Saturday, April 7, 2012

40/40 Day 40 Twas the night before Easter...

Twas the night before Easter
and all through the church...

That does sound like a good opening to a poem.  Perhaps I will write it someday, but not today.  Tonight we are preparing to celebrate the resurrection of Christ. Tonight is technically the last night of Lent and tomorrow for all of you who have put off something is the day you can celebrate having done it and you can eat your carbs, your sugar, carnivorous meals of meat and poultry.  You no longer have to deny yourselves caffeine and coffee, and all sorts of things that we have put aside for spiritual renewal.  That is of course if you want to.  It is also the time for those of us who have taken on something for Lent to take a break and a respite from doing whatever it is.  That is of course if you want to.

Tonight is the last blog I have to do in a row.  I don't have to schedule time in my day to blog whether it be in the evening which has been my habit, or the morning which has been my intention.  However, the habit has been formed.  I will want to blog.  I need to blog.  I will limit my blogging to a minimum of one or two a week and possibly more if the spirit moves.  I have learned through this that I can express myself online and that there are some people out there in the world who will read it and not comment directly to me.  Some have given me "likes" on facebook and have agreed with what I have to say.  So this is a valuable habit and growth point for me.  That is what Lent is all about, adding valuable habits and room to grow in you walk with Christ.

As I sit here typing my last blog of Lent, I am reflecting on the apostles, and what they must have been feeling on that Passover Saturday.  They had just witnessed the death of their Messiah.  Oh the questions and doubts that were going through their minds? They knew that they were safe from being touched or killed on that Sabbath day, but what would the next day hold?  Would the Romans be looking for them?  Would the Sanhedrin want them dead as well?  What was going to happen to them?  Was Jesus really the Messiah?  If so then why is he dead?  What do we do now?  Everything they had lived for and were chasing after was now gone.  They sat and were probably in despair this day, and they could do nothing about it.  It was their Sabbath.  It was Passover.  They were limited on where they could go and what they could do.  All they could do is wait.

We know the end of the story.  We know what tomorrow holds.  We know what Easter holds.  They did not. We must remember that when the world seems darkest and everything is blowing up in our face. God has read the end of the story.  He knows what tomorrow holds.  He has seen the empty tomb and He has seen light at the end of the tunnel and it is not a train.  It is HIM.  So tonight rest in the peace of God and know that He has it all under control.

The Theolobster

Friday, April 6, 2012

40/40 Day 39 Concerning Good Friday, Easter Eggs, and Veggie Tales

Today is the 39th blog.  Today is also Good Friday.  As a church the Foundry hasn't always done events well. We have always had problems connecting people to the next event or getting them to come through the doors of the church. We have tried several techniques of meeting the same people, talking to the same people, inviting folks from the same area, having the same type of events that attracted people the first time.  They have not always worked.

This week we have finally have some success in connecting people to our programs.  One person in particular, was the campus safety guard at Widener who was posted at the corner of fraternity row which was next to the Lathem Hall which was where we had our Redemption program.  He spent a majority of his time that night listening to our program, and watching the presentations.  He connected with us and we connected with him.

Today we had our annual Good Friday Easter Egg Hunt in Hepford Park. .  This event brought about a hundred or more families, (I am not sure if anyone actually counted).  It was an amazing event with photos, 1800 plastic eggs, and the Chic-fil-a cow.   We had invited the Security Guard, John, to bring his son and family to join us and this morning he showed up.

Well this afternoon we had a movie and a lunch. We invited the kids that came to the Easter Egg Hunt to come to the movie.  We had lunch provided by Chic-Fil-a, and the movie was Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie.  We had about 50 people including kids, families, and students.  Among this conglomeration of people was John our Campus Safety friend and his family.

Easter Sunday we are having a pancake breakfast and worship.  We invited John and family to join us.  Let us hope he comes.

There are a lot of things we can do to affect and minister to the community.  We can do a big event every now and then.  We can provide occasional blessings for them, and we can have minor contact with them, but these are only dressings of the wounds of life, or just casual contact.  These may reach people eventually and plant seeds of truth and love, but it is in the everyday and more than casual contact that we actually reach people.  It is about forming friendships and community.  The church was built by Jesus and his Disciples in friendship and relationship.  The people Paul reached were done through relationship.  We have to make true and lasting connections with people.  We have to go to where people are and invite them into our family and our lives.  That is what we are doing with LOGOS, and what we are doing with John.  We will continue to try to do this with the rest of the community.

I pray that we will learn from our successes and our failures.

The Theolobster

Thursday, April 5, 2012

40/40 Day 38 Maundy Thursday

Today is Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday whichever you wish to call it.  As I have said before, I do not come from a liturgical background, and I do not have a tradition of celebrating any of the days of Holy Week.  However I have recently participated in several services centered around this Maundy Thursday idea.

The first was several years ago.  The concept then was to commemorate and teach the arrest, betrayal, and death of Jesus.  There was no Good Friday service at this church nor a community Good Friday service.  I am not sure that they do that in the south. This service sparked emotions of despair and hopelessness.  It was designed to leave us with the feelings that the disciples and apostles must have had on the day that Jesus was arrested and killed.  I am not sure if that is right, but it was one of the most powerful and thought provoking services in which I had ever participated.

In my current church setting we began discussing the Passover meal that Jesus and his disciples ate.  For several years we talked over the images of Christ in the Passover meal.  We learned that the Jewish feasts all predict and image Christ's coming and sacrifice, from the spotless lamb, to the blood on the doorpost, to the matzah that is made with holes and stripes and is broken.  Even the juice/wine and the cups have special significance and meaning.  It is a celebration and a commemoration of the plight from Egypt and the death, burial and Resurrection of Christ.

Tonight we had a full Seder service (my first one).  We did the whole meal and interjected the Christian symbolism into it.  We talked about what it meant and what it means.   We will continue to do this and celebrate it.  I am waiting to take the next step.  I would love to sit in on and participate in an actual Passover meal with an authentic Jewish family who know all of the secrets, rites and rituals and who perform them as they are meant to be performed without explanation.  While what we did tonight had its merits and was well accepted and informative.  I think an actual Passover meal would be an unique and powerful experience.

One more note about tonight.  Our church, The Foundry Church in Wallingford, PA,  has many different ministries going on.  We have several Bible studies that happen at the church as well as on Widener Universities campus, and not all of the people come together or even meet.  There are some people who only come to Tuesday nights at the church.  There are others who only come on Thursdays, while others we only see on Sundays, and the college students only come to things on campus or are directed to them.  Tonight we had people from all portions and parts of our ministries.  We had about 30 people with representatives from all our ministries.   It was a true representation of our church and good view of what the Church and body of Christ is all about.

Anyway the point is no matter how you commemorate this day.  Whether it is with a dark ominous and foreboding service, or a family seder meal, or just a worship service, this day is a day that deserves notice and a day that sparked the change in the world.  Remember that Maundy Thursday leads to Good Friday which leads to Resurrection Sunday!

Hair the Theolobster

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

40/40 Day 37 Intentions and Perspective

What I had intended to do this passion week was to talk about the individual days of the week and what had occurred in the life of Christ during on that day.  It would have been an interesting study and something I may do next year about this time, but some things have come up personally that detoured my thinking and wrecked some of my mental perimeters.  

I am not ready to go into all the details, nor am I going to talk about it in my blog or online until all the things have worked out, but recently my life had one of those dramatic and sudden shifts.  It is interesting how life has its slow and getting comfortable times then everything happens at once.  These curves and paradigm shifts don't always come with a warning, or the warnings are subtle and indirect and often cloudy, but when they do come they force you to rethink how you have lived your life thus far and what you need to adjust in the new situation. The good changes....Hold on.  I don't think that I can categorize them in simplistic forms of good and bad.  There are multiple layers.  For some changes are good for others, but not so much for you or they aren't necessarily bad, but seem that way.  It could all just be perspective and context.  Some are neither good nor bad, rather can be described as sudden lateral shifts.

Anyway the ultimately positive ones bring rushes of ecstasy and panic, while the extremely negative ones bring moments of fear and trembling.   The one I experienced this week brought with it a flood of emotions including confusion, betrayal, fear, uncertainty, frustration, and my old friend loneliness.  All of these things derailed me mentally and brought me to my knees.  I fussed and cussed at God about it and all of these things and questioned Him why it had happened so suddenly and how am I going to survive this, and in His own way God answered.

I began to reflect on past events and paradigm shifts that occurred throughout my life.  I began to think about all of the times that I was freaking out about one thing or another.  I began to talk them out and feel the old feelings I felt in those times, and I heard God's silent voice whispering,  "I took care of you then didn't I?"  I said "Yes."  He said "Don't worry I'm going to take care of you now." (almost exactly what I felt I heard Him say) "Just do what you need to do and follow me." (what may be implied.)  So the wind has shifted, the tide has turned and once again I am depending on God for the future and adjusting my life to compensate for the shift.  He hasn't failed me yet.

However, I would like my old friend loneliness to go away and never come back.  He and I don't get along so well.

the Theolobster

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

40/40 day 36 REDEMPTION

It is almost 11:30 at night.  I am tired and have yet to see my home.  So I will attempt to be brief.

Tonight was our concert on the campus of Widener University that we call Redemption.  (the concert is called Redemption not the university.)  Opening the night was the Forge's house band Fourth Man Furnace.  They did an excellent job and the sound was awesome. Matt Miazga, the lead for Fourth Man, led us through a tale of struggle and redemption in his music. It was interesting to see his journey reflected in song and many people identified with it.

The next performer was Bryan Easter.  He is a math teacher from Bakersfield, California.  I am not 100% sure how we got him to come to our event, but we knew people who knew people who knew him.  If you have a chance to hear him in concert then go and do it.  He is pretty good and I am glad we now have a friendship with him.

David Weiss was the featured speaker and truly set the theme for the night.  He told a story through paintings and drama about a wealthy art collector who had a son who died in Vietnam.  A buddy of the son gave the art collector a painting of the son.  When the man died and the art was auctioned off the portrait of the son was the first painting to be sold.  When it sold the auctioneer packed up and left.  People were wondering about the rest of the priceless art.  The auctioneer said "He who takes the son gets it all."
This season of Easter and Lent is about redemption.  It is about freedom from sin and restored relationship with  God and all that it took and takes to do that.  Don't forget that among the hustle and bustle of kids looking for Easter eggs, Passion plays and Cantatas, jelly beans and chocolate bunnies, and portraits of families in their Easter best.  It is all about freedom.

Thanks to all who came out tonight and to all who participated in making our Redemption concert the best one we have had.  God bless and Good night.

The Theolobster.

Monday, April 2, 2012

40/40 Day 35 Palm Sunday remembrances

yesterday was Palm Sunday.   It is the day we celebrate the beginning of Holy Week, also known as the passion week.  It is the last week of Lent and this is the first of the last six blogs for the 40/40 challenge.  I know that this weekend I was silent.  I was stewing over topics and resting my mind.  There are a lot of things that have occurred in my life at this time of year.

7 years ago on March 29, my stepfather Thomas E Jarvis Sr was violently taken away from us in a boiler explosion.  He had just called my mamma and told her that he loved her as he did every night that he worked.  He then went to answer an alarm on the boiler that was sounding.  The boiler exploded and he was the only casualty.

Tom was a good man.  He married my mom my senior year of college and made her happy which had not happened in a long time.  I knew she was happy because she only complained half as much as she did before she got married.  Tom also was a positive influence in my life.  He wanted to see mine and my sister's lives improve and would have adopted me as his own had I not been graduating from college that year.  (I was too old.) He was Pop Pop to my niece, a friend to my brother-in-law, and a role model to me.  He was a Marine.

Last year around this time there was another loss in my family.  My Grandmother Inez Stevens lost the battle to cancer.  She turned 86 on April 8th and was buried several days later.  I remember flying down to South Carolina and attending her funeral which happened to take place on Good Friday.  The significance of that moment was not lost on me.  I was burying my grandmother on the day we commemorate my savior's death.  I may have been the only one in my family to see the connection.

Anyway I did not mean to bum you out with this blog.  I do not dwell to long on death.  I only remember and celebrate the ones whom I have lost, and rejoice that one day I will see them again. So may God bless you with a long and happy life and may you cherish the ones you love daily.

Trusting in God's love and Grace
Hair the Theolobster