Thursday, October 28, 2010

Christian or Christ-follower? Is there a difference? Who cares?

Maybe you've noticed the trend to use different language to identify ones commitment to Jesus or Christian faith. Some people like the term Christian to identify with the established and historical group of people who used that term. I guess it technically means "little Christ." Some prefer Christ follower, I think to capture a more active, relational identification, and perhaps to distance oneself from the "baggage" of Christianity (either the history or the Ned Flanders stereotype). This Christian vs. Christ-follower (Mac vs. PC Parody) might shed some light on some people's perspective.

After some quick research I found that word is used three times in the New Testament. One relates to suffering as Christians and the other two relate to outsiders using the term. I've heard that the term was originally used as an insult, but that Christian adopted it (I love the nonreactive, creative approach to conflict here. Likewise, early Friends were called Quakers by outsiders and they eventually just adopted the term.*)

An earlier identification for Christians was "the Way, or "Followers of the Way." This terms seems kind of vague to me, Which way? Whose way? I wonder if the term was somewhat vague on purpose, as many Christians suffered persecution. I think Friends (Quakers) have one of the best denominational names. Jesus tells his disciples, "I no longer call you servants. I call you friends." I like "Christ-follower," but this terms has it's limits. Yes, we are to follow a dynamic, moving, leading Jesus who is active in this world. But the good news isn' that we are always ten steps behind Jesus "eating his dust" but that in Christ, God is with is. Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us. Jesus has united with humanity and we have solidarity with Jesus. We can be "in Christ" and Christ is "in us." God though Jesus is imminent, near, at hand, accessible, available, intimate, attached, bonded. That is the Good News! I think a part of our struggle with faith is that we have an attachment disorder with God and Jesus came to heal us of that. (I'll plan to Blog more about this.)

(If you have the time listen to the story about attachment disorder from NPR it has beautiful and huge implications to life with God and life in community)

*There is some debate as to why the term stuck. There is a reference in Fox's journal when he told one magistrate to tremble at the Word of the Lord. Also, in their meetings they would shake when overwhelmed by the Spirit. ).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

October Observations, Fall Findings

In Boise the first few flakes of snow powder the foot hills. Winds blow colorful leaves of deep red and bright yellow from maple, cottonwood, and alder. Frost glazes the morning grass and ice chills morning windows. It's happening. The world is changing. It reminds me, no reveals to me this dynamic movement of the seasons, that there is a rhythm to life that I submit to, revel in, wonder at. This is the fallow season. Everything rests. It invites me to rest. You know that feeling? Spring and Summer say, join me in the dance of life, productivity, harvest. But Fall and Winter say, put on a sweater, sip a cup of Chai tea, and just be. Take Sabbath. Rest. Breath. This fallow season isn't a shallow season. Even the ground needs to meditate, ruminate, cultivate. Do we disturb the glorious natural order of things? With our street lights, busy buildings?

I include two poems for your reflection. The first one, very old, maybe the oldest, about submitting to the seasons and rhythms and light of creation. The second is about delighting in this particular season. Enjoy!

God spoke: "Lights! Come out! 
Shine in Heaven's sky! 
Separate Day from Night. 
Mark seasons and days and years, 
Lights in Heaven's sky to give light to Earth." 
And there it was.

God made two big lights, the larger
 to take charge of Day, 

The smaller to be in charge of Night; 
and he made the stars. 
God placed them in the heavenly sky 
to light up Earth 
And oversee Day and Night, 
to separate light and dark. 
God saw that it was good. 
It was evening, it was morning...
         -Author Unknown

Again I resume the long
lesson: how small a thing
can be pleasing, how little
in this hard world it takes
to satisfy the mind
and bring it to its rest.

With the ongoing havoc
the woods this morning is
almost unnaturally still.
Through stalled air, unshadowed
light, a few leaves fall
of their own weight.

The sky
is gray. It begins in mist
almost at the ground
and rises forever. The trees
rise in silence almost
natural, but not quite,
almost eternal, but
not quite.

What more did I
think I wanted? Here is
what has always been.
Here is what will always
be. Even in me,
the Maker of all this
returns in rest, even
to the slightest of His works,
a yellow leaf slowly
falling, and is pleased.

  -Wendell Berry

Friday, October 22, 2010

Church Potlucks! (funny?) Denominational Differences

Churches and denominations are often very different, but one thing they all have in common is potlucks. Except that the very differences in how they potluck, can tell us a lot about their churches. The following are some actual fake interviews of people from different churches.

The question: "Why did you bring what you brought to the potluck?"

  • Nazarene:   "After considering all the dietary restrictions from the Bible, I found there were still too many options, so I created some restrictions of my own. I was left with only one option - celery." 
  • Quakers (Friends):   "I didn't bring anything because I didn't have any clear leading from the Spirit."
  • Latter Day Saints (Mormon):   "I was just told to bring the Jello."
  • Universalists:   "Not wanting to offend anyone who has food allergies, strong opinions, or has been hurt by food in the past, I brought water, room temperature."
  • Mega-Church:   "That's the great thing about this church, I don't have to bring anything. They have chefs who make us the very best of foods money can buy!"
  • Baptists:   "Each color frosting represents a different spiritual law. The black frosting represents sin and death..."
  • Pentecostal:   "I opened my newspaper and there it was - a sign! Two for one pies... God is so good."
  • Emergent:   "At first I thought, Potluck? That's so 1985. But then I realized it's actually an ancient practice that's being re-discovered and re-imagined... So I brought the organic baba ghanoush and red wine."
  • Anglican:   "After checking the liturgical church calender, I realized that this is a season for reflection and repentance, so I brought the spit pea soup...It's a metaphor."
  • Conservative Baptist:   "After watching Glenn Beck, I realized that potlucks smack of socialism, so I am organizing an anti-potluck rally."
  • Roman Catholic:   "Potluck? Who's kid is getting baptized? Somebody die? Easter? Quinceanera? 
  • Amish:    "Potluck? Is that what they call it? We just call it Tuesday dinner"
  • Missional:    "We talked about how churches are too inward focused, so we decided to feed the hungry in our community instead. Then we realized, we don't know any hungry people." 
  • Presbyterian:    "You'll have to speak up sonny. Did you say Matlock? I love that Andy Griffith."

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*Disclaimer: I love the Church. I included my own "tribe" in this list. If we can't laugh at ourselves, we're in trouble. I meant no disrespect.