Saturday, June 23, 2007

Re-Drafting My Spiritual Formation – Log #12: “Social Gospel” Is an Integral Part of Salvation, Not a Label

My learning experiences from a relatively new Lutheran faith perspective continue to be not only serendipidous but also life changing.

As I discover these faith nuances, I find myself thinking, “why haven’t I grasped this before?”

Carl Florea, an ordained Lutheran minister, has brought to light, for me, a discernment which I can’t believe I’ve not fully fathomed nor embraced in my many years of faith practice.

By the way, the Rev. Florea is not a minister of a church; rather, he is the executive director of a Housing Resource Board in a burb of Seattle. He wrote a newspaper column this week in the religion section that contained this observation:

“More than once I have had well-meaning Christians refer to the work I have been doing as 'social gospel' work, which, though important, just doesn’t carry the same weight as the 'real gospel' of saving souls.”

Up until a year and a half ago, I must admit that this likely would have been one of my own observations. The point this all raises concerns our mostly cultural-based separation of “spiritual things” and “earthly things”. This has been described philosophically as being “dualistic,” perhaps rooted in Greek thought.

Unfortunately, many of these dualistic notions have crept into segments of the Christian church, resulting in many quarters in a higher value being placed on the “spiritual” over the “earthly”.

When our total focus is on “getting people saved”, salvation somehow defines itself as being concerned with only the spirit and the afterlife. How we conduct our lives here and now is of much less importance, because we’re “in the fold” everlastingly.

Florea posits that “this dualism is unknown to the Jesus of the Bible”. He believes that when Jesus spoke of salvation, it was not about souls exclusively, but it was about people and wholeness. It was not primarily about the afterlife and one’s status therein; salvation was about the provision to make us whole right now – connected to and in relationship with God.

That’s as profound as I am able to comprehend. And it means I need to expand my contemplation of what salvation encompasses and impels.

Florea concludes with a quotation by the famous “author unknown”: “The goal of the faithful life is not to flee the material world to embrace the spiritual one, but rather to gain the eyes to see that the spiritual world is known in and through the material one.”

That’s why the Rev. Florea’s congregation is composed of people with shelter needs rather than of people in comfortable pews. If we as Christians could even grasp a portion of this wisdom, the world would see our Savior differently.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Time Is All We Have

Of late, I’ve sort of gotten hooked on a word game called Decoda-quote that appears daily in our local newspaper (and probably in yours as well).

The object of the word puzzle is to solve a pithy quotation by often famous sources. However, what appears is a jumble of alphabetic letters in groups. Each group is a word and each letter consistently represents another.

So if this is what appears: “GK MCF JLZBF; GK MCF MZBF,” the solution would be: “DO THE CRIME; DO THE TIME.” Obviously, some are much harder to solve than others.

Today’s Decodaquote was not only pithy, but also oozed with poignancy. The solution was, “Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time you’ve got.”

The author was the late urbane columnist, Art Buchwald, who himself has now run out of time as we know it. But he was so right.

“For everything there is a season,” declares the ancient book of Ecclesiastes (and popularized four decades ago in a song recorded by The Byrds).

We need to use wisely the time with which we are given.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My Son Goes Green With His Car – er, Blue, Too

My grand-daughters and their mom & dad have traded their aging and struggling mini-van for a new (to them) hybrid automobile.

Their car will now emit far less poisons into the atmosphere, for instance, than my two older spewers of noxious vapors.

Gregg and Elaine chose a Toyota PRIUS, after extensive research to determine the best overall hybrid for their use.

Though they’re “going green” to a degree, the car is actually blue (photo). That’s not a bad pic Gregg sent from his cell phone camera.

I can’t explain how the hybrid works exactly, but I’m looking forward to experiencing it soon.

From what I do know, the Prius switches back and forth between the totally clean, rechargeable electric motor and a low-emissions gas-powered internal combustion engine to drastically reduce gas consumption (and emissions) and at the same time increase average gas mileage.

I also assume you have to drive it with a “light foot”; otherwise you could lose a lot of what you are wanting to gain. Go green, go blue!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hail To Talli and the Intermediate School Bands

There’s a music/band teacher in the Yamhill County Intermediate Schools in Oregon who isn’t paid enough – no matter what his salary is.

Two nights ago, on Tuesday evening, David Sanders directed five school bands in their year-end concert, and it was a “bravo” performance.

My seventh-grade granddaughter Talli (top left in photo) played the trumpet in both the Advanced Jazz Band and the Intermediate Band.

These kids didn’t acquiesce to easy renditions. They took on Rossini’s William Tell Overture (took me right back to my Lone Ranger radio and TV days as a kid), Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings Theme, and the jazzy Blues Brothers Revue.

All were well performed. As I told Talli after the concert, I’ve heard many high school bands who did not sound as well.

The local high school band director’s gotta love Mr. Sanders.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Contemplating Fish Lake

My very recent (addictive) fishing frenzy caused me to realize that I haven’t been to Fish Lake yet this year. What’s the big deal with Fish Lake?

Just two simple things: I always catch fish there, and, when there, you have as good a chance as anywhere to catch a larger than average trout.

Fish Lake is located about 90 miles east of Everett off Hwy 2, in Chelan County near the metropolis of Plain. Rainbow trout and Brown trout reside there in all sizes and in decent numbers.

However, catching the wiser, older finned creatures is another thing. There are reasons why they’ve survived more than one season.

So far this week the weather has precluded a day trip to the piscatorial paradise. It’s been rainy, windy and cool, and that makes catching difficult.

A quick internet check indicates that it’ll improve a bit on Thursday with some sun breaking through on Friday. If the barometer starts rising on Thursday, that might be just fine.

I need a Fish Lake “fix”.

Monday, June 04, 2007

A Great Weekend

After a really nice weekend, including a visit from our son Doug and his wife Jamie, and also including an early Saturday morning fishing jaunt with Doug to nearby Wildcat Lake, I’m having a bit of trouble today focusing on the real world.

Doug and Jamie came over late Friday evening so we could leave early and be fishing by 6 am. Saturday. Doug had been wanting an opportunity to use his relatively new float tube on a westside lake.

Having the advantage of being able to cruise the lake, he, of course, outfished me. However, I was able to sit comfortably in my fabric shore chair and drink coffee and read the paper while line wetting.

His pedaling efforts paid off with a beautiful 4-pound largemouth bass, caught virtually in a local resident’s front yard, in addition to about 10 rainbow trout, each averaging about a foot long. I got only one decent rainbow from shore after finally learning where the natural “spring” was.

When it started to heat up about 11:00 we headed home for an enjoyable brunch on our deck while watching the cabin cruisers head up through Agate Passage for a day on the big water (above pic).

Yesterday, we went to church where we observed Holy Trinity Sunday. Pastor Kent Shane did a fine job with his sermon on an almost impossible task – explaining, or trying to explain, the Triune God.

Following the service we enjoyed an outdoor Barbeque on the Christian Center patio. The event was a “thank you” to all who taught Sunday School during this past school year. I got to go ‘cause I’m married to a very good S.S. teacher. It was a wonderful, fellowship-filled gathering.

The three of us (Buddy, Kay Lynne and me) don’t remember much of last evening. We were zonked.