Saturday, January 23, 2010


2010 has started out to be a downer of a year; apparently? In the last week I have seen a lot of discussion on things that are dying.
  • Obviously there is the earthquake in Haiti.
  • A new blog acquaintance who’s Grandmother has passed away, which made me think about my Mom and Dad.
  • Another blog acquaintance ruminating on the slow decay of a couple small steel towns near Pittsburgh, an area and experience I’m familiar with.
  • A blog post commenting about three different focal missional groups reacting strongly to changes they are experiencing.
  • And of course there is looking back over the last year of Faith Church that could have gone either way and is still precarious.
Yet each one of these also carries with it a strong sense of new life!
  • There was a parallel story of how a town devastated by the 2004 tsunami has rebuilt better than before.
  • The grieving granddaughter passed on stories to her young daughters about the great life of their great-grandmother. And I remember how my daughter at five years old still had a sense of what she needed to deal with losing her Grandma.
  • The blog of the decaying town focused on the coffee shop that offered a spark of life through “splashes of color” and a community garden.
  • The missional movement blog commented about how things we hold onto too tight, trying to keep them the same, makes it all about us instead of the mission. Which made me think, if these are truly organic movements then some things die to give way and nourish the new things.
Most folks simply learn to accept these ups and downs as part of the circle of life. But as Christians shouldn’t we have a much more positive outlook? Christianity itself is rooted in the fundamental belief that out of death rises new life! Christ died and is risen! Paul continually talks about dying to sin and being reborn in Christ!

Faith Church has at least stopped the decline and has a lot to look forward to as we do the hard work of nourishing the things that will bring new life in Christ. There may be some pruning necessary as well but we will all discern those things together, when the time comes, as the Body of Christ.


These are just some of the many “new life out of old things” I’ve noticed. Maybe sometime I’ll give you my thoughts on the US Post Office or NASA…

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Comfort in the Aftermath?

In the aftermath of a disaster like the Haitian earthquake where could comfort possibly come from? Does it come from the millions maybe billions of dollars in aid beginning to be amassed and directed toward relief? Does it come from the multitude of relief organizations as well as the US Army responding and gearing up for future response? Does it come from the billions of prayers offered up for those suffering, affected, or responding? Does it come from the words of the Gospel shared by relief workers?

I was struck by this news article from Reuters, “Hymns, Children's Cries Fill Haiti's Night,”.
"The chanting and clapping, mainly by women, echo from hill to hill, street to street, as Haitians pray for their dead and ask God to spare them more suffering after an earthquake that has killed thousands and flattened much of the capital.

While the widespread singing provides comfort, the jarring shrieks and sobs of injured children -- some lying in the street clutching bloody gashes -- are a haunting reminder of the untended suffering in Haiti." - Reuters

The faithful inclination of the Haitian people (predominantly Catholic) to reach out to God in a uniquely Haitian way moves me.

The shear enormity of such a disaster overwhelms. It certainly overwhelms those physically affected. But it also overwhelms the rest of us who feel the natural human desire to help. Yet we all respond differently to that initial reaction. Some simply cannot deal with it and block it out. Some create some protectionist rationalization that allows emotional detachment. Some jump in full bore. (Those that have prepared for that will be of benefit, those unprepared may not? But that might just be my personal rationalization?) Some respond out of guilt, or a sense of reciprocity or karma.

As Christians our first and foremost response should be prayer. We pray first that God covers those affected with his grace. We do this out of a sense of and acknowledgment that God is sovereign over all. We know that God did not cause this. Yet we know in a fallen world, separated from God, that these things happen and God will use these events to bring us back together with him. We also know that a significant part of God's grace on those affected will be worked through us, his church established through Jesus Christ. We therefore secondly pray for instruction on what each of us individually and  as a church are supposed to do.

It is through this comfort of God's sovereignty and unity in the church that Christians are able to function so effectively in times such as this. In this faith comes comfort that the donations of a single pair of shoes or the simple act of assembling a hygiene kit are adequate responses in overwhelming times. It is this prayer for discernment made in faith that those with the gifts of resources, or those with the gifts of organization, or those with the gifts of healing and comfort are given their marching orders in God's army. All these things flow together within God's church to allow all of us to feel his comfort and become a world wide force that provides comfort in overwhelming times. It is also in times like these that individuals and churches are drawn in to recognize their individual missions even after this catastrophe has passed. This is reflected in the work of thousands in developing denominational disaster response teams, such as the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Agency or the Catholic Relief Services or any of the many other denominational organizations. These larger groups again demonstrate how God flows individual gifts and efforts into a world wide responsive force.

So I urge you to use this opportunity to develop a relationship with Jesus. Talk or pray with him to find out what you are supposed to do right now and take comfort that whatever that may be is enough even for something as overwhelming as this. I also urge you to continue developing that relationship to learn what Jesus wants for you in the future and to find your place in his church that continues to provide assistance and comfort even after the news agencies grow weary of reporting  this disaster.

Blessings of the Peace of Christ,
Dave McGhee