Monday, May 28, 2012

Playing Favorites

A few weeks ago, my church began a six week series titled "Be Different." In some ways, it is a follow-up of our "Creed" series where we went through the Apostle's Creed and took a closer look at basic tenets of our faith. Topics like Creation, Christ, God, Salvation, etc. "Be Different" in a way says that, because of what we believe, we now go out and DO things. Our beliefs fuel our action.

Belief is very important, especially to me. I am always wondering what is truth? Is there absolute truth? What does it mean when people say "all truth is God's truth" because.... in some ways, I kinda almost feel like we invent our own brand of truth and what is 'right or wrong' is now rooted in our own personal belief systems. I can't recount how many times last week I kept reading that "everything changes" when we hear a person's personal story. How can we say something is wrong when we know there story? But does their story or experience change truth?

Truly, I search for answers and am finally very nearly coming to wonder if there are any. (though I still believe there must be absolute truth!)

Sorry; those that know me understand my little tangents and strings of questions. Infuriating quirk, I know but this is really a personal blog and no one reads it anyways!

Our "Be Different" series began with one of the pastors preaching on "John Newton and the Gospel". It was fascinating, partly because Pastor Philip did a very good job, but also because John Newton is quite a character and study in life transformation. I was already aware of John Newton's life so it wasn't quite as shocking to me, but in later conversations with others, I realized that if you didn't know the story it was even more impacting. John Newton was simply a horrible person, yet redeemed and transformed and such a difference! You can listen to Pastor Philip's message HERE. 

This past Sunday, Pastor Joe spoke on Mother Teresa and did a very good job as well. Mother Teresa was also a compelling character, not because of her wretchedness like John Newton, but because of her goodness. Pastor Joe kept coming back to the fact that Mother Teresa was really just a normal, ordinary person who was simply obedient. Nice try, but I think we all hold Mother Teresa up as a saint!  Personally, knowing that Pastor Joe was speaking about her, I was wondering how he'd address what she has described as her "dark night of the soul"...... her feelings that God had abandoned her. That intrigues me; to speak openly and honestly about what perhaps is a universal feeling: the absence of feeling God. The doubts. The agony of feeling abandoned and what the truth is in that situation. I think that would be really interesting to hear from the pulpit. Admitting that sometimes faith is not perfect.

Still, it was a good message and part of it was an encouragement and a challenge to not just pray but go and do; to take action. Love someone, do what you can in obedience. At least that's what I got out of it without going back and double checking my notes.

At the end of every message in our "Be Different' series, we're issuing a challenge to the congregation and to the readers of Philip's challenges are listed HERE and hopefully Joe's will be posted tomorrow. This coming Sunday one of our elders, Steve, will be speaking on Brother Lawrence. (wait; isn't he a mystic? My oh my!)  Other historical  figures we'll be discussing are Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Sister Irma (and I will admit: I have no idea who she is!) and ending it with Martin Luther King, Jr. (again, I'm looking forward to how MLK Jr. is handled.)

Did you notice? At least 2 of the 6 are Catholics! And I wonder if Sister Irma is too and that would make it 3 out of 6. The Very Reformed Protestant in me is offended; do the Catholics have a "market" on serving the poor in love, or prayer? But then I realized that some of my favorite authors are considered "Catholics" and C.S. Lewis isn't and yet, everyone wants to claim him.

My questions to you are:

1) Who is your favorite Catholic? (it can be author, humanitarian, religious figure)

2) Who would you choose for this "Be Different" series? Which historical figures would you select that embody the characteristics of:

  • the Gospel 
  • worship
  • discipleship 
  • prayer 
  • missions 
  • social justice 
My answers? My favorite Catholics are Tolkien and Chesterton, both primarily known for their writings. 

As for who I'd choose that reflect the spiritual truths above, I'm not really sure. Definitely I'd choose Bonhoeffer for discipleship. And I do think that John Newton was a perfect choice for understanding the Gospel. (just read the lyrics of "Amazing Grace"). I'm still musing over the others. 

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