Any Way You Slice It
Some thoughts on church,
and how it is that we find integrity and wholeness
in our varied forms of worship
and understandings of God.
An Entry Point
And a BIG THANKS! to those who were willing to be interviewed, and who offered suggestions. You're really good sports, and I'm glad to know you (even though I've only ever really met Jay Voorhees, and I'm not sure that we did more than show up at the same seminar once).
Online Church Link List
crossposted at Telling Stories and Learning Faith
People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; succeed anyway. People may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; give the world the best you've got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; it is never between you and them anyway.
An amazing moment came in the late afternoon when Bobbie pulled me aside and whispered, “Tim, somebody just told me you were Baptist. Is that true?” She whispered Baptist as if it were a dirty word (which is too often is!) I said, “Actually, Bobbie, yes our church is Baptist.” A forelorn look creased her forehead and she asked nervously, “Just tell me one thing: Are you here to tell us that if we don’t change we’re going to hell?” “No, not at all. I replied. In fact, we’re here because God is changing US--- as Christians, many of us have been pretty judgmental and condemning and even hostile at times to the gay community, and Jesus is changing our hearts. We’ve got a long way to go in making amends, and so we just thought we’d serve today to try and humbly reconcile...” My words were cut-off as I was wrapped up in the arms of this middle-aged lesbian as she cried “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” with tears in her eyes. “Finally, a group of religious people who are treating us like real Christians are supposed to.” I doubt any of us would be foolish enough to deem ourselves "real Christians" (whatever that means)... all the same, it was one of the most encouraging words we've ever received from folks.
"Today it's my birthday and my grandson, who is very stingy, gave me a blog." So reads the first entry by one of the world's oldest Webloggers, Maria Amelia Lopez, who, at the age of 95, has surprised herself by a sudden conversion from Web-illiterate to cybercelebrity.
Why the apple core? Adam and Eve ate the fruit of knowledge, thinking it would tell them everything they wanted to know and make their life complete. In fact, it broke their reliance on God. So, now that we've enjoyed the apple, why are we still looking for answers? What will fill that hole inside us?Church of the Net, a ministry of Holy Trinity Ripon, which is parish of the Church of England, is an online community aimed at helping those with no church background find clarity about God and the church. Among it's useful features are very spare webdesign without a lot of graphics, so that it loads very quickly. There is also a glossary in the left column to explain a variety of terms from God, Jesus and Holy Spirit to Christian Ethics, Angels, The Bible, and Sexuality. The language is very plain and uncomplicated, all the better to help those who haven't grown up in the church, and don't come "pre-loaded" with the vocabulary. What it is not is a worshiping body: there is a weekly article posted, but not an online service. Church on the Net doesn't mean to be the only church connection for people; instead their goal is to help people become better informed and more comfortable with joining a worshiping body elsewhere. There are three blogs, one on faith and current events, one offering "a wry look at some of the weirder things Christians get up to", and a third on science and faith. There are also forums for discussion on the weekly articles, other articles on the site, and other site feedback. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a lot happening on the site; both blog and forum posts are weeks or months old. The articles, however, are up to date and include a "Go Deeper" section which offers suggestions for prayer and reflection, as well as links to video clips and suggested reading (conveniently available from Amazon). I like this one a great deal. While it provides a very comfortable public space, there are options to move into social space, and potentially personal space as traffic increases on the blogs and forums. However, Church on the Net has no intention of replacing brick and mortar church; while they are intentional about building an online community, they focus on low-demand, easy to accept relational language and efforts, trusting that as they are able to "interpret" the church to their visitors, they will connect with a brick and mortar church for relationship. The site is an expression of the incarnational and missional focus of the church, and so there is no real emphasis on reaching out to others; the visitor is the other here. This is a model I'd like to see succeed, and think parts of it could be duplicated well.
- I am a United Methodist (UM) pastor, married to a UM pastor, which makes life entertaining from time to time. I am a newly minted D. Min--yes, that's Rev. Dr. Anne, to you. I am a learner and teller of stories, looking at how we share faith and relationships. Any views I express here are not necessarily United Methodist views: they are mine.