Friday, August 23, 2013

The Local Village

I didn't make to Krug Park this week, but I am praying on this today from the website of The Simple Way.

We have a dream of a village in the middle of the urban desert – with a little cluster of row homes sprinkled about and a neighborhood where folks are committed to God and to each other. Some are indigenous to the neighborhood. Some are missional relocators. Some have gone off to school, trained as doctors, lawyers, social workers, business folks… and they have returned to the neighborhood to offer their gifts to the work of restoration. The houses are small, and that is all we need – a place to lay our heads… because most of our life is lived on the streets, on the stoop, sweating in the practice of resurrection, planting gardens on abandoned lots, rehabbing vacant houses, and making ugly things beautiful again. Every morning we greet the day with prayer, and in the evenings we share a meal or grill out on the street. We have a dream of a village and it’s coming to life. Maybe sometime there will be a village center where folks can cook healthy breakfasts for the kids as they head off to school. Maybe we’ll have a tool library so folks can check out a saw or drill for the day… maybe an exercise space to lift weights, run on the treadmill or do an aerobics class to keep our bodies healthy. Perhaps in that center there are laundry machines that we can all share and a game library where kids can borrow a game for the afternoon. A place to gather and dream and plot goodness.
It’s a dream for a village that shares things in common, that laughs in the face of a recession… a space that makes sure possessions and privileges are available for all… and when something breaks there are many hands to fix it. Call it new urbanism… or intentional community. We call it a village that gives the world a glimpse of the Kingdom of God. May God continue to breathe life into our dreams and to move the universe towards the beloved community that God is longing to see come on earth.
I am praying to have a similar dream, or whatever needs to be dreamed here in my neighborhood of Maple Village and the Belvedere Point Neighborhood of the Church of the Resurrection. Please pray for and with me. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Prophetic Fire

So, I missed posting from Krug Park last Thursday because a congregant came by for a wonderful chat.  Beer is great, preaching is better, but beer with friends is insuperable in its incarnational worth.  I did, however, keep track of my beers; so that I can offer them up to you now.

1st: Old Stock from North Coast Brewing.  

Good Beer

There was a bit of sweetness to this beer, but not near as much as expected considering the 12% ABV. (I ate a lot of carbs before I drank this beerWith notes of oak and peat to balance the sweetness, there is an allusion to good scotch with the flavor.  The alcohol does not over power, but it is present enough to remind you to only drink one of these at a sitting--lest your taste buds, legs, and common sense cease to function. Great beer though!

A note on preaching this week before I move on to beer number 2.  The readings this week were a spot difficult; as all the ranting and raving I witnessed from fellow preachers on facebook foretold.  Jesus is clear in all the gospels that there is a price to discipleship.  Following Christ involves sacrifice.  As if the cross wasn't a clue, we can often forget this fact.  But when Jesus gets graphic about that cost--calling for sons to be pitted against fathers, daughters against mothers and so forth--it can be a bit difficult to preach the "good news".  Nonetheless, I tried to go straight at it and not avoid the harshness of the Gospel passage (Luke 12:49-56).  Here it is if you want to give it a look:

Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and the Fires of Baptism 

Back to the beer!

2nd: Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout by Odell Brewing Company 

I LOVED THIS BEER!!!!! It was absolutely delicious. It was smooth and creamy without a bitter aftertaste.  While it was definitely more sweet than bitter, it wasn't cloyingly sweet.  There's body and depth to this beer.  The aftertaste and aroma was a lot a really nice cigar.  In fact it would be great as an after dinner beer while enjoying a cigar and listening to Mahler's 5th Symphony, or if you are really hard core the finale of Mahler's 9th. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

What does Set Theory have to do with Jesus?

So, I promised on Friday I would publish my geek sermon: so, tell me if you think it worked or not. (More beer later this week.)

Sermon from 8/11/13 Luke 12:32-40

"Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom”.
I speak with you in the name of the adventurous, life giving, ever present God.  Amen.
My son Isaac has a doll figurine of Buzz Lightyear the character from the Toy Story Movies.  Does anyone know Buzz Lightyear’s catch phrase, his motto?
[To infinity and beyond]
I want you to keep the concept of infinity in your heads today because we are going to talk about the infinite nature of God.  Before we get to that though I want to offer a warning and a challenge.
The warning is since today is the blessing of the backpacks, and many of our kids and young adults are going back to school, plus we have many educators and school staff in the congregation, I want to honor that by offering a little math lesson today.  Consequently, the challenge is that even if math was not your favorite subject, DO NOT TUNE OUT and start thinking about your grocery list or what you are going to do tonight or if Honey Boo Boo will ever get elected president.  I challenge you stick with me on this, it will make sense and it will relate to today’s Gospel passage in the end.  
Okay so here is the math lesson:
Let’s start with this concept of infinity.  What does it mean to say that something is infinite, that it goes on for infinity?  
[That it goes on for ever]
Right, infinity is a description of size, of how large or small something is.  If something is infinitely large then it can’t be any bigger.  Also, if something is infinitely small it can’t be any smaller.  
Alright next concept is that of a set.  This one is easy.  A set is just a collection of items.  A chess set, for example, is the group of pieces needed to play chess.  Now,we can combine these two concepts: we can have sets of numbers that are infinitely large.  One example is the set of numbers called the counting numbers.  Everybody count to five.  1,2,3,4,5  Right so, you started with the number one.  The set of counting numbers starts with 1 and goes on from there.  It doesn’t stop with 5, or 10, or 50, a hundred, or even a million.  It goes on guessed it...infinity.  The set of counting numbers is infinitely large.   Now, there is another set called the set of whole numbers.  It is very similar, in fact almost exactly like the set of counting numbers except it starts with 0 instead of 1.  So, it begins 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and goes on for...infinity.  The set of whole numbers is also infinity large.  Now, we almost have an interesting conundrum here because the set of counting numbers and the set of whole numbers are both infinitely large, they are the same size, but there is one more number in the set of whole numbers, remember that added zero.  
Now, you might be thinking at this point, “Preacher, what in the world does this have to do with Jesus.”  I’m going to tell you.  Hang with me; we are almost there.
So, the set of whole numbers has more numbers in it then the set of counting numbers, but yet they are the same size.  That’s a bit different than other sets.  For example I come from a bigger family than Jodie.  There are three kids in her family and five in mine.  My set of siblings is larger than Jodie’s.  But these sets of numbers, that we are talking about, are the same size.  So, how can we describe the difference if not in terms of size?  Well, what we do is say that the set of whole numbers is more dense than the set of counting numbers.  It’s like if you have a piece of wonder bread, and a hearty piece of homemade nine grain whole wheat bread.  They might be the same exact size but there is a whole lot more stuff in the whole wheat then the wonder bread.  
You with me so far?
Alright, so the set of whole numbers is more dense than the set of counting numbers. So, now is when we get to God in all this.  We say that God is infinite.  In other words God is the same size as these number sets.  However, it is obvious there is a whole lot more in God than in a set of numbers.  Therefore, applying what we did with the sets of whole and counting numbers, we could say that God is the densest of infinities.  God is infinitely large and there is more in that infinity than any other infinity.
Now, we are almost to the Gospel.  You can do this.  You can stay with me.  Keep listening.
If God is the densest of infinities, then God has in any given situation, context, or relationship an infinite number of options, an infinite number of choices available to God.  God can choose anything.  So, what does God choose in God’s relationship to us?
Now, we have finally come to the Gospel.  See, the Gospel says today, Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”  God chooses to give us the kingdom.  There can be nothing more gracious than God making that choice.  I mean if you read the bible or even a brief history of the Christian Church, these stories of God’s relationship with us, then you see just how unfaithful, disobedient, unruly, ungrateful and displeasing we have been to God. But yet God chooses give us the Kingdom.  That’s some amazing grace right there.   
Now, we become more aware of just how gracious God’s choice is when we remember that God is the densest of infinities.  God has an infinite number of options for what to do with us, and yet God chooses to love us, to forgive us, to even die because of us, be risen from the grave and still choose us.  So, my brothers and sisters, if God chooses to love us, to indeed give us the kingdom, when God has an infinite number of other options to choose from, and despite what all we have done up to and including the very killing of God, then why, why, why would we ever be afraid.  
Fear not, my brothers and sisters, not only did you learn a little math today, but it is also the Father’s good and gracious pleasure to give you the kingdom.  Do not be afraid to love your neighbor, do not be afraid to forgive as God forgives, do not be afraid to stand for justice, to practice peace, and to generously give of yourself.  Do not be afraid to approach this Holy Altar and receive that which we could never deserve.  Do not be afraid to come to God’s table and receive the Body of Christ.

And by God my brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to take that body of Christ out into the world and freely and radically give it away.  Do not be afraid, my brothers and sisters, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.  Amen!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Buzz Lightyear, Set Theory, and Rye Porter

So, this week's first beer is the the Rye Porter by Peace Tree Brewing company from Knoxville, Iowa.  I haven't had anything by this brewery before and honest to God I picked it because the tap looked cool.

Of course it doesn't hurt that the bartenders at Krug Park know my tastes at this point, and assured me I was on the right track with I inquired about this brew.  This is a smooth beer with very clean finish.  I get both coffee and dark chocolate notes in a full bodied beer.  There is just a hint of bitterness that cuts the creamy texture just slightly.  It's that hint of bitter that takes this beer from good to "mighty fine" as my big brother John would say.

More beer in this post below...

On the preaching front I have recently finished the book The Jazz of Preaching by Dr. Kirk Jones, and in one of the chapters Dr. Jones challenges preachers to risk sharing more of themselves just like the great Jazz improvisers such as Wynton Marsalis, Louis Armstrong, Wayne Shorter, and Sarah Vaughn risk themselves in every solo.  So, this week I am stepping out on a limb and sharing a bit of my geek side.  I am trying to draw an analogy between Set Theory in mathematics and the infinite grace of God.  The challenge of course is not to bore the hell out of the congregation.  We are a growing parish and if I drop a boring sermon into the mix would hinder that growth.  Nonetheless, I find the beauty and elegance of math--even though I am no mathematician--to be one of the ways I encounter God.  So, hopefully my enthusiasm and energy will keep people engaged to the end of the sermon.

Enough about that, back to the beer.

I actually failed to blog last week.  I got to talking with one of the bartenders and ran out of time.  So, let me make up for that.

First up last week was the St. Bernardus Trippel.
It was a good Trippel, but I like their Abt. 12 better as well as New Belgium's Trippel.  Nonetheless, it was decent and refreshing.

I followed it up with the Drago Russian Imperial Stout from Onion Brewing Company.

This was another pick because of the tap.  It's the sickle and hammer from communist Russia, which I thought was a risky marketing in the heartland of America; so I gave it a shot.  It's a very nice imperial stout but not over powering with the alcohol.  Full flavored and rich I would definitely recommend it.

The last beer this week is the Oatmeal Porter from Zipline Brewing in Lincoln, NE.   It is good, but not 'mighty fine' like the Peace Tree Rye.  I didn't take a picture of it, but it has decent flavor.  Unfortunately the bitterness overwhelms the other flavors.  It is not as balanced as the rye. Zipline is a young brewery; so while this wasn't my favorite beer, I will try other offerings from Zipline.  I expect very good beers from come them. 

Well, that's the beers for this week and last.  After I preach on Sunday, I'll post the sermon text here and you can decide if I shared my geek side in a compelling way or if I should never mention math in a sermon ever again.  Or you are always welcome at Church of the Resurrection at 10 a.m. Come for worship stay for lunch.