Wednesday, September 30, 2009

When D. Gets Tired of Trading Mortgages.....

I think he should trade cows. It's like Jeff Boomhauer on speed.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

"It was not courage...I was compelled...."

Bishop Rucyahana

The house next door to ours has been foreclosed upon. Of course, this isn't a particularly unusual happening these days and being that the house was owned and "maintained" by a slumlord, it isn't particularly upsetting. For the past few days, I've been watching the men employed by the bank as they cleaned truckload after truckload of junk out of the house and carted it away. They told me a little of what they found inside, though, and that was something I did find somewhat upsetting. They found the usual rotting food and filth, but they also found evidence of (I know the neo-pagans would disapprove of this moniker, but it is what it is) witchcraft and black rituals. They removed spell books and Voodoo dolls and at least one bag of animal carcasses. I don't think this happening deserves too much attention, but I do believe that there are forces in the world that act as opposition to us as we try to walk with Christ and share something of his Light with the world. Even if we are woefully negligent in doing so.

Our beloved priest and his equally beloved wife (who happens to be our deacon) prayed for us and blessed our home before we even knew what was happening outside. And God heard and delivered us.I recite a litany of faithfulness. I proclaim the faithful hand of God my Father on my life. And that he has cloaked my in His protection and favor is especially evident in the unfolding of these circumstances.

This morning, I was reminded of God's faithfulness again at church when we were blessed and anointed by our Rwandan Bishop (yeah, I'm that kind of Anglican) John Rucyahana. He spoke powerfully about the failure of the Church to withstand the pressure of culture and
boldly proclaim Christ and his faithfulness. It was humbling and it was powerful.
Then, I read an excerpt from this article in Christianity Today in which another Anglican bishop
recounts some of the problems he's observed in what has come to be known as the emergent
church. Here it is:

First, the emergents are so sensitive to issues of community, relationship, egalitarianism, and being non-utilitarian in their relationships, that evangelism has simply become a synonym for manipulation—a foul ball, relationally. If you and I were work colleagues and I built a relationship in which I could influence your journey toward Christ, that would be considered wrong in these circles. I cannot be friends with you if I intend to lead you to Christ.

Second, after 10 or 12 years of the emerging church, you have to ask where anything has been built. Evangelism has been so muted and the normal building of structures and processes hasn't moved forward because there's no positive, godly imagination for doing either evangelism or leadership. Such things are by definition utilitarian, and so they were made especially difficult.

And while I wholeheartedly agree that this is definitely the case in some of the modern churches who embrace the faddish appeal of the liturgy yet deny it it's power to transform, I must admit that some of these characteristics have been the hallmark of my own journey. This kind of Christianity lead me to near spiritual starvation and I've been in a kind of spiritual intensive care ever since. And I repent.

I feel somewhat compelled to share the words that our bishop gave to us this morning. If you're interested, you can find the mp3 here.

(And I have NO IDEA what is going on with the font in this post.)

Friday, September 25, 2009

"Autumn is a second spring, with every leaf a flower." Albert Camus

Carrie in the roses on her very first birthday.

This morning, I feel like I've just woken up from a very long sleep in a very dark place. It's taking me a minute to fully come-to and remember where I am. I can tell that my writing has gone musty and frayed with misuse like the quilts I stack on my hope chest during the summer. I need to shake it out and put it to use.

This summer—this interminable summer—is finally fading away and leaving me as completely ready to see it go as I ever have been. I wore it out like a good pair of jeans. By the Labor Day horse show in Tennessee, it was soft and broken in and unfit for public wear. So, I let it go. And felt grateful. I spent two weeks at the beach at the end of August recovering from pneumonia and enjoying beaches that spread out like Caribbean travel brochures under an uncharacteristically cool sky. I made it to Lake Martin for a weekend and reveled in the way the water smells (and unfortunately, tastes) like decades of fishing and skiing and lazy Bourbon drinking. It was a beautiful summer. And it surrounded one of the hardest times of my life.

This summer, we seemed to go from difficulty to difficulty. My pregnancy became decidedly high-risk somewhere in mid-July and I've already been in the hospital three times. Our Golden Retriever has been diagnosed with untreatable lymphoma. And our spirits have been tried with any number of smaller troubles and clogs that probably wouldn't bear mentioning even if I could remember them all. It was a strange fusion of sweet and sour. To say the least.

But we have thrived in this rocky soil and we find it hard to attribute it to anything other than the grace of a benevolent God and the trials he wields like a surgical scalpel to dissect our sinful spirits. Whereas I began the summer in a perilous state of unbelief and rebellion, he has used difficulty to bring me back to faith and to further reveal and heal the collateral damage caused by too long a time in too dark a place.

These last few weeks (days?) before the baby's arrival are pearls He has given me to savor and admire and enjoy. And I am grateful.

The end.