Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ever-Expanding Easter

"The Resurrection was not regarded simply or chiefly as evidence for the immortality of the soul ... There is not in Scripture the faintest suggestion that the Resurrection was new evidence for something that had in fact been always happening. The New Testament writers speak as if Christ's achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the 'first fruits,' or the 'pioneer of life'. He has forced open the door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so. This is the beginning of the New Creation: a new chapter in cosmic history has opened."

C.S. Lewis, Miracles

What do you think?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, March 15, 2010

Our Task ... Should We Choose to Accept It

"The human race has been in exile ... Our task is to announce in word and deed that the exile is over, to enact the symbols that speak of healing and forgiveness, to act boldly in God's world in the power of the Spirit. ... Your task is to find the symbolic ways of doing things differently, planting flags in hostile soil, setting up signposts that say there is a different way to be human. And when people are puzzled at what you are doing, find ways - fresh ways - of telling the story of the return of the human race from it's exile, and use those stories as your explanation."

N. T. Wright

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Quotes to Ponder from Chicago PGF Conference

What do you think about these quotes from the Presbyterian Global Fellowship conference this weekend in Chicago with Alan Roxburgh? Which one's ring true and profound? Which ones do you disagree or struggle with? Which do you find prophetic?

"Starting with the question 'how do we get people into the church?' will never lead to a healthy body of Christ."

"We do not live in a world anymore in which people are going to 'come' to church. Most 'come' from other churches."

"We have to form a new way of life together based on the new thing God is doing in our neighborhoods."

"Don't write off old people! They can change. They are the hands and feet of Christ in the neighborhood."

"There are so many narratives in the world for people to choose from. The church is no longer the central narrative."

"We have created churches that are fundamentally atheist. We do not believe God's Spirit is among God's people."

"The only way to figure out what God is up to is to leave your baggage and become the stranger."

"We are in the dawn of a new day in the mainline church."

"The leaving of baggage means you become dependent on the hospitality of the other." (based on Luke 10:1-12)

"Believe that the Spirit of God is at work in your community, and then act on that belief."

"A new pastor bought a cemetery plot to prove he was there to live (and die) with the people."

"The church is changed not by structures, but by experiments around the edges that no one detects at first."

"Most leaders are chosen because they know the traditions, history, and customs. But they tend not to imagine."

"Forget Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Launch small experiments in your community."

What do you think? Please click "Comments" 6 to leave yours.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Positively Columbine (Reprise)

"The name Columbine says it all..." Everything in me cringed when I heard NBC reporter Lee Cowan's words nonchalantly thrown out in the Today Show piece preceding Matt Lauer's interview with wounded Deer Creek Middle School student Matt Thieu, his mom Pattie, and his heroic teacher Dr. David Benke. The reporter was obvilious that making "columbine" synonymous with school violence contributes to the tragic hijacking of what the word and community represent.

Let's be honest. Have there been two school shootings eleven years apart in neighboring schools? Absolutely. I am not in denial about that. However, these shootings do not define this community. Any attempts to suggest they do, or to use the word columbine synonymously with these isolated evil violent acts are not only wrong, they thoughtlessly participate and contribute to these tragedies. Like I said, let's be honest.

Eleven years ago, I too thoughtlessly allowed this tragic hijacking to take place in my own mind and understanding from the senseless actions of two teenagers. I unknowingly went along with the cultural refining of a word and community - until I moved here three and a half years ago. I wrote about what I discovered last year on the tenth anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School. I also spoke about it publically last month. In light of the events at Deer Creek Middle School and the renewed public references to 'columbine,' I am re-posting my comments to seize a redemptive opportunity handed to all of us. I invite Mr. Lauer, Mr. Cowan and NBC to also harness their influence for this redemptive opportunity. I welcome your comments and ideas below.

Words define and so do moments. Columbine is an example of both.

Robi and I just came from the tenth anniversary community-wide remembrance event. It was itself a powerful moment filled with powerful words. Words have enormous power to create.

It made me think about how the meaning of a very familiar word can change. “Apple,” for example, brings to mind images of computers these days as much as it does fruit. “Tight” now means cool, and cool used to mean chilly. Sometimes a word’s new meaning can be the opposite of what it used to be, like the words “bad” and “sick.” There are plenty of others.

Ten years ago, the word columbine conjured images of flowers that decorate the Rocky Mountains and this region. It is the State flower of Colorado. They are beautiful and colorful. They are hearty enough to make it through hard cold winters to bloom again with all their vibrancy each Spring.

Ten years ago the meaning of columbine changed with a moment. For most of us, the beautiful noun became a shocking adjective and verb, used in ways no one could have imagined. It became synonymous with the worst of school violence and the tragedy of evil. In a day, the new meaning of columbine took hold across the country and around the world. “Columbine-like” no longer meant flowers. It was part of the tragedy.

Ten years ago we lived in Ohio. Like most in our country, I watched in disbelief and from a distance as media carried stories from Columbine High School nestled in the Columbine community within the city of Littleton. In the days that followed, the meaning of columbine was redefined. It was easy, from a distance, to accept the new meaning.

Two and a half years ago we moved to Littleton, around the corner from Columbine High School and the community it’s nestled in. What I have discovered is a High School and community not defined by the tragedy ten years ago, but the triumphs they have experienced since. It is a rare tight-knit active community with a shared resolve unlike any community I have seen. Like the flower, it is a beautiful and colorful community. Together, they have discovered they are hearty enough to make it through a hard cold winter and bloom all the more with familiar vibrancy. I don’t mean this in some trite esoteric way. It is true in the daily reality of how they choose to live and relate.

For me, Columbine used to stand for school violence and evil. That was when I lived at a distance. That was when I allowed its meaning to be changed by people (media) who didn’t live there and didn’t know better. No longer. It’s just not true. On the contrary. The truth is this community represents vibrancy, kindness, blessing and resolve. For me, “Columbine-like” does not mean evil, but good. It is not devastation; it is restoration. It is not despair; it is hope. It is not victims, but victors. It is not powerless, but a community of determined resolve. It is not defined by one act of senseless violence, but countless acts of intentional kindness. It is not death, but resurrection.

I challenge all who read this to no longer define Columbine by a tragic event, nor to describe a tragic event by the name of Columbine. It’s just not true.

It’s time to change the meaning of a familiar word to reflect its true essence. What if Columbine, like the flower and the community, meant beauty, kindness, regeneration and resolve? What if we call it “columbine” when neighbors gather around a family to see them through a difficult time? (I have seen that happen in Columbine neighborhoods.) What if a marriage is renewed or “columbined” through the encouragement of family and friends? What if it is called “so columbine” when volunteer teams gather in New Orleans to rebuild homes of people they have never met after Hurricane Katrina? What if a painting is described as “columbine” when a variety of colors or materials are brought together to create something beautiful? The possibilities are endless, but the essence is the same. It is positively Columbine.

Words have enormous power to create. Words define and so do moments. Columbine is an example of both.

What do you think? Please click "Comments" 6 to leave yours.