Friday, February 17, 2012

Silence Your Heart

Everyone knows I am a huge fan of Henri Nouwen; no secret there.  Lately, I have been immersed in his writings on silence.  Henri's book The Way of the Heart comes from a seminar he taught at Yale Divinity school where the subject matter was The Desert Fathers.

I have made a connection from Nouwen's work in regards to the poor in my own context.

Just like my heart, the hearts of the poor are seldom practicing, experiencing, or okay with silence.
"...silence is above all a quality of the heart that can stay with us even in our conversation with others (60)."  A heart that practices silence can bring peace and stability to a life of chaos and unrest.  Maybe Jesus speaks of this in John 16:33 "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world."?  Perhaps Jesus is saying silence your heart.  Outside of yourself there is not much you can control, but inside your heart, through silence, you can have peace.

Many people I have met from our community of poverty over the last two years have noticeably high levels of anxiety.  And why shouldn't they?  Especially, if you have a family to look after, not knowing where your next rent check or meal will come from is frightening.

As I bring tangible opportunities for relief and as I tell people about God's love and as I give people a place to belong, I will also teach them about silencing their hearts.

Because the task of ministers " the opposite of distraction.  Our task is to help people concentrate on the real but often hidden event of God's active presence in their lives [and] how to keep people from being so busy that they can no longer hear the voice of God who speaks in silence (56)."

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


A couple came by the church to visit with me today.
This couple has been attending our church for at least a month now. They said "this place is warm and feels like home." After talking today I discovered pieces of their story.

In 2007 the male was released from prison having served 25 of his 50 year sentence. Its tough living in one world for a quarter century and then being kicked out and sent away into another (picture Shawshank Redemption). Think about how much change has happened in the last 25 years. In our day and age so much changes every 5!

They were both looking for work (which I believe to be sincere).  However, obviously, work for a felon is hard to come by; and honest, dependable, quality work even harder.

Churches might have a part to play in all this.

Mobilizing the people of God to practically meet individuals coming out of prison can help them with reentry.  When I look at the types of people the Gospels record Jesus spending the most time with they look to me like people coming out of prison.  They were avoided by "righteous/religious" people, pushed to the margins of society, and typically were not kind or cordial but mean, dangerous, and were getting what they deserved.

A new heaven and new earth might look like followers of Christ helping stop the incarceration cycle.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jesus the Beggar

Sometimes we forget that there were celebrities during Jesus' day and that he was not one of them.

You might say, "But wasn't he well-known throughout Jerusalem and Galilee?" Well, sure.  That's not exactly what I'm saying...

Look at what American Christian culture has done to create religious superstars.  Elevating pastors as a "pop-culture" christian celeb is (absolutely) dangerous, (perhaps) anti-gospel, and (surely) harmful (just look at the easy targets, Mark Driscoll and/or Rob Bell).
This phenomenon is fascinating because it is as if we are doing the exact same thing people of Jesus' day hoped to do with him.  They wanted to thrust him into the limelight, take charge, use his influence for fame, fortune, and overthrowing the secular state (you think it's extreme, but look at your motive for voting republican).

The good news is Jesus didn't write a new controversial book, build a big church building, or start a new non-profit ministry.  He did things that no Christian today would elevate or support.  As Shane Claiborne says in The Irresistible Revolution, the miracle of the gospel is not that Jesus healed people (because they all eventually died later) it's that he touched the people that no one else would touch.  He sat with people no one else would sit with.

The most Christ-like things we do will end up being the things we receive no applause for, no award for, and will probably go unnoticed.