Sunday, March 31, 2013

Communion on the Free Throw Line

Through the day and evening, most of my Facebook friends have been posting family photos of everyone in their Easter finery. All of the photos have either been taken outside amidst blooming flowers, at church in a traditional sanctuary, or in front of a cross covered with flowers at church. I haven't posted any family photos today. This is for several reasons.

  1. We are minus a family member. Adam is away at college and it is our first Easter without him. I have missed him all day.
  2. There is no Easter garb at our house. Our church, Tapestry Church, is very casual. We don't really dress up. In Wisconsin, it is really not very wise to buy spring-y clothes to wear on Easter anyway because the weather this time of year is so unpredictable. We still have about 4 feet of snow at the end of our driveway. Although we've had some good snow melt the last few days, with temperatures up into the upper 40s, we also had a 15-minute snow storm today and it was 34 degrees when I was driving home from church. My Easter attire consisted of a bright green sweater shell worn as a vest over a long sleeved white blouse with khakis and a spring-weight outerwear coat. Robert wore a yellow tie and sport coat with his jeans. Noah wore jeans and a T-shirt. Everyone else was in similar attire.
  3. There are no blooming flowers as we are pretty much still covered in snow, as previously mentioned. Our yard is a wooded lot and we don't get a lot of sunlight so it is even slower to melt. On campus today I did see patches of grass and there are some sprouts of flowers coming up. Spring flowers will be here soon, but if we had taken photos outside we would have either been dripped on from the melting snow dripping from the eaves or we would have been standing in snow.
  4. Our church meets in an elementary school gym. We don't have a backdrop of polished organ pipes. Instead we have "Jump Rope for Heart" banners along the walls. We don't have a cross decorated with flowers...or a cross at all. We have a projector and a screen which shows different graphics.

So that's why we have no family Easter picture.


However, as we remembered GUILT--GRACE--GRATITUDE tonight, I look around at the faces of young couples who have been married in our church (as in the bride of Christ, not the school gym) in the past couple of years. I sat next to woman who came to know Jesus through out church and now she teaches me so much about the wonder and excitement of new life in Christ. I watched my youngest son present and share the elements of the Lord's Supper with others. The bread that was broken tonight in remembrance of Jesus was baked from scratch by one of our members. And...


As I waited in line to receive the bread and juice I looked down and smiled. I was taking communion on the free throw line.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

I Suck as an Apologist: The Problem with Easy Faith

Faith is very easy for me. I don't know why this is and it is actually very ironic since I am a skeptic in most things. In issues related to science, education, technology, speech therapy, etc. my stance is usually "prove it to me." However, in matters of my Christian faith, the cheesy and over-used slogan "God said it, I believe it, and that settles it" rings pretty true. Even before I made a conscious decision to make Jesus the Lord of my life in sixth grade, I regularly prayed, read my Bible, and believed it with a childlike faith.

As I got older, faith was still easy for me. I wouldn't say I had blind faith. I do question things. At times, I have doubts about God. However, they are fleeting and usually pretty easily resolved for me. I don't understand the whole Bible. While I do believe that it is the holy, inerrant, and inspired word of God, there are some things in it that confuse me. As a general rule, I think the Bible proves the Bible and it is an incredibly consistent book, but there are some things occasionally that throw me for a loop, like Pilate's role in the sentencing of Jesus. For the most part though I get that the Old Testament is all about Jesus (foreshadowing, if you will) and that all of the law of the OT was done away with when Jesus entered the scene. Even though there are plenty of Christians who believe that some parts of the OT are parables, such as Eden and Noah's Ark, I actually believe quite literally in those. I can buy it. It works for me. And the parts I don't understand...I am comfortable with the mystery. God's ways are not man's ways and I am completely fine with knowing there are parts of my spiritual journey, the character and nature of God, and the content of the Bible that I don't and can't understand. To me that's what faith is. It is believing...anyway. Believing in spite of doubts.

Apologetics (Merriam-Webster) 
1: systematic argumentative discourse in defense (as of a doctrine)2: a branch of theology devoted to the defense of the divine origin and authority of Christianity 

So how does this fit into being a terrible apologist? It is hard for me to provide a good objective defense of or support for my faith because I just have it. I didn't have to wrestle intellectual doubts to arrive at the feet of Jesus. I just believed and came. I do understand how people can have doubts and want proof. Really, I can. In fact, I think my "easy faith" is an outlier, not the norm. But because faith comes easily (not cheaply) to me, I don't have any good theological, philosophical, or other types of defense or proof. I believe and I know. As a Christian with over 30 years of intimate experience with Jesus, much of my faith comes from the journey. I can tell you my story. I can tell you of times I have experienced the power of God and the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I can describe how Jesus has empowered me to do things that I am incapable of doing on my own. I can share miracles that I have seen or experienced--not parting water kinds of miracles, but more personal and intimate, never the less as powerful. Just like I can't prove to you my love for my husband, other than the outward evidence that we have been married 22+ years, but I can share the story and the journey. The same goes for my faith. Therefore, I am not a good apologist. But if you want to be an innocent, wide-eyed believer, I totally "get" you and I'll cheer you on. If you have doubts and want validation, I can be an empathetic listener and affirm your doubts (and remind you that it is okay to have them).  However, if you need proof, talk to Robert. He's got the degrees in it :-)