Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Big Bear Retreat

Morning Prayer

Last night, Peter, Derek and I decided to flip through the pages of a hymnal together to see how many we knew. Well, truth is, it started off as a competition between Peter and myself as we both grew up with hymns and have hundreds (maybe thousands!) tucked away in the back of our brains! Derek didn't grow up with Hymns but has grown to love them in the last several years.

Hymns are rich in story, theology and heritage. We stumbled on some beautiful hymns written hundreds of years ago with powerful melodies and words. Songs like "Near the Cross," and "Be Still my Soul."

This particular Hymnal was published in the 70's. Interwoven between the songs were quotes and prayers and scripture which added texture and meaning to the hymns of old. One of the prayers, associated with the Hymn, "Day by Day," was particularly meaningful to me.

Morning Prayer
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

O God
Early in the morning do I cry unto Thee.
Help me to pray.
And to think only of Thee.
I cannot pray alone.

In me there is darkness.
But with Thee there is light.
I am lonely, but Thou leavest me not.
I am feeble in heart, but Though leavest me not.
I am restless, but with Thee there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with Thee there is patience;
Thy ways are past understanding but
Thou knowest the way for me.

O heavenly Father,
I praise and thank Thee
For the peace of the night.
I praise and thank Thee for this new day.
I praise and thank Thee for all Thy goodess
and faithfulness throughout my life.
Thou hast granted me many blessings:
Now let me accept tribulation
from Thy hand.
Thou will not lay on me more than I can bear.
Thou makest all things work together for good for Thy Children.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Brittney's Mokkatam poem

A poem from Brittney Yackley written from the garbage city of Mokattam, Egypt:

This place is dirty, rank, filthy.
I think mostly now about the flies.
They love the putrid smell,
The decomposition, the heat.
They rise, circle, swarm.
I think of this village, of these people:

Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world To be rich in faith?
Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the kingdom
He promised to those who love Him?

And I think you and the flies
Have similar ideas about
What makes perfect living conditions.
The babies’ faces are crawling with flies –
In the doorway of Om Ibrahim’s one-room
Hovel they pass freely.
They dance in the stairwell of the school.
Flies love stench, decay, neglect.

The flies love poverty, it’s where they thrive.
Where the flies go, so too do you.
The poor are your chosen people
Your Israel, your Covenant.
Among the poor you move, you abide, you alight.
Your spirit surrounds your people
Like a swarm.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Is it about them? Or us? Or... both?

Jason Evans recently posted some terrific thoughts based on the passage 1 Kings 17:8-16, on what it means for us, as followers of Christ, to engage those in need.

"In this passage, Elijah is instructed to ask a poor widow for assistance. She has barely enough to feed herself and her son. She believes they are on the brink of death. Yet, God prompts Elijah to ask the widow to make him a meal. Can you imagine asking someone in a bread line to make you a meal?! There is a profound lesson for people of privilege to learn from this passage of what it means to be with people in need. Conversely, there is a profound lesson for people in need to learn from this passage of what it means to be with people of privilege."

Read his entire post here. Great stuff that should inform us a bit in how we need to engage those on the margins.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009


telephone, originally uploaded by hallywood.

Chaz and Rebecca recently moved into an apartment complex, South Park Villas, on A street, and have already been making some stellar connections with the neighbors. They conspired with a neighbor to throw a mini block party among some of the families in their complex last weekend. Hilda, who lives in the apartment just below Chaz and Rebecca, speaks no English, and Rebecca speaks no Spanish, but that didn't stop anyone. Somehow, they figured it all out, made great food, and got everyone to the same place at the same time.

The South Park Villas (a misnomer on a many levels) has a bunch of kids living there. Seeing as how we've got kids, Rebecca and Chaz invited us to join the shindig. It was a great time. Food, jumprope, tag in the park, and even a game of telephone.

After the brutal beating I took in a game of freeze tag (old and slow don't begin to say how bad I was at this game), I sat down and soaked in the scenery. Chaz was playing soccer with some of the local latino guys (he's really good). Rebecca was coordinating a game of telephone with the kids (she definitely has a way with kids). The afternoon was perfect, and I realized how blessed we are to have opportunities like this. Hanging out with friends. Making new friends. Playing games. Submerging into the neighborhood. Being the church. Whatever you want to call it, I sensed God in all of it, and it was good.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Broken ...

Last night was a good night. As a community we discussed lots of great stuff. Rob led a talk based on Luke 5:17-26, the story of a paralyzed man and his 4 mat carrying friends who were willing to break through a roof to get their friend to Jesus so that he could be healed. Not only did he receive healing of his body, but Jesus forgave his sins and healed his soul.

It's a great story about how we all need to be carried at times and how we can be "roof crashing" friends and carry others through their times of "paralysis" or pain.

Back in June I had posted a song on my blog as something I loved, not exactly explaining why. So after last night, and Jon asking me why I liked the song. Here's a little more explanation.

The group is Jason Zerbin, the song is Into Your Arms. I like the type of music, especially the string parts. Also, the video itself is very artistic and I like the setting. But the main thing I like is the message, we are all broken people and even though we are in a missional community seeking to find and love the broken in the world, we ourselves are broken and need God to hold us in His arms so that we can show that kind of love to the unloveable in our world. I guess, mostly I like the message. It's not just a song for your ears, it's also for your heart. - Sophia