Archives For theophilus

After almost three years of being out from behind a pulpit, this weekend I get to share with my home community here in Portland: Theophilus Church. We are nearing the end of our journey though the book of Hosea together and AJ has asked me to keep us moving forward by sharing out of Hosea 13. If you’ve not read that chapter recently (or ever) you should take a minute to do that.

Man, this chapter seems like a really Debbie Downer of a passage, right? Check out this imagery:

[T]hey will be like the morning mist,
like the early dew that disappears,
like chaff swirling from a threshing floor,
like smoke escaping through a window.

. . .

I will come upon them like a lion,
like a leopard I will lurk by the path.
Like a bear robbed of her cubs,
I will attack them and rip them open.
Like a lion I will devour them: a wild animal will tear them apart.
You are destroyed, O Israel,
because you are against me,
against your helper.

. . .

Pains as of a woman in childbirth will come to him,

. . .

They will fall by the sword;
their little ones will be dashed to the ground,
their pregnant women ripped open.

Hosea 13:3, 7-9, 13a, 16b

This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God, right?

So, where am I going to go with this passage? Well, if you’re in the Portland area on the evening of Sunday February 24, you should come find out. I’ll give you the working title for the message is the same as the title of this post, so maybe that will give you a clue as to what I’m thinking: “Cafeteria Spirituality, A Wild Lion, & the Death of Death.”

What would you draw out of this chapter? Or, even better, what would you want to hear talked about from this chapter?

Today we joined a couple dozen folks from Theophilus Church to rake leaves and clean up trash at Grover Cleveland High School in Portland, OR. We spent five hours raking wet leaves, scooping them into bins, and emptying those bins into trucks. And we did all this with our two daughters, 6 and 7 years old.

They were amazing. Sydney, our oldest daughter, grabbed a rake and jumped right in. She absolutely loved making neat piles. That totally fits with her personality. What was astonishing is that she also picked up a lot of those piles and put them into bins and buckets. She is a child who hates being dirty. With one pair of gloves that she had to share with her sister, I am still bewildered that she thrust her hands into the muck without batting an eye.

Rylee quickly tired of raking, but she found her place as a toter of buckets. Whenever we’d fill up one of the plastic containers, she’d muscle it off the ground and carry it over to the truck. One of the guys there would take it, empty it, and hand it back to her. Then she’d run in her little rain boots back to the pile we were working on. 

The girls took breaks to play games of hide-and-seek and to splash around in puddles on the sidewalk. Overall, however, they worked. And they knew why they were working. We were joining our church community to pitch in and serve our neighbors. No one from the school was there. The parents who come for conferences with the teacher next week won’t know that our girls circled that building with giggles and smiles and grubby hands.

As we drove home I found myself hoping that the memories we created today will mean something. By serving as a family, I hope our girls will be able to recall this experience, and others like it, as times when we put our bodies where our beliefs are. That we live our faith in dirty, unextraordinary ways.

Last week my family and I visited Theophilus, a church in Southeast Portland. I’m getting to know their pastor, AJ Swoboda, as we see each other in the halls of the seminary where I work and he adjunct teaches. 

He led us in a beautiful, authentic, vulnerable reflection on prayer. As he explained our default posture toward prayer he remarked, “Prayer in scripture is not a footnote, it’s the whole text. Our lives are a footnote to prayer.” 

I was struck by the notion that “our lives are a footnote to prayer.” That is not the case with my life. I pray little these days. My expectations that anything will be changed because of my prayers are at an all-time low. Hence why I have not prayed much. Continue Reading…