I’ve been thinking about a couple of things today
- Jesus- I’m getting ready to start a new series on the life of Jesus as told in the early chapters of the Gospel of Luke
- New Year’s Resolutions- There is reason devotional sales are high in January. Everyone wants to be a better, more devout, go to religious services type of person in (insert year here)
- Where people see themselves along the spectrum of Christianity.
I had coffee this morning with my buddy Michael McCluskey and we talked about some of these things. I have a gift for having coffee with others. It’s easily some of my best work. I shared that I really believe that the labels we as Christians have given ourselves are changing (Mainline, Evangelical, Conservative, Liberal, etc.) Among the issues are the baggage these labels carry, the way they shortchange the breadth and depth of faith, and the confusion and division they perpetuate.
We use these because we need to use them in order to fit in somewhere. We need to describe our communities and our faith to others. We need to tell our story (God knows we need to do this) so we fall back on old descriptions. How do you describe something that is in many ways indescribable?
I can’t remember which of us said it, but we began to talk about the idea of a line in the sand. The phrase is a metaphor that generally means a point beyond which one will proceed no further and a point in a decision from which one cannot return.
Who do you believe God loves? Who do you believe Jesus loves? Where would you draw the proverbial “line in the sand?” Who’s in and who’s out? That’s some real practical theology there isn’t it? If Jesus is our model for living, a quick read of the Gospels would suggest that Jesus draws his line pretty far out. It made folks uncomfortable then and it makes folks uncomfortable today.
Where would you draw your line in the sand? Could it be that our best resolution for 2017 is to draw that line as far out as God does. I believe being more faithful means paying better attention to who God loves. We should be in communities of faith who love others as Jesus loved others. As leaders, we should call our communities of faith to love others as Jesus loved others. That’s perhaps more critical now than it ever has been.
Where does God draw that line? Farther out than you can begin to imagine.
Who does God love? All of us, even you and me.
Keep Christ in…Starbucks?
The war on Christmas has begun. More precisely, the war on the war on Christmas has begun. This is an annual tradition where some Christians decide that everyone and everything is conspiring together to do away with Christmas and anything having to do with the birth of Jesus all together.
The most recent affront was Starbucks (not a Christian company BTW, but one whose ethics align with Jesus in some ways) having the nerve to put out plain red cups for the season. They took off the snowflakes and other wintry accessories which apparently are symbols for the birth of Jesus.
Here’s the issue from my point of view. We do need to remember the “reason for the season” while also keeping in mind that Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection has very little to do with what we do to mark the holiday. Jesus was not born so that we may all get a good deal on a 40 inch TV and spend more than we can afford. My observation is that most people who are upset about the term “Happy Holidays” and the like are really upset about a loss of privilege. As our nation has grown more diverse, certain groups have lost privilege and influence and this does not sit well with them. So, a war breaks out against companies whose interest is gaining revenue and profit from previously mentioned diverse nation. If your customer base is broad, who wouldn’t work to speak to that broad base. After all, most retails companies capture 40-60% of their sales during this time of year. Yes, I’m looking at you, overly consumerist culture. The hysteria is pretty silly, don’t you think?
If we are serious about what Christmas means for our world, let’s have a serious conversation about it. If we really want to be outraged about something, let’s be outraged about the right things. How about we be outraged that we have the homeless, the hungry, people living on the margins because of discrimination, racism, an addiction to gun violence, etc ?Let’s be outraged about the right things if we are going to be serious about what Emmanuel- God with us- really means for not only our nation, but the world. What does that say about the faith if we are more outraged about what’s on a cup than we are about the suffering of God’s children?
So friends, how about we get over ourselves? Let’s drop the Christmas persecution myth and get on with the real work of Christmas. Healing, wholeness, and life abundant for all God’s children. That’s the type of world that puts Christ in Christmas.
Starbucks baristas are going to begin having conversations on race with people at their stores. This obviously has sent people from all sides into various states of wondering what in the world is happening when we are having serious conversations before we get our coffee. After all, the coffee has to come first, right? Continue reading “Give Me a Latte and Deep Thoughts”