Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jesus and the Undead

For October I plan to offer a sermon series based on Jesus and the undead. I will also be exploring the kinds of "monsters" that live and operate right within the local church. The church zombie- seeking brains. The Vampire- with a simple touch able to drain the life right out of other church members as well as unchurched visitors. Of course we also have the church ghosts- who only appear to be present in spirit, they have no corporeal existence in the body of the church.

I will admit that at one point I sought to incorporate the Jimmy Buffett song, "Vampires, Mummies, and the Holy Ghost" These are the things that terrify him the most (Jimmy remembers his fears as an altar boy), as well as some references to the Twilight series where that author tries to remove the stigma of monster from vampires.

More interesting to me though, is the existence of such monsters right within the bounds of local churches. Those people who, in the name of Christ Jesus, terrorize others. Some of them, like Frankenstein, never intend to terrify others: the gentleman who waits by the donuts between Sunday and church to police the children as they take 2 donut holes (and not more than 2, other people want them as well). The vampires who pessimistically fight every chance at new life in the church: I'm all for helping others with outreach, but we have to take care of ourselves first! And of course, the church zombies who appear sometimes to be shifting aimlessly around the building looking for something to consume in the tragic yet unattainable hope of finding something that will fill their empty and voided life.

With such monsters lurking inside the church, is it any wonder that the outside world view our building more as a haunted house than a place for new life?

Yet Jesus came to give us life, and in great abundance. What should this new life look like? How can we find, develop, and share the joy of being present with the living God within the context of Christian community? What do we need to do to resurrect our own faith?

I can't wait for October.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Propagating Hate

I have spent the past couple of days watching way too many You Tube video tributes to 9/11. In many of these there is disturbing video of the second plane striking the tower, of people falling from the buildings, and from the collapse of both towers as they fell. The horror and shock of that day returned to me and I felt the drain on my spirit that these memories stirred.

I know that others are planning special services or gatherings for this Sunday, the 10th anniversary of these attacks, and in our own worship we will have a brief time for remembering and re-committing ourselves to finding peaceful solutions to our differences.

And its why I feel compelled to list again the desire to seek out more peaceful solutions to our problems than violence. Those men that used those planes as weapons were driven by hatred. It has been sown in their very being to the point where they were willing to sacrifice their own lives to hurt as many people as possible.

More so than the actual actions of those days, I am overwhelmed at the power of their hatred. At the depth of their anger that would lead to such a desperate act. Our country has responded to these attacks and much of these reported responses have been of a military nature.

It leads me to ask the question of what we can do to break the cycle of hatred and violence? Of escalated responses that inflict harm upon others. I have had too many experiences with our American soldiers who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan who come home different men, permanently affected by the life or death decisions they had to make while serving our nation. It makes me wonder if our veterans of other conflicts have been equally affected.

I do not want to take away from our military men and women who serve. I am grateful for their service and for what they are able to do for me personally. I hope I NEVER find myself in a position where, as one young man put it, "It was either me or him and I had to decide it was him."

Yet I also wonder what can be done to eliminate the need for such violence. How can we use the power of love, which we profess has transformed the world, to eliminate the need for such violence? How can we intervene in these places and among these people where hatred is sown and reveal to them a nation that is more capable of loving and caring than it is of dropping bombs and engaging commandos? And I am shocked and alarmed that this conversation does not seem to be happening anywhere, ESPECIALLY in the church!

Where is the voice of the Christian church in this mix? Do we feel its enough to simply say, "God Bless America" as if we are the only nation God cares about? Where is the command to love as God loves; to love our neighbor? This conversation needs to take place and it needs to happen now, or else we as a community of believers simply continue to propagate the old system of hatred, violence, more violent response.