Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Capital of Reconciliation

An Inkling
Time flies when you’re having fun (in the presence of the Lord with 2000 others)!  So it was Sunday evening, gathered at U-Turn for the second annual Bless Richmond worship service.  The video gives you a flavor of the singing, which was interspersed with prayers.  The music ranged from hymns to praise choruses, and the prayers ranged from liturgical to shouting.  It was a lot of fun, and the Lord was honored in the process – a winning combination!
I’ve been pondering on the evening, and here are some reflections.
Even our “contemporary” service is reserved compared to some worship patterns.  You can tell from the video Sarah captured that some of the crew was really rocking out, as was the band.  Part of understanding ourselves is seeing how we fall in array with others – be it in worship or service or study or prayer.
I was on the planning team, and we didn’t know how many to expect.  The 2000 who came are just a sliver of the Richmond whole.  But they came together for the Lord who leavens whole loaves with just a bit of yeast.  We trust that we’re just beginning to see the full leavening he’s about.
The Kingdom will be wonderfully diverse.  We get a glimpse of that in our congregation, and saw a bit more at Bless Richmond.  For example, we sat in a section filled mostly with folks from the ROC (Richmond Outreach Center).  Let’s just say we stood out among those whose standard dress is along the lines of a biker gang, with lots of spiked hair, black leather, and ink.  What a joy it was to be with them as they rocked out for Jesus!  And think about when the gathered saints will come from across the continents and centuries!
Months of planning and effort went into this event.  But those months alone could not have produced what happened.  James Anderson and Collie Burton have been tilling this ground with networking and prayer for long years, and until now they’ve seen little fruit.  But God brings fruit in his time, and I’m glad they’re getting to see the harvest begin.
And finally, I really like a phrase Ben Campbell used as he led one of the prayers, that we’re moving from being the Capital of the Confederacy to the Capital of Reconciliation.  That sounds like the Lord’s kind of city to me!  What a great place to live and serve him!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

At the Intersection of Order and Chaos

An Inkling
When I hear someone in the midst of a major life struggle describe what God is doing, I start taking notes.  That’s what I did last week at a board meeting (our partnership with three other churches for orphan care in Asia).
Jim and Liz Nelson had been preparing for over a year to go on site and lead our efforts there.  That meant winding down Jim’s business, selling off their furniture, etc.  They were just about to go when Liz was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.  Suddenly their orderly pursuit of God’s calling was bowled over by surgery and chemo, and such practical considerations as “what should we do for furniture in our now empty house?”
Jim described to us some of what they’ve learned in the last three months.  I was particularly struck by his affirmation that God is much more adept at working with chaos than we are.  From chaos he called forth creation (Gen 1:2), through chaos he led a people to freedom and a promised land, and so on. 
Life is full of sound and fury, but far from Shakespeare’s words, it’s not a tale told by an idiot.  It’s a tale told by the One for whom chaos is just one more ingredient to fold into his wise and gracious plan.
We’re counting on that for Jim and Liz as we pray for them.  So, too, for our ministry partnership caring for orphans, as we try to discern what the Lord intends now for our on site leadership. 
How about for you?  I don’t suppose there is any chaos stirring in your life…  But just in case, how do you see the Lord’s hand at work?
Pray for Liz!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I'll Keep Hoping

An Inkling
What a relief!  Finally the nails on the chalkboard are stopping.  Robo-calls, slanderous ads, and spin-masters have long since become torturous.  Thank God for the mute button and caller I.D.!  Of course I’m writing on Tuesday, and by the time you read this we may be in for another form of torture with the 2012 version of hanging chads.  But for now election day is a blessed relief.
Am I hopelessly na├»ve to hope for something better?  I guess the communication channels of our culture dictate the multi-sensory assault of campaigns.  That’s not going away. 
But do they have to stoop so low?  The Roves and Axelrods of the world have metrics that show that there is more bang for the buck with attack ads than with positive presentations.  Sadly the candidates sunk to their level.  And it happens in elections all the way from City Council to the Presidential race.  Alas.
Just once I’d like to get to vote for someone who refuses to slander his or her opponent.  Such a candidate would have to be willing to lose.  And in my judgment, that would be a major qualification for winning.
Just once?  Could we see it?  I’ll keep hoping.  And in the meantime I’ll be praying for those who do win by engaging in the current dark political logic.  May they be able to shed some of the shadows as they take office.