Sunday, October 22, 2006

No snacks allowed!

Tonight, a large group from our church tailgated before going into a local college football game. Alison, being five months pregnant, packs snacks along with her all the time now. She is never sure when she will get hungry, but is sure that it will happen. She was all set for the game tonight, and had a pretty good stash of granola bars, fruit chews, snackwell cookies, amongst other items that were to be consumed at her evening snack times.

Her plans were foiled as we were entering the game, however, by a young woman checking bags and purses. This young woman acted as if she had hit the jackpot at a Vegas slot machine when she reached inside Alison's purse. She greedily confiscated the items in their entirity as she ecstatically stated, "Wow, you have a lot of goodies in here. You can't take any of this in." She snatched up the goods without even offering us the opportunity to return those items to the car. It is safe to say that this woman and her friends probably poured over their pirates booty tonight like a well costumed child on Halloween. We entered the ballgame only to see that there was only one concession stand open in the entire venue, and like at most sporting events, the prices deterred us from a purchase.

I don't know why, but we felt like there was a great injustice done to us. We could have turned around and returned these items to our car, but the snacks were taken and we felt scolded as there were people lined up behind us waiting to get into the game. I sit here writing this now and think of the social injustices that the impovershed face. Those that do not have access to medical treatment because of the place they were born. I think of those that have been stripped of everything by their own government, and when foreign aid arrives, the goods never reach those it was intended to help.

Lord I pray that you will redeem your creation. I ask you to pour out hope for a better day to the war ravaged areas of this world. Send your Spirit to your people and strengthen us for the work you have called us to do. Let us offer our hands in helping to make this world a better place; let our path be the way of the cross.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

An Evening with Donald Miller



Last night, a group from our church went to see Derek Webb and Don Miller in a concert/talk session/discussion thing. In many ways throughout the evening, I was blessed by what I heard and saw from the stage. I also ran into a friend from seminary which was a blessing and a surprise. Julie is serving at the Wesley Foundation at Auburn U. She was my small group orientation leader when I first began seminary, and helped us to transition well when we moved to Kentucky. It was good to see an old friend last night, as she was bring a group to the concert as well.

Derek Webb was an outstanding showman, armed with a twelve-string guitar, he escorted us into the battle zone of social justice, poverty, the war/peace debates, and to the foot of the cross. Judging from the cheers, his most popular songs are still the ones about the cross and the Christ. He is saying things other Christian artists are not, for fear of not selling records. He is even giving his latest album away for free. Go to freederekwebb.com to get Mockingbird, his latest. It is always a treat to see an accoustic Derek Webb in concert.

It was a bit surreal to see Don Miller in person. He has been a cultural icon for twentysomethings for the last couple of years now and I wasn't sure what to expect. He was clean cut and had a short haircut and no soulpatch was to be seen. He wore khaki pants, slick shoes and a long sleeve button down with the sleeves rolled up. I half expected a black leather jacket and motorcycle boots. I am not sure why, but I was surprised to see a guy that looked like he was going to church. He has a voice that is as easy to listen to as his words on the pages of Blue Like Jazz are to read. In short, I like Don Miller a lot. He seems like a guy I would like to invite over for dinner or take home to Thanksgiving.

There were things he said though, that didn't settle well with our group. It wasn't outright disagreement, but it was more along the lines of, "how does he come to that conclusion," or "how does he back that claim up with the Scriptures?" The thing I would say about Don Miller is that he is a student of the culture. He is not a trained theologian, nor a trained sociologist, and he is not a pastor. He is simply a Christian trying to make sense of this mess of a world we find ourselves in, and he interprets these things in light of his experiences and writes books about them. Why is it that people can get so angry when people like Miller and Webb say things that they don't agree with? I wish we as the Church could interact with others better. Why don't we play nice with others? Leaving the show last night, I found myself disagreeing with some fundamental issues (not fundamentalist issues), but for maybe the first time, I did not feel threatened. I looked at what these two men are doing and saying, and I looked across thee audience of most twentysomethings and was thankful that social justice, peace, and truth were being pursued in response to the cross with this generation. I found myself laying down a sword and not wanting to fight. Perhaps it is the way these men approach their issues, or perhaps a change has been made in me.

Either way, I felt blessed and encouraged after my Evening with Don Miller and Derek Webb. If you have a chance to see either of these two in person, I think you will not be disappointed.