Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What do you know?

I participate in an online (and sometimes in person) community known as Emergent Village. EV has gone through several configurations over the year, but basically it is a community in which to have conversations about Christianity in a postmodern context – the practice, exploration and even rejection of the faith.

Anyone who has been a part of Emergent Village knows that it has its share of conflict and frustrations because of all the different personalities and intentions that gather at the table.

As an experimental practice to try to open up a space for conversation where people are coming at scripture from different backgrounds (and may be moving in different directions with their faith), we are trying to engage scripture passages from a lectionary with a few “simple” questions:

1) What encourages you about this passage? (gives you hope, inspires you to act, makes you feel peace or joy, etc.)

2) What disturbs you about this passage? (frustrates or confuses you, makes you angry or sad, etc.)

3) What questions does this passage raise? What would you like to explore more?

That’s it. We want to practice reading scripture as a community, in a way that is not mining for rules or feigning certainty, but rather as an honest reading where we feel safe to be vulnerable. We want to say what makes us angry, what doesn’t seem to add up. We want to say what brings us joy and fills us with hope. We want to express our questions and maybe even explore them more together.

This may be a practice you want to try in your own scripture reading or in your local community. I hope that it can encourage and enrich you, particularly if scripture has become something you avoid out of expectations that have been placed on you. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Rainy Days & Mondays

This morning I made a bad decision. Rather than take my normal old-highway-back-route in to my downtown office, I chose the freeway. Bad choice. Very bad choice.

I never saw a wreck. Never saw a cop (other than the highway patrolman in the lane next to me. Remind me again why they get laptops in the car and we can’t so much as look at a cell phone?). Regardless, it was 8:22 am before I was anywhere near my downtown exit.

By that point, nerves shot and patience thin, I deserved a little luxury to sooth my anxiety. That meant being one of those annoying people who pulls into the most ridiculously located Starbucks ever. Normally, I’d be the person complaining about the line holding up traffic and preventing people from getting to work. Today, I was the enemy. But dammit, I deserved it!

Waiting in line and listening to my obligatory Dolly Parton (St. Dolly is known to soothe the soul), I noticed a man squeeze by my window in his SUV to get past the drive-thru lane. Assuming he was going to park and run in, I instead watched as he drove straight through to the exit. As I got closer to the bend in the drive-thru, I noticed that rather than leave, the man had parked his SUV on the other side of the dumpsters and was walking in his suit around muddy puddles and through wet grass. “Geesh!” I thought, “this guy really doesn’t want to get trapped in the parking lot while going to get his coffee.”

I mean, I pretty much never stop at Starbucks on a weekday morning. I only did it today because I needed it. I deserved it! But this guy – this guy probably doesn’t even know how to brew his own coffee. His time is too precious to get stuck in a Starbucks. He lives by different rules.

I glanced back through my rearview mirror to chart his beeline to his caffeinated beverage of choice, and that’s when I saw the big picture. A homeless man who I don’t know by name, by definitely recognized by presence, was sitting off in the grassy area, alone. Mr. Suit was continuing his trek through the grass and mud, headed straight toward his neighbor. His neighbor I hadn’t even noticed in my haste to get my reward for a shitty start to my week. (Late to a good job? That’s practically a tragedy! My life is so hard!) He stopped his morning, pulled off the road, found a quick spot to park, and took his nice suit for a trip through dirty, wet grass to take food to a neighbor and offer him a bit of conversation.

Now, that’s a reason to be late. That’s a way to start a week. Let’s go & do likewise.