This is hell week for those who are grieving the loss of a mother or child. Greeting card companies, florists, jewelers and kitsch vendors urge us to celebrate the mothers in our lives. School children across America are making crayoned cards to gift to their mamas this Sunday. Churches have mothers stand for a round of applause or pass out carnations to adult women as they leave the service. Though some churches have grown more sensitive to the fact that Mother’s Day isn’t easy for some in their congregation, mentioning those who are sorrowing for mothers or children in prayer during corporate worship, is a scant comfort for a day that seems full of pastel sentiment and family brunches.

Birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays amplify grief. Loss isolates us most when everyone else around us seems to be celebrating. Those of us who’ve never been mothers but long to be are suffering alongside those who’ve lost mothers or children through death, abandonment, addiction, or abuse. There is no alternate Hallmark holiday for any of these people. [Read more]

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May

03

2015

Marking Time

When we were in high school, we’d compare notes about everything from boys to menstrual cycles to math homework. Of the six of us girls, five of us were brand-new followers of Jesus. We learned something about walking with him by following each other. For one brief moment in time, we were even all enrolled at the same state university.

When I got engaged, my girlfriends told me I was getting married “first”. We were in the habit of measuring ourselves using each other’s lives as rulers. Though some of the relationships among this sextuplet have faded over the last four decades, it’s a testimony to God’s faithfulness when I contemplate that all six of us are still following him. Some of us first came to him and each other out of homes defined by abuse or addiction issues. Others among us were dealing with the fallout of their parents’ divorces. Our ad hoc spiritual sisterhood was the first glimpse many of us had in what the church could be as we carried each other to a place of safety in Jesus in profound ways during those early years.

I’m grateful for those friendships, as they’ve formed a foundation for every other friendship that’s come into my life since then. Though some of the relationships in this sextuplet have faded over the last four decades, I find myself still marking time by them. [Read more]

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A book by a Catholic priest who journeyed to Tanzania to bring the gospel to the Masai gave me a new way to think about evangelism that goes beyond the models I’ve seen in action. These models have borne a passing resemblance to either 1950′s door-to-door vacuum cleaner sales, game shows featuring lovely parting gifts, or encoded Christian mime performances.

Father Vincent J. Donavan journeyed to Tanzania to during the 1960′s and 1970′s bring the gospel to the Masai people. Encamped in the lonely, starry darkness outside a tribal village, Father Donovan experienced a paradigm shift of the highest magnitude as the culture and belief system of the Masai collided with his preconceived Western understanding of what evangelism, church and faith were each supposed to be. He came to the region as an evangelist, and recognized that the history of mission in the region, particularly in Africa, had been almost entirely about overlaying Western cultural norms and institutional Church practice onto an existing people, suffocating their God-given identity and calling in the process. While one of the rallying cries of the Church for generations, in particular among Protestants, has been “Ecclesia semper reformanda est” (the Church must always be reforming), we have often defaulted instead to small tweaks and recalibrations within our own institutions. Father Donovan’s story shows us what true reformation looks like.

His book, Christianity Rediscovered (Orbis Books, 1978) offers a valuable exploration of the process of stripping faith down to its naked essentials. [Read more]

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If I wrote a job description for myself as a writer, it would include the following requirements:

  1. Must appreciate wearing pajamas to work.
  2. Must relish the battery-acid flavor of twice-reheated room temperature coffee. Room temperature Diet Coke is an acceptable alternative.
  3. Must know how to source and study each week’s most popular cat videos as a deadline approaches.
  4. Must remember.

Many writers affirm some variation of numbers one through three on this list. And number four seems obvious, right? Every job requires those doing it to remember something. Firefighters need to remember how to turn on the hose. Oral surgeons need to know how much Novocain to use before they yank someone’s wisdom teeth. NASCAR drivers and middle-aged women like me need to remember where they put the car keys.

However, the work of a writer goes beyond retrieving information stored in their frontal lobe, though it most definitely includes it. It also requires the kind of remembering that kept me from falling off a bicycle in front of a group of teenagers a few years ago.

– See more at: http://www.stevelaube.com/it-really-is-like-riding-a-bike/#sthash.11Tw2mrG.WhBWym8A.dpuf

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May

03

2015

Christian Seders?

Should Christians participate in church-run Seders?

After all, this command to retell and relive via ritual meal celebrating God’s deliverance of his people from slavery in Egypt was given to the Jewish people (clickhere, here, and here). Yet it has become popular in both liturgical and low-church circles to incorporate a Christian version of the Seder meal into Holy Week observance. Many other congregations will invite ministries involved in doing Jewish outreach to come and do a “seder demo” at other times of the year as a teaching tool for their members and attenders. [Read more]

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