Sunday, March 30, 2008

Church members for life?

Tonight I had the opportunity to hear an expert in the Amish culture speak about the Amish communities response to the school shooting two years ago. This scholar from Goshen College co-authored a book titled “Amish Grace.” An amazing story from a group of people that I can learn from, I wrote a blog last year titled “Long live the Amish.” I have a great deal of respect and admiration for this community of people.
One of the topics that was dealt with in this scholars speech was the Amish as a community and not as individuals. The Amish as a community forgave the man’s family who administered this act of violence. In order to be part of this community he individual has to make a pledge and promise they are going to embrace this for life. This is a promise that comes with heavy consequences such as being shunned if broken.
How would this change our culture if we made a vow like this? Could you imagine how much less church splits and church shopping would happen ? Yes there are some downsides to this such as being so ingrained and so inward focus, but the community and family atmosphere that would be built would be so great.
If we were to start incorporating some of the values that the Amish have in their churches we would probably see greater fruit from relationships. I think many times don’t invest fully into relationships with others in a church setting because we are afraid of hurt and rejection or because it isn’t worth the effort. We can be somewhere else if we get our feelings hurt or if there is something newer at another church.
We are losing out on the relationships God has intended us to have. I know I have. stated that I am unsure of what is going to happen when our new pastor comes into town. The reality is it doesn’t matter. I have grown so close in such a short period of time to a core group here in Goshen, that I really couldn’t imagine life without them.
Isn’t that what a large aspect of church is all about? Finding people to do life with and working through struggles together, it is so hard to find this and we should fight a lot more than we do to keep it.
Another aspect of Amish culture this scholar said tonight was that the Amish were surprised when they went to visit the family of the man who killed their children, and no one else was there to support the family of the killer. (He committed suicide during the rampage) The Amish take care of those who are widowed and hurting. For those who are widowed they visit them every Sunday for a year after their loss. They don’t even have a full time pastor to ensure this happening. They understand and care enough about each other is just a way of life.
That is just the way Amish do it, when asked why they forgave the killer their response was that is who we are. We decided a long time ago this was the response we were going to have and we were ready for it.
There are many horrible aspects of being an Amish but they sure have a lot for us middle class American Christians to learn about caring for each other.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Gang leader for a day

In my spare time this week I have been reading Gang leader for a day. It is about a sciocologist who spends many years in the Robert Taylor Homes in the ghetto of Chicago. It is a fascinating tale of how the people of the inner city live. There is as much bribery, payments for protection, and coruption as you would hear of in an eastern bloc country. All of this going on in the midst of an American city.
It was a very intriguing story, one that many of us growing up in middle class America are not aware of. Is the problem we face one of lack of resources? Are the reason people live like this because there isn’t enough in America and the world to go around? Or is it the fact that some hord all the resources and leave the rest of the world to fend for themselves.
This theme of hording resources seems to be a common theme of my life of late. In Sunday school yesterday we read Genesis 26 as we are reading through Genesis and the hording issue in this chapter is water. There was enough water to go around but people were jealous and started filling each others wells up and trying to make issues for the others. I watched the movie Blood Diamond on saturday. An unbelievable story of what the westerns world’s greed and the problems it causes along the way.
I am more and more sad we as Americans carry themselves. Unfortunately I see so much more of a similarities between our version of Christianity and the things Jesus proclaimed against.
In the first chapter of Pagan Christianity? The amount of money spent on church buildings is astronomical. Think of what would happen even if some of that money was used not only to tell others about Jesus but to take care of the needy people of this world.
It is much more tangible to show a building for someone to give money but is this really what God had in mind with His church? We have all of these church buildings across the country and we have people visit them at most twice or three times a week to worship God. And we have millions of people on this earth who are suffering and dieing, is this obedience? How are we going to be judged individually by God about our resources. If we have a job that pays more than $1 a day than we are in the wealthiest 33% of the world. Money is not the issue why there are so many in and out of this country hurting and dying. It is because we as Christians think it is much more of a spiritual act to build huge buildings to tell God how much we love and care for Him. I am sure God will definitely give us some credit for doing this.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Life is like a box of puzzle pieces

I am at a place of life where very little about my life makes sense. In the use of an analogy I feel like I have a box of puzzle pieces from about 10 different puzzles. It doesn’t make any sense nor can the pieces be assembled in a way that actually makes anything.
It has been a rough four months with me commuting from Valpo to Goshen without our house selling. There have been two factors that have made this a little easier: those are my parents had a house that they had bought that they weren’t living in and the other is that the pastor and I have gotten along great and had been working on different projects and I felt worked real well together.
Last week my parents moved in (planned) and the pastor announced he was leaving (unplanned). Now I have a house in valpo, sleeping on the floor of my parents house in Goshen, and the unknown fact of who is going to take over at the church. None of these pieces fit together at all. I am just a little bit frustrated. Not at any person, but rather at the situations.
I am not going to begin speculating at what the future holds because I have no idea of anything. There is a pretty good chance I will not stay at the church after the pastor leaves. There is just something about doing ministry with people you have chemistry and a natural vision with and if that isn’t there or either side than it doesn’t do much good to stay. Ministry is hard enough as it and it is ten times worse when you are doing it in a unhealthy team situation.Is my house not selling for a reason? I am very much a control freak when it comes to my future and situations that I am in. Of course this is God’s way of having me develop trust but I have to say it isn’t funny any more. I hate living in limbo without knowing what is going to happen next. I feel like I have lived this way since I left Real Life over 2 years ago. This doesn’t make any sense and I can echo the sentiments of a girl in a youth group meeting I had many years ago whose prayer request was for a friend who had std and her response was and she is not happy about it. I am really not happy about this whole situation. I just wish my puzzle pieces were from the same puzzle.