Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Prayer As Participating with God in Our Becoming

I have always struggled with prayer.  The scientist in me wants to think in linear terms, cause and effect, and observable data.  I have always searched for a construct or framework to think and talk about prayer.  I want to have a picture in my mind that prayer is more than a posture, more than words.  

Seven Alaska UM's are in our second year of the Academy for Missional Wisdom.  We are taking online classes and the current one is Missional Discernment and Disciple Formation.  In today's video our instructor, Jerry Moore talked about prayer as participating with God in our becoming.  This statement helps paint this picture that prayer is my participation with God in my becoming...like God...Christ like...holy...whole.  Every thought I have about God and self and world is prayer.  Every moment of reflection on the holy is prayer.  Every breath of gratitude is prayer.  It is so much more than a particular form.  It is not dependent upon whether my eyes are closed or if I am kneeling or bowing my head.  It is a way of life, a way of being.  

Grace Always,

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

From Orthodoxy to Orthopraxis

Part of the reason we are experiencing a seismic shift in the religious landscape in America is the church's obsession with orthodoxy, i.e., "right belief."  The world doesn't care about the details of what we believe.  They do care about orthopraxis, i.e., "right practice."  They want to see a sermon lived out, not preached with words alone.

Last week I attended a lecture by Dr. Robin Meyers, author, pastor, and professor in Oklahoma.  He thinks Christians are selling a Jesus today who is not who Jesus really is.  For example, he cites the Sermon on the Mount and observes that there is not one word about what to believe.  For Jesus it is about doing and practicing a faith in God. 

Fast forward to 325 A.D. to the Council of Nicaea called by Emporer Constantine with the charge to the bishops to determine the fundamental beliefs of Christianity.  From this we have the Nicene creed which I had to memorize during my confirmation classes.  "I believe in God, the Father, Almighty, maker of heaven and earth..."  Meyers points out that this creed does not help us know how to live in the world as a Christ follower. 

What would Church look like if we shifted our focus to the orthopraxis of the Sermon on the Mount?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Native American Day

Yesterday was my 60th birthday.  It was also Columbus Day.  I'm not sure which event deserved more attention. 

The issue that is swirling through my mind has nothing to do with my birthday.  It has everything to do with the fact that our nation sets aside a day to remember Christopher Columbus' "discovery" of America.  We seem to conveniently ignore the fact that people had been living here for thousands of years. 

The state of South Dakota is the only state that has replaced Columbus Day with a Native American Day in 1989.  The city of Berkeley, CA, observes Indigenous Peoples' Day.  This is it?

Methodists travelled with native Americans on the trail of tears to express their solidarity with this outrageous act.  But they also were on the other side.  And in 1864 a Methodist pastor and colonel in the U.S. Army, John Chivington, led a 700-man army and killed 70-163 peaceful Cheyenne and Arapaho people.  Two thirds of them were women, children, and infants. 

As United Methodists we have not always been on the right side of history or lived by the principles set forth by John Wesley or holy Scripture.  It seems to me that we still have work to be reconciled with native people in this country.  One part of this work could be the creation of a Native American Day.

To learn more about this issue you can go to http://www.bia.gov/DocumentLibrary/HeritageMonth/index.htm

Our United Methodist Native American Comprehensive Plan can be viewed at http://www.gbod.org/site/c.nhLRJ2PMKsG/b.4751535/k.9027/Native_American.htm.

Grace Always,

Monday, October 1, 2012

Grandpa Identity

I like to write although I would not say I am a writer.  I've had a few small pieces published now and then but nothing major.  A few years ago I did try my hand at writing a book about identity.  I've always been fascinated with the way we view ourselves based on what we do in life. 

I am living into a new identity as a grandpa.  Isabella is a 9 month old beautiful little girl whose smile brings joy to my heart.  I was given this new identity.  I did not do anything.  It comes to me as a gift of relationship. 

But it is my choice how I will nurture and develop as a grandpa to Isabella.  I choose whether or not to pray for her, to spend time with her, to get to know her, to build trust, and to love her.  If you peel away the top layer of choice you will find desire.  Ultimately it is about desire, what we truly want from God, from life.  It is why Jesus asked people, "What do you want me to do for you?"

And so it is with our relationship with God. It is about choice, about what we want from God this day, this moment.  Feeding that choice is our desire.  Here is an excerpt from my unfinished book.

As Christians we are asked to be like Christ, to be formed in the image of God.  We are being asked to assume a new identity.  If people do not have much experience taking on a new identity that is their choice, then they will likely have difficulty taking on a Christian identity that is fully their choice.  What many end up doing is to copy someone else’s version of Christian identity without making it their own.

This brings us to the premise of this book.  How much experience have I had in forming my own identity?  I suggest that the more experience, the more freedom we experience in this kind of venture, the more fully and deeply we will be empowered to assume an identity as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

May God empower us to gently brush aside all that is keeping us from being in touch with our desire for Love.  For when we see Love as it is our choices to live in this Love will shape our identity as children of God and disciples of Jesus.

Thank you God, for the gift of being Isabella's grandpa.  I look forward to exploring and enjoying this new identity!

Grace Always,