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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Flooded Prairie

I've been in a few of the congregations that have been flooded out in the "Midwest" as the media calls it...(we folks up here know that as the southern prairie, as we tend to be defined by the land we live on rather than the cities that dominate our "national culture.")...and that is the point here--we live ON the land, as if we are renting it or borrowing it, but we certainly don't own it other than the fences we put around our 40 acres and goats...(Black Angus, whatever...)
As my prayers go out to the people in Iowa, I'm reminded how all this talk of prayer, liturgy, the Bible, and stuff has an effect on how I live...
You see, the result of prayer is not more prayer, the result of liturgy is not more liturgy, the result of reading the Bible is not more reading of the Bible...the "results" (such as they are, and I use the term loosely, so don't get too worked up about the phrase) bear fruit (a better theological metaphor, yes?) in the love I reside IN. Yes, I live ON land, and reside IN love...
If my love for God, my neighbor, or even myself does not increase, get activated, "bear fruit" in some way, then the prayers, liturgy, etc. not been as efficacious as they had hoped...
I imagine that within the next few months I will find my way down to a congregation or two in that part of of the prairie to help out somehow...
Here, as you no doubt have noticed, is where we run into a bit of a problem however. In order to "bear fruit" we often use prayer, liturgy, reading the Bible as talismans to bless our fruitfulness. (in other words, we become supertitious rather than religious...this is dangerous.) So, for example, if I want to be helpful to the folks in Iowa, I use the practices of my faith to help navigate the course...but notice it's what "I" want...(even something postive like this) rather than what God wants...(I hope--at least some of the time--God and I are in congruence!) Rather, the point of prayer, liturgy, etc., is for me to discern what God wants...
Here's a story about that...as a young boy I was out on opening fishing day on Mille Lacs lake in Minnesota. Sunday came around, and most of my fishing camp went to a local church for worship...when I asked why they responded "So God will help us catch more fish." Really? The whole point of surrending to the God of the Universe is so that you get more fish than you already have? Is the point of liturgy to help us win? Win what? Better view from six feet under? So, I have come to realize that I will probably help out in Iowa not because I want to (it's looking like as I discern this stuff that it will cut into my pheasant hunting this Fall...), but because God is inviting me to help out...I'm OK with that...but to be honest, I never saw it coming...(I've never really thought about this kind of stuff before, but I hope this means my faith is growing!) So, why do I pray? Why do I worship? Why do I read scripture? If the last few weeks are any indication, it looks like I do these things so that I can discover what I'm supposed to do...and maybe discover who I really am...

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