This past Sunday, there was lots of talk of circumcision, excrement and mangy scavengers. Sometimes you just have to work with what the text gives you.
Continuing our series of sermons through the letter to the Philippians, and including thoughts on The Lost Boys (Rufio!), pride for a son chasing down rebounds, and a much brief reflection on the phrase “Fear and Trembling” than Søren Kierkegaard.
The title “prophet to the nations” is a deliberate rejection of any understanding of the life of faith that is identified with a single nation or a particular culture. The human task is to grow in conscious and healthy relationship with all reality, and God is the largest part of reality. If God is understood as being local, a tribal deity, he is misunderstood, and our lives are correspondingly reduced.
An ancient letter to a church community in a long dead city mingled with thoughts on a long dead mystery religion, critiques of inaugural language, and beautiful words about Jesus and resurrection from a former soldier of the Nazi regime.
I only spent three years living around Seattle, but I still carry a wee torch for it. That makes it a joy and a treat to talk to someone doing thoughtful sermons there, someone like Kurt.
It’s been a common theme that 2016 wasn’t a good year for most, but we have no guarantees that 2017. As we moved into the new year in our church community, we asked what it means to rest in and share the blessing of God no matter what our immediate circumstances might look like.
The holidays proved disruptive for Sermonsmith, but it was good to be back and it and get the year started right. I didn’t know Jason prior to our interview, but in particular I enjoyed hearing his passion for using the many opportunities in their multi-site church to develop others in the art of giving a sermon.
My first exposure to anything Star Wars is a crystal 1977 memory of a church parking lot. I was six. We were picking up my older brothers as they returned from camp.
We stood at the back of a station wagon. Someone pulled a novelization of Star Wars from their luggage and showed the cluster of us. Our focus was an inset of color pictures in the center of the paperback. My focus was Chewbacca. I knew two things from these stills — he flew a spaceship and he was the most amazing thing I had ever seen.
We soon saw the movie as a family. My parents had seen it and decided we had to see it too. I turned to my dad when the first ship appeared in those immediate seconds and asked, “Is Chewbacca driving that ship?”
I remember my first childhood viewing of each of the other movies in that original trilogy. And if I’m honest, my first adult viewings of the first trilogy too.
I’m not a master of Star Wars knowledge and trivia and fandom. I can’t name every minor character from the movies. I haven’t cosplayed anything Star Wars since October 31, 1977. (Chewbacca, of course.) But when it comes to measuring Star Wars sentimentality, I’m an elite.
The Disney renaissance of Star Wars is my dad utopia. All of my kids are interested and I’m happy to invest in their future sentiment. We saw The Force Awakens on opening day. We watch Star Wars Rebels together every week. Every member of our family has had at least one limb severed by a light saber. (Not covered by the Affordable Care Act. Thanks Obama.)
The buildup for Rogue One anticipated a grittier, more war-like movie. Would it be, could it be, for kids as young as 9? We held off on opening day tickets to wait and see.
Last Friday was angsty.
We finally bought tickets on some early media reviews. But then reports from friends and articles suggested this one wasn’t as kid friendly. Our youngest begged to see it and we wavered, drowning his hopes in ambiguity.
The night before our ticketed showing, my wife and I retreated to our master bathroom, the most private place we could find. We deliberated. We were interrupted at least three times as he hoped for clarity. We talked about the vague reviews of a darker movie with some more intense specifics. I tried to displace my elite sentimentality, but it was gosh darn difficult.
In the end, we went.
I warned my two youngest that I might ask them to close their eyes a time or two. I never did, though one of the scenes in question happened while my youngest and I were in the bathroom. (My middlest, without my directive presence, closed her eyes anyway.)
Am I glad we went? Yep. Any regrets? Nope. It might not be for all kids, and it might not be for yours. But we’ve had lots of conversations in the last 24 hours about hope and war and imagination and oppression and good and bad and Easter eggs and funny robot lines.
And in 40 years, I have a strong inkling my three kids will remember this day.
I can vouch for 2 hrs 11 minutes of Rogue One being everything I hoped they would be. The other two minutes were spent on a bathroom sojourn with my son, so I can’t speak to them. I’m sure they were good though.
I’ve had some level of proximity and connection to Jimmy Eat World since their earliest days as a band. Tons of fun to hear Jim describe the early days and fill in the gaps since. And his thoughts along the way about doing creative work are pretty solid too.
Super duper happy with the soup I made myself for lunch on an Austin version of a frigid day:
jalapeno (a full one might have been a bit much though!)
slice of sandwich ham
a zap of enchilada sauce
frozen rice/black beans
homemade chicken stock
If Jeff is the Sermonsmith guest I’ve known the longest, he’s close. It was fun to catch up after many years but also to hear the steady rhythm he had formed for the week to week work of sermon prep.
A big Sunday as we wrap up the Christian calendar. But we’ve also been looking forward to the launch of what we are calling our Common Life in the new year.
I’ve read a handful of Mark Sayers’ books, as well as seen/heard a number of lectures he’s done. He’s a helpful voice for imagining Christianity in a changing culture. But most of all, I appreciate that his primary calling is still to lead his own local church. So, I was happy to have him and all his thoughtfulness as a guest on Sermonsmith.
Zencastr records each voice locally in pristine quality. No more dropouts due to a bad connection. No more changes in quality during the show. Nothing but crystal clear audio.
Happy to see Zencastr moving from a free preview to a sustainable paid online app. I discovered Zencastr earlier this year and have been using it to record my podcasts. It’s a fantastic way to invite a guest to a podcast so that their recording is local and high quality, but doesn’t require technical maneuvering on their end.
2016 is rapidly winding down and I’m well behind my annual goal of averaging a book a week over the course of a year. I think I’ve got about 12 years running averaging that goal. I think I can make it but might need to prioritize a few simpler and shorter books on my reading list. Or maybe take Madden off my iPad.
A sermon on vocation with influences from an ancient prophet named Isaiah, a divisive election, David Brooks, John Coltrane, and of course, N.T. Wright.
We’ve been trying to really celebrate a Sabbath in our family — an intentional day without work — for almost 15 years now. There have been glorious successes and exhausting failures along the way. Now, we’re trying to hoping to be surrounded by a community of people who are also trying to live in such a counter-intuitive way.