Thursday, May 29, 2014

Reflecting on the Ascension

Our texts for this week, our last Sunday in Eastertide where we will celebrate Christ's Ascension, are Luke 24:44-53 and Acts 1:1-11. I really like them from Eugene Peterson's The Message, so I will encourage you to read them in that version here.

Some music, art, and poetry to get you thinking about the meaning of the Ascension in our life of faith as we prepare to come together to hear these stories this week.

First, even though we as Baptists do not say the historic creeds of the church or hold them as definitive statements of faith, I think there is beauty in these historical statements--especially in a sung version of the Apostles' Creed by Rich Mullins that I have loved since high school (before I even knew creeds existed!). Click on the video below to listen to it (if you receive this by email, go to the webpage to click on it) and listen for the reference to the Ascension in the creed. Why do you think this event was important enough to make this historic statement of some of our core beliefs as Christians?

Two very different artistic renderings of the Ascension, by African artist Jesus Mafa and Spanish master Salvador Dali. What is your vision of this event?

And finally, I love, love, love this poem first published by Andrew King on his blog, How does this challenge you to think of how Ascension Day is a call to action?

(Luke 24: 44-53)

Begin in the brightly painted kitchens.
At the table set for supper and on the wide couches
where we watch TV. Begin while we are sorting
the laundry, writing out the shopping list.
And in front of our bathroom mirrors.

Begin in the barns among the warmth of animals
and the smells of grain and manure.
Begin in the growing fields, and in the flooded
pastures, and where the rains have not come
and the soil is cracked and hard.

Begin in the gleaming office towers, the shiny
shopping malls, the sweaty factory floors.
Begin on crumbling sidewalks and amid
the rumble of subways. At machines, at our desks,
by the coffee makers and computers.

Begin with the rich, the comfortable.
Begin with the poor, the desperate.
Among the successful, the self-assured.
Among the failed and the floundering.
In the glitter of the halls of power,
and in the cold and shadowed corners
of tragedy and defeat.

Begin on a day when the sun is brilliant;
on a day when the sky is gray.
In a time when economies are favorable;
in a time when all is rust;
at the moment when leaders are caring;
or amid indifference, hostility, despair.

Let us begin beginning again. And whether
we have begun and triumphed, or begun
and struggled and faltered, we will continue
our beginning, as we have from our beginning,
at Jerusalem,
which is wherever
and whoever we are

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Media Connections for Sixth Sunday in Eastertide

Our texts for this Sixth Sunday in Eastertide are Acts 17:22-34 and John 14:15-21, which you can read here.

In this week's texts, as I thought about the nature of the Holy Spirit, here is the one phrase that really captured my attention:

This is the Spirit of truth."-John 14:17

Truth. Yikes. Now THERE's a concept that can inspire some debate. What is truth, anyway?

To help you start mulling over this, consider some of the quotes and images below. Since motivational quotes and posters are pretty ubiquitous these days, a lot of different thoughts and statements on truth were not hard to find:

(NOTE: Just because I post something on here does not mean I agree with it...these are all things to get us thinking and stimulate conversation!)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Media Connections for the Fourth Sunday in Eastertide

Our scriptures this week are Acts 2:37-47 and John 14:23-29, which you can read here.

Over the next five Sundays leading up to Pentecost, we will be continuing our series on the Holy Spirit--considering what it is we are inviting into our lives when we say "Come, Holy Spirit." What are we welcoming when we welcome God in this invisible but powerful form to live in us, around us, among us? What does the Holy Spirit do?

This week's sermon will focus on how the Holy Spirit serves as a reminder--as we hear in our Gospel text, Jesus promised us that "the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you." What does it mean to be reminded? Of what do we need to be reminded?

Here are a few things to get you started turning these questions over in your head.

A beautiful drawing by Cerezo Barreto, imagining what it looks like when the Spirit comes to abide with us--or make the Spirit's home with us, as the word "abide" means literally:

Some interesting statistics (though I don't know how credible they are, they do speak to our forgetfulness):

Researcher Karen Bolla says the things people most often forget are:
1) Names (83%)
2) Where something is (60%)
3) Telephone numbers (57%)
4) Words (53%)
5) What was said (49%)
6) Faces (42%)
7) Whether we just did something (38%)

Finally, this remarkable song by Jason Gray: "Remind Me Who I Am." Don't we all need that to be done for us every now and then? The video is incredibly powerful as well.