Doing church….

first century churchI realize it’s been a while since we’ve tried to get organized and do anything together.  It’s not you, it’s me.  All we’ve wanted these past few years out of a community was to find a group of people who looked like the picture of the church we see in the first century, a healthy blend of loving, apocalyptic, apostolic, persecuted, worshiping, liturgical, disorganized starry eyed believers.  They’re not  necessarily a group of people I’d feel really comfortable being around for an extended period of time, me with my 21st century American privileged lackadaisical attitude towards spiritual matters with a proclivity towards personal comfort and privacy.  Its not that the churches around here are wrong, there is some really extraordinary ministry going on, and there’s some of them whom we love deeply and already have great relationships with.  But, especially after the arrival of our daughter, I’ve been very picky about what I want to see modeled for her, and what I want her to experience is something as close as we can get to what we read about in the book of Acts, a first century church experience.  Personally, I prescribe to the theory that nothing significant happens to a person developmentally after the age of four, and if thats the case I’ve really felt like we had to get on the ball and find the right place for Séraphine before we miss that window.  Our list of demands is exhaustive and exhausting, and tends to fluctuate from week to week about what is really important, and as we’ve traveled and visited an extraordinary cross section of churches, small groups, Bible studies, fellowships, missional communities, and the like, we’ve seen nearly the same template in place in each.  Once again, I reiterate, it’s not that the 21st century church model is wrong, it just doesnt resemble anything that I see demonstrated in the documents we have describing the Church in the first century.  That ragtag group of multicultural hunted families with their revolutionary beliefs who met in each others homes, shared meals, and provided for each other, prayed for miraculous outcomes, and saw their monumental faith rewarded didn’t have a building with a lighted marquee, electrified bands on stage with amplified preachers, youth group leaders, “worship” teams, boards of directors, powerpoint presentations, and a “big show” on Sunday mornings.  The first century church had what I want, an authentic relationship with the maker of the universe, and a peculiar notion that the empire they resided in was not their home.  Maybe i’ll find that at one of the mega churches popping up like Starbuck across the street from every McDonalds, but there are a lot more of them i’ll need to visit first.  Until then, I might have to just try and do it myself, as flawed and disorganized as I am.  So we’ll meet again this Sunday, May 10 from 1:00pm to 2 pm at the Nature Park on 270 1220 Egret Bay Blvd., N., League City, TX 77573, and we’ll have the opportunity to do it all wrong together.

Lutherans loving thenew year.

Martin Luther wrote, “When it comes to faith, what a living, creative, active, powerful thing it is. It cannot do other than good at all times. It never waits to ask whether there is some good work to do, rather, before the question is raised, it has done the deed, and keeps on doing it.” What must a day in the life of a pre-reformation era monk have been like? find out here On day three of 2012 its easy to kick back and enjoy fruits of a successful year thus far, but we have to remember that we don’t need to wait for December 31st to make a change, to have a “re-birth”. Every morning God’s mercies are new (or at noon, you know-whenever you wake up you slothful hypocrite) and every day should be a chance to have a do-over, physically and spiritually if we want it. So grab today, and make the decision to live it by faith and enjoy the ride! This Sunday, January 8th, we will be leading worship for Advent Lutheran Church’s contemporary service at 10:20 am, so FSRCOTH is taking a field trip to 5820 Pinemont Dr, Houston, TX 77092-2604, please resolve to join us-we may even be disposed to share some of our raw cauliflower with you afterwards!

Change of meeting location today

20111204-124934.jpgWell, we just went over to Ca Phé Phįn our friendly neighborhood coffee house for our weekly meeting, but I guess they’ve decided to take the day off, and GOOD FOR THEM! Here in the states I think we put too much emphasis on “hours of operation” in local businesses that we don’t find in other countries, so for today, the 4th of December 2011 we’re meeting at the corner of Saturn and Hercules in the Clear Lake Music Lessons building, they won’t mind AND I’ve already made coffee, come on by!

I’ve spent the better part of the past two weeks nearly crippled with a persistent and tenacious attack by my old nemesis, gout. True, it’s given me a lot of time to lay around in bed and read, play mindless games on my iDevice, fart around on the interwebs, and have a reason to limp around with a pimp cane- plus I’m always grateful for some excuse or other to be anti-social but I’m really beginning to get a little fed up with the whole experience and am really frantically awaiting the day when I can once again easily walk up and down the stairs. Yeah, the pain and swelling are pretty bad, but for me the worst part is having to explain my condition to those well meaning individuals I seem to keep coming into contact with on my few hobbling escapades outside of my apartment. Nobody outside of a handful of Rheumatologists actually understand the causes of gout, and I’m beginning to suspect that they don’t really have much of a handle on it either. The medieval explanation of “perhaps a toad or small dwarf has taken up residence in your innards” sounds entirely plausible sometimes, and is certainly easier to explain than the more complex truth as it appears that most people already have it in their heads that I’ve obviously been eating too many rich foods and if I simply cut back on the Brie and Chateaux De Chatterley a bit I wouldn’t have to undergo my current trials. That’s the real trial for me, not judging people (myself included) for their personal misconceptions about the causes and nature of my rather debilitating disease, it’s so easy for me to fall into anger and respond sarcastically when I should be taking this unique opportunity to educate and explain. I am also in a wonderful position to show people a man who revels in the chance to share in sufferings of Christ, and be joyful despite my circumstances. Paul Miki, a martyr of Japan, said, “My religion teaches me to pardon my enemies and all who have offended me. I do gladly pardon the emperor and all who have sought my death. I beg them to seek baptism and be Christians themselves.” At First Self Righteous Church of the Hypocrite’s meeting tomorrow at 6 pm Monday October 24th at the Starbucks in League City (2800 Marina Bay Dr. League City, TX 775732957) we will wrestle with these concepts together, and perhaps enjoy a caramel macchiato together. Can’t hurt (or can it!?!?!)

Justice or just us?

Saint Anthony once said that “Charity is no substitute for justice withheld.” and that got me thinking about the nature of justice as a concept and our part in it. What exactly is justice? Is it really just the quality of being fair and reasonable or is justice a more active virtue? I think about my own interactions with people who are regularly denied justice, the poor, orphans, the lonely, victims of various things and wonder at what I can do to bring a sense of justice to them, or is it my duty as a companion of Christ to merely love and try and minister to their needs individually? Supposedly, politically established law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice, but when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. Where is the justice of political power if it executes the murderer and jails the plunderer, and then itself marches upon neighboring lands, killing thousands and pillaging the very hills? We’ll discuss these things this week on Sunday October 2nd when we meet at Ca Phe Phin at 1:00, and spend some time in prayer that we can become more aware of how we may be conduits for justice through love as we sojourn through the world!

Long live the King

20110924-115010.jpgWhat would it look like to live in a country where Jesus was the king? Would it be a land of peace, a jeweled kingdom overflowing with milk and honey and a healing balm to her neighbors? Would her armies march out victorious, putting the heathen and the villain to the sword, divine judgement protecting the weak and poor? First Self Righteous is meeting tomorrow at 1:00 at Ca Phê Phín to talk about this and other matters of social and political consequence, see ya there hypocrites!

Sunday September 18th

Do you ever feel like you’ve gone beyond the point of no return with God?  That you’ve just screwed up too much and destroyed your life to the point where there’s just no point in trying to go back at all?  We all feel that way sometimes, and this week thats what we’re going to focus on when we get together on Sunday, for I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.   Join the rest of us hypocrites at Ca phe Phin in Nassau Bay at 1 pm on Sunday September 18th while we mull over our individual inadequacies and failures.