Saturday, February 21, 2009
FBC has traditionally had a significant role in the Festival. Our parking lot is the terminus of the parade and our gym is the location of the Camellia Royalty Luncheon. In other years, we have had a game booth at the Festival.
This year we focused on a servant evangelism project on the parade route. Groups handed out water bottles with a colorful doorhanger tag with a lifesaver with a short but invitational message.
FBC people also had literature in Spanish and Chinese to give out to people on the parade route.
Numerous conversations were engendered along the parade route.
Thanks to all participants. Thanks to all of you who prayed for dry weather after so much rain. Keep praying that our loving touches will bear fruit for the glory of God.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
I was asked in an email about responding to a letter that I recognized as a ripp-off from a (in)famous scene from the late TV show The West Wing. The fictional president tears into a Dr. Laura stand-in who is well-known for opposing homosexuality, besting her (so it would seem) on Biblical references. The upshot is that, hey, that Bible is one crazy book. So it says no to gay relationships? The same crazy book OKs slavery and tells you to do all kinds of nutty things. (You can find the clip on Youtube.)
Hank Hanegraaff (boy that name is a killer to spell) has a good response which you can read here.
Dan Kimball of Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz once showed the clip in his 20-something church and then spent weeks responding to the issues that the fictional Pres. Bartlett raised. Dan is emerging (pardon the pun) as a true leader in what might be called the conservative emergent church movement.
Now to change the topic. Please pray for DRY WEATHER ON SATURDAY MORNING. Yesterday's long-range forecast was no rain, cloudy and 70 at the time of the Camellia Parade. We're planning to give out over 1000 water bottles with a invitational message to parade goers. Today's long-range now says scattered showers. Ask God to scatter them somewhere else, please!
I didn't announce this Sunday, but if you want to join me for prayer for the maximum spiritual impact of the outreach, I'm planning on praying with anyone who'll join me 7 PM Wednesday here at the church office. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to join me.
Here's what I'm asking you to pray for: that God would move people who He's already at work in their hearts to come to the parade, get a water bottle, and recognize that as God's answer--that He wants to use FBC as the spiritual bridge for them to come to real faith in Jesus.
We're doing well getting ready for the outreach, but have room for you if you want to help, send me an email at the address above and I'll send you more info as well as a short Bible study on servant evangelism.
See you there!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The case was known as "Goodridge vs. Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Filed by Hillary Goodridge, Funding Director for the Unitarian-Universalist Church and her partner Julie, the case opened the door for a nationwide assault on the sanctity of marriage. On May 17, 2004, the first day "same-sex marriage" was legal in Massachusetts the Goodridges were joined in a ceremony at the Unitarian-Universalist denominational headquarters in Boston by UUA President, William Sinkford.
By July, 2006 Hillary and Julie were separated. Last week they filed for divorce. Goodridge is a name they created for themselves, belonging to neither of them before coming together. They share custody of a 12 year old daughter.
The case which created the marriage crisis in California was brought by Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Churches.
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
This is my column for the March-May edition of the church newsletter, The Tower.
It was November, 1999, and Lynann and I and the other members of our group were dashing across the old city of Jerusalem along the old Cardo, the main shopping street of the old city. Imagine all the sights and sounds of an Arab bazaar on a narrow, twisty street clogged with tourists from all over the world, and set down among the dwellers of the city selling the wares.
It may have been November, but the weather was warmer than November in Los Angeles, enough for beads of sweat to break out on the brow as we walked as fast as our legs could walk from south to north across the city. One last turn, a left, and a plaza opened up before the ornate Damascus gate, the gate on the north side of the walled city, easily the largest and most splendid gate of modern Jerusalem.
We crossed a busy street and walked up a quiet side street. Immediately the area seemed more modern. By “modern”, I don’t mean recent; the buildings were 19th and early 20th century; it’s just that compared to the Old City, were the newest structures are from the 14th century, this area seemed modern.
We passed the city bus station to the right and up the street we came to a non-descript gate bearing a sign simply saying, THE GARDEN TOMB. We entered—our passes paid for as part of our tour, and joined in a group as an Englishman discussed the history of the Garden Tomb.
There was a time when the Garden Tomb was widely regarded as a more likely candidate for the real tomb of Jesus than the venerated tomb now encased in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Actually, the evidence is pretty strong that the Holy Sepulcher site is the right one; it’s just really hard to imagine the tomb as it was in Jesus’ day due to the fact that it’s been built over and almost grotesquely decorated over the centuries.
The Garden Tomb was set forth as an alternate resurrection site only in the 19th century. It is almost certainly not the right place—the style of the tomb is more like that of the period of the kings of Israel than the tombs of the time of Jesus. It also has no pedigree, history of claim, as being the right place.
But is does have this: it feels right. The British curators, who no longer claim that this is the right tomb do indeed maintain the area much as it would have looked in Jesus’ time. In that way, it evokes the drama of the gospel account better than the traditional site does.
The door to the tomb is a craggy opening that has been hacked larger than it would have been in ancient times. In front of that door is a cut furrow in the stone pavement designed to allow a round stone cover to seal the tomb. That stone on this site has never been recovered; it was probably broken up at some point in the past to be made into smaller stones for other purposes.
It was with a sense of awe that we entered the tomb. Even though I had that little voice in my head reminding that this wasn’t likely to be the right place, the atmosphere is so evocative of the gospel story that it didn’t take much to be moved. It was as if we’d stepped from the last year of the 20th century into the 1st century AD, and that we could expect to see the Roman guards pass out, the angels speak to the women and to see Peter and John come running.
It’s not likely that you will pass through a door and find yourself in 30 AD. But it is very likely that what happened here, in this place that year can reach out and completely transform your world. That stone that sealed in Jesus was tossed aside by the power of God. And God still moves stones today: stones of fear, doubt, worry, anger and suffering.
We all have stones that weigh us down. They do not have to stay there. The resurrection of Jesus reminds us that the power of God that was seen in raising Jesus up from the dead it “at large” in the world today.
What’s the stone that has you down? It is some hurt, habit or hang-up that’s keeping down, in defeat, in pain, in self-hatred? Jesus can move that stone. Folks, never ever forget this: He still moves stones today! Bring your stone to Him and let Him roll it away today!
Want to know more? I highly recommend The Weekend That Changed the World: The Mystery of Jerusalem’s Empty Tomb by British Bible scholar Peter Walker. I actually bought my copy at the Garden Tomb Book Store, but you can get it at Amazon.com or Christianbooks.com.