The importance of remembering

I thought this was a great resource, so I wanted to pass it along!  Ritual and tradition are important to children’s development (and help adults to make meaning out of life, too).  Let me know if you try any of these ideas!

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Gifts

Have you ever been certain that if you just had “x” that you would finally be happy?  That life would work out?  Have you ever pleaded to God for something, only to have the opposite occur, or to hear God say “No” or “Not yet”?

This week’s Nooma video was “Kickball.”  In it, Rob Bell compares his son’s begging for a “junk” toy, even when his dad tells him that he has something better in mind, to the way that we ask God for what we want and then don’t understand when God doesn’t give it to us.  “Don’t you love us, God?” we ask.  Bell reminds us that we have limited perspectives, but that God loves us and has something better in mind.

What are you asking God for at this stage in your life?

Have you ever *not* gotten what you asked for, only to realize later God had something better in mind? 

Looking forward to your participation through the comments!

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Flowers

I imagine Jesus is speaking these same words to us today:

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. They do all their deeds to be seen by others; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long. They love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the market-places, and to have people call them rabbi.

Matthew 23:1-17

We are so proud of our spiritual disciplines.  Some of us tithe, or have daily devotional time, or are in worship every single Sunday.  We do the things we’re “supposed” to do – isn’t that what God wants?

According to the Old Testament, the answer is No.  Or, at least, not necessarily.

Rob Bell, in “Sunday,” compares God’s response to our empty rituals to his experience of giving his wife flowers.  If he brings home flowers, and her face lights up, and he says “Well, you’re my wife.  It’s my duty” or “I thought you needed them” or “They were right there, it was easy, I wasn’t really thinking of you.”  Does she still even want the flowers?

How often do we – do I – do this to God?  Here God, I’ve got my kids in worship – it doesn’t matter if I yelled at them to get them here, right?  Here God is my 10% – but I’m going to use the other 90% on whatever *I* want (sweatshop labor or environmentally unsustainability be darned).  I go to church every week – it doesn’t matter that millions of people are starving and I don’t do anything to help them – I’m still good, right?  After all, we read the right version of the Bible and exclude the right people and decorate using the right liturgical colors…

Does God even want our flowers?

When our hearts aren’t in it, when we don’t really love God and our neighbor…does God even want our our worship, our tithe, our deeds?

What do you think?

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The Church: Can’t live with it, can’t live without it

This weeks’ Nooma video is “Sunday.”  In it, Rob Bell addresses the church, asking questions like, “Is this really what God had in mind?”  What do you think?

He cites a verse from Isaiah: ‘These people, they honor me with their lips
but their hearts are far from me.’

How about you?  How about your church?  Why do we do what we do?  Empty ritual?  It’s what’s expected?  Out of guilt or fear?  Out of love?  Out of duty?

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Prayer of the Redeemed

Rob Bell’s words from the Nooma video, “Trees.”

“May you trust Jesus, when he says that death has been taken care of, and that you can live forever with God, that you’re never, ever, ever going to stop living.
 
May you believe that death has been taken care of, and you can be a partner with God in redeeming and restoring this fallen, broken, hurting world.  That you can literally be a partner with God in making this the kind of place that God originally intended it to be.
 
May you be the kind of person who, when you live this way, the very trees of Paradise are being planted.”
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Between the trees

This week’s “Nooma” video described the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, and the Tree of Life in Revelation – the beginning and the end of the story in the Bible.  Rob Bell says, then, that we live “between the trees” – in a sort of in-between time.  There are those who believe that this world is getting worse and worse, and they spend their lives hoping and waiting for a new world, a place to start over, where everything will be better.  Bell expresses a desire for a God who is “now” – and we have a God who is now, one who was willing to take on the flesh of this broken world and get hurt and dirty for the sake of showing us love.

Let’s start, though, by talking about the first tree. 

Genesis 2: 4-24

In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground,* and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’

 Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’ So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man* there was not found a helper as his partner. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
‘This at last is bone of my bones
   and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called Woman,*
   for out of Man* this one was taken.’
Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.

In the movie, Rob Bell says; “God says “You can live how you want, or you can live how I created you to live.”  It’s almost as if God says, “It’s your choice.”  It’s still our choice.”

What, then, does it mean to live how God created you to live?  And, if we do believe that God’s way is the best way to live, why is it so hard to do it?

It is hard, isn’t it?  Trusting in an unseen God in a fearful world, going against the grain, risking making a mistake or missing out or ridicule.  What does living God’s way look like?  And, how do live that out in our community in 2014?

Let’s start the conversation with this.  More to follow later this week!

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Do you cry?

Some people self-identify as “criers” – the ones who tear up over Hallmark commercials.  Others only cry a few times in their adult lives.  Are you a crier?

In Rob Bell’s Nooma video “Rain,” he talks about his son’s experience during a literal storm – since all he could see was the storm, he cried out in fear from the depths of his soul.  Bell provides the following Bible verses from the Psalms about crying:

Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you.

Psalm 34:17 (MSG)
 
Evening, morning, and noon, I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.
Psalm 55:17 (NIV)
 
For He will rescue the poor who cry out and the afflicted who have no helper.
Psalm 72:12 (HCSB)
 
I long and yearn for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh cry out for the living God.
Psalm 84:2 (HCSB)
 
O LORD, the God who saves me, day and night I cry out before you.
Psalm 88:1 (NIV)

 

Sometimes we think that our tears mean that we are weak, or immature, or effeminate. 

Here, though, we see that there is a Biblical precedent for “crying out” to God. 

Perhaps this is related to the “lament” tradition of Israel.

What is your understanding of “lament?” 

How would you recommend we incorporate lament into our personal  –

and especially our communal – lives?

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