Hearing the Music

Results filtered by “lament”

The types of things that help

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Oh there’s so much I’d like to have a chat about. Like how ARE you? How goes it with your soul? With your heart? With your spirits? How goes your joy in the Lord? Are you able to remember that you’re a child of the King and part of a kingdom of light, love and truth? I feel I waffle between all-consuming dread and inexpressible joy. I guess that describes life for me pre-COVID also!!

I will mention three offerings that are available to you, my fellow-travelers, as we onward go. They are the types of things that help me fill my mind and heart with that inexpressible joy when the all-consuming dread looms. Perhaps they could be of help to you too?

Wednesday prayer gatherings. Starting July 29, 7-8pm, we will meet weekly to pray together outside. The one unique voice we can offer into the fray of social discord is the voice of prayer. We will praise God, lament to him, and intercede for each other and the world. To aid our focus on lament we will have a painted board set up outside where we can write our lament. We can be unified as we see the hurts, the confusion, even the rage of each other’s hearts in our church family. There isn’t a wrong lament. God already knows what’s going on. But when we lament we take it out of our thoughts into the wounds of Jesus where he can turn it into a hope. If you’d prefer we write your lament down for you please send it in here. It will be written out (anonymously). 

Extended Playlist for Faith, Hope & Love on Spotify. Yes, that’s the second offering I have. Debbie Bukovietski and I are filled to the brim with those three wonderful words through working on materials for Arts & Rec in a box. So we wanted to offer a way for more than just the kids and families to be blessed by those words faith, hope and love. Many musicians have written on these words from I Corinthians 13. Also included in the playlist are songs about our three stories: Jesus and his disciples in the storm, the road to Emmaus and the good Samaritan. As always, lots of musical styles are included from the people of God to the people of God. Rejoice! Be filled! Take 75 minutes to hear truth sung. A lyric sheet is available to help you sing in voice or in spirit.

Singing together. The final thing I’ll mention is an offering from my heart about our singing together. Lately this is when that feeling of all-consuming dread has really reared its head in my heart. I’ll begin, however, by saying that working with my fellow music-makers to produce the recordings — sometimes from afar, sometimes together — has been very, very good: as in soul-lifting, easy, fun, sacred good. Those in quarantine produced such lovely ways for us to lift our voices “together.” My battle cry near the beginning of the lock down was “we’re not being told we can’t worship, we’re just being told we shouldn’t gather; that’s not the same thing.” Now we could probably disagree on that take of things. But it’s been my guiding principle, to help the people of God sing and worship in all ways during these days. And it’s been a joy. Moving into the parking lot was the next step and it’s really also been very, very good: seeing each other, being outside, raising our hallelujahs together to Jesus. But that feeling of dread I mentioned loomed whenever I thought about moving inside our sanctuary, and I had so many questions: “Why can one of the most unifying aspects to our gatherings and life together be a cause of division and fear among us? What about what science is saying? How do we respond to all those scriptures that tell us to sing? Do we not sing? Do we sing and hope for the best?” I just couldn’t see a way through. Those were dark times for me. However, dear Debbie joined me in prayer so many times over this (as did the choir), and she remembered Sasha telling her of a time when he and some Christian friends were not allowed into their normal gathering place on a Sunday. So what they did was move away from that area, to a place by the river, in the dead of winter, and sing their hearts out with so very much joy! “That’s it!” I cried when she told me that story. “That’s what we can do!” So when we move inside for worship we’ll have scripture, prayer, preaching of the word, communion even, in our sanctuary. We’ll have instrumental music—strings, piano, organ, percussion. Then at the end we’ll go outside, encircle the island out there and sing away! We’ll receive the Benediction and be dismissed. I have peace about this. The session has agreed with it and we’ll give it a try when we resume worshiping in the sanctuary on August 2 at 6pm.

We have so much to look forward to this coming Sunday. The entire Gracehill congregation will be joining us in the parking lot! Pastor Daniel Eguiluz will be opening God’s word with us with a passage from Genesis 18:1-16. We’ll send Daniel and Abby out to Peru as well as send Jacob and Erin Thielman out to North Carolina.

 

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Posted by Susan Guerra

H.A.L.T.

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If you are part of the podcast audience you know that we have mentioned issues of depression, grief and anxiety that are connected to the pandemic. In recent days many people have had their struggles with mental health triggered as comfortable routines are disrupted and the unknown is upon us. Others have seen battles with addiction (alcohol, porn, Netflix, eating, etc...) intensify as worry and idle time have come together in an unhealthy combination. Even an increased propensity to emotional responses of anger are being reported in connection with pandemic life

Over the years one of the truths that I have picked up in terms of effectively combatting addiction is that we are helped when we learn to recognize our triggers which alert us to pivot more quickly when we find ourselves in a danger zone. Similarly if you are in a position to care for someone in such a battle, recognizing the triggers they might be battling, can assist you in coming alongside of them. One helpful rubric for recognizing common triggers we deal with is the acronym H.A.L.T. We find ourselves susceptible when we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and/or Tired. In these moments we seek immediate comfort, sometimes at the expense of healthy resolution.

I share this with you in light of 1 Kings 19, the passage we will be looking at this Sunday. In this passage we meet Elijah on the run from Jezebel. Instead of returning to Israel after his victory on Mt. Carmel (I Kings 18) and finding a converted nation, he finds that not much has changed, and now Jezebel is seeking his life (19:2). His escape leads him to the desert where he finds himself under a broom tree, convinced that he is the only YHWH fearer left alive, asking the Lord to take his life (19:4). In response YHWH meets him, touches him, feeds him, lets hims sleep, asks him questions to show that he is listening and reconnects him to his purpose in life (19:6-9). In terms of H.A.L.T. we see Elijah angry at the lack of change in the people and feeling alone, while YHWH starts his “treatment” by addressing his hunger and fatigue.

It is really a wonderful chapter on the tenderness of YHWH, a fact that I hope to bring out to you on Sunday. For now, however, with a more limited focus there is something to be gained in recognizing the Lord’s multifaceted response. Rather than lecturing Elijah, he tenderly empathizes with his prophet, reminds him in a powerful way that he is not alone, and sets Elijah back on the path. There is a lesson to be learned here as we struggle not to diminish the importance of seemingly small things like hunger, fatigue or emotions like anger or loneliness. These are like indicators on a car pointing to potentially deeper issues. There is also a lesson here for those of who care, not to rush right to lectures or even to sympathy, but to really work to meet our friends where they are struggling and walk with them to a renewed sense of purpose. (Brene Brown has great piece on Empathy. )

One final word, if you find yourself struggling, please reach out. We are all struggling to some degree and there is no shame in seeking help. We have resources available to help at many levels. But even more than that we would want you to know that you are not alone!

 

Photo by Free To Use Sounds on Unsplash

The Color of Compromise

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Basketball season is here. Many of you know that my avocation is coaching my daughter Zoe’s basketball team. There are a lot of things that go into coaching: x’s and o’s, psychology of working with high school girls, knowing how to get along with officials (yikes!), and watching film. We watch film to review how we played. We celebrate the things that we did well and we lament the areas that we blew it. Sometimes watching the film is pretty uncomfortable, cringe-worthy even, but in the end, learning from the lows are what improves us as a team.

The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism (C of C) by Jemar Tisby is a tough, uncomfortable, cringe-worthy film session that the Christ Church staff undertook to read this past summer. Throughout his book Tisby, a historian/theologian (PCA), recounts events that mark the centuries of our land and how the American Church has dealt with issues of race. This is not an easy task, both for the breadth of history and the characters that he has undertaken to look at. People and situations are complex and need to be handled with care. Tisby speaks to this complexity, “Many individuals throughout American church history exhibited blatant racism, yet they also built orphanages and schools. They deeply loved their families; they showed kindness towards others. And in several prominent instances, avowed racists even changed their minds. (22)” So with this complexity in mind Tisby turns to look at history. 

After setting the stage in Chapter 1, chapters 2-10 move from the colonial era, through the revolutionary period, slavery, the civil war, reconstruction, civil rights, right up until Black Lives Matter and the present. Obviously this is a lot of history and much is discussed, for the sake of this review, let me highlight just a few items that stood out. As Evangelicals, we are attuned to the roles that George Whitfield and Jonathan Edwards played in the Great Awakening. We are aware of the power of Whitfield’s preaching and the sublimity of Edwards’ thought. What we do not often reckon with is the fact that both of them were slave owners and true to the complexity of the situation, utilized slaves to provide for various mission endeavors, including Whitfield’s orphanage. Other debates taking place in the early colonial era centered around questions of whether people of color could be baptized and if they were what that meant for their status as “equals” of whites. Compromise was struck with vows like the following: “You declare in the presence of God and before this congregation that you do not ask for holy baptism out of any design to free yourself from the Duty and Obedience you owe to your master while you live, but merely for the good of your soul and to partake of the Grace and Blessings promised to the Members of the Church of Jesus Christ. (sic, 38).

Because of Southern roots Presbyterianism figures prominently in histories of the church and race. R. L. Dabney a prominent Presbyterian minister and theologian was a powerful apologist for the cause of the south. According to Tisby, Dabney advocated a position that not only was slavery morally acceptable, but it was also positive for the African. Quoting Dabney, “was it nothing that this [black] race, morally inferior, should be brought into close relations to a nobler race. (81)” James Henley Thornwell, another prominent Presbyterian, was less overt advocating for slavery but also dodged the question by advocating what he called the “spirituality of the church.” The main idea was that the church had its sphere and its power to assert what the bible teaches, but that it had no responsibility to society and each Christian must exercise their liberty of conscience to choose how to participate in slave practices (85).

From the Civil War, Tisby moves us toward the present with agonizing stops in the reconstruction period. Some of the scenes recounted and practices adapted during this lesser known time of racial history were frankly hard to read. I often wanted to “look away” or “fast forward” through these scenes, but to do so would be dishonest. Chapter 7 focuses on remembering the complicity of the north, especially key for us in the north who can easily villainize our southern counterparts1. After taking a look at the rise of the religious right, Tisby arrives in Ferguson, Charleston and the two most recent Presidential elections, both polarizing in their own rights.

Like watching video and learning from past mistakes, the history that Tisby recounts needs to be looked at and taken seriously as we seek to understand our present times and responsibility with regards to church, race, and image bearers of God. From the beginning Tisby is forthright about his love for the church and his goal “to build up the body of Christ by “speaking the truth in love,” even if that truth comes at the price of pain. (19) As a Black man, Tisby has a perspective that many of us don’t share, but we need to listen carefully to. In addition to being a historian he also has a lived experience that moves him to advocate for the church to learn from past mistakes in order that all God’s people may flourish. Chapter 11 explores ways that the church may go forward in this vein. By nature of looking forward this chapter is less historical and more speculative. Surely not all of the concepts he explores will have universal acclaim, but they are worth considering as they come from a brother in the Lord. The book ends on a hopeful note:

As the American Church considers facing racism, we must remember that God’s command for Joshua to be strong and courageous also came with a promise. “ Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Josh 1:9). The guarantee that God’s people can do what God commands is the promise of God’s presence. For Christians God’s promise is a person — Jesus Christ. Immanuel, which means “God with us”, took on flesh to make God’s presence real among us.

So why share all this? Part of the journey that Tisby encourages for the church is education. As a staff each of us felt we learned things through encountering this book that will nuance our interactions as we seek to love all God’s children to the best of our ability. We invite you to take up these pages (available in our library or ask to borrow one of our copies) and think with us how we as Christ Church can live faithfully in GR. 

And let me end this film lesson by switching us back to Romans. Yes! We have the presence of the Triune God within us as we live by the Spirit. As we will see this week in vv. 18-25 of Romans 8 though the creation itself is groaning, along with its inhabitants, we move forward, not shrinking from past mistakes but into the glory that is to be revealed to us. Sometimes that glory is hard to see, but who hopes for what he sees? We hope in that which is yet unseen but is certain in Christ.

 

1 For an even closer look at how issues of race impact northerners take a look at A City Within A City: The Black Freedom Struggle in Grand Rapids, MI by Todd E. Robinson.

 

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