The Christian Hospitality Blog

Formerly the Irreverant Reverend Blog, the focus of this blog has been changed to ideas for promoting Christian Hospitality.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Another !$&#$) Day In Paradise (Scroll to end of this post for update)

I just received an email saying that Terry Ryan, who needs a kidney transplant, is in need of a new donor. He had a donor lined up, but that fell through. My mom used to have a saying about frustrating things: "It's enough to make a preacher cuss." I've learned that it doesn't take as much as she thought to make a preacher cuss, but this makes me want to SERIOUSLY cuss. Terry is a swell guy, a good person, a great preacher and an all-around quality human being. Why him, why now, why this?

Meanwhile, a colleague from the Small Church Ministry I volunteer for has lost is sister to ALS (Lou Gerig's disease) and is spending all his time helping to care for his daughter-in-law, whose melanoma has metasticized to several areas of her body. She is being treated but it doesn't look good. She is a mother to an 11-year-old.

I wish I had words of wisdom about these pieces of terrible news, but no mere words could fix serious problems like these. They might help, but words are limited in their power to heal. One of my professors became a widow at the age of 25, and she said the best advice she had ever gotten was "hang on to Jesus."

"What do you mean--hang on to Jesus?" My professor was (an is) a highly educated intellectual. Yeah, she's a minister, but she is not the hang onto Jesus type by nature. But she is that she had to hang onto Jesus, in spite of her doubts and fears and discomfort with doing that. So I hope these friends of mine are figuring out how to hang onto Jesus right now. because that's what they need.

Update: Terry has found many potential donors who are currently being screened by Yale New Haven Hospital.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Okay, so I started this blog with all good intentions, but then I kind of froze for a couple of weeks and didn't blog at all, mostly because I'm afraid my blog will stink and nobody will read it, or else that it will be offensive and everyone will read it. Life has taught me that sometimes the best way to start something is to just start, so from now on I'm going to just say my say and let the chips fall where they may.

So, why the Blog? Because I wanted to talk about being a Christian. Why am I a Christian? I'm a Christian because I'm a Christian. I know that may sound lame, but my parents began taking me to church when I was a toddler. As a teen I began doubting a literal interpretation of church doctrines and stopped going to church for a while. I read about eastern religions like Hinduism and Buddhism and feminist nature religion (Wicca), but after a while I still felt like a Christian and I missed being part of a community so I went back to church, but on my own terms--I found an open-minded community that encouraged people to wrestle with questions about faith and ultimate reality. If I didn't have the early background in Christianity, I don't know if I'd be a Christian. In college I tried on the idea that being really smart and educated meant I should become an atheist, but I could never muster enough blind faith to say for sure that there is no God.

Then I took a class in literature of the Bible, and my professor said the Hebrew people were faith geniuses. What did he mean by that? I mean, God as depicted the Hebrew scriptures is not always the kind of Deity that makes modern people feel all warm and fuzzy. He threatens to smite people all the time, for one thing. And then there are the so-called heroes of the Bible. People like Moses, who commited a murder in a fit of passion (a murder based on his anger against someone oppressing one of the Hebrew people, but still) and Lot, who invited strangers to have sex with his daughters rather than rape his male houseguests. Lovely.

On the other hand, I knew a lot of really nice, admirable Jewish and Christian people, so I figured they must have found a way to square these weird Bible stories with values like care of creation and justice for the oppressed. Why did they bother with the Bible at all? Eventually I discovered a method of Bible study that worked for me. It is an ancient method called Lectio Divina, and it involves reading the text three times. After the first reading, you pick out a word or phrase that stands out for you. After the second reading, you answer the question, "What does this passage have to say to us today?" And after the third reading, you answer the question, "What is this verse calling us to in the future?" Lectio Divina helps me find the gold in even the most baffling and troubling passages of scripture, and it helps me focus when I'm having trouble writing my sermons. Try it yourself, with this passage that will form the basis of my next sermon: