This weekend we did baptisms at GCC. For years now I’ve had the ludicrous privilege of standing in the pools with people, hearing their confession of faith, and lowering them into the water. It always strikes me as an absurdity that I’m there with them. That they trust me. That I get to be a part of that moment.
I see that moment not just as pastoral or set apart, though it is, but as a more universal reminder that we all act on each other. We move into each others’ lives whether we want to or not, and as we do that we are forming each other. We are water and wind and sun and even pruning shears to the growing lives around us. We are formed by the people whose lives intersect our own, and so we are forming the people whose lives intersect our own. Every moment that we spend with others is a chance to usher them into some experience of grace.
Between services, I was talking to a friend whose sister has just walked away from a terribly abusive relationship. My friend talked about how deeply the abuse has wounded her sister; how it will take a long time, and a lot of work and pain, and a huge movement of God’s help, for her to heal and move forward. And again I was struck by the formative power we have in each others’ lives. We are able to do violence to each other that reaches beyond the body into the soul.
This week we have more of an announcement than a typical post. Ordinarily I wouldn't want to use the blog for something like this. But what's coming up feels so important, so full of potential, and so close to my heart that I wanted to give it the attention it deserves.
Ordinarily, we would wait to get word out on something like this until we have all the details locked and loaded and ready to view at gccwired.com. We're not quite there yet on this, but I figured you guys would want to hear about this sooner than later.
Our society is experiencing a crisis of dialogue. It is most evident when the stakes are high. We're digging trenches instead of building bridges. Theology, politics, economics, ethics have all become battlegrounds where every party looks to defeat the others. When I see the debates taking place in our culture, I feel defeated. Not because my position is losing. But because the mode of conversation ensures that everyone loses. This is not what God’s kingdom looks like. Read More
We believe we can do something about it.
This week I’ve been looking at classes for the summer term. I’ve been slowly working on a Master of Arts in Theology at Notre Dame for 5 years now, becoming a more-than-full-time student every June, drowning in reading and paper writing and hours and hours of class. It costs a lot — tuition, time, and energy, mostly, but also the things I have to say ‘no’ to during the term — so each year as the summer gets closer, I have to rediscover the reasons I’m investing in this experience. Read More
You might think I’m doing it to become an expert. Wouldn’t it be cool to be an expert in something? To have mastery over something? And would there be anything cooler than mastering theology? What if you could have all the answers to the big questions? You’d be a total boss.
But all this learning has gotten me nowhere near expert. If anything, it has revealed what an amateur I am. Theology is an ocean and I’ve now gone swimming a few times.
Walking around Boston one day, I came across a Steinway Piano Gallery. It had been a long time since I had played a real piano, so I walked in hopeful that I could take one of their grands for a spin. I put on my best charm and asked a salesman if I could play one of the pianos, and he obliged me, so I sat down at a beautiful concert model and got lost in it. It was sublime. Read More
That night the friends I was visiting asked me what I had done all day, and I told them about the Steinway shop. I told them I got to play a piano that retails for over $100,000. They thought that was pretty cool. (Or at least they humored me.)
I’ve thought about that conversation over and over again and I regret it. It’s an example of a trend I’ve seen in my life to reduce things, experiences, and people to bottom lines.