The Glass Darkly

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cows and their little ones

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Taking time to visit

I love sitting and chatting with people and I'll do it anywhere I need to go to find someone who might appreciate a visit.

Today I visited a family, albeit under not so happy circumstances, who live in an apartment above their little deli shop. Life is not easy for them, but I was honored to have had the chance to connect with them where "home" happens for them.

I know a principal at one of the city elementary schools who does home visits on the weekends. How special . . . I would love that but I wonder if all families would appreciate that.

There are some cultures that are much more oriented to visiting. Growing up in a very rural area, we dropped in on our neighbors all the time and it was fine. Sunday afternoons we'd often go for a drive and stop in, unannounced, to visit a friend or relative if they happened to be home.

As I got older, I learned new ways of relating. Visiting is sometimes a more formal event. It took me a long time to understand why my in-laws felt they needed to call ahead to the home of their neighbor whose house is less than 100 ft. from their garage door before stopping over to ask a question. Why couldn't they just walk over and ask? Ways of relating and visiting is a cultural thing and depends on the level of privacy expected within the culture.

People hang-out in front of many of the homes along the streets near where I live now. Children play; young people blare their music; and adults sit and talk. The same was true on most of the roads in Cambodia. There, time was less important than building relationships, so sitting and talking was very important. It didn't matter so much what you talked about, just that you took the time.

This happened often in the village where we lived. As I'd meander over to visit a friend, I'd often stop at one of the snack stands to get something for my kids or a soda for me. Inevitably one of the ladies would invite me to sit "first" before I'd continue on. It was the polite thing to do and the primary way information was shared in the village. If I was in a new village, the ladies would want the scoop of who I was and what I was doing there. In my own village they'd ask questions about my landlord and their latest remodeling project . . . how much they spent or if I was helping to pay for it (as if my landlord hadn't told them already). I often got questions about my home country, my salary, my rent, why my children looked different than me, etc.

Americans often had a hard time with all the invasive questions Cambodians would ask in their "visiting" times. Visiting requires skill and some understanding of culture to make it meaningful within the context. But I find great joy in meeting people on their level and in their context.

And that sense of building relationships stirred within me again today as I chatted with a mother and grandmother about their young person. Sharing a little about myself and learning a lot about the other can go a long way in spreading care and encouragement.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I wish I had an inkling

I wish I had an inkling
of where I am to be
Here or there, East or West
It's hard for me to see.

I wish I had an inkling
of what I am to do
This or that, then or now
It's time for something new.

I wish I had an inkling
of what God plans for next
I try, I wait, I look, I pray
It's really hard to rest.

I wish I felt a calling
A sure sense of purpose
Instead I wander aimlessly
Feeling rather restless.

I wish I had an inkling
Of where I am to be
Place and presence go hand-in-hand
In the Missio Dei

Friday, February 05, 2010

Can we Imagine or are we frozen in time?

Tom and Christine Sine – Following Jesus in the Shadow of the Empire

What are ways we can help young people prepare for the future – life in the Church and lives of mission

A. Take the future seriously! Don’t be Christians frozen in time . . . in other words stop imagining more of what already is.

B. We need to help kids think creatively to cope with the future/changing times:

Students today are the first generation in America who will not surpass their parents economically.

· Communal living – future increase of mortgages means young people will not be able to own their own homes – need to learn to live together/share resources – creative thinking

· Craig’s list – what resources do we have to share?

· Petrol prices will continue to hike . . . making petro-based fertilizers unaffordable to poor farmers àcreate a food shortage à teach kids to raise vegetables and participate in coops

· Explore new models of communities of simplicity, celebration, sustainability and service.

Students of today and future are technologically addicted/emersed.

· Technology addiction has created a 24/7 connection to workplace – need to teach kids to set limits so they can remain faithful to Scripture, prayer and family

· Media consumption has become media emersion . . . we need to teach the need for and skill at finding sacred places and spaces that are media-free

· Look at the numbers of social networking media that has developed just in the last 6 years – imagine how many more will come about in the next 10 years – how can we use them?

Students are growing-up in a growing multicultural society:

· By 2040 the US will be the first Western nation that is not predominately European

· We need to teach kids how to live in multicultural settings – will raising kids in homogeneous suburbs preparing them for their future?

· We need to help youth see the power of our culture and the message of “cool” that has changed the traditional cultures in other countries – changing the views that youth in those other countries have toward their own traditions and cultures and changing how they live within their cultures

· Can we have American youth help change the standard of “cool” among youth of other cultures? (social networking can be a key tool) – dispelling the power of the message of cool flowing from our culture

· Look at the coming of the “new majority” Church – growing Church in Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia – help youth connect

Students are revealing our nation’s post-Christendom mentality.

· Barna likes to say that US has about 40-50% church attendance vs. 6% in UK and 9% in Australia

· Another study of actual attendance numbers shows that really only about 17.5% of Americans regularly attend church. Some only attend once a month . . . how do we build community in that kind of a context?

· Youth are less and less drawn to the church and remaining in the church after leaving home

· Can we imagine new ways of doing church? Does our Christian education/formation really doing the same job it has for the last century?

· Are our church buildings and traditional activities which have served our previous generations going to be the form of church our youth will connect to?

· Allow youth to imagine and experiment with new expressions of church

Imagining new ways to include young people – Advancing God’s purposes in changing times

· Learning how to raise food/participate in coops

· Teaching how to lead worship at a young age

· Create forums for young people who have new ideas about how to connect the Church globally

· Help youth discover their calling

· Christian education can be preparatory to these ends.