Monday, June 23, 2008

God's questions

When God asks a question, it’s usually His way of inviting or encouraging His people to do some serious reflection, to draw them out...for example:

“Adam—where are you?” (Gen 3:9)
“Cain—where is your brother Abel?” (Gen 4:9)
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” (Job 38:4)
“Should I not be concerned about Ninevah?” (Jonah 4:11)
“Why are you here, Elijah?” (I Kings 19:9)
“I am the Resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25)
“Where is your husband?” (John 4:16)
“Who do you say that I am?” (Luke 9:20)
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” (John 6:7)
“Saul, why do you persecute Me?” (Acts 9:4)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

In praise of coffee

I realized how important coffee was to me, and just how much other knew this, one Sunday after church. As I made my way to the fellowship room, walking decisively toward the coffee table, the crowd parted like the Red Sea. “Am I that bad?” Yup.

But I’ve got a problem. I’m a Starbucks drinker in a decidedly Dunkin Donuts town (by the way, Starbucks coffee is “rich”, not “strong”). At last count there were at least a dozen DD places in Saugus (counting the small ones at gas stations and Home Depot). I think there’s a town ordinance that when you leave a DD you have to be able to see the next one.

And this affects church. Even though we have the coffee ready before church (to reward those who come to Sunday School), most people would show up with their DD in hand. We now buy the beans from Dunks and brew our own. I’m tempted to place a sign outside the church stating: “Now serving Dunkin Donuts,” or possibly changing the name of the church to Dunkin Congregational.

Theologically, the Seven Sacraments of Congregationalism are: Baptism, Communion, and five cups of coffee. It’s our “holy water”.

Every morning (6 am) I hang out at a local coffee shop (Panera, sorry, not DD) with a bunch of guys where we solve all the worlds problems and get caffeinated. One of our regulars forgot his wallet recently, which was excusable; how can anyone be responsible for anything B.C. (Before Coffee)?
As I prepare for worship, a local FM station plays a different Bach Cantata every Sunday morning, which has become part of my routine. Bach was my kind of guy. While nearly all his choral works are sacred, he wrote a cantata in praise of coffee. Knowing a bit of German, it’s even funnier hearing the singers exult over the joy of “kaffee”. One of the arias says, “Ei! wie schmeckt der kaffee süsse, lieblicher als tausend Küsse.” Translated: “Mm! how sweet the coffee tastes, more delicious than a thousand kisses.”

Surprisingly, even though coffee’s my favored beverage, I don’t over-do it. Two cups in the morning, and one after dinner is my rule, and it’s enough. I worked with a Major in the Army who was rushed to the hospital one day; he’d been drinking 15 cups a day. I think he asked for coffee in his IV. I also knew a soldier who, when it wasn’t possible to brew coffee in field operations, would take the instant coffee packet in his MRE and fold it in his lower lip (like Copenhagen)…pretty gross and hard-core. But if you don’t drink coffee in the military you can lose your security clearance.

I hope there’s coffee in Heaven. Part of “the fellowship of the saints” should be sitting around in a celestial coffee shop, talking over deep theological issues, and having a prayer together over a heavenly cup of coffee.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

What's that show really saying???

Take a few minutes and think about your favorite TV show...see if you can determine the show's worldview. Is the "world" the show's about one in which there's a God, and a sense of right and wrong, or is the philosophy of the show one in which values are arbitrary? If aliens from outer space were trying to figure us out by tapping into television transmissions, I wonder what they'd think. They might conclude that we're a culture devoid of any religious faith, where personal preferences have replaced convictions. Everyone has some kind of worldview, and unfortunately the secular voices of the media, education, and pop culture ignore religion or paint it as some anti-intellectual crutch. All the more reason to express our faith openly; how else will people hear the voice of faith?