As For Me & My House

I love walking. One of my favorite pictures of the Christian faith is walking together with one another and with Jesus. Often unrecognized, as on the road to Emmaus, Jesus joins us along our way home, listening to our stories, asking good questions, sharing life with us, helping us dig deeper into God’s Word, and renewing us in our journey together. One of the good questions our Lord asks is, “How goes your walk?” Over a century ago, the early founders of the Evangelical Covenant Church asked each other, “How goes your walk with Christ?” As a Covenant pastor, I love this question. My brothers and sisters within the Covenant Church ask me this same question today whenever we meet together for mutual support, because they are interested in how goes my journey of faith with Christ. This article explores walking together in Scripture, walking with children in nature, hiking in national parks, and a few ways to walk together as a local church.

To read the rest of this article, you can purchase the entire issue or just this article through our Journal Store.

O Taste & See

And he took a cup,” we read in Matthew, “and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ’Drink of it, all of you.’”[1] Mark’s account adds, “and they all drank of it.”[2] Every one of them: the distracted, the dismayed, the baffled, the puzzled, and the one who was to betray him.

Da Vinci’s rendering of this moment reminds us just what a motley group of followers they were. Gesticulating hands point in every direction. Faces register varying degrees of shock, dismay, and confusion following the announcement that one of them would betray Jesus. Their bodies tilt in various directions, like leaves in a whirlwind. Only Jesus sits calm and upright, centered and centering, an anchor in the midst of his followers’ roiling anxieties.

If we imagine this little band of twelve followers as an inscape and mirror of the church, we can see in this mirror vivid, unsettling, even comical reminders of how we, too, turn away from Jesus, how we get caught up in our own dithering in moments of crisis, how we splinter into factions, how many of us fail to keep our eyes trained on the one who is the Light we live by.

To read the rest of this article, you can purchase the entire issue or just this article through our Journal Store.

[1] Matthew 26:27.

[2] Mark 14:23.

 

The Grace of Mowing Grass

By Jeff Crosby

Sanctuary.
“A safe place. A shrine. A setting for worship.”

To a refugee or a person fleeing violence or oppression, the word “sanctuary” captures a sense of hoped-for safety and provision.

To a birder, it’s a specially set-aside area on which a long-sought-after species just might be seen, even if at a distance.

To a person in a religious community, the word conjures up images of stained glass, icons, men and women in robes and vestments, sacred texts and hymn books in the backs of uncomfortable wooden seats.

But the seat of a John Deere lawn tractor? Can that be a sanctuary?

To read the rest of this article, you can purchase the entire issue or just this article through our Journal Store.

Along Together: An Epidemic In the Church?

Why is it that so many church people feel so untransformed? So stuck in patterns that they don’t understand or don’t want? Why in their most reflective moments do they often feel alone, misunderstood, disenchanted or at the very least, out of place in regard to their community experience with others, even in the church? Certainly many reasons feed this epidemic of noncommunity, but the church hasn’t helped solve this quandary. Perhaps a fresh look at what incarnational community is and aspires to be might be an antidote for our current malaise.

When Sherry Turkle[1] wrote Alone Together, her deep and thoughtful book describing how technology is affecting social interactions in our present world, little did she know that her book title gives voice to a much bigger problem shared even within our own sacred communities. This “alone together” dilemma is more pervasive than the power and influence of social media affecting our relationships; it is a very real disposition for many Christians in the church today. I have to confess right out of the gate that this issue is important to me both on a professional level as a pastor (and now professor who trains pastors) and as a disciple of Jesus who believes that our current hyperindividualism and consumerism is crushing our ability to be the church whose best witness to Jesus is local groups of people (churches) who have become genuine, loving communities. My experience has taught me that I am a better person when I live within a context of other disciples who love me, who know me, and who have genuine connectedness and insight to help me grow when I can’t see straight or even see myself in a healthy way. In other words, I’m not at my best when I am isolated and alone. You see, community is a critical means for your transformation and mine. But we’ve lost our muscle memory of what it is, though the dull ache in our hearts still remains. No matter what our particular temperaments and personalities, God created us as communal creatures in spite of its complications and challenges. If anything else, the Gospels are beautiful and messy portraits of community where we watch Jesus apprentice a diverse array of disciples as he taught, modeled, and formed them into a community shaped by his agape love. If you doubt this intended outcome, reflect again on Jesus’ words the night before he was taken to the cross, “A new command I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”[2]

To read the rest of this article, you can purchase the entire issue or just this article through our Journal Store.

[1] Sherry Turkle, Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (New York: Basic Books, 2011).

[2] John 13:34–35 NIV.

 

God, Where Are You? What Are You Doing?

The practices that had been so dear to her, so life giving, were dry as dust. Those specials places of connection with God, those times of receiving consolation from God were gone—dried up—and she was left wondering in a barren wasteland, lost and alone. She felt abandoned, forsaken of God, even in danger of losing her faith. As she stood before me, her despair was palpable. Here I was, a seminary student, her adult Sunday School teacher, but I did not know what to say.
(more…)

Joy Changes Everything

Joy levels are like the temperature of an oven. We can choose our ingredients carefully, but the oven temperature will determine what our careful preparations will yield. Consider the effect of angry or joyful parents on family prayer and Bible reading. As joy increases so does the chance that transformation will go in a positive direction. Joy levels have huge effects on whether our efforts will be productive and lasting.

Why would a factor that powerful go unnoticed by most of the church?

(more…)

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!