Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Fourth Sunday & A Wedding

We had our fourth Sunday this week. It was the first time I was really able to relax.

Because we have the problem of a bunch of our key people starting to be out of town for the summer, we have had to pull back a bit and be a little more low key. We had started with a bang, and that was kind of necessary, but now we are simplifying. For me that makes it more enjoyable - more intimate, more relaxed. We are still fairly small so it makes sense to pull the circle in tighter and be more intimate.

It also makes it easier to plan and run. It gives me a chance to get used to things, sense the flow, and then in the fall when everyone is back, and following the seasonal flow of NYC - that the fall is the big exciting time of everything starting for the new year, we will ramp up again and do more stuff.

Also, an exciting development for me - I am going to officiate my first wedding! I was contacted through friends of a friend, and following a series of get togethers with the family and the couple, I am going to perform their wedding in late May. I'm really enjoying the process of figuring out how they want to do it and stepping into this area of being a pastor.

Minister's have a cultural role in our society, and it's interesting and enjoyable to me to begin to take the mantle of that role. Of course, I am doing everything else in the church crazy new and progressive, in terms of the role of the pastor, so its fun to kind of realize, "oh, yeah, there are just straightforward areas where I don't have to be so progressive, where I can just be a minister, and do what minister's are supposed to do".

Monday, May 01, 2006

Wonderful Weekend of Authors

So, now we have three Sunday gatherings under our belt and we're feeling a little better about everything in terms of logistics.

This Sunday we had a wonderful time with our special guests Becky Garrison and Paul Thorson and his family.

Becky and Paul got hooked up by their Christian publisher's while Paul is here in NYC to do many things and amongst them help launch his first book, Painting in the Dark, which comes out on Tuesday. Becky is one of the few NYC emergents I have met, but we both can see that there are soon to be many more (more on that later). She has been writing for the Wittenburg Door for many years, and her new book, Red and Blue God, Black and Blue Church : Eyewitness Accounts of How American Churches are Hijacking Jesus, Bagging the Beatitudes, and Worshipping the Almighty Dollar, just came out.

Paul came and shared with us at Cota, both his music and the great things God has been teaching him about how we all are made for glory - but we don't know whether to believe it when we sense it or repent of it. Instead we often end up pursuing our own diminished form of glory by working hard to build and maintain our reputation. His book goes into great detail how to understand all this, and how to walk with God and embrace your weakness so God can fill you with his strength, and his glory.

When he first talked to me about this a couple days earlier, I thought of the ubiquitous scene across generations and cultures of a young child shooting baskets, and while he is dribbling and setting to shoot, he is simultaneously mimicking a sports announcer who is describing the play by play of the child's own actions..."he fakes left...turns...plants...he shoots!...he scores!...(sound of crowd cheering). What the innocent child is doing is recreating a moment of glory. It's about the feeling of glory the athlete has when his amazing performance causes thousands to vocalize their thrill. They are giving glory to the athlete, and amazingly, it is glory well deserved.

The athlete overcame great obstacles to acheive the goal, and he glows with the sense of a job well done. We were made for that. We were made to be the most amazing humans. We were made to bring out all the fulness of love and giving and service and creativity that God intended humans to have, against all the obstacles of this evil world that wants to stop us. God loves when we live in that ever expanding way, that he knows is only possible when the human lives as he was intended to - full of God's Spirit - flowing and operating out of that spiritual strength within his body, and overcoming all the outer and inner forces that try to stop that flow.

The whole Christian life, the process of maturing, is the process of learning how to get that flow. It has been arranged by God a certain way, and all the characters of the bible culminating in Jesus show us through their lives how it comes about.

Paul has a church in Kiev, Ukraine that is primarily full of artists like Cota. So, if I can talk him into it, (which means I pray really hard and get the Holy Spirit to command him to do it, because I know he'll obey), maybe we will be sister churches of artists.

I also got a chance to hook Paul up with Tony Jones who was in town briefly.