Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chapter 10 for real this time!

Those of you who came for book study last week know that we got distracted. Let's try Chapter 10 again this week.

Meanwhile, be thinking of songs you want to have included in the supplemental song book. They can be praise songs, older non-hymn Christian music, hymns that aren't in the blue hymnal, spirituals — any music that you believe would give glory to God in our worship services.

You can call me at 560-1407, e-mail me at, call or e-mail Karyn Reid, put a note in the collection plate or leave one in the church office. You can also leave a message on the church phone, 967-2463. Please include your name in case we need more information about the songs you request.

And, you can use the same mechanisms to tell us what songs from the hymnal you'd like to sing in worship.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Geography of God, Ch. 10

"If something matters to you, you devote yourself to it." That seems so simple, and yet daily "devotions" are rare today. There's much to distract modern humans. Do you think our relationship with, and understanding of, God has suffered because of that?

The idea of practicing Christians vs. nominal Christians is actually somewhat antithetical to the Reformed definition of Christianity, with its emphasis on God's actions in our lives and our imperfect responses. At the same time, it's a useful concept. How do we "practice"? How do we devote ourselves to God?

How do we keep our practices from growing empty and meaningless? What is the tipping point between tradition as an aid to understanding and tradition as a barrier to personal investment?

What are some of the traditions that you find valuable?

A few weeks ago, Karyn mentioned that outdated language and imagery of the Bible can make it difficult to read and understand. One prescription for that is group Bible study, in which we can supplement one another's understanding. What is your favorite translation of the Bible. Do you sometimes check others?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Geography of God, Cha. 9

Last week, Barbara, Marc and I talked about ways we experience God. This Sunday, Lindvall says, we will begin to "sneak up on the Trinity." The doctrine of the Trinity has inspired many volumes of commentary, but let's spend a little bit of time talking about the ways in which we understand Trinitarian belief.

"Faith as an escape route out of life and its troubles" is presented as one wrong (or at least incomplete) way of thinking. Do we need an escape route, or is what we need a better way of thinking that, as Lindvall says, "leads us deeper into and straight through this world." What does it mean to live our lives in relationship with God?

"Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer" is one way of thinking about the Trinity. In each of those three ways, God is acting in love.

The illustration of an upstairs and a downstairs to the cosmos is very like the older illustration of fundament below and firmament above, which at some points in history was linked to the concepts of the sacred and the profane (or perhaps ordinary). If we think of "heaven" and "earth" in that way, where do they intersect?

In the Reformed tradition, we speak of God as being transcendent and immanent, that is, God transcends all boundaries and is present in all places and times. What, then, explains our feelings of distance from God?

Lindvall says that the God of creation and incarnation is God with us — incarnate in Christ and present to us in the Spirit. In what ways do we recognize that? How can we learn to be more aware of it? How can a pastor invoke awareness?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Geography of God, Ch. 8

I apologize for the lateness of this post. It's been a hectic week. My house is now restored to some semblance of order, and our company will leave on Monday. After that, I hope my life will settle into a routine again. Thank you all for your patience and understanding!

For this week, we will discuss just one question:

How is God "present" in our lives?