October 19, 2007

The Preacher

From Steve Camp's blog.

Make him a minister of the Word. Fling him into his office. Tear the ‘Office’ sign from the door, and nail on the sign, ‘Study.’ Take him off the mailing list. Lock him up with his books and his typewriter and his Bible. Slam him down on his knees before texts and broken hearts and flick of lives of a superficial flock and a holy God.

Force him to be the one man in our surfeited communities who knows about God. Throw him into the ring to box with God until he learns how short his arms are. Engage him to wrestle with God all the night through. And let him come out only when he’s bruised and beaten into being a blessing.

Set a time clock on him that will imprison him with thought and writing about God for forty hours a week. Shut his mouth forever spouting remarks, and stop his tongue forever tripping lightly over every nonessential. Require him to have something to say before he dares break the silence. Bend his knees in the lonesome valley.

Fire him from the PTA. and cancel his country club membership. Burn his eyes with weary study. Wreck his emotional poise with worry for God. And make him exchange his pious stance for a humble walk with God and man. Make him spend and be spent for the glory of God. Rip out his telephone. Burn up his ecclesiastical success sheets. Defuse his glad hand.

Put water in his gas tank. Give him a Bible and tie him to the pulpit. And make him preach the Word of the Living God!

Test him. Quiz him. Examine him. Humiliate him for his ignorance of things divine. Shame him for his good comprehension of finances, batting averages, and political in-fighting. Laugh at his frustrated effort to play psychiatrist. Form a choir and raise a chant and haunt him with it night and day-‘Sir, we would see Jesus.’

When at long last he dares assay the pulpit, ask him if he has a word from God. If he does not, then dismiss him. Tell him you can read the morning paper, and digest the television commentaries, and think through the day’s superficial problems, and manage the community’s weary drives, and bless the sordid baked potatoes and green beans, ad infinitum, batter than he can.

Command him not to come back until he’s read and reread, written and rewritten, until he can stand up, worn and forlorn, and say, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’

Break him across the board of his ill-gotten popularity. Smack him hard with his own prestige. Corner him with questions about God. Cover him with demands for celestial wisdom. And give him no escape until he’s back against the wall of the Word.

And sit down before him and listen to the only word he has left-God’s Word. Let him be totally ignorant of the downstreet gossip, but give him a chapter and order him to walk around it, camp on it, sup with it, and come at last to speak it backward and forward, until all he says about it rings with the truth of eternity.

And when he’s burned out by the flaming Word, when he’s consumed at last by the fiery grace blazing through him, and when he’s privileged to translate the truth of God to man, finally transferred from earth to heaven, then bear him away gently and blow a muted trumpet and lay him down softly. Place a two-edged sword on his coffin, and raise the tomb triumphant. For he was a brave soldier of the Word. And ere he died, he had become a spokesman for his God.

October 18, 2007

Lack of gravitas

[9/11] shone its own light on the Church and what we came to see was not a happy sight. For what has become conspicuous by its scarcity, and not least in the evangelical corner of it, is a spiritual gravitas, one which could match the depth of horrendous evil and address issues of such seriousness. Evangelicalism, now much absorbed by the arts and tricks of marketing, is simply not very serious anymore.
David Wells, Above All Earthly Pow'rs: Christ in a Postmodern World. (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2005, p. 4

When we stop twisting scripture to fit the mold that allows us to claim unscriptural things, we will be on a path toward improving the lacking gravitas that Dr. Wells is speaking of.

October 16, 2007

Maryland Renaissance Festival

Maryland Renaissance Festival
Stilt Procession

Our family has a few traditions that we try to do every year. One of our favorites is the Maryland Renaissance Festival. My wife and I have attended the Maryland Renaissance Festival almost every year since shortly after we got married (22 years since we got married; 18 years for the Festival) and our son began attending the Festival with us as soon as he was old enough to enjoy it—I believe he was about 3 months old the first time we took him.

The Festival is one of the best places for photography that I have ever seen. The dappled light coming through the leaves on the trees that surround the Festival grounds is gorgeous.

Kim & David, arm in arm
Kim & David

The costumes are deeply colored and beautiful. The people are expressive in their revelry and actually enjoy having their pictures taken. And there are things happening at the Festival that you just don't see very often: jousting, people on stilts, wandering minstrels, puppeteers, steak-on-a-stake, and loads of other visual delights.

This year we went for two days. On the first day my wife and son both dressed as pirates. The second day my wife chose a noblewoman's outfit while my son decided to go as a pirate again—not the brightest choice since the day before we had spent the entire day at the Festival in temperatures pushing 100 degrees and his costume was providing evidence of that fact.

I'm not sure what makes us like the Festival as much as we do. It may be the fact that it's a family event and we are able to spend all our time, free from distractions, with each other. It may be that we get to dress up and pretend we're someone (someones?) other than ourselves. It may be that we enjoy the occasional relief of being a few hundred miles away from the pressures of daily life.

Pirate David
My son, the pirate

Whatever the reason—we love the Maryland Renaissance Festival. We even love it when it's so hot that the wool costumes are actually uncomfortable (imagine that!). This year's 90+ degree temperatures was not the reason that we chose to go in October instead of in August.

MD RenFest Flowergirl
Flower seller

So next year, when you're planning your family outings, consider the Maryland Renaissance Festival—even if you don't live anywhere near Annapolis, Maryland.

Leave your laptop, your iPod, and your cell phone at home.

Grab the kids, jump in the car, drive to Maryland, and, as the sign over the front gate at the Maryland Renaissance Festival says, "Prepare thyself for merriment." You won't regret it.

Maryland Renaissance Festival Web Site

October 15, 2007

No sleight of hand

Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down. — Kings 18:30

The story of the challenge given by Elijah to the prophets of Baal has fascinated me since I was a child. I've wondered at times if some people who reject the veracity of the scriptures might say that the water Elijah poured on the altar was actually some petroleum product, thereby causing the resultant fire.

But today when I read this story in 1 Kings, I noticed the verse above.

Johnny Fox
Magician Johnny Fox

Last week my family and I went to the Maryland Renaissance Festival where we saw the magician and sword swallower, Johnny Fox. He's an amazing magician. We have also seen David Copperfield perform magic on multiple occasions. The common setup for public magic shows is for the performer to be on a stage with the audience seated at a distance from the performer. The audience is typically gathered together in one group rather than surrounding the performer. This allows the magician to perform various feats of visual deception (sleight of hand, misdirection, etc.).

But in the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal, Elijah asked the people (all of Israel) to "come near to me." In order to do this, the people had to gather around him. In order to see the spectacle (which it was), they must have pressed in on him. There was no chance for Elijah to perform sleight of hand or misdirection. These people saw exactly what happened and they knew it was of God.

What an amazing story!