When I sit in church on Sunday mornings, I sometimes look
around at the other congregants and ask myself, "Why are these people here? Why
did they choose to come to church?" Some people prefer staying at home to
leisurely read the Sunday paper, or go out for a relaxed Sunday brunch. Why
have these people given up their precious spare time to be here?
On this day in 1918, World War I ended. Wikipedia says that there was a "cessation of hostilities." That gets it about right. There was not peace and there was not justice; people were just sick and tired of war.
On my neglected Facebook page sits an even more neglected
"Like" button. Although I read what others post and occasionally add a comment,
I grumpily avoid this particular feature. Technology based on personal
preferences-a rapidly expanding group that includes Hunch, Pandora, various
Google products and others-is a source of anxiety for me.
When we reflect on our projects as Christians, we are good at telling positive stories: an orphanage built in Thailand; numerous church plants in British Columbia; fundraising to support a local Bible college. To quote Eugene Peterson, “we work very hard at our faith,” and many times, this is a good thing. So we rightly tell these stories. They bring a necessary inspiration to continue making a difference in the world. We need to know and be reminded, I believe, that change is possible.
One problem. These aren’t the only stories to tell.
In Paul's second letter to the church in Thessolonica he warns the
Christians there about hanging out with followers of Jesus who are
living in idleness, and since laziness is one of my key struggles in
life, it hit me right between the eyes this cold fall Monday morning.
is concerned with encouraging a struggling congregation to stand firm, endure
and persevere. Wendell Berry refers to the "art
of the commonplace," a phrase that for pastors brings to mind the art,
craft and skills by which we cultivate the common everyday life our people are
called to live and share--and which will enable them to stand firm. It is about
the mundane and about community.
One of the problems with moving forward is that there are times that require looking back--and not with nostalgia.
I was recently visiting with a friend who is a Vietnam veteran, describing "then" and "now."
described it like this: "When I came home, I sort of put all that
stuff in a package. You know, when I was in country, we always said
"When I get back to the world, I'm gonna...etc. etc." It was sort of
like Vietnam was "another world."