Monday Morning Musings for 10.10.16

  1. In the interest of full disclosure, I spent the past week attending a conference at Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan and then staying the weekend to celebrate Leigh's 34th-ish birthday. So while everyone in Central Florida was emptying local grocery stores and gas stations prepping for Matthew, I was touring The Met (wonderful exhibit on art from Jerusalem 1000–1400 when all three major faith traditions clashed in and around that city), walking Central Park, enjoying a cruise around the island (the Statue of Liberty still gives chills), and eating half of what was available.
  2. While there, we took in Fiddler on the Roof at the Broadway Theater. I had never seen it before and was unexpectedly moved. It was enormously relevant to our culture today as we struggle to understand the plight of the immigrant both here and around the world. The fiddler is not an actual character, but one who lurks in the shadows owing to Tevya's opening line: life in poverty is as uncertain and precarious as a "fiddler on the roof." 
  3. PLANE STUPIDITY: When traveling on airplanes, there are certain things you just don't say. As I boarded last Tuesday morning, a man with his wife and two children were being seated a row behind me. He had a large bag that a stewardess was helping him with, at which time he said, "Be careful – that's the one with the bomb in it." The flight attendant became quite upset as the man apologized, but next thing you know, an official takes him and his wife off the plane (teenage kids). Twenty minutes later, she brings them back on, but the captain says, "They're not flying on my plane" and the whole family is taken off. 
  4. 4. NEW FEATURE: This morning, I debut a new MMM feature – a guest appearance from my wife, Leigh Bywaters Swanson. While she may not appear every week, she will join me with pithy commentary on things she thinks I am missing, such as this week: "Can we all agree that there is just too much football? I was tired of it after two weeks. There are only two days a week now where we don't get football games. It's ridiculous." Some weeks will no doubt be deeply theological, but she wanted to start light.
  5. While we're on the subject of Leigh Bywaters Swanson, we were shopping for her birthday gift in New York. She wanted a pair of boots. These boots are not to be confused with Cowboy boots. There is the kind that has heels and zips up the side. We looked and looked and looked. I saw plenty of perfectly acceptable pairs of boots, but none met her very particular standards. When I asked why it was taking so long, she said, "Boots are a commitment, David." Boots are a commitment.
  6. 6. As I prepare to preach in a few weeks on The Church, not "an institution" as some say, but the divinely created gathered community of believers through whom God will reveal Himself to the world, I have been reminded again of the wonder of faith and language. As I wandered New York, it was literally a gathering of every "tongue, tribe, people, and nation." I was struck not only by how different we all were, how language divided us, but also by the wonder that in the mystery of God, we are being called to unity in Christ. Obviously, the "Christ" part was missing for most which created a stunning emptiness in the conversations overheard. it provided a reminder of what is but also the hope of what will be.
  7. 7. FPCO is in the middle of a fall sermon series and church-wide study called For The Life of the World. It is focused on restoring a needed balance to life in the church, a balance that should allow churches to defy a label. At the risk of gross generalization, those on the left engage culture and social justice well but don't do much to study Scripture or disciple the faith of their members while those on the right do the opposite. The reality is the church should do both. As we grow deeper in our discipleship, we are then called to live our lives as Christ did – poured out For the Life of the World. Thus, we seek the peace and prosperity of our city (Jeremiah 29), we serve without expectation or condition, and in so doing, reveal the incarnational ministry of Jesus. 
  8. 8. As the four of us from FPCO ate dinner the first night in NY following the conference, we were discussing the day's learnings and what our church could do in the future. Towards the end of our meal, a woman who had been dining alone came over and with tears in her eyes, thanked us for "witnessing to her." She was in NY for an interview the next morning and was sitting there praying, wondering if God wanted her to move her family to NY. She said when she heard us it was "confirmation that God was present." We stopped our meal and joined hands with our new friend Pam, praying for her, her family and her interview, right there in a restaurant in the middle of Manhattan. That's what "for the life of the world" looks like – we were not "witnessing" – we were just living our lives openly – and that is often used in ways we cannot see or understand. 
  9. 9. UT, for heaven's sake, give Charlie Strong a chance. And watch out…the Dak-Attack is 4-1!