Friday, April 23, 2010

The calm after the storm

Did anyone else experience 48 hours of constant rain last weekend?
That didn't stop To Norman With Love!  Sure we had to cancel our service in the park and the picnic of 425 lunches that followed, and postpone 3 of the 28 projects, and prepare to be cold and wet, but that did not put a damper on the weekend.  
All in all, the estimate was that 320 people from the congregation were involved in To Norman With Love.  And in 28 different ways the city of Norman was loved by the people at FBC.
If you participated, thank you.  If you volunteered during the preparation, thank you.  If you donated resources, THANK YOU.

I think the most powerful part of the weekend for me was being able to introduce and interview a fellow follower of Christ on stage during our Classic service on Sunday morning.  "steve" and I have been developing our friendship over the past few months and we have challenged each other's faith with new perspectives.  

In my life steve is challenging me to look at Christ through a different lens.  As Jurgen Moltmann says, "Reading the Bible with the eyes of the poor is a different thing from reading it with a full belly.  If it is read in light of the experience and hopes of the oppressed, the Bible's revolutionary themes--promise, exodus, resurrection and spirit--come alive."

I think I need to make sure I'm not completely surrounded with people who are just like me.  I want to see Christ from all perspectives, so that maybe I will see more of him.  There is way more to Christ than meets just my eye alone.

Does anyone who reads this have stories from being involved this weekend?

One of the community vegetable gardens planted over the weekend.

Our college group taking supplies to the homeless community living at the river.

A handicapped gentleman's apartment was adopted by a Sunday school class and completely fumigated, remodeled, and made over. This was amazing and took many days of preparation.

These last pictures are of a group of women who gave manicures at the Veteren's Center.  I think our pastor chose to play dominoes while he waited for his turn.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Urban Gardens + Alfalfa Pellets = To Norman With Love

About ten minutes ago, I was carrying a paint bucket full of water to my office.  "Why?" you might ask.  Well, I needed the water because there is a fifty pound bag of alfalfa pellets in my office, of course.  "Why is there a fifty pound bag of Alfafa pellets in your office?"  Great question.  I am going to pour the pellets into the water and make an organic fertilizing tea to drink later as I doze off in my office...
Okay, here's the truth.  I am making a fertilizing tea, but not for my exhaustion.  It will be used on the two urban vegetable gardens our church will plant for two local agencies this weekend.  There you have it!

Today we (FBC Norman) moved 2,000 bottles of donated water into the church, got a local outdoors store to donate biodegradable toilet paper for a homeless community living by the river, and convinced an apartment complex manager that they needed to bug-bomb a handicapped resident's roach-infested apartment.

A day in the life of Community Ministry.

This weekend is our first annual To Norman With Love event at FBC Norman.  Similar events have been done by other churches around the country long before us.  What kind of message would the Church be sending here in America if went out of our way to provide just as many local expressions of mercy (missions) as we do foreign?  Wouldn't it be a neat thing if the Church was known for absolute servanthood?

I will write again with some good stories from this upcoming weekend.  Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading,


Saturday, April 3, 2010

How does God give out his resources?

The local church has a lot of resources at it's disposal. Really, for the amount of need in our communities think of the impact if the church maximized it's effectiveness.
I was reflecting on my work the other day while sitting at a local coffee shop (the typical place I go searching for divine inspiration).  Specifically, trying to pinpoint the limitations/barriers I felt were keeping FBC from fully releasing the year of Jubilee on the Norman community.  My mind wandered to motives.

It is a popular thing among the American Church to want to make sure we are "good stewards" of our resources.  I completely agree.  When this concept, however, drifts into a benevolence (distributing of basic needs) environment the majority of us might run the risk of giving our resources with strings attached.  I have found myself thinking, "I will give out this food only this many times to this same person because surely after 2-4 months they should be able to find a job." or "I will only give out this bicycle to them if I know they will be responsible with it/not pawn it for money the first chance they get."

To me, this sounds a lot like the parable of the slave who was forgiven his debt then turned around and demanded that his be payed to him.

God gave me grace freely, without looking into the future to make sure I would be responsible with it.  I know he did this because I have taken his grace many times and sold it at the local pawn shop for money.  Maybe, the pure way to give to the poor will look irresponsible to our Western minds.  Yeah, I think it will.  Can a slave who has been set free turn around and give grace with strings attached?