Thursday, March 31, 2011

Holy Holy Holy Week

So Holy Week is coming up, it's like Super Bowl week for Jesus Followers. Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and then the big one, Easter.

Traditionally these services are laid out and the orders of worship and rituals are pre-set. If I were in a traditional  church setting I'd be gearing up with palms, robes, incense, candles, etc. Now, this isn't to say that I'm not going to use palms and candles, but the way we use them and the orders of our worships won't be necessarily familiar to someone who grew up in the church.

That brings me to the point of this particular post, the hardest part of serving at an innovative church is continually pushing the creative edge. Anyone can be creative. Everyone has the capability to think outside of the box, but to balance that with staying in line with the Lutheran tradition becomes tricky.

We had a meeting today with a pastor who serves in amazing ways at a very traditional church. It got me thinking. Can postmodernism and Lutheranism coexist? Can we use these two seemingly different trains of thought on the same track? I'm not exactly sure how our Holy Week worships are going to turn out, but I do know if you don't try to push yourself then you'll never progress. This year will be an exercise in pushing Celebration beyond what we traditionally think of when we ponder Holy Week.

Here goes nothing!

Cheers, Mike.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Grace and Love

So it's been a while since i've been updating. Insane couple of weeks. We cruised through February like it was sitting still then got into March and haven't stopped running since. We baptized my son the first week in Lent and it was amazing to have all the friends and family come to visit. Now they're gone and things are starting to settle back down to normal.

A couple weeks ago at our small group discussion we had a conversation that is as old as Lutheranism. We were discussing Matthew 6, and Jesus' comments on divorce, murder and adultery when the conversation turned to salvation. I can't say I was surprised, but it did happen at a very interesting time.

As you may or may not know Rob Bell has recently published a book called "Love Wins" that caused quite a controversy before it was even released. It was suggested that Bell had dismissed hell and become a universalist. Now, I haven't read the book yet, so I can't comment on what awesome level of heresy he's on, but if his prior writings are any indication, I will love it.

I'm not pre-loving this book because it is controversial, I'm pre-loving it because Rob Bell (along with many other missional evangelicals) are swinging towards the side of grace. From a tradition steeped in hellfire and brimstone comes a message as old as Christianity itself, and every time another pastor/preacher/author/heretic declares grace and love as the most important, I get excited.

I've been obsessing about Jay Bakker lately. His book "Fall to Grace" and his weekly sermon podcast from Revolution NYC have been keeping me coming back for more. It is another awesome example of the power of love and grace taking hold in the world. Everybody knows Jay's parents story. Jim and Tammy Faye were quite the scandal. But amidst all the turmoil Jay has emerged a champion of grace. Spreading the message of love and acceptance to an audience who might not otherwise listen.

Aside from the fact that I think they should come out as Lutherans, Bell and Bakker and others like them are inspiring me. As a Lutheran I've had a rich heritage of grace that I've celebrated. Eph. 2:8 was my confirmation verse and has shaped my own theology for all of my adult life. But there are disconnects. We don't always remember that Grace wins out. We get caught up in the message of Jesus telling us not to sin and forget that he tells us these things not that we might be saved, but in order that we might live a more Christ-like life. God's commandments aren't about heaven or hell. God's commandments are about earth. God's grace is what brings us eternal life and salvation, and thank God its not up to us.