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Monthly Archives: July 2007

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…they will support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is a conflict and inspire hope where there is despair.” (Nelson Mandela announcing the formation of the Elders. You can see a video introduction by Mandela here.)

This is an amazing thing that is happening. A formation of leaders, and past “official” leaders working toward making lasting change in an ever needing world. A group of influential people without a hidden agenda. In Mandela’s transcript of the announcement he says that the Elders will work towards,

“…assuming the essential interdependence of all human-kind. We call this the spirit of Ubuntu – that profound African sense that we are human only through the humanity of other human beings.”

Ubuntu truly is profound. In Christianity we might call it “creation”. The sense and consequent reality that we are all an essential part of God’s creation. We find our value first and foremost in that we were created to bear the image of the God, and secondly in the human-“ness” of others. We can only truly relate to God, when we consciously and purposely take the time relate to one another.

I wonder if there could ever be an Adventist version of “the Elders”? A group of Adventist leader’s committed to making our communities of faith, vibrant places of hope, refuge, and reconciliation. Not just for our own sake, rather in order to embrace and engage our world. To be a part of the world we live in. I know this is what our community of faith’s are intended to be, but how many churches have you been to that feel like that? For fun what would an Adventist group of “Elders”(of course not elders in the traditional church setting) look like? Would it even be possible? Perhaps this is how the Blogosphere is functioning. Could we be stronger together. Meeting together, in person every once in a while. Maybe this is already happening and I just didn’t know about it.

I found this on “Signs of Emergence” it is really powerful. It reminded me who I am and where I stand in relation to God and to you.

Stones

If we could all
just stop throwing stones,
and stoop, knees bent
and write in the dust,

we’d see that the dust
was once stone –
grand, and hard, and proud, and tough –
now ground and dissolved
in grace and tears.

So… how much better
to be a grain of dirt
on that kind prophet’s hands
than a stone
in the cold, accusing Temple
of the pure.

 

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Where do we go to find the Imago Dei (the image of God)?

I read an article in Sojourners Magazine titled “The Hungry Spirit”, thinking that it was going to be an article about the first beatitude “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). It turns out that it was not directly written about the that particular text.

The article is about the photography of Sebastio Salgado, a photography that creates “a religious narrative of poor people across the world.” Salgado uses his camera to tell the story of the human condition. The poor. The displaced. The helpless. The hopeless. In his Exodus project he “traces the human face, the Imago Dei, against the background of time, livelihood, and continents.”

In Salgado’s current project Genesis he seeks “out places that are still as pristine as they were in primeval times, places that provide hope…” I wonder if the word ‘primeval’ here is used to indicate the time when everything in the world was pure, green, hopeful, without pain, without tears, without suffering, a time in which the Imago Dei could be seen without having to look through the muck of oppression that comes with the civilizing of humanity. Ironic isn’t it. The more civilized and advanced we become the more isolated, the more, that less is done to help those that need our help. Any help.

Commenting on his new project Genesis Salgado says, “We exploit the entire planet to live as isolated individuals.” He continues “It’s very complicated to have hope, but there are spots of hope around the world”. Genesis seeks to find these places of hope. What I might add are places of holiness.

Don’t we all look for places of hope in our lives. Or even realities of hope. Experiences of Hope. People of, and people that hope. A real kind of hope, and not a well wishing sentiment.

Perhaps places of hope are the places where the Imago Dei is found. Hope, through the human endeavor to end suffering (of all kinds). Hope, through fighting for the survival of our planet. Hope, through human relationships, even broken ones. Hope, through music. Hope, through art. Hope, through families. Hope, through friends. Hope, through communities of faith. Hope, through forgiveness. Hope, through grace. Hope, through revelation. Hope, through Yahweh.

Hope in that which is rooted in what the Imago Dei reflects and represents. Can it be that the Imago Dei is more accessible to us than we ever thought possible. Because maybe the Imago Dei is found in places of hope, places that provide hope.

This past Friday we held a memorial service for Carl, an elder in my church. He was a great guy. He always had a smile on his face, always had a joke to tell. His prayers were passionate and his singing joyful. We miss him already.

After the Memorial Service a group from the church wanted to eat lunch so we headed down to our local mall. I had mixed feelings about going, given that I was on crutches and in pain from my ACL surgery just days earlier. One of my parishioners, Linda (a nurse) had the bright idea to get a wheel chair from the mall customer service desk. So we did. So on i hopped and it was a great relief for my knee that by this point in the day was throbbing with pain.

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As I was wheeled around the mall, a mall which by the way I have been to countless times. I noticed that people starred, or at least tried not to stare. They looked on as though having sympathy for my situation. The ice cream vendor wanted to give me free ice cream, not just a sample but a free scoop. After finally choosing a place to eat, while standing in line a lady with a big smile asked, “Is the food good here? I have never eaten here.” She continued to talk. Never before had anyone engaged me in a full conversation. I think the wheel chair, or what the wheel chair represented moved the lady into a conversation with me.

As I thought about this incident over the weekend, I kept wondering what the wheelchair represents. A loss of life, less independence, sadness that I could not walk. I dunno. But it seems to be the case that for those that were looking at me being wheeled around thought something. The thing that got to me the most was that it took me being in a wheelchair for people to begin to care about others. What does this say about us? What does this say about me? When was the last time I took the time to initiate a conversation with a perfect stranger?

Close to eight years ago I injured my Anterior Cruciate Ligament in my right knee, playing football of something. In a nutshell, eight years later (five days ago) I had surgery to replace what was left of my old ligament with a new one (that really is the nutshell because medically it is more complicated than that). The reason for getting this surgery now was because my knee was no longer stable enough for me to enjoy running (my favorite pass time). Since Tuesday afternoon I have been laying in bed with my leg elevated with an ice pace around my knee. Getting up only to use the restroom and officiate at a memorial service. Needless to say I needed help to get out of bed for both. The following is a list of things that I now realize I have taken for granted since getting out of bed takes much more effort than before.

1. I miss not being able to get up on my own strength to use the restroom, go to the kitchen, reset my wireless internet router, get a drink of water…

2. I miss not being able to drive anywhere. I just got my car back from the auto body shop. I was in an accident three weeks ago (not my fault) and I got my car back the day after surgery. I cannot drive anywhere.

3. I miss being independent. I now need a ride anywhere I want to go. I feel like I am twelve years old again.

4. I miss running, going to the gym, and walking to my mail box.

5. I miss showers!

6. I miss going to Anazao (refer to post titled “The Coffee House to End All Coffee Houses”).

7. I miss going to the movies, the mall and restaurants.

What would you miss?  Ahh, the truly examined life!

I read Samir Selmanovic’s essay “The Sweet Problem of Inclusiveness: Finding Our God in the Other” from An Emergent Manifesto of Hope edited by Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones.

If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it. It is not for the (religious) light at heart. What I mean is that if you have been a part of organized religion this book offers brave new insights into life in the Kingdom of God. These essay’s provide glimpses of hope of how life could be, how life is for missional communities all around the country.

In this essay Samir thinks aloud,

“The Chominas and the Marks(to really understand these references you need to read the essay) aroud us leave us wondering whether Christ can be more than Christianity. Or even other than Christianity(Pg. 192).”

Samir marks a distinction between those that “take the name of Christ” and those that accept Christ on a deeper level that lead them to be “Christlike”. The difference is a significant one. One with important ramifications.

“Can it be that the teachings of the gospel are embedded and can be found in reality itself rather than being exclusively isolated in sacred texts and our interpretations of these texts(Pg. 192)?”

The substance of what it means to live Christ rather than merely accept the name of Christ. The substance of a life that lives Christ is exhibited in their interactions with others, what they do for them, and live with them. Life together.

Which leads me to this. This past week a girl by the name of Samatha Brown passed away. She had just graduated from high school. I didn’t know her personally but some of the youth from my church in Brawley were friends with her. I received a text message telling me that Friday (yesterday) a big group of her friends and classmates put together a car wash to help raise money for funeral expenses and related costs. There are pictures below of this car wash. I showed up to get my car washed and support the fund. I stayed for a couple of hours helping with the washing of cars. I stood their looking around and thought, “Christlike” as I saw what these teenagers did. A car wash doesn’t seem like much. But to me it spoke volumes of the goodness in humanity. The Kingdom of God hard at work. The temperature that Friday was about 110 and humid. In the two hours I was there I was drenched in sweat. These teenagers were there from 9 Am to 7 Pm.

The words that come to mind are amen, amen, amen.

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I have noticed that some blogs have a side bar with music that, that particular blogger is listening to. I don’t have one of those, so I decided to post on it. I purchased the Linkin Park “Minutes to Midnight” on a whim, never really having listened to it and I must say, I am really enjoying it.

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This album serves as a bit of a social commentary, ok ‘a lot’ a bit of social commentary. My favorite song at the moment is “Hands held High” which discusses the war going on right now. Here is an excerpt from the song:

“For a leader so nervous in an obvious way stuttering and mumbling for nightly news to replay and the rest of the world watching at the end of the day In their living room laughing like “what did he say?. Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen.”

Not only is it a commentary, but also like a prayer. Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen. Talk about the book of “uncommon prayer”. This songs seems an odd place to find a prayer, but aren’t our lives filled with prayer,even uncommon prayer. What makes a proper prayer?