Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Surprised by Sgt. Teddy Bear

In teaching our teens the importance of ecclesiology (community life), we seek to involve them in various ways in our youth services (and hopefully in the Sunday services). Sometimes this involves risk, like when you ask someone to lead the opening prayer time.

Tonight was one of those nights where we took the risk.

There are kids you ask and you know what they're going to pray/say is going to be right on the theological money, while there are other teens who you're sure they'll pray with sincerity and passion but not necessarily with informed theology, and there are other teens who pray without passion or informed God understanding. I think all of them need to be invited to pray.
The teen that was chosen tonight has courage and an incredibly deep understanding of God. But he can be goofy too. So when he stepped up to the microphone and declared that he was going to pray as "Sgt. Teddy Bear" my heart almost stopped.

Then the prayer that Sgt. Teddy Bear prayed was so selfish, so condemning, so painful. It was something like this, "Dear God, these people need help. You know how I can't stand these people. I don't know how you put up with them..." As this prayer is sent floating through the air my spirit is sinking with the dread of wondering how to follow this, pleading with God for divine intervention.
As my mind is scrambling, Sarge stops. Adam interupts. He tells Sarge that's not how we pray. Then Adam proceded to pray one of the most insightful, thoughtful, kind, loving, spirit-filled prayers I've ever heard from a teenager. I don't remember all the lines, but I do remember something like these: "God, fill us with the warmth of your holiness. You have brought us hear for a reason and we need to receive from you tonight. Your love is more than enough for us."
My spirit soared. God reminded me of a passage in Luke about a tax collector and Pharisee.
Community takes risks.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


He told them still another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough." Matthew 13:33

Whenever yeast was used in story lines during Jesus' time, it almost always carried the weight of evil, the sense of being opposite of what God would want. Jesus himself said, "Beward of the yeast of the Pharisees". The view was that yeast was like corruption. It starts small, but invisibly works itself through the dough in no time.

So when Jesus said the above statement, his audience would be shocked. The kingdom of God is corruption? How can this be?

Then when you think about it...the way of God is corruption to the way of hate, racism, genocide, evil and sin.

Many commentators think Jesus was making a seriously political statement here.

So, my friends, how can we get corrupted?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Beauty in Embrace

After too long, I am posting. Here's a story from my journal of something that happened to me while I was waiting to fly to KC from the Minneapolis airport.

...Waiting in the airport for my flight. Off to the right is a group holding flags and signs. The kids in the group keep running up to the window expectantly looking back to the rest of the group with faces of wonder.

I go back to reading. I'm distracted by the story of Mike Vick's confession and apology. I read some more.

Suddenly, cheers erupt from my right.

I look up to see the group standing on their feet waving their flags, whooping and hollering. Out of Gate F7 walks a woman in uniform. She is greeted with this scene of welcome.

Now all heads are turned in her direction, smiles on faces. What appears to be the mother jumps up and down and runs to embrace her. Then everybody in the group steps up to hug her.

I'm reminded of the father waiting for his son to return and then throwing a party when he does.