Five for Thanksgiving: Five Things for Which I Am Grateful

2017 has been giving 2016 a run for its money when it comes to civil dysfunction. Let’s be honest; things aren’t exactly getting better in our political and civil discourse. As a Jesus follower, my predisposition is towards hope, but that’s not exactly an easy path on some days. As we slow down and prepare to eat tomorrow, here are five things I am grateful for this Thanksgiving,

thanksgiving-dinner

People who have tables that are expanding, not shrinking, this Thanksgiving.

In the midst of threats to Dreamers, Haitians, and whoever else the Administration decides to target, there are individuals, religious communities, community organizations, etc. who are growing more committed to being welcoming to refugees, immigrants, and others. The strength of this country has always been room at the table for more people who seek to call this home. There is much good work being done each day to make this a more, not less, welcoming nation.

Kindness and grace in day-to-day interactions

Despite all the rhetoric, people are still generally kind towards one another. Sure, we get frustrated with each other from time to time, but that pales in comparison to the simple acts of kindness and grace we offer daily to others. There is good in each of us. Each interaction with another is an opportunity for kindness and grace.

Artists are making beautiful music, art, and writing

In the midst of muck in so many places, there is an abundance of great music, art, and writing that inspires, challenges, and brings beauty to our lives.

The depth of emerging prophetic voices

I don’t necessarily mean the mainstream ones you know.  I mean the ones you see each week in your local pulpit. The local church pastor has always wrestled with the tension between pastoral and prophetic. There are many great voices in the local church who are claiming their prophetic identity, while doing the work of shaping disciples through preaching. I believe that this important work is still the best way to shape people to bring wholeness to our world.

And finally….

Elections in 2018 and 2020

I can’t believe I am saying this, but these can’t come soon enough.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Faith, Hope, and the Force

Star Wars is back! One could argue that it never really went away. I didn’t see the original movie until I was in high school and have never been what I would call obsessed with the Star Wars series.  It wasn’t until recently, with the hype of the new movie and with the prodding of some friends and colleagues that I began really digging into the Star Wars universe. One of the hazards of being a preacher is always asking yourself, “Is there a sermon here?” In the Star Wars story, I discovered a whole series.

Could Obi Won Kenobi’s description of the Force be more appropriate for God? “The Force surrounds each and everyone of us.” Issues we face today such as the struggle between good and evil, sacrifice,  self-denial, the greater good, and embracing mystery are all present. Both the Bible and Star Wars have much to say about these parts of life.

We hunger for something on which to center our life. Followers of Jesus and characters in the Star Wars series share this longing. I also love that this is a story in which the entire family can find meaning. Parents who first saw the movie as a child can now share the story with their own children. Grandparents can tell grandchildren about taking their mother or father to see the original in the theater. I don’t recall a movie with a more inter generational audience than The Force Awakens.

I’m looking forward to working with friends on this new sermon series that begins at Sandy Springs Christian Church (www.sandyspringscc.org or like us on Facebook) on January 10.  You can listen online as well. All of our scriptures come from Jesus’ early life and ministry in the Gospel of Luke (what other Gospel would you use?)

My hope and prayer is that we can see our hearts captured by an old story that’s just as meaningful and relevant today as when it was first written. That we can see just how God surrounds all of us.