Thursday, October 30, 2008

NO on Prop 8...part 2

i fully intended on writing more posts on this topic, weighing in on more of the arguments, but frankly i've grown weary. i see the ads, i read the articles, i get the emails sent to pastors from "yes on 8," and while this is a very emotional issue for me and my community i'm tired of dealing with it. no matter what happens on tuesday, this is not over. if prop 8 passes, there will be many hurting people to help make sense of it all. if prop 8 fails, then the conservative evangelical church will only be that much more riled up to "fight the darkness that is advancing."

really? darkness? evil? marriage is a civil institution. yes it has existed in virtually every religion that has affected humans on this planet, but "marriage" as we know it is an institution regulated by the state governments that acknowledges a commitment between two individuals and guarantees those individuals certain rights. would granting that same acknowledgment to same-sex couples really bring the demise of this country, the church and humanity? oh wait...the world has not come to an end, heterosexual marriages still function (well, 48% of them anyway), and the church is still marching - and same sex marriages have been legal now for several months in california and even longer in massachusetts. the language of the current law on the books specifically says that churches retain autonomy in choosing for whom they will perform weddings. some churches now refuse to marry heterosexual couples who are living together...what do many of those couples do? they go down to the court house and have a judge marry them. do i want my wedding to be performed by a judge? no, i would rather a minister perform my ceremony because i want my marriage to be a covenant between me, my future partner, and God because my faith is important to me...always has been and always will be.

proposition 8 isn't protecting is stealing it from a group of people. proposition 8 would write discrimination into the constitution of california. it is the church seeking to exclude people in the name of the same Jesus that i love and worship...and it's making me sick. it makes me horribly sad to see what this issue is doing to the Church. it has caused division among the body of Christ, and i hate to think about what this campaign has said to the thousands of people around the country who are outside of a faith community and may never engage in a conversation about faith because of the hate they have seen. as a result, a group of my friends and i are drafting a "manifesto" of sorts to say that we are Christ-followers not defined by tolerance, but by acceptance. we are Christ-followers who believe in the transforming power of God, not the conforming nature of religion.

i think about all the millions of dollars that have been raised in the name of discrimination and hate. yes, millions of dollars have been raised by "no on 8" as well, but that money wouldn't have been needed if proposition 8 didn't exist. how many homeless could have been fed with that money? how many sick people could have been given medical treatment with that money? at my small group last night, a friend put it this way, "one dollar gives one person in africa clean water for one year." think about that. how much further could this money have gone in helping humanity? i am ready for this to be over so that whatever process of healing and reconciliation that is needed can begin.

if you are a praying person, please pray that God's love, grace, and truth will prevail and that hate perpetrated in the name of God will not win out. if you are in san diego, please join thousands of people in a candlelight vigil at 9:00p on university ave. in hillcrest to show unity against hate and discrimination. vote NO on prop 8. ~aroll

the need for dialogue between differing opinions

sorry it has taken me so long to get these posts up, but here we go...

so as i said before, the first sunday of two gatherings was great...exhausting but great. it reminded us of the fact that there are people who haven't heard the story of missiongathering and the expression of God's grace that we strive to be. the people who typically find out about mission in our neighborhood have seen a billboard, a rave card, an ad in glt or citybeat, or better yet have been invited by a friend. most of those people are checking us out because they have been searching for a progressive church where they might experience the healing of God's love and grace.

in bringing future of forestry in to do the music for the kick-off of our evening service, it brought people who haven't had any context for who we are - a Jesus-centered, loving church with progressive theology. that sunday also happened to be the launch of our sanctuaries (our small groups) for which there was a flier inserted in the bulletin listing the groups. as soon as i finished announcements and stepped off the stage, a young man approached me. it was his first time at mission, and was there for the band. he introduced himself, and immediately pointed at the flier and asked, "what's this all about?" he was directing my attention to the gay men's and lesbian women's sanctuaries. i said, "those are groups for gay men and lesbian women to meet together and discuss their faith journey." he immediately launched into his (what seemed rehearsed...) argument against homosexuality. this was all taking place right next to the stage in the middle of our service during our "pass the peace" (ironic?) time when we mingle and meet new people. he was still arguing with me as rich was taking the stage to start preaching. i let him know that i'd love to visit more with him after the gathering, and he then walked out, taking several friends with him, and they didn't return.

it's a shame they didn't return, because i think they could have benefited from the message that night. rich talked about the need for people of differing opinions - nations, churches, politicians - to sit together at the table of dialogue. people aren't always going to agree on boring would that be?! and granted, dialogue is difficult. yet people seem too often to take the road of rallying around those different than themselves to create a common enemy...that seems to be easier than wrestling with the possibility that your ideas could change. (i've got a whole post coming on the topic of "the other.")

what did i learn from this? information in print doesn't communicate the same thing to everyone if everyone doesn't know the story of the one printing it. i have gotten comfortable in the fact that a majority of the community/neighborhood in which i live has been exposed to the story of missiongathering. when we invite people from outside of that microcosm, we need to use the lens/filter of retelling our story in the midst of communicating things that are going on in our church. then maybe in the context of that story dialogue can ensue with those who differ with us. ~aroll

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

and so it begins...2 gatherings!

well, missiongathering is now officially a multiple-service faith community after our first 7:00p gathering last sunday. it was a crazy and long day, roller-coaster of emotions (see subsequent posts...i've got about 4 that i'm currently trying to get out of my head and onto the blog), but was an exciting new chapter in the story of missiongathering. between the two services we had over 225 people walk through the doors of missiongathering and experience our expression of the story of the grace of God. i know i was incredibly nervous about whether or not anyone was going to show up on sunday night, but we had 130+...apparently covering an entire college campus with bright orange rave cards is somewhat effective. future of forestry brought a great vibe musically, but i must admit i'm ready for the beautiful rescue to rock it next week. plus it means i don't have to break down my gear after the 10a gathering. wahoo! it's the little things, eh? the more thought-provoking posts as a result of sunday's experiences. ~aroll

Thursday, October 16, 2008

new gathering times at missiongathering

i can't believe that it's already here, but we launch our 2nd gathering at missiongathering this sunday. i'm not sure that it really has hit me (or most of the staff) yet, but it's exciting. hopefully we'll have people show up...if you go to mission, don't forget that sunday morning gathering time moves to 10:00 this sunday. we'll see you there. you can still download and save the card below by clicking here to send to your friends! see you sunday... ~aroll

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

NO on Prop 8...part 1

so here is part 1 in my effort to get the word out about how inaccurate, inflammatory, and inhumane prop 8 and its propaganda is. the new "NO on 8" television ads are starting to directly refute the "yes on 8" tv ads that use outright lies and misinformation such as churches losing their tax exempt status, citing a single incident in massachusetts to incite parents of school children, etc. this is a paragraph from the decision handed down by the California Supreme Court overturning Prop 22 (paragraph breaks are mine for easier reading):
A number of factors lead us to this conclusion. First, the exclusion of same-sex couples from the designation of marriage clearly is not necessary in order to afford full protection to all of the rights and benefits that currently are enjoyed by married opposite-sex couples; permitting same-sex couples access to the designation of marriage will not deprive opposite-sex couples of any rights and will not alter the legal framework of the institution of marriage, because same-sex couples who choose to marry will be subject to the same obligations and duties that currently are imposed on married opposite-sex couples.

Second, retaining the traditional definition of marriage and affording same-sex couples only a separate and differently named family relationship will, as a realistic matter, impose appreciable harm on same-sex couples and their children, because denying such couples access to the familiar and highly favored designation of marriage is likely to cast doubt on whether the official family relationship of same-sex couples enjoys dignity equal to that of opposite-sex couples.

Third, because of the widespread disparagement that gay individuals historically have faced, it is all the more probable that excluding same-sex couples from the legal institution of marriage is likely to be viewed as reflecting an official view that their committed relationships are of lesser stature than the comparable relationships of opposite-sex couples.

Finally, retaining the designation of marriage exclusively for opposite- sex couples and providing only a separate and distinct designation for same-sex couples may well have the effect of perpetuating a more general premise — now emphatically rejected by this state — that gay individuals and same-sex couples are in some respects “second-class citizens” who may, under the law, be treated differently from, and less favorably than, heterosexual individuals or opposite-sex couples. Under these circumstances, we cannot find that retention of the traditional definition of marriage constitutes a compelling state interest. Accordingly, we conclude that to the extent the current California statutory provisions limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, these statutes are unconstitutional.
even if you may not agree with my stance on this issue, if you are a california voter, please at least do your own thinking and own research and don't just buy the propaganda that would deny basic human rights to a group of human beings. i will be continuing the dialogue here as we get closer to the election. ~aroll

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

remember Jesus...the offensive Gospel

i have heard and spoken frequently on the "offensive" nature of the Gospel for several years. it's the idea, and the reality, that the basic message that God tells through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, is offensive and off-putting to those steeped in the institution of religion.

in the time of Jesus, it was the sadducees, pharisees, and other religious leaders who were upset by the fact that Jesus lived and taught that the kingdom of God was for all people while hanging out with lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors, and others marginalized by society. they were offended that someone would dare discuss the scriptures and things of God, Yahweh, with those not good enough to be allowed in the temple...the unclean in their eyes. how dare Jesus defile religion in this way.

"love God. love others. everything of the Law and the prophets hang on this." the very words of Jesus, God in the flesh. this Gospel is still offensive today, and it's offensive to those steeped in religion. starting with our Easter ad campaign, our public "branding" (for lack of a better term) has been a direct reflection of our theology: Christianity for ALL. with our current round of fliers and billboards advertising our new service times, we have been trying to get them in college newspapers. we just got an email last night from a local Christian university saying they won't run our postcard insert because "it violates our mission as a university." and apparently the message of Jesus scares large evangelical megachurches to the point of taking shots at "a certain urban church" for preaching such an offensive message.

please...because of the love of God: remember Jesus. ~aroll

Monday, October 6, 2008

sermon notes - remember Jesus

here are my sermon notes from this past sunday if anyone is interested. the two books that supported me the most in this sermon are by don everts: Jesus with Dirty Feet and God in the Flesh. you can listen to the podcast here. enjoy. ~aroll

Remember Jesus by alex roller

I am going to do everything I can to make this message as apolitical as I can. And I am going to tell this opening story with as much grace and compassion as I can muster. So, with those disclaimers, here we go…

Adams Ave. Story
- young woman
- heard about us from someone who attends MG
- seemed very planned
- round and round disagreeing
- “I appreciate that you’ve done research and studied, but I want to take Scripture in context.”
o Uh…that’s what I was doing…the ORIGINAL context
- “Well, I have to go with what I have been taught and what the Holy Spirit has confirmed in my heart”
o Uh…that’s what I am doing too…listening to the Spirit.
- “scripture says the church should be unified”
- Around what? - truth…what is truth?
- Rolls eyes…Jesus is the truth
- I said exactly…and that’s what I want to talk about today…Jesus.

I know it may seem rather simplistic. In the last couple of days when I have been asked what I was preaching on this morning, I would almost feel lame in saying, “Jesus.”

God Reveals Himself in Jesus
• This Book, the Bible, is the story of God and His people.
• God has a long history of revealing Himself to His people.
Walked with Adam in the Garden of Eden.
Burning bush, pillar of fire, still small voice…a donkey (Numbers 22).
But God’s people didn’t always, and still continue not to, get it nor pay attention.
• From the time of the last prophet of the Old Testament – the Italian prophet Malachi – until the time of Jesus, God was silent for around 400 years.
• And then something happened. God grew tired of the meaningless sacrifices and the separation between Him and His
• John 1
Jesus was fully God and fully human…but being fully God He is a perfect revelation of God.
Logos – all logic, reson, reality – everything that has ever been true, real and resonated with the universe.
Sarx – literally flesh or skin
God in the flesh…
God wasn’t in the Holy of Holies anymore…He came out!!
Out of The Message – “God moved into the neighborhood.”
Pulled back the curtain.
He was no longer hidden from the world
Immanuel – God with us…
Passage from Jesus With Dirty Feet (p.32-35)
Through the life, words, and actions of Jesus we see the heart of God:
Compassion, Grace, Love, Community, Instruction, Life, Sacrifice
The disciples got an incredible understanding of who God is in the 3 years they spent with Jesus 24/7.
• The disciples who were rejected from being rabbis because they weren’t good enough got a better understanding of God than the rabbis themselves.
• There was still mystery…certainly things that they didn’t understand about what Jesus said or did sometimes, but they saw the heart of God.

When It Comes Down To It…
• The reality is that God is all there is to know. It sounds simplistic and churchy, but it’s true.
• God created everything and is therefore the true source of all we need to know.
• There are a lot of things about life, the world, other people, science that are definitely important and good to know…we would be in a world of hurt if we didn’t know some of those things.
o But when it comes down to it, God is what we need to know.
o As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2:2: “I’ve resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
• In the midst of knowing God, though, there will always be a tension of mystery and revelation.
• Regardless we look to what we do have and know, and that is the life and person of Jesus, the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) who was the fullness of God (Colossians 1:19).
• There are a lot of questions that we have, other issues about Scripture and life that the church has made important, has argued about, has even killed over in the course of history.
• Let’s go back to the early church, though.
o Focused so much on Jesus
o Gospels were written to tell the story of Jesus…the details of how He lived, who He touched, hung out with, healed, talked to, didn’t talk to.
o The teachers of the Law wanted to focus on the list of things to do and not do, but Jesus lived a bigger picture of that…a picture that we are called to follow as “Christ-ones” or “Christians” as it became.
o The church was about telling the story of Jesus…every detail, every person’s story, every miracle.
o “That’s church. Transmitting from person to person the truth about Jesus.” – Don Everts from God in the Flesh, p.17
• Jesus lived a life of grace…
o He went to the outcasts and sinners
o He defied the religious leaders of his day
o It was about grace and love
o Matthew 22:34-40
• “love God with all your heart, soul, mind & strength. And love your neighbor as yourself.”
• This is the basis of it all…everything about the life of Jesus and His ministry
• All the other things that we may have confused don’t really matter.
• Are there things in scripture that we need to know? Yes
• Are there things that are right and wrong for our lives? Yes
o We are called to be followers of JESUS…
• Not the idol of Scripture, but the LIVING WORD.
• Not the idol of Paul’s letters, but the One Paul pointed to.
• Not a set of moralistic rules, but the One who fulfilled the Law.

Live the Person of Jesus
- So as we follow the person of Jesus, we are called to live our lives modeled after Jesus, transmitting the truth about Jesus from person to person.
- St. Francis: “preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words.”
o Sometimes what we’re doing in life speaks so loudly people can’t hear what we’re actually saying with our words.
o Colossians 3:12-14, 17
• Every part of our lives should and can reflect and reveal the reality of God.
• It’s our attitudes, how we treat people, how we think.
- But it’s bigger than our attitudes.
- Sometimes love requires action.
- We are called to reveal the love and the compassion of God to all people.
- Following World War II some German students volunteered to help rebuild a cathedral in England, one that had been badly damaged by the Luftwaffe bombings. As the work progressed, they weren't sure how to best restore a large statue of Jesus with has arms outstretched and bearing the familiar inscription, "Come unto Me." They were able to repair all the damage to the statue except for Christ's hands which had been completely destroyed. Should they even attempt to rebuild these? Finally, the workers reached a decision that still stands today. They decided to leave the hands off and changed the inscription to read: "Christ has no hands but ours."
- It breaks down to those cheesy little bracelets that were everywhere about 10 years ago: WWJD.
- Jimmy t-shirts – the reality is more like: HCIDWJWDIIDKWJD
- We have let our picture of Jesus become blurred.
o Gnostics – separation of physical (bad) & spiritual (good)…led to them believing and teaching that Jesus wasn’t human.
o In recent years in order to make the idea of Jesus more palatable, we have focused on Jesus as human, a great teacher.
o They may have been well-meaning, but it has eroded our picture of Jesus.
o Even those of us who have spent most of our lives in the church can become “home blind” to the person of Jesus and the stories we’ve always known.
- Paul writing to Timothy…leader of the church, one day a Bishop, reminded him of what was important.
o 2 Timothy 2:8-9
o Remember Jesus…this is my gospel
o Resolve to know Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

- God in the Flesh p.22-23

Thursday, October 2, 2008

"welcome to the end of productivity"

in the witty words of travis, apparently my ability to get anything done is now coming to a screeching halt. after many years of resisting online social networking sites, i have broken down and created a facebook profile. i will admit the straw that broke the camel's back was getting an invitation to join facebook from my cousin beth. i figured it was about time i join... so if you're on facebook, look me up...write something on my wall. (it's gonna take me a while to get used to the new lingo...) ~aroll

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

tattoos galore!

last weekend, our church had a booth at a local street fair (adams ave. street fair). it was my first time to that street fair, and i was blown away. the fair was huge with multiple stages for live music, carnival rides, and of course food, food, and more food. thousands of people from all over san diego came to hang out, eat, listen to music, and be inundated with tons of businesses trying to sell them things.

at our booth, we did free airbrush tattoos. most people were surprised that we weren't charging, and that a church would be doing tattoos. there was a group of elementary-aged boys who kept coming back to get more, and i'm pretty sure they had every stencil that we brought tattooed on them somewhere...well, except the little butterfly one. i enjoyed seeing the smiles on people's faces - kids and adults - having fun with it. more than once we had adults who wanted to get one to scare a spouse. i wish i could have seen the spouses' faces! i will say, though, that the sound of an air compressor at this point might send me to the mental institution! here are some photos from the weekend: