Friday, June 25, 2010

soda/pop/coke - kicked up a notch

Check out 'soda/coke/pop' if you haven't already...  Let's keep that thought going.  Your perception of the proper name for a drink (soda, coke, or pop) was probably something that you inherited based off your early or current environment.  Consider also, that your perception of justice was also formed in the same way. I won't argue that all justice is subjective, rather that we all have justice blind spots.

Travel with me to the 18th century when our [Christian] founding fathers of the United States of America came over to this land to seek religious freedom. After a short time here, they built churches where they worshiped on Sundays and found land where communities were expanded and colonized. What went on simultaneously though was the enslavement of Africans who worked their fields and the uprooting, robbing, raping and killing of countless Native Americans. How could a people who traveled together with a shared faith be the creators of such dreadful injustice.  Even church leaders called those who promoted equality and opposed slavery were regarded as atheists, socialists and communists.

See Jesus' words in Mark (7:6-8)...

He replied, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
   "'These people honor me with their lips,
      but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
      their teachings are but rules taught by men.'
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men."

What regular injustices in your world, in your life, are going on without any attention?  What injustices has your culture, your environment, your family taught you to ignore that God is telling you to oppose? 

We, like our ancestors, have held onto the traditions of men.  The Church has, and you and I have.  Our efforts are often so focused on avoiding sins of commission, but how much more guilty are we of these sins of omission!  Martin Luther King, Jr. said it powerfully in his famous Letter from Birmingham Jail:

When I was suddenly catapulted into the leadership of the bus protest in Montgomery, Alabama, a few years ago, I felt we would be supported by the white church, felt that the white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our strongest allies.  Instead, some have been outright opponents, refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its leader; all too many others have been more cautious than courageous and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-glass windows.

I pray that you and many like you will partner with us in the coming year as we strive to become a church who will not claim ignorance to the needs of the world, who will not be cautious or remain silent behind the security of our stained-glass walls, but instead who will have our eyes opened to the suffering around the world, our hands soiled with the stains of poverty, our hearts broken from the cry of hunger, our lives complicated by the unfairness of discrimination and disease. We will not stand on the sidelines any longer. Join me in prayer that this church can be the salt and light of the world.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

soda/coke/pop

Wasting time on the world wide web a little while back, I came across this graphic. This kind of stuff is interesting to me.  As you can see, it shows which parts of the US call their beverage "soda," "coke," or "pop." Is it accurate for you?

This map makes me think, maybe too hard.  But consider the following:  how much of what we consider to be truth (like I would consider calling my drink a "soda" truth) is actually true and right -- versus how much of our 'truth' is just a product of our upbringing and circumstances?

I think I'll get Freakonomics off the shelf this weekend...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

copa mundal

Last week I read "Serving with Eyes Wide Open" (one of the books rotating under 'what i'm reading'). In it, David Livermore emphasizes the importance learning cultural intelligence in order for missionaries to serve effectively.  In order to make a lasting impact in a community, we have to open our eyes to the cultural (as well as economic, political, social...) differences that are present.  He compares cultural intelligence (CQ) to concepts like like emotional intelligence (EQ) or intelligence quotient (IQ) which measure how in tune we are to our emotions and how intelligent we are... CQ measures how well we interact cross-culturally.

As I've been watching the 2010 World Cup over the last few weeks, I've wondered if the referees for all the matches are fluent in the languages of both countries, are they in any way trained or educated about how to interact with people from different cultures, since the rules of soccer are pretty much universal, do they need to have cultural intelligence?  Unfortunately I don't know the answer to any of those questions (if you do, feel free to comment).

One take away, though, is that we can improve our cultural intelligence in simple ways without traveling half way across the world.  We can begin to open our eyes to the diverse world that God has created from our own homes.  For starters, we can watch foreign films, read books set in different cultures, eat authentic foods, and check up on international news.  Even more basically, we can switch up our daily routines.  Very easily we become so ingrained in our day-to-day lives that our worldview shrinks to wake up, work, watch TV, sleep, do it again...  Try to change things up in the next week, open your eyes to how different things could be for you and how different things are for billions of other people in the world!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

zeal

A Jesuit friend of mine gave me a book that I keep in my office, Thoughts of St. Ignatius Loyola for Every Day of the Year. I don't read it every day but just happened to see today's thought and noticed how appropriate it is for me during this season of life.

"The most precious crown is reserved in heaven for those who do all that they do as zealously as possible: for to do good deeds is not enough by itself; we must do them well."

The first half of that sentence wouldn't make any sense without the phrase 'as zealously as possible.' Go ahead; re-read it. That would make it sound like something my college tennis coach would yell at practice... At any rate, I've been learning the lesson over the past few months/years that it's not as much what you do (or where you do it), but how you do it.

The world teaches us to be result oriented, to be productive, to measure our success by whether or not we accomplish our goals. God, on the other hand, is method oriented. I think God cares about results, I mean he's orchestrated the creation of the universe and commands us to make disciples of all nations -- those are some serious results -- but what does it mean that God is method oriented? Well, remember that the outcome is not in doubt, that the end of the story has already been written. However, our role in how history gets told is what's still up in the air. God has chosen us all as main characters so that he could share with us the glory of his story. It's not about the results, it's about doing them to honor God.

St. Ignatius says it beautifully. 'The most precious crown is reserved in heaven' for those who do those deeds zealously. We're not called to do all that we do -- rather do all that we do with great energy and enthusiasm as we pursue justice and peace and truth and all in the name of Jesus Christ. God is taking care of the results, we need to just focus on the how.

So think about keeping your eyes on the real prize, let your Heavenly Father take care of the specifics, and do all that you do as zealously as possible... What situation are you in right now that is testing you? Think about the fact that God cares more about how you do it than the results.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

re-branding

A lot has changed since I've last posted on the ol' blog... Most recently, the World Cup has come around again, BP has spilled a lot of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, Apple has released the iPad and the new iPhone4, and I've been given a new job at Nativity, Missions Director (or maybe Director of Missions - comments welcome). So that means I'll be, in the words of the Pastor, "our first ever full time staff guy for missions and service."

Acts 1:8 (NAB) says,
"But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

Nativity's missions will be focused on building relationships with local (Jerusalem), national (Judea and Samaria), and international (ends of the earth) organizations where individuals from Nativity can serve and spread the name of Jesus.

So this summer I'll be headed to Haiti with Fr. White in July and then to Nigeria with the Nativity:Nigeria team in August. I'm really excited about these awesome opportunities and especially about all the possibilities for what Missions at Church of the Nativity can become... Look for more [frequent] posts in the near future!