Sunday, September 30, 2007

Closet Ben Stein Fan

Okay, I'm, coming out to say it. I really like Ben Stein, and he has me quite interested in the upcoming release of his movie.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I Only Want to Say...

Today was a good day.

Agent B called me.
I talked to JJ the Smu, and Jim Henderson.
I prepared a little for the coming month.
Matt from the underworld wrote this killer post on Circle and Cross Talk about Hell. I may have to post it on one of my blogs.

I did not fix the plumbing problem in the upstairs shower, but who cares right now.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Great and Terrible Day

So today had a wonderful moment in the morning. I visited a church of another fellow ex-unnamed-denomination pastor. His story is probably more sick than my own - certainly as sick as, but his church is doing well. It is healthy, and growing, and full of happy people glad to be there, despite being abused by their former denomination - a group not unlike our own at The Gathering. I shared our work over the Halloween season with them, and then to my utter surprise they took a missions offering for our work.

Oh Lord send blessings to New Hope Church in Norwell, MA, and great blessings to Pastor Dave Wilson, and his wife Julie.

On the really terrible side of things: I have been planning for an event for the last three months, and I have been really excited about being a part of it. It turns out I had it in my schedule for next Sunday, and the event occurred today. I was to be a workshop presenter at the event, and I was a no-show. Now this really stinks, and I was completely embarrassed to discover the error at 7pm in the evening. The event ran from 10am to 6pm, and I discovered I missed the event at 7pm.

So, that makes for a great day - terrible day scenario. Why do I feel like this is a perfect illustration of my life over the last couple years?

Oh curses that James Taylor rings in my ears! "I've seen fire and I've seen rain...."

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Our Friends from Taize

While at Taize we met with a small group for discussion time in the afternoon. We were to have considered some questions presented during the morning teaching, and bring those thoughts with us during the 3:30pm small group discussion. The above photo is our group. Roland is the interfaith minister, he and I were the only guys in our small group. People apparently are afraid of his hat, and those who are not call him Roland the Hat. I guess when he was young they called him Roland the Rat. I didn't understand that reference, and so I had to look it up.

Andrea and Sophie were particularly friendly, and we spent quite a bit of time with them. They are both school teachers. Andrea teaches in the black forest of Germany - cool huh? Sophie teaches in France. Andrea was interested in end times theology, and asked me a lot of questions about it. Sophie has a pastor who was once a famous yogi, now he teaches on the deception of the New Age Movement, and she is going to send us some info about him. So here's Sophie (on the right) and Andrea.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Taize and Finding God

Now I am not Roman Catholic, nor am I inclined to become Catholic. I do not identify with veneration of the saints, and even less so with that of Mary as it is practiced in Roman Catholicism. I do not agree with the Mass as a partaking of the literal body and blood of Christ, nor do I find any substance or benefit in the claim of apostolic succession held by Catholic and Orthodox communions, but I did find myself greatly encouraged with my visit to Taize, France and the Communuate.

Brother Roger, a Swiss Lutheran minister, who was killed in August 2005 during a prayer service in Burgundy had developed the Taize community under the goals of serving the poor and abused, and creating a "pilgrimage of trust on earth." This pilgrimage continues to this day under the leadership of Brother Alois, who is a Catholic priest. The community developed as an ecumenical outreach in a very Catholic part of the world, and to this day looks Catholic in its liturgy.

People travel from all over the world to be part of a week of prayer, chanting, and teachings by the brothers of the community. It is primarily geared toward youth, with as many as 10,000 people there during the high weeks of summer. We visited at the last days of August, and there were a mere 2,500 people. This is an amazing number of visitors considering the village of Taize had a population of 161 in the 1999 census.

We were there for three days. Morning, noon and night we participated in the prayer gatherings. Chants sung in up to five languages, prayers in up to seven languages, and a time of silence from 5 to 10 minutes marked the simple service. The basic church building had no chairs - except for a few for the older brothers of Taize who sat in a center aisle. The youth (from 17-25), and the hundred or so adults, sat on the floor, on the steps, or on some benches against the wall.

Once during the day, a teaching time was held with translations in 7 languages going on, and later in the afternoon a discussion was gathered in groups of people speaking the same language. We gathered with a small group which included two school teachers (one from France and one from Germany), a woman from England, and an Englishman who was studying to be an Interfaith Minister. The Interfaith Minister did not call himself a Christian, and shared his misgivings about the Christian faith, which included the absolutist nature of our belief system, and the exclusivity of the message that Jesus is the only way. The rest of the group found thier religious identity in Christ alone, and this created an interesting dialogue with our interfaith friend about subjects such as the nature of evil, and the work of Christ on the cross, although the real focus of our discussions were based upon living in forgiveness toward others.

Bev and I were highly impressed by the simple devotional elements of the Taize Community, the beauty of the chants, and the fact that people from many faith backgrounds (mostly Christian denominations, but even non-Christians as well) gathered together under the banner of seeking God on a pilgrimage of trust.

It is our desire to develop a community which makes itself accessible and desireable to those who are still on the search for truth, and for God. We have come quite a ways in developing that kind of fellowship in Salem, but we have had few models to follow. Taize is one place we can see a similar goal for reaching across denominations, and even touching those outside the Christian faith gently, and although what we are doing is more "charismatic," and "evangelical" by nature, Taize does give us some ideas, and some hope.