the adventure begins …

November 16, 2008

Okay: not a lot of time here on the ground, so I’ll make this a quick photo-journal-project.  (With more & better commentary later?)

Jt & Bill in Chicago … Jt & Bill in London.  (Sorry: I forgot to snap a shot upon arrival in Nairobi for that really “not-so-fresh” look!  Trust us.)

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With a 6 hour layover in London, Bill & I began w/aspirations of checking out the “newly acclaimed” terminal 5 at Heathrow’s Int’l Airport.  (Our terminal 4 was desperately wanting, with shops/restaurants under construction at every glance.)  When security wouldn’t allow us exploration on the “inside” … Bill and I determined to play hardball.  (Take this, you policy enforcers, you.)  Yes, we went awol …

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And took our exploration outdoors via London’s tube … (we do have six hours, we kept saying to ourselves).

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We saw Wellington’s Arch …

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We stopped by Buckingham Palace …

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We visited Parliament.  (“Look kids, Big Ben!”)  BUT did we make our flight to Nairobi … ?!

evening scripture

November 10, 2008

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

You, however, did not come to know Christ that way.  Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4

Legalize Neighborhoods Again! (Anybody else ready to start a campaign?!)

Christians are called to be an alternate city within every earthly city, an alternate human culture within every human culture, to show how sex, money, and power can be used in nondestructive ways.

Regarding sex, the alternate city avoids secular society’s idolization of sex and traditional society’s fear of it. It is a community that so loves and cares for its members that chastity makes sense. It teaches its members to conform their bodily beings to the shape of the gospel—abstinence outside of marriage and fidelity within. Regarding money, the Christian counterculture encourages a radically generous commitment of time, money, relationships, and living space to social justice and the needs of the poor, the immigrant, and the economically and physically weak. Regarding power, Christian community is visibly committed to power-sharing and relationship-building between races and classes that are alienated outside of the body of Christ. The practical evidence of this will be churches that are increasingly multiethnic, both in the congregations at large and in their leadership.

–Tim Keller, A New Kind of Urban Christian

So anyway, the top six critiques aimed at Christians are as follows: they’re judgmental, hypocritical, sheltered, antihomosexual, too political, & proselytizers.

Whether or not the research/polls reflect actual experiences Christians have had with non-Christians (or vice versa), these findings constitute the need for some important conversation.  Reality or mere perception, the fact of the matter is that something underneath all of this is shaping the perspective of our culture as it views the Christian (sub-culture?).  Some form of Christian externalization (i.e., Christian-expression) is giving way to objectification (fixed beliefs/systems/structures), such that ALL of us (Christian or no) smile and nod (frown?!) knowingly at the one-dimensional “Christian” taking stage.  (It must be said: that Christian isn’t exactly lauded amongst either saints or sinners.)  Something seems to have gone awry …

I think one of the most important questions raised during last night’s lecture was addressed to Christians in the room: how do you (intentionally or unintentionally) reinforce such common (mis)perceptions?  (Implicit here: how do you wish to be known?  How are you working for/against that?)

Also thought-provoking: what are the unique challenges & opportunities associated with these reigning perceptions (about “the Christian”)?

As I pondered these questions, I settled on three different “ways of being” I think Christians ought to further explore.  They involve our approach to: our language (how might we encourage & host the most important questions about our faith?), our proximity (how might we be more present — or more meaningful in our presence — in spaces not yet transformed by God’s redemption?), and our fear (how might we release concerns about our own [spiritual, physical, emotional] safety & well-being in order to follow Christ in faith and obedience?)

Our approach to all of the above feels tenuous to me.  Pitfalls, I suppose, exist at every turn.  (Beyond that, isn’t such arbitrary analysis [such as I’ve undertaken here] wrong-headed from the start?  Who ever thinks she’s become that [judgmental, hypocritical, sheltered, antihomosexual, critical, oober-evangelistic] Christian?!  Better to simply get on with the business of being who God’s called you to be, no matter the perceptions?  After all, it may be only your pride pushing you to be a Christian of the other kind.)

I dunno.  (Much.)

But I do know I tried (just a little more) to be (just a little less) “Christian” when tonite over dinner I found myself in discussion about homosexuality & politically incorrect humor.  Waving back the cigarette smoke, I sat and wondered at the grace that made Jesus the unlikely (unChristian) hero of the one & only Christian story.  May that Jesus be born in me.

work without hope

September 22, 2008

My boss, Jon, launched his sermon last week with this poem (Work without Hope), by Samuel Coleridge.  Both (the sermon & poem) made me grateful for the meaning I find each day in my work.  Quite unlike nectar disappearing through a sieve … I am often overcome by moments of significance in my day.  To believe that my work can contribute to the Gospel “going public” and that one day it will be positioned (however transformed) inside of Christ’s consummated Kingdom is an incredible gift (given to me by both Leslie Newbigin & N.T. Wright).  It’s a gift that ought to be realized by every Christ-follower (whatever her vocational arena).  I’m only beginning to tease out the implications …

All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair –
The bees are stirring -birds are on the wing –
And Winter slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!
And I the while, the sole unbusy thing,
Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.

Yet well I ken the banks where amaranths blow,
Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow.
Bloom, O ye amaranths! bloom for whom ye may,
For me ye bloom not! Glide, rich streams, away!
With lips unbrightened, wreathless brow, I stroll:
And would you learn the spells that drowse my soul?
Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And Hope without an object cannot live.

–Samuel Coleridge, Work Without Hope

funny-man ethan

September 19, 2008

While touring a local fire-engine with my nephews this evening, my sister & I tried to get Ethan to smile for our brief photo-shoot.  We made silly faces.  We waved our arms.  We asked Ethan to say: “happy” and “tootles” (and every other silly, fun word he knows).  Finally, it was Ethan himself who cracked his own joke … and finally, the smile.

“Camera-man,” Ethan said, with humor in his voice.  Then (for reasons I have yet to understand), Ethan smiled & giggled & cracked himself up over the whole deal.

Later, Ethan & I were waiting in the car together while Sissy ran in for a few groceries.  Ethan & I began to chat (in the two-word-sentence-way we do).  Ethan looked up & pointed to a man in the parking lot.  “Who is that?” Ethan said.  Jt: “That’s just a man in the parking lot taking groceries to his car.”  Ethan, with smile in his voice: “Grocery-man” (laugh, joke, giggles).

It’s one of those jokes that keeps on going, you know …