Monday, November 14, 2016

A Sermon for the Day After and the Days to Come

Sermon for Sunday, November 13, 2016
26th Sunday after Pentecost - Luke 21:5-19

It was a long and drawn out contest.  Both sides worked extremely hard to come out on top.  At times, it felt like the outcome was inevitable or even pre-ordained at least that narrative played into what many people wanted to hear.  I’ll admit it played into what I wanted to hear.  The media didn’t help things at all.  They continued to tell the stories that accentuated the rivalry, that hyped the differences or challenged the deservedness of the potential victor.  They profited in viewership and clicks by digging up old histories, some celebrated, some shameful.  Just before it was over, it felt like the whole world was on the edge of their seats.  And I was too.  

Like many, I watched the final hours of this seemingly endless contest wind down on television, taking comfort that, at some point and hopefully very soon, it would all be over.  And then it was.  It was Wednesday, and I learned that there was a new champion.  The Chicago Cubs had won the World Series!  And, to be honest with you, it felt really good.

Oh, and this Wednesday, I woke up and we had elected a new President.  And, as long as I’m being honest with you, it really didn’t feel that good.  Yes, I had gone to bed the night before, anxious about what was unfolding, and I secretly hoped that what was playing out would somehow look very different in the morning.  But when I woke up, it didn’t take long to confirm, we had elected a new President and it wasn’t the person that I had voted for.  

This wasn’t the first time this had happened to me.  I went back and added it up.  In my Presidential election history, I have only voted for the winner 50% of the time.  That doesn’t seem like a very good record.

With that kind of record, you would think that I would have handled my sense of disappointment a little better on Wednesday morning.  But something was different.  Right away, I turned to my social media feeds to check in on my friends to see how others were processing this revelation.  I spent a good chunk of my waking hours on Wednesday, reading everyone’s reactions.  This has continued in the days since and as much as I wanted this election to be over so that we could finally be done talking about it on November 9th, it seems like a whole new round of rhetoric is just beginning.  As I’ve been processing all of this, I’ve decided to focus on two fundamental realities that all of us now face.

Reality #1:  We have elected a new President.

Yep, I needed some time to let that sink in.  It’s kind of obvious but this reality is built on some important facts.  First, this reality was going to be true, regardless of the outcome.  Duh.  That was the whole point of all this effort.  Like him or not, the current President’s time is coming to a close and we needed to determine who was going to take his place.  Regardless of what happened on Nov. 8th, we were going to wake up to this reality: we have elected a NEW President.

Second, let’s remember what a privilege it is that we have had the opportunity to ‘ELECT’ a new President.  There is something importantly life-giving embedded in the democratic system within which we are free to participate.  Yes, our version of democracy isn’t perfect and those imperfections sometimes feel really hard to tolerate but I don’t think I could convince you that something other than democracy would be right for us.

Next, take note that we have elected a PRESIDENT.  We have not installed a supreme ruler or coroneted a monarch.  There is a limit to the President’s authority and capacity.  And most importantly, there is a time limit to how long any one particular person gets to hold onto this power.  Yes, I know many are worried of the potential damage that could be done in the next four or eight years but that shouldn’t stop us from keeping vigilant and holding all of our elected officials and those whom they appoint accountable to governing justly.  This is a participatory democracy but that only works if you participate.

Finally, take note that this is something ‘WE’ have done.  There are some who might be tempted or want to think, “I didn’t vote for him so, he’s not my President.”  That’s just not how it works.  I might not have voted for him, but others in my community, my state and my country did.  And the system is designed so that we’re all pulled together into this process.  This is the one election where what people in Minnesota and Michigan and Maine and Montana and all the other states, whether they start with M or not, get to decide together how this will go.  This country, in it’s collective, with all of its diversity, elected this President.  I’d much rather be in this together then try to go it alone.  History has taught us we are capable of great things when we come together and I refuse to believe otherwise.  I also know that I am called to be a pastor for the whole of the church, not just those who think like me.  If you woke up happy on Wednesday, then I am willing to celebrate your excitement.  If you’re willing to acknowledge my anxieties, I very much look forward to walking along side you as we tackle the many huge challenges that still face our nation.

So this is the first reality that we need to let sink in: we have elected a new President.  But there is another reality that we need to hold up as well.

Reality #2: We have the same God.

Just like I needed some time to let that first reality sink in, I also needed to be reminded of this second reality.  As much as it felt like the world was a very different place on November 9th, in one very important way, it was very much the same: God is still God.  Let’s take a moment to unpack the truths of this reality as well.  

First, even faithful people need to be reminded that there is nothing more important, nothing more life giving, nothing more capable of salvation than the love of God.  If we think that the results of this Presidential election, regardless of its outcome, could somehow outperform the love of God, then we should spend some time exploring where our faith is rooted.  To be clear, I believe that God’s love is primarily experienced through creation, especially in our relationships with each other.  So the people of this election, those who voted for the other guy or gal, those who didn’t at all, those who were elected and those who weren’t, those who still hold office and those who have and never will hold office, it’s through these people, that God will work and deliver on God’s promises.  This is what faithful people will believe.

Next, this election has not changed one single thing about God’s priorities.  God is still focused on loving the world and the church is still the primary means by which this is accomplished.  It’s important to note that God does maintain a preferential concern for those who are most in need of God’s love.  This includes the sick, the poor, the hungry, the widow, the orphan, the refugee, the imprisoned.  It also includes the abused, the pushed-aside, the addict, the forgotten, the lost.  It includes the single mom, the struggling dad, the neglected child.  And yes, it includes the person whose skin color is different than my own, whose gender identity is different than my own, who lives and loves differently than I do, who worships differently than I do.  

As a church, it follows that our mission is to pick up these same priorities when we set about to do God’s work.  If you think the outcome of this election calls any of this into question, then it is the church’s responsibility to remain a prophetic voice and to take action when necessary.  Much of the rhetoric leading up to this election rightly questioned how each of the candidates would behave as president given all the inter-related complexities of the world.  As a church, we are called to hold our elected officials accountable and I would suggest that we not be shy about speaking up when we see them acting counter to the truth of the Gospel.  I suspect we will also continue to be called upon to fill in the need to care for the marginalized and all too easily forgotten if and when their concerns are pushed aside.  We have always had this work to do and this does not change in the face of this election.  This is our reality, we have the same God and we must continue to be the same church.

Finally, the world was created in its complete fullness and God called it ‘good.’  We are the ones that have carved up the world and its goodness by class, and race, and gender, and any number of other human-perceived divisions.  But we have the same God.  And we all belong to God, all of us, not just some of us.  It’s only in our collective that we can experience the life-giving mercy of the Body of Christ.  To think that political ideologies would somehow run counter to this truth is to discover just another way in which we are broken.  

Perhaps this is the hardest piece to this reality for you today. I know it’s the one I’ve been struggling with the most.  Before Wednesday, I held out hope that the flaws I saw in one candidate would be worse than the flaws others saw in mine.  I was wrong.  But to be clear, voting for someone is not necessarily an endorsement of their flaws, rather an act of hope connected to their qualifications.  Why was this an election that focused on flaws and not on qualifications?  I suppose the pundits will spend the coming weeks and months on this very point.  Intellectually we understand being both sinners and saints but, apparently, it’s a lot more fun to focus on the sinner, much less so on the saint.  I know we can do better and I’m certain the starting place is to remember that we are all equally flawed, just as we are equally forgiven.  Thanks be to God.

So our realities remain: We have elected a new President but we have the same God.

If acknowledging reality #1 feels like the world is crumbling down around you, then today’s Gospel is for you.  Similarly, if you feel vindicated or uplifted by or energized by reality #1, then today’s Gospel is for you.

Confronting his disciples with the very real prospect of the destruction of the temple and the persecution of the faithful, Jesus offers his counsel:

“I will give you words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict.” (Luke 21:15)

What are these words?  What is this wisdom?  “Not a hair on your head will perish.  By your endurance you will gain your souls.” (Luke 21:18-19)

But not just these words or this wisdom, Luke’s story compels us to consider the entirety of his account of the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Look at the fullness of the story and discover that God’s love has no boundaries, no limits, no restrictions.

I also want to make a point, and this is extremely important, ‘your opponent’ is not the person or people who voted differently than you in this election, or in any election for that matter.  Your opponent is the person who would act in such a way as to attempt to separate you from the most important reality of all.  You are a beloved child of God and your life can be lived in the surety that God’s promise to love you will never be taken away.

You may have noticed this safety pin on my alb today.  Perhaps you’ve seen others in the past few days starting to wear a safety pin too.  This is not some subtle attempt to declare whom I voted for or didn’t vote for on Tuesday.  This isn’t an act of swearing allegiance to an alternate version of the realities I’ve been talking about today.  This is a declaration that I want to be someone ‘safe’ to talk to.  It means I am willing to hear you out and will do my best to really listen to what you have to say.  It means I will do everything in my power to share God’s love as I feel I’m called to do.  It also means that when I see someone in need of an ally, I will do my best to step in and help.  I think God has some pretty clear ideas on how the church will go about the task of loving the world and I think the responsibilities of wearing this safety pin will help make that possible.

I would invite you to grab a safety pin to wear today and in the days ahead.  Wear it as a reminder to what God is calling you to do.  Wear it as an invitation to others to share their stories with you.  Wear it in recognition of all the deep listening that we need to do.  Wear it as an announcement that you will stand with those who need you most.

Now you know a little more about me.  You know whom I didn’t vote for last Tuesday.  Maybe that’s something we have in common or maybe it’s something that makes us different.  On the list of things that matter, that’s going to show up pretty close to the bottom, just like who won the World Series in 2016.    Whether you cheered for the Cubs or voted for the other guy in this election, don’t even for a minute think that I don’t want to be on this journey with you.  

I know I’ll be wrestling with the reality of our new President for some time to come but I am grateful that the same God who loves a flawed preacher like me, loves a flawed listener like you.  Amen.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Boycott Hypocrisy (and the localized impact of Citizen's United)

So Bridge Creek, my restaurant, is being boycotted.  My previous posts (here and here) chronicle the details of why some people have decided to stay away from my restaurant.  Boycotts seem to be all over the place and I have a confession to make, I’m a boycotter too.

A couple years ago, the story came out that Target (the MN-based company and the place where our family provisions itself regularly) had made a $150,000 political contribution to Tom Emmer, a MN gubernatorial candidate.  At the time, Emmer’s campaign was very supportive of a “definition of marriage” amendment to the state’s constitution and those of us who disagreed with this position were encouraged to boycott Target as a way to send the message that the retailer shouldn’t be supporting a candidate with these social views.

There was considerable mainstream and social media attention given to the boycott at the time and as a family, we joined the boycott.  It was hard on us, probably harder on us than it was on them.  Target really was our favorite place to buy underwear, toilet paper, groceries, toothpaste and just about everything the family uses on a daily basis.  After a few months Target made some very public contributions to “GLBT friendly” causes and we decided it was ok to start buying stuff from the khaki and red clad staff at Target again.

Here’s the thing, Target most likely gave Tom Emmer’s campaign $150,000 not because of his stand on gay marriage but because he supported business and tax policy initiatives that were beneficial to their primary enterprise.  Yet us boycotters weren’t swayed.  If we spent money at Target and they in turn gave some of that money to Tom Emmer and he was elected and then helped to pass a marriage definition amendment, was it not our money fueling this whole misguided process?

Emmer didn’t win, the populace voted down the marriage amendment and eventually the state voted to create marriage equality.  Target’s $150K, sourced from our shopping dollars, was wasted.

So what’s different about the 3-person boycott of Bridge Creek and the thousands strong boycott of Target?  Neither boycott is primarily about the core activities of the enterprises, our products, or our employment practices.  Both boycotts are the result of people not wanting to see their money benefitting people they disagree with on matters of human sexuality and equality.

Target was able to make their contribution to the Emmer campaign because of the restrictions that were erased in the US Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision.  Limiting campaign contributions is experienced as a limiting of free speech.  It was argued that Target has as much right to free speech as any individual.  This understanding of corporate personhood is extremely troubling to me.  

Obviously I value my free speech.  (Though the grammar police may come after me, I’m not concerned that this blog post will actually send me to jail for example.)  It’s fundamental to my core beliefs on human worth that any group of commonly aligned individuals must value the voice of each of those individuals.  There are too many examples of those in power maintaining their dominance by quieting the voice of those they’re supposed to serve.  And that’s just a snapshot from yesterday’s news cycle.

Somebody or somebodies at Target decided to financially back a candidate that held views I don’t agree with.  The act of choosing to spend my money elsewhere and joining with a bunch of other folks doing the same was one way to lash out at the Ms. or Mr. Target that made that political contribution.  Citizens United has made them a person, apparently just like me.

But Target isn’t just like me.  They’re a large corporation with very different motivations.  I could make the argument that engaging in the political process is in fact one of Target’s core activities.  It’s how big business is done and Target’s ability to be effective at this is of primary concern to its shareholders.  And shareholder’s concerns tend to be pretty bottom line oriented.

You could certainly make the argument that Bridge Creek should be more bottom line oriented too.   But then Peter, the person, gets in the way.  If I sensed, for even a moment, that my personal views about marriage equality would have a noticeably negative effect on Bridge Creek’s bottom line, it wouldn’t change my mind about marriage equality, it would change my mind about staying connected to Bridge Creek.

For reasons previously posted about, I’m not yet worried that this 3-person strong boycott is going to have a negative effect on Bridge Creek’s bottom line.  In fact there has been more than enough positive publicity attached to these blog posts that we might even experience a bit of a bump in business.  So I guess I won’t be looking for a new place to work anytime real soon.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Boycott Grows

If you’ve read my previous post then you already know that my restaurant is experiencing a boycott.  Initially, it was only a boycott of two but hey, these movements have to start somewhere.  Two people have informed me that they’ll no longer be dining at Bridge Creek because they disagree with me, the owner and operator of their “favorite restaurant,” at least until now.  And now the boycott has grown to three.  A movement is born.
“This reaffirms why I never liked your restaurant! Since day one I have never appreciated what you brought to town. Thanks for making your private business public so I know where you stand.  To bad you didn't stay wherever you came from In the first place.” 
– Anonymous reply to my earlier blog post (subsequently deleted by its author).
What’s the source of this movement’s disagreement?  Do they not like our decision to feature only Montana-brewed beers on tap?  Are they disappointed that we serve trout from Idaho-based fisheries?  Perhaps it’s because we’ve never once featured a Cabernet Sauvignon from the hill country of Texas.  Maybe they don’t like how we force our staff to NOT work on Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Actually, the reason these folks have decided not to “give their money” to me is because I personally support marriage equality.  Turns out, this boycott has nothing to do with our food, our wine or our staff.  It has to do with me.  And this probably came about because I recently had the privilege of cheering on two of my best friends as they finally had the right to walk into our county courthouse and apply for a marriage license.  The local newspaper was there too and I was quoted as saying a few things about how wonderful I believe this all is.

As a business owner I’ve always tried to keep Bridge Creek shielded from political and religious speech.  Bridge Creek is apolitical.  Bridge Creek has never endorsed a candidate let alone made a financial contribution to a campaign.  We’ve never extended a discounted use of our facilities to a political or religious organization that we wouldn’t also extend to organizations with differing or opposing views.  Generally, we’ll do business with anyone.  I just think that’s good business.

When I’m at Bridge Creek, interacting with customers and staff, I generally avoid getting into political or religious conversations.  When I do, I really try to model a willingness to remain open to ideas and not discount other opinions or views.  When I’m away from Bridge Creek and you ask me what I think, I will tell you.  I’ll even debate with you if you want.  I’ll go to rallies and volunteer at phone banks.  And yes, I’ll even (very, very rarely) write checks to support candidates or issues that I care deeply about.

I’m not surprised that some people will struggle to separate Peter from Bridge Creek or Bridge Creek from Peter.  In so many ways, we are the same.  My presence is woven in and throughout this entire enterprise.  Though at any given time there are anywhere from 25 to 50 fantastically talented and dedicated staff people delivering world class hospitality to our guests, it’s unavoidable that I’m the person most identified with this operation.

So it seems pretty natural that if you’re going to lash out at Peter Christ for holding a political or religious view that differs from your own, it’s pretty easy to lash out at Bridge Creek.  Probably much easier than coming at me directly (the anonymous poster above is clearly wanting to limit the scope of their confrontation).  But just because it’s easy, does it make sense?

It’s the disconnect between what Bridge Creek is about (serving great food and wine, providing authentic hospitality, etc.) and what Peter Christ is about (being a father & husband, following Jesus, supporting marriage equality, etc.) that suggests to me that boycotting Bridge Creek doesn’t really make the statement that the boycotters are hoping to make.

Then again, I think I’m guilty of the same misguided endeavor.  But that story is for the next post.

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Boycott is ON!

A few weeks ago, I received the following email:
PLEASE remove us from you7 e-list as we do not plan to ever eat there again. We do NOT agree with your stand on gay marriage and will NOT support your establishment again Sorry as you were are favorite place to eat in RL
My first reaction was fairly joyful.  Knowing these particular folks and how much I dislike their political and religious views, I was happy to learn that they wouldn't be coming into my restaurant anymore.  Not that they were all that regular to begin with.  I'm guessing we maybe saw them once or twice a year, but that's probably a stretch.  But each time they came in, my stomach would get tight and I had to swallow my true feelings of them in order to follow through on my overriding desire and responsibility to be hospitable, after all that's the business I'm in.  Needless to say, I never once confronted them about how much I disagreed with their views on so many topics.  Perhaps I should have.

My mind started racing with all the things I could say in response.  I shared my ideas with my wife knowing that it was probably wise not to fire off a quick response.  Ultimately, I considered that no response was probably the smart play.  But no response also meant little to no satisfaction.

Then again a few days ago, I received another email:
We can no longer support your place so please remove us from you ex. group and e-mails. Having felt you were the best place in town to eat this dose make us sad to say the least. However we can NOT give our money to those that approve in supporting gay marriages which is against the LAW of God. Try reading I Cor. 6:8 and following, Rom 1, Lev.11:22 and 18: 22 & 23. We are very sorry about this but we feel VERY strongly about this so will be eating elsewhere.
Clearly, they were expecting a response.  Here was my reply:
I’ve been wrestling with whether or not to respond to you and what would be an appropriate way to counter your claim as to why you’re choosing to discontinue dining at Bridge Creek.  I’ve actually had more than a bit of fun coming up with a whole host of clever comebacks.  These witticisms were grounded in the wide range of emotions that your declaration brought out of me: sadness, joy, anger and frustration, to name but a few.  Ultimately I came to realize that sharing any of them with you would have accomplished little beyond momentary satisfaction.

Your most recent email suggested that I “try reading” and “following” a few selected verses from the Bible.  I have read and continue to read the Bible and if there’s anything I hope to follow, it’s Jesus.  I am, however, not willing to read any one verse of the Bible without considering the entirety of the biblical witness.  And it’s when I challenge myself to follow Jesus, that I’m most convinced my understanding of sexuality and human relationship reflects God’s promised future.  As much as I would wish it otherwise, I also know hardly anything I could say to you, or list of verses I would suggest you read, would have any chance of changing your mind.

Your ‘decision’ to stop patronizing our restaurant saddens me as well.  It’s not sad because we will miss having you dine with us.  I’m sad for you.  Not only are you going to miss out on “the best place to eat in town” and “your favorite restaurant,” you’re not going to be able to experience the hospitality that we love to shower upon all of our guests, regardless of their political or religious convictions.  I believe if we had taken efforts to make sure our customers opinions matched our own, we wouldn’t have stayed in business for very long.  I’m sad for you because the world is going to become a very small place in a very big hurry now that you’re taking this step.  I can only imagine that it's must be frightening to be closing yourselves off from so much of this world that God has created.

Finally, I will pray for you.  I trust that God will strengthen and care for us in the days ahead, keeping our hearts wide open to see others as they are.
This whole episode has given me more than enough to occupy my mind and I'll most likely be posting some more thoughts here as I process it through.  I'd be curious to know your thoughts too.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cool Words


If a vice can be defined by the “inner disposition to perform morally wrong acts,” then the question arises, is the instrument (the drug, the behavior, the activity) the vice or is the desire to engage the instrument the vice? Another way to approach this question would be to consider a common addiction and its instrument: alcoholism. Some are quick to vilify alcohol as the problem, or more specifically, the possibility that alcohol possess addictive qualities. Because of this, alcohol is often referred to as a vice. It is also certainly the case that many are prone to fall victim to the consequences of alcohol over-consumption. But is alcohol the problem or are the behaviors attached to alcohol consumption the true source of the vice?

The definition above, proposed by The Pocket Dictionary of Ethics, would suggest that the nature of vice is rooted within the individual and not the instrument. Though this is seemingly contrary to popular opinion, it more closely positions vice in relation to morality and the conventions of modern thought. It’s conceivable then, to imagine how it’s possible to experience shifts in whether or not certain instruments are considered to be vices. Again, consider popular moral opinion concerning alcohol in the United States during the 1930’s verses the 1970’s or today. Given these shifts however, we are left to wonder if there are any underlying commonalities for any vice that stand outside of moral interpretation or thought? In other words, what do all vices hold in common?


On the other side of the “inner disposition” coin from vice, sits virtue. Similarly defined by morality, virtue and its quest has been the fascination of ethicists since the earliest Greek philosophers began classifying human behavior. The concept of how humans should be or what they should do is in direct correlation to virtue. Lists of desired virtues are all over the place. The tenets of most religious and cultural traditions include descriptions of virtuous behavior.

It’s interesting that in Nicomachean Ethics, virtues are valued in how they help a person navigate their way in the world, in particular through relationships with other and in the quest to find happiness. Here again we see how the role of the other, like in determining the morality of the day, is integral in determining what is or isn’t virtuous. It could be argued that some virtues, like temperance or justice, can only be understood in relationship with the other. Whereas virtues like wisdom or courage hold a certain presence outside of relationship but the degrees to which they are employed may only be valued in community.

To understand virtue, it’s also important to acknowledge the differences between character and conduct. One’s character is not necessarily readily apparent until one’s conduct is made plain. To hold a particular behavior as virtuous may not matter until said virtue is put to the test, presumably in relationship to the other. For example, if justice is said to be virtuous, then how that justice is exercised towards the other makes manifest the virtue.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What could the Bible do?

by Peter Christ P.A. Christ

There are days, and they grow seemingly more frequent, when the challenge of doing what I do* is totally derailed. While the source of such derailments can be varied, most common among them sits one very curious culprit, the Bible. If this fact offends you, perhaps this posting is not for you (though I think you should read on anyway). If you’re nodding your head in agreement, be careful as you proceed because I’ll most likely offend you at some point along the way. The idea that the Bible can do anything at all is a bit preposterous from the outset but what the bible could do is exactly what I want to explore in this posting.

The Bible, after all, is just a book. It’s a collection of historical writings, thousands of years old, filled with contradictions, antiquated customs and admonitions, overflowing with stories of a time and place that couldn’t feel more disconnected from us here today. Still, the Bible remains one of the most re-printed and re-distributed texts of today, far surpassing the collected works of J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien (note to self: change byline to “P.A. Christ”). The Bible serves a lot of functions, unfortunately more often than not as ammunition in a battle, as justification in times of oppression, as a set of blinders in the midst of unsettled and unwanted realities. Yes, the Bible can do lots of things but I want to suggest that it could do one very important set of things. In a world that seems increasingly fragmented and in a time that seems vastly more chaotic than ever before, the Bible could help us face all this disconnection by connecting us to God, to each other and to ourselves.

Put plainly, you should read the bible because it could connect you…

to God!

The Bible is about God. Try to think of something less tangible that we are more desperate to have be tangible. If God is real, if God truly matters, if God should have any place at all in our lives then why wouldn’t we want to be able to see, hear or feel God? The Bible is something very real. We get to hold it in our hands, scroll through its verses on the screen, let its images fill our minds. More importantly, as we listen to the narrative contained within, we discover accounts of people who have seen, first-hand, a God that’s active in this world. As God’s presence shaped their stories, so too God can shape our stories. Perhaps the most important story contained in the bible is the one about Jesus. This is a story about how God has already made the intangible tangible. To know the story of Jesus is to know the story of God. No, the book isn’t God. But, it points to where God is and if we don’t pick it up, we’re making it a whole lot harder on ourselves to reach out and be touched.

to others!

The Bible is about relationships. Of course God wants a relationship with you but that can only be fully realized in the relationships we have with each other. Our families, our friends, our co-workers, the UPS driver, the kid in the drive-thru window, the person processing your mortgage application, it’s through these relationships that God is able to create, with us, the kind of world where we can thrive. Making meaning of the Bible is only possible when we work on it together. I can’t make sense of it if you don’t help me and I won’t trust how you make sense of it if you don’t include me in your deliberations. If we don’t read the Bible, it’s also harder to make a counter argument when others start to make claims that seem contrary to the sense we’re trying to make of this world. When we read the bible we also become connected to a rich and deep history of others doing the same. Their struggles, their questions, their reactions, all give us more ways to be drawn into the story ourselves. Reading the Bible draws us together in the midst of a world that seems to want to push us apart.

to you!

Finally, the Bible is about you. Let’s be honest, you really need some help and so do I. Reading the stories of the Bible helps us to make sense of our own stories and there’s more than enough that just doesn’t make sense. When we compare our experiences of joy and sadness and certainty and doubt with those chronicled in the Bible, we gain glimpses of the truth and the value and the relevance of our lives. These glimpses help build our imagination for the possible. There are many who think the Bible is some sort of rule book or even a play book on how to live life. I think that really sells it short. Much more than providing us with easy answers, the Bible provides an opportunity to ask better questions. As a result, we’re encouraged to experiment, to try and to fail and then to try again. Each time we take a step forward we have the chance to learn something about ourselves and every new learning moment builds on the last. Sometimes even, the failures build the strongest foundations for the future. If you’re anything like me, you feel pulled in countless directions. Home and family, school and work, friends and play, all have us going every which way. The Bible might just be where it all comes together, the one story that makes the most sense, the place you get to find the real you.

If you’ve gotten this far and you’re still not offended, then I promise I’ll try harder next time. If you did get offended but kept on reading, thanks for sticking with me. Hopefully, even for just this moment, I’ve exposed you to the possible. Yes the Bible can do lots of things, but only if you pick it up is it possible that the Bible could do the most important things of all.

*What do I do? Well to quote from some essay I wrote on my “sense of call:" helping others experience a connection with God.

Monday, July 11, 2011

What I'm supposed to be doing:

Peter’s "Pause, Listen & Learn" Goals for July: (Will posting the here make them any more attainable?)

PLL Operational

  1. Listening Team – be an active participant, looking for God and helping others do the same.
  2. Field Trip Co-Leader – facilitate fruitful experiences and get to know Becca better.
  3. Plan & Facilitate Sharing of Outcomes – be intentional about how we can share all the we experience and learn to our broader constituencies.

On-going Work

  1. Facilitate a renegotiated lease at Field that includes a storage solution.
  2. Re-structure/energize Sunday morning volunteer recruitment process.
  3. Get the signage finished for Longfellow.


  1. Finish all the writings for June classes.
  2. Find new ways to support & encourage my staff in MT.
  3. Exercise at least 6 days every week.
  4. Try yoga at least once.

So I recognize immediately how ambitious this list reads. Already have fallen short of the exercise goal but still feeling good about it. That last one, the one about yoga, well that will be an interesting one to pull off. At the least, I'm sure it will be fodder for another blog entry.