Christmas gifts and letters

Practices take a long time to form, or break and so we are headed on the track of transforming the way we celebrate our savior’s birth.One thing we did this year, an idea I got from a co-worker, was to write each other a letter reflecting on our relationship over the past year…. Those reflections Emily gave to me, helped me to see this past year and our relationship in a way that would have been unavailable to me any other way (for we know that we write things we’d might never say) and so she helped to heal me this year with her written words and stories – the Christmas letter gave birth in me a new world.

on our way back home

It makes it hard to return home each time, because we feel those important relationships becoming thinner and thinner and we wish that they could be different.I remember when we first moved here to LA, that we had those high hopes of keeping in touch with everyone, everyone friend and family member with no exception…. For these reasons, and many more, we hope that we end up in or near ohio in the next few years – to begin a family, let our roots down and live out our theology with a community of Christ followers.

Cristes maese and the American Soul

I listened to it today during lunch, I was filled with sorrow and a bit of despair when I realized this Christmas we Americans are singing.All thru’ the day I me mine, I me mine, I me mine.All thru’ the night I me mine, I me mine, I me mine.Now they’re frightened of leaving itEv’ryone’s weaving it,Coming on strong all the time,All thru’ the day I me mine.I-me-me mine, I-me-me mine,I-me-me mine, I-me-me mine.All I can hear I me mine, I me mine, I me mine.Even those tears I me mine, I me mine, I me mine.No-one’s frightened of playing itEv’ryone’s saying it,Flowing more freely than wine,All thru’ the day I me mine.I-me-me mine, I-me-me mine,I-me-me mine, I-me-me mine.All I can hear I me mine, I me mine, I me mine.Even those tears I me mine, I me mine, I me mine.No-one’s frightened of playing itEv’ryone’s saying it,Flowing more freely than wine,All thru’ your life I me mine.–The culture surrounding Christmas has undermined the possible sacrament that it could be…. A teenage virgin mother who faces the fear and scandal of having a child out of wedlock.God places his trust in a Galilean woman (a very lowly position in society) to carry out his mission.It is the powerless and social outcasts who assemble to celebrate the birth of a homeless child.Hope comes through peace not power, prestige, riches or any other expected source of good.Yahweh has his people in mind, he wishes to redeem creation.Christmas also reminds us that we are, as Christians, different from the rest of the world because we believe in a baby to save the world.

Silence II

How we can make art out of something mundane – art not just for art’s sake (though this is meaningful also) but for the sake of finding the creator through doing activties of participatory worship, sacrmental living, etc. Thus we have the “church of art” below.The church has for a long time lacked creativity, I must say that Quakers have even further to go before they catch up with the already-far-behind Protestants. To attack one’s own spiritual life because it doesn’t fit into certain molds of piety is not the way to go about finding in roads to God.Rather we need to be schooled again in creativity – we need to find God in the novels, the movies, indie and folk music (all other types are must be void), the riding to and fro, the listening, and the silence.There is a balance of both.

Silence Would Be Better

Even when I ride the train home, or to work, a perfect time to be silent I am often anxious to break out the newest book I am reading (East of Eden currently) or pop in the ol’ earbuds and listen to some tunes.When I am home, silence is most fleeting.It is so easy to be distracted by everything, and this is why the spiritual life – or life flowing from the Spirit – is so difficult to grasp…. But don’t let me leave this store with nothing.”And this is my biggest fear with silence, that it will all come up empty.I wonder how busy people ever make time to just sit and listen to the Spirit of Christ.

Who Goes There? or Knowing the Betrayer…

I can’t imagine what brings people to come to the point where they strip the innocence of powerless individuals.We must tread carefully on such subjects, for those who are victims forever struggle to regain a self-identity apart from the violating act – and many of those who are victims lay outside our own empathetically solidarity.But we must move away from using dehumanizing terms for one another – terms that tie us to devilish deeds, terrorists, pedophiles, kidnappers, murders, etc. It is when we use these terms that we distinguish us from the other and once we have made those who we fear “the other” than we can dismiss them as human – they become non-redeemable, persons barely human and to be feared.Fear – something that the world is full of, is ultimately existence apart from trust…. And this is it, there is no hard fast solution to these problems, no scan-tron sheet, or standardized test that will fix the world’s problems – if we are to follow Christ we are going to have to get our hands dirty.-a final note- we can only hope to help heal the victim or/and the victimizer if we are first willing to hear the truth from these people – that is we must be willing to hear their own pains and struggles, and then we must be willing to be committed to their healing.

The Temptation to Stand for Nothing

“the temptation to stand for nothing” America is full of uber-evangelical-legalistic-rightwinged Christians that I along with my many post-evangelical colleagues have tried to forge a “third way” so to speak. What I mean is that I can be a ‘Christian’ (I am using the term loosely here) that is either a)an evangelical that is influencedContinue reading “The Temptation to Stand for Nothing”

On the City – Reflections on the Poor and Skid Row

I must say that these conversations as of late have been very stimulating, all this talk about living and not living in places of perceived danger and felt danger.  I have some last words to say before I head out on a two-week hiatus in a couple days. I am not trying to con-vice anyoneContinue reading “On the City – Reflections on the Poor and Skid Row”

Fourth of July in Skid Row

I found, at least for myself, one of the best places to spend a fourth of July Church service at – an African-American Church located in the middle of the hopeless and Notorious Skid Row of Los Angeles. Emily and I went to Central City Community Church of the Nazarene (CCCN) this Sunday and experiencedContinue reading “Fourth of July in Skid Row”

Inner Change Journal #4

Journal #4 July 1, 2004 Today, I began to have that camp feeling arriving with everyone around 9:15, groggy, people feeling more comfortable, and more personal with one another.  Today was a day to think about getting personal with the city.  Two things stand out – our talks about the shift from parish ministry toContinue reading “Inner Change Journal #4”