More on Mudhouse Sabbath …

I wrote this a couple of weeks ago after finishing, Mudhouse Sabbath.

January 19 –

Just finished reading “Mudhouse Sabbath” by Lauren Winner. She takes a number of Jewish practices and considers ways they might enhance the practice of Christianity.

Several selections gain my attention. The chapter on prayer. The practice of liturgical prayer, though often “dull and boring” seems to keep one’s focus on God. Winner admits attempts at spontaneous prayer did not find her praying more but rather less.

I wonder if results from a sense of freedom from “form” which creates the environment for “less prayer.” My own prayer life at times could be described as “sporadic.” I wonder if the opposite – a regular liturgy/litany of prayer would make the habit of praying more indelible.

I also wonder if there is truth to a prayer liturgy offering a way outward. Winner suggests this spontaneous praying often left her feeling narcisstic – only praying for herself. Written prayers give us the possibility of thinking more widely about what to pray for/about.

We practice spontaneous prayer at church. Many times the same prayers are prayed by the same people – very little variety. We pray for forgiveness of sinss, the sick, the lost and for guidance. I suspect any attempt to marry the two would be difficult since we fear anything “liturgical” yet, we by our own habits, establish our own “liturgy.”

Written prayers are no less spiritual than spontaneous prayers. In fact, written prayers make us more thoughtful, engagin the mind with the heart.

I like the challenge of this little book – you might too.

The Search to Belong …

Joe Meyers may have written one of those books that could arguably change our understanding of relationship, especially with regards to the Church. You’ll find a link in my book list to the left.

Joe took some thoughts on architecture written a number of years ago and offers some incredible insights into the ways people connect in space. He suggests there are four spaces in which people belong – Public, Social, Personal and Intimate.

We often convey to someone they could enjoy an “intimate” relationship with God. Meyer’s definition for intimate – “naked and unashamed.” Relationally that means you have a willingness to honest about who you are before God. Not many of us really want an intimate relationship with God. We want a personal God but not an intimate God. We want to keep God at just the right distance so I don’t have to change too much. For that matter not many of us want an inimate relationship with anyone. We are too fearful of what they might think or say about us.

How would this play into our expressions of hospitality? We have expectations of people that may be unrealistic. Think about it. Tell me what you think.

Message and method …

Debate goes on around the issue of the gospel and whether or not the message changes or just the methods change. In fact, a recent book was published where different authors presented their opinions on the matter and responded to each other as well. The subject is worth consideration. I will make some comments along the way …

One thing is for sure, we must be the church differently today than we were in the 1950’s. The height of the SBC statistically came after World War 2 in the 1950’s. I shared a conversation this afternoon in which the subject came up. One important point was made. In the 1950’s the church viewed itself as people serving it. We gave away social ministry to the Federal government. Today we decry the abuse and neglect fostered under that system. We now must come to rediscovering the church is the church for the glory of God and the sake/blessing of the world. The Church will need to capture a self-understanding which is characterized by serving its famlies and the community in which it is located not looking to be served …

more to come.

Mudhouse Sabbath …

I recently finished reading Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner. The book takes a look at eleven Jewish practices. Laurene explores these habits through the lens of one who practiced them as an Orthodox Jew and now seeks to integrate their significance into her journey with Jesus. The book holds a dual significance for the reader. First, one gains an appreciation for spiritual practices found in the Old Testament. Often we who follow Jesus summarily dismiss some of the things found in the Torah – Law – as having been superceded by grace. Yet, some of these practices understood through the lens Winner exposes us to cause us to consider the value of Old Testament practices as having import for today.

Second, the book serves as a great inspiration to study the Christian faith from its “whole” perspective. Rather than view ourselves as New Testament Christians – it would be better we view ourselves as the people of the God of the Bible – Yahweh! Instead of relegating the Old Testament to scant significance, we uncover beautiful gems exposing the wonderful work of God’s grace in redemption history.

I encourage you to get it and read it. You may find yourself longing to practice the significance of Sabbath in fresh new ways in hopes of intentionally encountering the presence of God without distractions of a normal day. Let me know what you think!

Bible reading …

A few years ago I picked up a copy of The Message by Eugene Peterson. It first came out in the New Testament and then some sections of the Old Testament were added. Once complete, you could purchase the entire Bible. Many found it uncomfortable to use as they were accumstomed to verse markings; a feature added in modern times. Others found it difficult to adjust to reading familiar passages with new expressions.

The Message has been “remixed.” This time you will find verse markers. The formal title for the work is, “The Message//Remix: The Bible in Contemporary Language.” In the introduction you will find these comments,

Accurate, But Readable.
The Message was paraphrased over a period of ten years from the Bible’s original languages (Greek and Hebrew). The idea of The Message isn’t to water down the Bible, making it easier to digest. The idea is to make it readable – to put those ancient words that their users spoke and wrote every day into words that you speak and write every day. (p.10)

The key word here is paraphrase; a process of taking words and putting them in “idioms” or expressions found in conversations today. There are a variety of translations and paraphrases available. Read from them all. They help get a sense of the “original” language underlying the translation. Remember, there were translations before the King James and as long as language evolves, there will be more.