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Friday Epistle for May 25, 2018

May 25th, 2018 by Carl Buffington

SACRED ANTACIDS
By Justin McRoberts
A young man came to his priest. "I feel like something is terribly wrong in my spirit. Please help me."

The priest replied, "Can you describe the feeling?"

"It happens every night," the young man said.  "I lie down and begin thinking over my day when a terrible feeling comes over me; a burning in my heart, like the burning the disciples felt when meeting Jesus on the road to Emmaus. But when I feel it, it feels like something is wrong. It's more like a pain. It's as if God is trying to tell me something. Please, help me. What does it mean?"

The priest bent forward from his chair, reaching into his satchel. The young man, thinking the priest was climbing out of his chair to kneel on the ground and pray, slid out of his chair onto the floor, bowing his head and extending his hands, palms up, to receive the priest's blessing.
But instead of a prayer, the priest laid a single antacid in the young man's open hands. "You've got heartburn, son."
Don't get me wrong. I do regularly pray. And sometimes I'm praying about a physical discomfort.
But sometimes I just need an antacid...
and sometimes I just need to eat better...
and sometimes I need to sleep more...
and sometimes I need to see a trained, professional therapist...
and  sometimes I need to change the shoes I'm running in.

And I think all of these things are spiritual matters.

In the past I might have suggested that therapy, exercise and medicine were un-spiritual things, as opposed to prayer, fasting and meditation. Nowadays, I wonder if it is un-spiritual to consider one aspect of my life "Spiritual" leaving all other aspects of myself partitioned off.  I wonder if thinking spiritually means seeing my whole life (emotional, psychological, physiological, religious, economic, social, familial...) as singular - as if my Creator is concerned with every inch and aspect of my whole self.

I don't believe it is at all unspiritual, much less un-Christian, to see a therapist or take an antacid.  I do think, on the other hand, that it is distinctly unchristian to separate physical or financial parts of my life from my "spiritual life."  God, whose greatest revelation of Himself was to become fully human, has great concern with all of me.

I find that one of the most powerful aspects of the Incarnation story is the 30 years of silence before the recorded part of Jesus' life. That silence says to me that, until he was baptized by John, Jesus lived a life that was, in large part, unremarkable, since nobody found much of it worth marking down. Many days, I find my life to be somewhat unremarkable; I work, I eat, I rest, I have time with family and friends. Nothing out of the ordinary - not even a flash of celestial glory.  I am encouraged that Jesus lived such a life as well, at least for a time.

Unlike many other ancient Incarnation stories wherein a god takes on human form for a while and only to serve a special purpose, in Jesus, God not only becomes a human being...
He's carried in a woman's body...
born to that woman...
raised in a family with parents who taught him to feed himself...
had a dad...

And it seems, somewhere along the way, lost his dad...
had siblings...
had friends...
lost friends...
lived in the neighborhood...
had neighbors...
held a job...
worked for money...
paid for food...
paid taxes...

All of which says to me that these things are not insignificant in their normality, but that God finds worth in spending most of a human lifetime attending to simple things like work and neighbors and friendships and family.

It seems that God not only abides in mundane things, but dwells in them and does so gladly. And if that's true, which I believe it is, it means he dwells in me and my work and my community. A community of beautifully normal people with jobs and kids and mortgages and leaky faucets and disagreements and heartburn and issues to work through externally and interpersonally.  A community who gathers on Sundays to celebrate and remember the One who is glorious and majestic and who was carried in the womb of a teenage girl to be born into the world just like any of us normal folks were.

It means every thing matters.

Not just a world I cannot see, but the world right in front of me.

My job matters.
My bank account matters.
My education matters.

My health matters.
From his book, PRAYER, pages 28-30
Go to his website:   www.justinmcroberts.com
Who is Justin McRoberts?
         Since 1999 Justin McRoberts has been a constant and noteworthy presence on the independent music scene. A songwriter, storyteller, teacher and an advocate, he is one of those rare artists who blends artistry, honesty and humor seamlessly.
         "In and through art," Justin writes "we learn to see ourselves and our world as part of a cohesive, Divinely-orchestrated story." Sharing stories and songs with an audience is where Justin's gifts are most fully realized. His live shows strike a delicate balance between intellect and emotion; between inspiration and a call to action.
          Central to Justin's work is advocacy on behalf of the poor and oppressed through Compassion International. "Not only do the poor need us," he writes "we need the poor to remind us what being human is about. In the same way that the poor learn to identify themselves with their lack, the wealthy learn to identify themselves with their wealth. It is in the meeting of the two that we can recognize ourselves and one another as human."
Blessings to You All,

Men's Retreat

May 21st, 2018 by Kris Taff

Friday Epistle for May 11, 2018

May 11th, 2018 by Carl Buffington

HE ALSO MADE THE STARS
Why do we spend a good bit of time on Sunday mornings praising God?  It's not just a sing along, or as in some churches, a concert, but it's a time of praise.  We can express that in different ways, but ultimately it is our offering to our God, and it's what we are created to do.
Jesus said it is what God has ordained us to do on earth and in heaven:
"Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read,
" 'From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise'?"
And he added, if we don't the stones will:
"I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."
SO DON'T MISS IT!
Don't' miss it! -- This video by Louis Giglio is 8 minutes plus.  But includes the recording of the sounds of stars, and whales. He wraps it together with, "How Great is Our God."
How Great is our God
How Great is our God
Don't miss it! -- How can we not join in the praise of all creation?  Yes, he also made the stars and they sing constant praises. Don't miss an opportunity to join in the hymn of the universe on any given Sunday at New Covenant.  It is a bit beyond our imaginings, but then it's about God.
Psa. 148:1
 Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD from the heavens,
praise him in the heights above.
2Praise him, all his angels,
praise him, all his heavenly hosts.
3Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars.
4Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.
Blessings to You All,

Friday Epistle for May 4, 2018

May 4th, 2018 by Christopher Caudle

What do you do with the fifth goat?

Between the Services Sunday:

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