“We have underestimated the size of the world’s poverty problem, and we have overestimated our progress in attacking it. This is not good.” It looks like the US still has the most money and will therefore still be hated by all for the foreseeable future.
A few months ago I happened upon a brand new blog with one or two posts. The blogger’s name is
Anna Sarah and she is an Episcopal church planter among young adults or shall we say, “Emerging Generations.” The blog’s title is Leaping Schnauzer, which I haven’t quite figured out yet, but hey, I’m going with it.
I find a couple of things interesting about this blog. First of all, Anna is starting to read some books on the Emerging Church, and so I enjoy her perspective. She gets the need for a broad, diversity of perspectives, understands the complexity of truth, and values people who are different from her. I have this odd feeling that while I may have read more about the Emerging Church, in practice she is way ahead.
Secondly, her whole approach to church planting is missional, or out in the community where people are at. She’s working on building connections in her community and I look forward to seeing where Christian communities spring up. It reminds me of Neil Cole’s book Organic Community.
Lastly, Anna is blogging on topics that I have blogged on in the past, but of course she’s coming from different angles and arriving at conclusions that are sometimes a little different from my own. While she hits on plenty of new things, I really enjoy seeing where someone else ends up when presented with a similar topic.
And one last thing, if I ever figure out what’s going on with the Leaping Schnauzer bit, I’ll let you know.
Christmas Eve 2007 began with Julie rising early to bake crackers, crackers I tell you, to go with the 50+ jars of jam we made to give out as Christmas gifts. More about those later, due to secrecy I couldn’t mention them on the blog. Back to crackers, Julie made all of these wonderful crackers that she bagged. The edges that we couldn’t give made up our breakfast.
Goat cheese and home made crackers is just “delish.”
At some point I dragged myself out of bed and helped Julie pack the car. We then drove 300+ miles to Philly.
Here is the dilemna we often face for Christmas. My apologies to my Catholic readers, but I did the Mass thing for 15 years and to this day just can’t do it. It works for some, but not for me, and so Mass with my family was out. We needed to kill time, but also wanted to celebrate Christmas.
The church I used to attend is a good one and a half hours away from my mom’s place, and the other churches I had attended had several elements that we were a bit uneasy about. I’ll just leave that one there.
What to do on Christmas Eve?
In a brainstorm, I thought of my friend Todd’s church The Well in Feasterville, PA. It is located on the way to my mom’s house and I trust Todd to not do anything weird, cheesy, or unorthodox. Do we have a winner?
Interesting to see a book that may be cutting a path down the middle. I have found the emerging church a nice place to be, but not necessarily the answer to the ills of the world. I think it’s a good conversation that we need not get too worked up about.
I was just thinking about Jesus tonight. I asked God to hold me in awe of Christmas, of the incarnation, of the unfolding of his salvation plan.
It may have happened.
What if Christmas has far more to do with losing, giving away, and outright poverty than anything else? While it’s true that we traditionally give gifts, there is this flip side of getting what we want. So if anything, Christmas is about maintaining an equal balance. We give gifts to people who are giving gifts to us and everything balances out, each left in the same place as before.
Nothing changes, only we let other people buy things for us that we wouldn’t normally go out and purchase.
But the Christmas story is about God emptying himself, becoming poor, risking it all, and becoming a part of creation in order to make us rich, spiritually rich that is. In other words, God takes a “loss” and we score a “gain.” The rich becomes poor and the poor become rich.
Such a thought is startling to me.
We can keep the evening out, balanced approach to Christmas because it’s fun and because it’s now part of our North American tradition. It’s not mandatory, but it’s certainly not wrong.
But what seems to be mandatory is the need to give to those who cannot give back, to give in such a way that redemption and justice can happen. Wouldn’t it be amazing to give because of what God has done? What a fantastic way to embody and share the Gospel.
A recent survey of humans concerning their satisfaction with God yielded a record 65% stating they were “very dissatisfied” with the job the almighty is doing on earth these days. When asked to state their reason for giving God such a low grade, a resounding majority cited “distance and mysteriousness” as their chief concerns.
The same survey was given to God concerning his opinion of humanity, and reported back with a 100% “very dissatisfied” rating of humanity. When asked the same follow up question regarding the reason for such a low score, God responded, “distance and lack of faith.”
Alright, so I just made that up.
If there is one problem that Christmas is set up to solve, it has to be distance. People who are distant from God are likely to get themselves into all kinds of trouble. God’s solution for wayward creation was entering it and changing it from within.
God knew that people tend to drift away, and so entered Jesus, walking among the average person. No trumpets, no weapons, no homage, just an average, ordinary person who also happened to be God.
Think of how modern leaders handle a crisis. The leader’s name, identity, reputation, and clout go into solving problems. We look to experts, to authorities, to power. And then Jesus walked up alongside people like you and me and turned the world upside down.
An interview with Shane Claiborn that I want to listen to.
Very interesting interview about their new plan to address the needs of the poor and how it happened.