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Showing posts from 2019

A Servant's Heart

A Servant's Heart


We have had several weeks off from the blog posting about Monday mornings missional theology conversations. I didn’t understand why Debbie and other pastors always said that summer was a hard time to get things done and be consistent until being a part of regular activities at the church. It seems that we have been overrun with extra do’s to get through this season of community building, investment in the youth, restoration work and new program development. But, hopefully we are back on track.
Yesterday we discussed the idea of having a servant’s attitude and what it meant in our daily lives. I have to admit that the it was a bit like preaching to the choir, so to speak, with the Monday morning group. Most of the people that come to that group have a good understanding of servanthood and how it shapes their faith. One of the key concepts that impacts our ability to have a servant’s attitude is intentionality in our faith. Are we intentionally investing in our own …

Unpacking Christology

Last week in both the sermon and in the missional theology group discussion we discussed Jesus the man as well as a theological concept called theandric union. This is the idea that there is an inseparable union between the two natures represented by Jesus the man and Christ the savior. Monday we worked to unpack the Christ side of the theandric coin. We began by looking at a brief overview of our understanding of Christ and His role in human history, giving people the basic box from which to begin to think outside of.
Unpacking the Christology (how we understand Christ) in both the old and new testaments is a far weightier ordeal than connecting with Jesus the man. As one of the eternal figures of the trinity, Christ represents a divine personhood that we are unable to appropriate. This makes understanding difficult at best. Where do we begin?
I would challenge that we begin to try to understand Christ in the beginning of the biblical narrative with creation. Christ, as part of the t…

Jesus the Man

I want to start out this week’s blog by saying that if you are not coming to the Monday morning missional theology discussions you are missing out. We had a fantastic time yesterday learning some new concepts, wrestling with old ones and discussing how we tie all of it to God’s mission in the world. These Monday morning gatherings have become one of the highlights of my week. I look forward to getting together with everyone and always leave feeling refreshed and motivated to be a part of the work that God is doing at Harmony Grove.
This week’s topic was on Jesus the man. As most of the people that come to the discussion are regulars we have really begun to pull out all of the theological stops, challenging people to look at their faith through a new lens and grow in their understanding of the biblical narrative and theological terminology. Yesterday we began by discussing something called theandric union. This is the idea that there is an inseparable union between the two natures repr…

An Easter Review

This week’s blog is about practical matters. Yesterday in the missional theology meeting we reflected on the Easter season and the successes and challenges that we felt existed. It was very interesting to hear everyone’s perspectives and, as always, it was good to come together in conversation. Someone made the comment that “If we are going to learn to have good conversations that move us toward relationship, we need to practice having good conversations.” Seems very straight forward and simple to appropriate doesn’t it? But if that is the case why is our participation in this shared restoration narrative so low relative to the population of the church? Do people simply not care about the future of the church and what it means to live in God’s economy? If you know this not to be the case perhaps you should come and join the conversation and help us understand how we can become a community with a shared narrative more effectively.


We discussed some of the major wins from the Easter seas…

Our Story!

This week our blog is going to take a bit of a different path. Debbie asked me to work on telling the story of the restoration work that we are doing, the successes that we have had, the vision for where we hope for it to go and the wins that the vision/plan stands  to produce. One of the things that we discussed during our collaborative time today was the value of a shared narrative in the pursuit of restoration, be that individually, as a family or as a church and community. I tell you this to hopefully encourage you to make this your own, ask questions, challenge the direction and share it with those that you know in your circle of influence. 
We began to look at what it would look like for the church to once again be a community leader in God’s plan of restoration nine months ago, undertaking a journey of exploration and discovery while working to develop a new missional narrative around restoration. To date we have made great progress in this endeavor on many fronts. 
We have develo…

Tradition

The Tradition of Palm Sunday and Holy Week


In Monday morning’s missional theology group, we talked about many different topics, all of which were driven by wanting to more fully understand what Palm Sunday and Holy week really mean and what we, as a community of Christians, are to take away. Ultimately, we came to consensus on the fact that the history and traditions of this time are important to our very identity as Christians because it provides a foundational block on which to build our community of believers. We agreed that it is important to help people build a box before we help them learn to think outside of it. Palm Sunday and Holy week are components of the Christian box. This is a foundational time that defined the early community and should still play a significant role in our liturgical calendar each year.
In a time of mega churches and rock concert services, it is interesting to note that one of the fastest growing segments of Christian faith with those under 35 years of a…

Loving Radically

The Anthropology of Radical Love: A Practical View
What does the concept of Radical Love mean? Did Jesus call us to radical love or is this merely a modern contextualization of the standard that Jesus set for us in his interactions with others? Is radical love possible and if so, how do we have it? These are big questions that impact our faith, life and relationships. As such, it seems that it is worth exploring. But only if we can come to some sort of a guide for achieving it.
So, what does the concept of radical love represent? In Matthew 5:44 Jesus calls us to “love our enemies and pray for those that persecute us.” That certainly seems radical- as well as common knowledge for those of us that profess to have a Christian worldview. But there is a bit of a rub with this concept of radical love. It often puts us in a position to seek persecution, acting like martyrs when we are simply being over sensitive. It has become one of the hallmarks of “mature” Christian faith and an excuse fo…
Jesus and Scripture: A New Tool for Understanding Relationship

This week our conversation was a little different as Nathan was sick and I chose the topic of discussion! Perhaps not as academic as usual, it was super fun to process together how Jesus interpreted scripture during his time as a human. We’ve been talking about understanding the Bible, both Hebrew texts and the New Testament through the lens of relationship. So today we decided to look at the way Jesus quoted and interpreted texts. It seemed that Jesus preferred teaching texts from Exodus, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Hosea, and the Psalms – at least in Matthew’s gospel.While asking the question “why?” we noticed that these books all seemed to have a strong relational narrative between God and humanity and interpersonal. We took note of the fact the only time Jesus quoted from Leviticus (19:18) he chose the positive command, “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus reduced the 613 biblical commandments down to two. In the S…

A New Way of Thinking

restoration@harmonygroveumc.com
Those of you not attending our Monday morning missional theology conversations are missing out. We have had two amazing weeks of working with new tools for engaging our faith, encountering the Old and New Testaments, and experiencing communal joy. In other words, we have had a good time. We have moved toward the idea that the best way to help people think different and be transformed is to give them new tools rather than try to inform them into transformation. 
This week in the sermon Debbie will be talking about the New Testament and relationship and in the Saturday night gathering we will be discussing the idea of faith, the church and homosexuality. We found that the tools necessary for unpacking both of these were primarily the same and, as such, spent most of the time looking at practical use and challenges to a new way of thinking.
Here are the tools, or filters that we discussed.
One: The biblical narrative is God’s self-revelation to humankind. It i…

Monday Morning Relationships

restoration@harmonygroveumc.com Want to know what goes on Monday mornings in our Family Restoration Center? A crazy fun time, for those of us who love to process scripture and theology in community (and enjoy a great cup of coffee). This is my first Restoration Blog post, so I’ll share our discussion through my highly caffeinated Monday brain.


Is God, as we know God in the Old and New Testaments immutable(not capable of or susceptible to change)? Remember the saying, "God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow?" The seeming changes in God's character and nature from Genesis, Jesus and in Christ the King somehow beg for congruence. 

The excitement began with our second look at the creation story in Genesis chapter one. I say exciting because I so rarely take the time to process the greater message of Creation. Another reading (as I've read this story a gazillion times), begs the questions, "what or who is God?, what is God like?, and for what reason did God creat…

Living in God's Economy

restoration@harmonygroveumc.com
Tuesday, March 5

Living in God’s Economy
When we talk about God’s economy what do we mean? Traditionally, economic discussions have revolved around money, markets and manpower, seeking to develop a structure or series of conditions in which people can thrive. With this is mind does God have an economy to speak of? Is there divine currency and are there returns that can be rightly expected from investing in God’s economy. The answer to all of these questions is yes! 
God absolutely has an economy within and for the world. He lays out a structure and set of conditions for us in which we can thrive and prosper- in spite of our own separation and dysfunction. The problem that we seem to have consistently faced over the last several thousand years is that the condition for prosperity in God’s economy is tragically too simple. God has not asked us to participate in a transactional relationship where we must give our “fair share” in order to expect a return. God h…

Is Unity Necessary?

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Is Unity the Win?
For the last two weeks we have been talking about the mission that God has called us to as believers in Christ. We have been looking at the goal and means of that mission in our local context and within the greater United Methodist structure. Part of the value of this discussion is that God’s missional calling gives us a way to engage the evolving cultural context while recapturing relevance. Both Harmony Grove and the global United Methodist Church find themselves in a position of declining impact that effects future sustainability.
This week the United Methodist leadership is gathering to discuss the issue of homosexuality and leadership and propose a way forward that maintains Methodist integrity across the variety of global contexts. This issue stands to do one thing- divide the church. There is not a solution that does not leave some people group feeling left out, neglected or unheard. No matter the outcome someone is going to be ups…