I’m excited to participate in Movement Day 2015 in New York City this coming Thursday to participate on a panel around a frank discussion on bridging barriers of race, culture, and class. In preparation, I thought I would get on paper my top 10 reasons of why racism continues in the church today. Here they are: Failure to capture Scripture’s vision of the church as a multi-racial community that transcends racial, cultural, economic and gender barriers. The gospel is the power of God that bridges the infinite gap between humanity and God as well as the “dividing wall” between races, cultures, ethnicities, social classes, and genders. Measuring success primarily by numbers. We want to grow our churches. We want it to happen quickly. The problem is that bridging racial barriers is slow and will rarely produce “big” numbers. Superficial discipleship. We focus on getting people “over the line” into salvation and connected. We don’t. Read more.
A pastor friend of mine shared over dinner that, a number of years ago, his son had committed suicide. He talked openly his loss and the way it had changed him. He recommended Grieving a Suicide, by Albert Y. Hsu where Hsu talks about his father’s suicide and that of many others – Christian and non-Christians. While I have written about a theology of grief and loss, God used this book to enlarge my own heart and challenge me to enter into this very different world. Approximately a million people around the world kill themselves each year. Every suicide leaves behind at least six survivors, sometimes ten or more. Their level of stress is ranked by the APA as “catastrophic — equivalent to that of a concentration camp experience.” A spirituality of suffering, grief, and loss is untidy – bottomless. I found, however, this quote by Walter Wangerin a helpful summary of Hsu’s reflections::. Read more.
“Unspeakable horror” is the best phrase to capture the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday. 26 people killed, 20 of whom were only 6-7 years old. There are no words to say. We pray for the victims, their families, the shooter’s family, and all those affected. We grieve with them. We join the three friends of Job as they arrive after innocent Job suffers his unspeakable horrors and longs to die. Scripture tells us that his friends “began to weep aloud…Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was” (Job 2:12-13). God invites us to be silent before this massacre, acknowledging the severe limits of our understanding. Our God is good. He is alive on the earth hidden amidst all of history’s unspeakable horrors. Let us remember the three friends got themselves. Read more.
I don’t like endings.I prefer not to ask: “What is it time to let go of in my life right now? And what is standing backstage in my life waiting to make its entrance?” Endings are painful and slow. I like to know exactly what is God’s new beginning before I end something. I have written about embracing grief and loss so that God’s resurrections might come in The Emotionally Healthy Church and in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.Yet, after 25 plus years of leadership, I found William Bridges and his book entitled, Transitions:Making Sense of Life’s Changes filled with golden nuggets around this process. He breaks down our transitions to three key elements: 1.Endings. You can’t have new beginnings without endings. Neither nature, nor God, work that way. When I have tried to keep a program, a staff position, a ministry, or a role alive when it was ending, it has died regardless. The only. Read more.
What might it mean for the leadership of a church or ministry to embrace the lamenting of loss as part of her life together? What might it mean for your life or mine? I have spent the last two weeks absorbed in the book of Lamentations, reading, meditating, pondering, and praying the words of Jeremiah as my own. The exercise was transformative and, yes, quite painful. What is most interesting is that in I have written chapters on grief and loss in two different books. Yet I felt like I was approaching the theme for the first time. What did God show me anew? 1. Both the love of God and suffering are foundational paths to genuine transformation. Suffering opens us up uniquely to God, ourselves and others, forcing us to slow down and reflect. I have missed transforming moments from God, both personally and for New Life, because of my unwillingness to remain. Read more.