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Archive for November, 2008

A couple of you have asked about what has prompted my musings on community lately.  I hope it’s sufficient explanation to say I’ve been pretty significantly discouraged in that area.  My chief discouragement has been not just that I perceive that we, in churches today, so often do a poor job at cultivating community, but that there has additionally been a backlash of “We’re fine just the way we are!” when the challenge is made that perhaps we should be caring for one another better.

And so, I’ve tried to take seriously the repeated exhortation that “something deeper” is just something I crave and that either 1) others out there don’t really need it, or 2) others out there already have it, and the problem is chiefly with me.  I’ve tried to believe its “just me.”  But I keep running up against evidence to the contrary.

Anyway, enough posts about mushrooms: this one is more serious.  I have questions for you.

What do you think Christian community should look like? Do you think that community/connectedness automatically takes place (as, for example, a bi-product of excellent Sunday worship,) or is it something which must be pursued/cultivated? 

Can/should connectedness within a particular body be encouraged, or even exhorted, from the leadership of that body? Or is it just something that either happens – or doesn’t.  Can community be “taught” or must it only be “caught” – or is it some combination of the two?

I’d appreciate your thoughts/honesty.  Obviously I am longing for something more, but if it is “just me” then that’s part of the answer I need to hear.

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…is that you should really have a good plan for what you’re going to do with them.

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So, have I mentioned yet that THIS is my current most favoritest most frequently read blog?

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I’m trying to decide which “growing mushrooms” metaphor to settle on. There’s clearly one waiting to be called into being right now. I don’t hesitate to find the metaphorical lessons in life around me, even when they border on banality. I’m well convinced that creation is to be one of our chief textbooks in the Christian life.

This morning, for fun, I’ve listened to the book of Ecclesiastes on CD three times. (OK, maybe not really for fun: it’s part of an assignment. But there’s something about hearing Max McClean say “He has made everything beautiful in its time'” that makes at least chapter 3 delightful…) It’s hard to top the total tonnage of metaphor in Ecclesiastes, and maybe that’s part of the reason that my simmering thoughts about my mushrooms are starting to roll to a slow boil.

But I’m torn. For those of you who think of fungi as one of the distinctive signs of the fall, and shun their consumption in all forms, it might seem appropriate to think of their growth as a kind of cancerous symbol of the persistent, recurring darkness with which I wrestle. But, for those of you who share my affinity for these white wonders, a sort of Isaiah 61 (“beauty instead of ashes”) interpretation might be in order.

I’ll continue to think on that, but meanwhile, here’s a photo update. Note the growth (for better or worse, depending on your bias as described above) in just three days!

Forget turkey, I’m having steak and sautéed mushrooms this Thanksgiving.

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“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art, like the universe itself (for God did not need to create). It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”      (C.S. Lewis)

 

“Jesus says, ‘By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.’ In the midst of the world, in the midst of our present dying culture, Jesus is giving a right to the world. Upon his authority he gives the world the right to judge whether you and I are born-again Christians on the basis of our observable love toward all Christians. “

   That’s pretty frightening. Jesus turns to the world and says, ‘I’ve something to say to you. On the basis of my authority, I give you a right: you may judge whether or not an individual is a Christian on the basis of the love he shows to all Christians.’ In other words, if people come up to us and cast in our teeth the judgment that we are not Christians because we have not shown love toward other Christians, we must understand that they are only exercising a prerogative which Jesus gave them.”                     (Francis A. Schaeffer, The Mark of the Christian)

“The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted, uncared for and deserted by everybody.” (Mother Teresa)

“Little do men perceive what solitude is, and how far it extendeth. For a crowd is not company, and faces are but a gallery of pictures, and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love.” (Sir Francis Bacon

 

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

(Stevie Smith, Not Waving But Drowing)

“When Christ said: “I was hungry and you fed me,” he didn’t mean only the hunger for bread and for food; he also meant the hunger to be loved. Jesus himself experienced this loneliness. He came amongst his own and his own received him not, and it hurt him then and it has kept on hurting him. The same hunger, the same loneliness, the same having no one to be accepted by and to be loved and wanted by. Every human being in that case resembles Christ in his loneliness; and that is the hardest part, that’s real hunger.” (Mother Teresa)

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Mushroom maturations

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning

Inherit the earth

Our foot’s in the door.

 

(From “Mushrooms” by Sylvia Plath)

They’re growing! (Note the dime in the picture, for size reference)  And they’re tasty!

(You know, it has been rightly pointed out that all mushrooms are edible – once.)

button-mushrooms

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I really am still alive.  And the mushrooms ARE growing (photos to follow…)  But tonight is the first time I’ve had in a good bit to slow down and catch up on blogs I like to read. 

So, browsing and reading tonight, I came across this (from Tim Chester’s blog – h.t. Finding Grace).  It said something I’ve tried to express often, about the difference between service and connectedness.  (I tried to express it in a conversation today, and did so poorly.  I really SHOULD limit myself to the written word, I think…)

Serving and giving of oneself… The two are related, in the best instances, of course.  But sometimes we miss the mark when our “serving” convinces us that we’ve “gotten it done” in terms of caring for one another, and when our serving blinds us to the deeper needs of community and fellowship.  Here’s how Tim Chester put it:

We think we are enacting grace if we work among the poor, if we serve them. But we are only half way there. It is not really grace because we still act from a position of superiority. We think we are humble when we serve. But we have missed the dynamic that is going on. What we really proclaim is that we are able and you are unable. I can do something for you, but you can do nothing for me. Think how different the dynamic is when we sit and eat with someone. We meet as equals. We share together. We behave as friends. We affirm one another and enjoy one another.

That’s how I wish I had thought to put it, today…

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