and to any people was lacking (there were no names of pastors or elders or ministry leaders, or any one else).

I understand the quandary.  There is always a core that distinguishes any institution.  The values expressed on the website were about relationship, inclusion, authenticity and Spirit filled – what I would say is fairly generic for a church. 

But then, what makes you different?  Is “different” the new improved approach to church?  What have you decided to not pursue?  Are you only interested in those who have been to church and want a new menu?

Maybe we need to ask – “What would it look like to escort God into our community in such a way that a group of people would form to proclaim God loudly, seek God deeply and rid themselves of anything that would stop that from happening?”

Would that be church done different?