Facing the Future with an Eye to the Past

Stay-at-home orders are being adjusted and the usual places in our lives are opening again. In California, depending on which county you live in, you can even get a haircut (which does not excite me one bit). As we engage and move into our new future, it might be helpful to keep an eye on the past.

Memorial Day was a good reminder of this. One of my dear friends posted a meme on Facebook with two beach scenes, one crowded with revelers the other a war zone. The text read: your day at the beach brought to you by their death on the beach. It is a good reminder, in the U.S. at least, we enjoy freedoms because they have been routinely secured by the ultimate sacrifice of others. If only we used our “freedom” for more than revelry!

Shifting gears to think about how this relates to the church. In California, again depending on your county, churches are now able to meet in person with restrictive guidelines. You can’t engage in wild revelry but you can gather around the word in groups again. For many wearing a mask during the whole service or having their temperature taken at the door will be too much to bear and they will choose not to come. For some, it will be wiser to stay home and continue to worship via the internet. Others will gladly follow the guidelines and worship in what will surely be an awkward arrangement.

While this moment is unique to us, and feels like one restriction too far, we follow the lineage of Christians who have (and still do) face much harsher circumstances to worship together. Pentecost occurred in a prayer room where disciples of Jesus gathered because they were concerned they would be arrested. Third century Christians descended into the depths of Rome to sing of Jesus among the buried dead in order to avoid persecution. And down the line of history, believers have sacrificed themselves to care for plague victims, they have huddled in dingy and dark places to remind each other of the grace of Christ and eternal life in him, they have faced arrest, harassment, and death because they had a love that was sweeter than life.

Truth be told, prohibitions on crowd size and instructions to wear masks is not the persecution we were looking for. Currently, movie theaters are more persecuted than the church. So with an eye to the past, we don our masks and take our temperatures and join in the cloud of witnesses that have faced the awkward, hard, and even brutal to worship Jesus with other believers.



Worthwhile December 13, 2019

It’s Friday the thirteenth. Don’t freak out. And if you are already freaking out, chill. Here we are, so close to Christmas. Eagerness is wearing our waiting muscles thin but just around the corner we shall celebrate. Eleven days. We can make it.

Worthwhile this week some good news for the anxious, a new approach to life for success, and singing loud at church. Get some.

Nick Davis has a vital piece on Advent and anxiety. The San Diego pastor is a friend and is acquainted with anxiety. I trust him and the help he provides here is key. He finishes with this prayer:

Father, give us lives that live and breath and move in constant conversation with you. Prayer is the antidote to anxiety. Prayer is Your prescription for a life that lacks trust. Prayer is medicine and balm for a worrisome life.

Help us to trust and rest confidently each day in you. Let us find peace and all security in you, and in you alone. And help us to see that your drawing near to us means all our fears and worries have an expiration date.

That because of Advent, one day soon you are going to do away with all fears and tears, and replace all that with peace, love, and the fullness of joy. Come, Lord Jesus. Amen.

Read it for yourself.

Next up, find your purpose set aside your passion. Based on new Harvard research, Jessica Stillman takes to INC to call those looking toward success to focus their energy and attention on purpose.

Purpose beats passion.

Chasing passion, in other words, tends to make you less satisfied at work because — no huge shocker here — work is often difficult, draining, and even boring. So, are you doomed to simply take whatever job you can do that pays the bills? Nope, replies Jachimowicz. All you need to do is substitute “purpose” for “passion” when considering your path. 

Instead of asking what makes you happy and “following your passion,” instead ask yourself what you care deeply about, he instructs. By focusing on purpose, you align your work with your deepest values, and also relieve yourself of the expectation that the long slog of a career will be all (or even mostly) happiness and sunshine. 

So what’s your purpose? Read more on INC.

Last up this week, as we head into the sining time of year, Brett McCracken call you to sing your heart out. In a repost of a section of his book Uncomfortable, McCracken wants the church, and you, to benefit from worshiping through song together.

“The vitality of a church’s worship depends on members of the body submitting their autonomous freedom and opinionated preferences to the larger community, and ultimately to the Lord. This doesn’t mean there’s no room for discussion and disagreement and compromise when opinions on songs or liturgy clash. But it does mean that in these conflicts we abide by Paul’s Ephesians 5 call to a Christlike posture of service and humility (“submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ,” v. 21).”

I agree. So go ahead, sing your heart out with the church. Read it all here. And maybe even pick up his book, it’s great.

There you go. Enjoy the weekend. Rejoice in the Lord. Love people. Live for eternity. Onward.