Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reckoning

I love classic old western movies.  Good guys versus bad guys.  The sheriff's posse hunting down the cattle rustler's gang.  And then, of course, the classic shootout.

At some point in these movies some wizened old Indian fighter scratches his chin stubble and says to no in particular, "Well, I reckon there's gonna be a shootin' today."

Come high noon on the dusty main road through town and - Bang!  Bad guys are dead, good guy gets wounded but is nursed back to health by the local lovely schoolteacher.  End of story.  (Cue sunset over the high plains.)

This idea of reckoning in the old western sense - an estimation of events to happen or an informed calculation - has done theological harm to our reading of Paul.  "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness" (Romans 4:3, quoting Genesis 15:6).  It's no good to envision God as some wizened Indian fighter who leans back with a jug of rotgut whiskey saying, "Well, Abraham believes in me.  So, I reckon he's righteous."

Reckon, in the New Testament sense, draws more on images from a courtroom.  Let's say that Jones, a rancher, sues Smith, a cattle rustler, because Smith stole some of Jones' cattle.  Then, because of the evidence and testimony, the judge rules in Jones', the rancher's,  favor.  In other words, Jones is judged to be in the right - it is reckoned to him as righteous.

God didn't "shoot from the hip" in making the decision to declare Abraham as righteous.  And God doesn't make some guess about who will be declared righteous as if he was making some guess about who was going to bite the dust at the high noon showdown.  God deliberated and then judged in Abraham's favor, and God will rule again in our favor.

"Therefore Abraham's faith was reckoned to him as righteousness.  Now the words, 'it was reckoned to him,' were written not for Abraham's sake alone, but for ours also.  It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification." - Romans 4:22-25

Monday, March 28, 2011

but we're Christians!

Over the weekend, I had the privilege of leading worship for a group of Baylor students.  These students are bright, driven, and serious scholars.  A good number of them want to pursue postgraduate education or are applying for prestigious honors such as Fulbright Scholarships.  The purpose of the weekend was to help these students discern what it means to be a "Christian scholar."

Right off the bat, I have a problem with this phrase.  In it, "Christian" is merely an adjective, a word to describe.  For these students, my concern was that "scholar" was their true identity while "Christian" was just an aside, a description they felt compelled to proclaim.

In my conversations with them, it was apparent that they trusted in this adjective, "Christian," without giving it much thought.  For instance, one of the students was worried about teaching in a secular university because he was afraid that he would be ostracized because of his "belief in Christian teachings about sexuality and drinking."  

So this is my question: why has the whole of Christian life been boiled down to booze and sex?  To me, these students were simply trusting in what they professed, being Christian, rather than thinking hard about what that meant.  I promise you, they were thinking much harder about Plato's Republic than they were the New Testament.

The words of Jeremiah speak with prophetic power to those of us who trust in the name "Christian" without giving it much thought.  To the Israelites Jeremiah proclaimed, "Do not trust in these deceptive words: 'This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord" (Jeremiah 7:4).  Indeed, the temple was destroyed.  And I'm afraid that the faith of these young Christian scholars might too be destroyed if they simply say themselves: "But this is Christian teaching, Christian teaching, Christian teaching!"

Think hard about your faith.  Is Jesus Christ the adjective or noun of your life?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

FAQ's - Book of Revelation

whoa! this is in the Bible?
Mark your calendars!  Get babysitters!  Schedule your DVR's!  Fasten your seatbelts! Get your game face on!

On the first four Tuesdays after Easter, Jeff and I will be tag-teaming a Bible study on the book of Revelation.

"Why the book of Revelation?" you ask.  "I don't want to read about the end of the world, and antichrists, and freaky weird stuff!"

Well, neither do I!  And guess what!  That stuff isn't in Revelation anyway.

So here are some basic Frequently Asked Questions about the book of Revelation:

Q: Who is the antichrist and why does Revelation spend so much time talking about him/her/it?
A: The word "antichrist" never appears in the book of Revelation.  It only appears in the letters of 1 and 2 John to describe false prophets who are teaching doctrines opposed to Jesus.

Q: In church, our prayers and sermons seem to focus on the gospel lessons.  Does Revelation have any influence on worship?
A: Absolutely!  There are over 150 hymns in the Hymnal 1982 that refer to Revelation.  That means 22% of our hymns are paraphrases, quotations, or references to Revelation.

Q: Wow, that's a lot.  Is there any popular music out there that refers to Revelation?
A:  The famous "Hallelujah Chorus" by George Frederic Handel is taken directly from Revelation 11:15.  And any good Longhorn will know "...till Gabriel blows his horn" is really a reference to to the seven angels and the seven trumpets in chapters 8, 9, 10, and 11 of Revelation.

Q: You want me to read Revelation?  Not over my dead body!
A: Ha! We might actually read Revelation over your dead body.  Two of the options for the burial service in the 1979 Prayer Book are from the Revelation (7:9-17 and 21:2-7).  Plus, there are multiple references to Revelation throughout the burial service.

Q: Well, if Revelation is so great, why does it talk about devils, beasts, and dragons so much and leaves out Jesus?
A:  Through and through, Revelation is about Jesus Christ, the saints of God, and the Church.  If you like any of these, then you should study Revelation.

The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen. - Revelation 22:21

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Liz Chudej - witness to the gospel

Last night Liz Chudej shared with us some of her religious convictions in her witness to the good news of Jesus Christ.  Right away, Liz said, "I don't have a blind faith anymore."

Wow!  What a bold statement!  And from what I know of Liz, this is true.  Her faith in Jesus Christ is not an uninformed, ignorant faith.  Instead, her faith is rooted in her reading of the Bible and her own perceptive questions that cut right to the heart of the weightiest theological issues.

"At the heart of it all," Liz said, "is salvation.  The little stuff, like, 'what exactly should I do or not do' doesn't matter.  What matters is that Jesus Christ died and then rose again from an empty tomb!"

Liz's example of faith is one to which all of us can inspire.  A well-informed, thought out, inquisitive sort of faith.  What inspires me about Liz's witness is her confidence in salvation.  Once we have realized that God goes to the lengths of human life (even death on a cross) to save us, then why need worry about the small stuff?


"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, not things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, not anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8: 38-39

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

a brief commentary

I have to talk about it: gays and lesbians.  All sorts of questions and accusations are flying around the country and the church.  I think much of it is unhelpful if not harmful.  Some of it is thought provoking.

For some Christians, one of the passages used to denounce homosexuality is Romans 1.  Throughout the second half of this chapter, Paul condemns those who have "exchanged" things.  Some of have exchanged the glory of the immortal God for idol worship.  Some have exchanged "natural intercourse for unnatural" (v. 26).  Where does this image of exchange come from?  Did Paul create it out of thin air to condemn homosexual practice?

As a matter of fact, he didn't.  Speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord condemns the people of Israel with these words: "But my people have changed their glory for something that does not profit" (2:11).

So let's use this context of exchange for something that does not profit to read Paul.  Yes, it does not profit anybody to exchange worship of the immortal God for worship of idols.  Got it.  But what about homosexuality? Does it necessarily mean that gays and lesbians have exchanged their "natural sexuality" for something that does not profit?

I would have to answer no.  Some gays and lesbians may have "changed" their sexuality for vile or base reasons.  But this is no worse than what many straight people have done.  On the other hand, I know a good number of gays and lesbians for whom "coming out of the closet" or practicing their homosexuality has indeed been profitable.  I have seen true caritas shared between same-sex couples.  They have not traded one worthy thing in exchange for an unworthy one.  Rather, they have participated in something which gives great profit and mutual joy.

Monday, March 21, 2011

a boy priest

The Rt. Rev. Claude Payne
Last night Maggie I had the great honor of sharing a meal with the Rt. Rev. Claude Payne, the retired 7th Bishop of Texas, and his lovely wife Barbara. When it came time to order our glasses of wine at the restaurant, the waiter decided to flex his TABC authority and card me. Of course, the bishop got a real kick out of that, along with Jeff Fisher (my rector) and his wife Susan.

There I was, with an esteemed purple-shirted bishop, my boss in a collar, me in a collar, and the dude decides to card me.  Wow.  And though I laughed it off at the time, this afternoon I happened to read the first chapter of Jeremiah.

"Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, 

‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.’ 
Then I said, ‘Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.’ But the Lord said to me,
‘Do not say, “I am only a boy”;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you. 
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord’" - Jeremiah 1: 4-8

No 26 year old priest can read that without recalling 
a dozen comments made about his age.  From, 
"my grandsons are older than you!" 
to "when did they let teenagers become priests?"  
Yes, I am young.  Yes, I cannot grow a beard.
Yes, God has indeed called me to the priesthood.  


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday's Sermon


Characters

            Friday, July 15th will prove to be a remarkable day.  I know this not because I am a prophet or a future-teller, but simply because I’ve checked Google.  And Google tells me that the final Harry Potter movie will be released on Friday, July 15th.  Children of all ages will be lined up for hours, if not days, before the official release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two.  Every movie theater in the country will buzz with excitement as fans delight in the final installment of this blockbuster series.
            Now don’t be ashamed, I know that many of you will be there, dutifully buying your movie ticket.  Some of you may even dress up as Harry or Dumbledore.  I expect that Maggie and I will also see Harry Potter in the theater - and along with the rest of the audience, we’ll get totally sucked into the movie. 
So what makes all these millions of people spend all these millions of dollars to watch a movie?  What makes Harry Potter so attractive, such an entertainment phenomenon?  It’s easy really, it’s just a really good story.
            The whole Harry Potter series has all the ingredients for a dynamite story.  It has interesting characters who develop throughout the course of the narrative – some you love and some you hate.  It has a few twists in the plot that keeps you on the edge of your seat.  The story opens up your imagination as you enter into the world of Hogwartz and wizards.  And, admittedly, I find Harry Potter entertaining because I know I would really enjoy playing quidditch.  So it’s simple – people love Harry Potter because Harry Potter is a really good story.
            We all have our favorite books, our well-loved family stories, and admit it, all of us has a tall tale or two.  Yet despite all of our differences, our different taste in books, whether we like Harry Potter or not, if we prefer mystery novels to science fiction novels, we all share a common story.  This is the ongoing story of God’s love for the world.
            The Christian story is tremendous and like all good stories, the Christian one has its fair share of interesting characters and even a few twists in the plot.  In the sacred stories of scripture, reaching all the way back to the very beginning of Genesis, there is an individual character who shows up time and again in the Bible.  This is Abraham, who is called out by God to leave his home and travel to a new land, the promised land.  Abraham trusts God and believes in God’s promises.  In return, God calls Abraham righteous.  In our passage from Romans, Paul upholds Abraham as the image of the faithful person, the righteous person.  Now notice: Paul doesn’t tell us that Abraham was morally pure, because he wasn’t.  Rather, Abraham is righteous because he allows God to be the author of his life.  Let’s the suppose the entire history of the world is a book.  Abraham’s faithfulness and his belief in God’s promise is the first chapter.
            Then, through Jesus Christ’s birth, temptation, crucifixion, and resurrection, you and I are brought into Abraham’s family.  Abraham’s family has become the church.  The church is people like you and me who believe in God’s promises.  Like Abraham, that faith leads to righteousness.  Not that we are morally pure, because Lord knows that we’re not.  But righteousness means that we have a holy relationship with God.  Anybody who is faithful in Christ is now part of Abraham’s family; though we aren’t related by blood, we are now a family because we are one in Christ.  In God’s history of the world, Christ’s sacrifice is the the second chapter.
            Here comes the third and final chapter.  That last blockbuster installment of an epic story. The question is now longer, “are we going to heaven?”  That was covered in chapters one and two.  The radical nature of God’s love affair with the world is that we are now characters in this story.  That’s right, in God’s blockbuster epic, which is real life, we all have a role to play.  The whole point of the third chapter is figuring out how to play our part.  This is our chapter, our scene on the stage of life when what we do as characters really does matter. 
Now we must make an important distinction.  You and I are not the authors of this chapter, we are but characters.  It is the Holy Spirit who is the author of our lives.  We ask the Holy Spirit how to play our parts, what lines to say, who to love.  Our lives are our stories, and when we let the Holy Spirit compose those stories, our lives are more beautiful and holier.

So here we are – plopped down into a particular part of God’s love story with the world.  Chapter three is very long, stretching from that first Easter day to right now.  Lots of things have happened in chapter three, but our role as characters is not to simply muse on what happened in the previous pages.  As Christian characters in God’s love story we have to look ahead and discern what the author of our lives would have us do. 
For instance, as characters in God’s novel, we can just cross our fingers and hope that people show up to this church that we love so dearly.  Or, we can ask the Holy Spirit, the author, for guidance.  And perhaps the Holy Spirit will write a new story for us – a story in which St. Alban’s creatively engages our community in fresh and righteous ways.  This will be a new scene in which we share the same love that God has for us with the people of Waco. 

And now, you and I are characters in another story of violence.  Just last night, the U.S. Navy fired missiles into Libya in support of a rebellion against a cruel dictator.  As characters in this real life story with God, we have two options.  We can either wring our hands and fret, asking “how did this happen?”  Or, we can look ahead, and ask, “how can we, as Christians, pray and look for the peace of God which surpasses all understanding?”  I believe that the Holy Spirit can and will write a new episode in which the church responds to this crisis with an abundance of prayer and gospel-witness for the peace of the world.
We can’t run away from the plot and the setting that we find ourselves in.  Sure, the world is changing at an ever-increasing rate, but that doesn’t mean that God loves it any less.  Our role as characters in life, in God’s love story, is not to wish that things were like they used to be.  Our role as characters in God’s love story is to make things how they should be.
We do all of this with an abundance of confidence because we know how the story really ends.  Paul says that the Holy Spirit, the author of our salvation, will give life to the dead and call into existence the things that do not exist. Trusting in the Holy Spirit, we can become characters in a story in which we create new solutions and solve the crises here and in the Middle East.  Where it seems that hopes for peace have died, the Holy Spirit can gave life to newer, more innovative ideas.  If it seems that peace in the world is just impossible, then we have to seek God in calling into existence new avenues of diplomacy and mutual understanding.  Trusting in the God’s promises, we can be part of story in which the Church spreads the good news of Jesus Christ in loving and creative ways.


          For the Church of God, every Sunday is a record day at the box office.  With billions of 
Christians around the world, we come together to discern who God wants us to be in his love story 
with the world…….. So don’t just wait for the next installment in God’s love story to come out on 
Netflix, or say to yourself that you’ll wait for it in paperback.  God’s promises are for right here, and 
right now – have faith, and be righteous.  Jump in line right now.  Pick up your part, and learn your 
lines as a character in God’s love story.  Christian characters don’t wait for the world around them to 
change, Christians change the world.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Courtney Drew - witness to the gospel

Last night, Courtney Drew gave us an incredible witness to her relationship with Jesus.  Right off the bat she said, "Once, Jesus hugged me.  He was a tiny African baby at a clinic in Rwanda."  She described her experience in east Africa and how she sees Jesus in the beaten down and the oppressed.

Then she had another great line, "Once a pimp and a prostitute had a church service in a car."  In a strange world full of God's wonder and mystery, a pimp was actually the answer to this prostitute's prayer.  Were these two people ethical or moral?  Probably not.  But does that mean God can't turn the worst situations into glorious vision of Christ's Kingdom?  Absolutely not!

The Holy Spirit has a knack for making terrible situations into powerful opportunities for love.  Slavery in Egypt becomes freedom across the Red Sea.  A cross becomes an empty tomb.  Persecution of Christians doesn't kill off the faith but rather spreads it out across the entire world.

Thank you Courtney.  Through your words, I have seen the risen Christ.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

black thumb

After imposing ashes on the foreheads of nearly one hundred people yesterday, my thumb was super dusty last night (no, that's not my thumb in the picture, it's just there to stoke your imagination).  I told everybody from a 99 year old to an infant that they are dust, and that to dust they will return. How sadly, and how comfortingly true.

One man I know, let's call him Ethan, called with terrible, downright gut-wrenching news.  His son was shot in the head during a fight.  As of now, they've made organ donation arrangements and are ready to "pull the plug."  He is only 18, yet still he is only dust, and to dust he is returning faster than anybody wants.

In January one of our choir members died from an aggressive cancer of the brain.  I talked with her on a Thursday, and just two weeks later, she was dead.  I pray that her ashes may rest in peace and that she may rise in glory.

We are dust, and to dust we shall return.  But our hope in God is that we don't stay dust.  Our hope is that God is more powerful than dust, stronger than the grave.  My hope in God is that my blackened ash underneath my fingernail is only a temporary sign of this age of death and despair.  Some Day those ashes will be counted as nothing - and what has died will be made new again.

O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquility the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that these which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ash Wednesday Sermon - Psalm 103

Redeemed Dust

            Each and every one of us is here, in St. Alban’s church on Ash Wednesday, for a different reason.  Maybe you feel that you “should go to church” on Ash Wednesday.  Maybe this has been your home for many years.  Maybe the Holy Spirit spoke to you and led you here.  Maybe your parents dragged you here.  Maybe you aren’t even sure why you’re here.  
            Regardless of why you are here, I know what you are here.  Because all of us, no matter how rich or powerful, broke or powerless, are made of the same stuff – a little bit of dust.
“For the Lord himself knows whereof we are made, he remembers that we are but dust.”  The Lord remembers that we are dust, but sometimes we forget that inconvenient truth.  Being dusty means that we aren’t in this world forever; and that for the time we are here, being dusty means that we more often than not find ourselves in the dirt. 
The Church isn’t composed of clean, pure, unsullied saints who shun the dirtiness of the world.  The Church is composed of people like you and me, a little bit of sinner, a little bit of saint.  We’re no social club, no group of miraculously clean people, it’s no gathering of the mighty.  I know it isn’t, because I belong to the Church.  We did not glitter like gold, but rather we blow away like dust.  “Our days are like the grass, we flourish like a flower of the field; when the wind goes over us, we are gone, and known no more.” 
            For two thousand years, this dusty group of sinners called the Church has been asking itself this one question – is there anybody so dusty that God will not show compassion and mercy; is there anybody so sinful, so far on the outside, that they cannot be one of the Church?  First, we asked if only Jews could be Christians.  Well…no, we decided.  God loves the entire world, Jews and Gentiles, male and female. 
Then we asked if those who denied their faith during persecutions were too dusty.  Could those who disowned Christ before the Roman Emperor be readmitted to the Christian community?  Well…yes, they can, because Peter himself denied Jesus and yet was loved by the Lord. 
Fast forward to the 1960s when it was people of other colors and races – could they too become part of the Church?  Well…yes, of course because in Christ we are one.  Now it’s questions about sexuality, legal status, apathy – can those people who are different from us also be part of the Chuch?  Are they too dusty, are we too dusty to be called a Christian?  I’ll let our history speak for itself – “as far as the east is from the west is as far as the Lord has removed our sins from us.” 
No matter how much or how little we’ve sinned; if those sins happen to be particularly notorious or pedestrian, vile or inane; Christ and His church welcomes us back.  Regardless of ethnicity, past history, criminal record, employment status, marital status, membership at the country club, length of time since you’ve been baptized – it doesn’t matter.  If you recognize that you are dusty, then “Bless the Lord and forget not all his benefits.  He will not always accuse us, nor will he keep his anger for ever.”
Remember, those ashes on your forehead will be in the sign of the cross.  Because “the Lord has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our wickedness.”  “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger and of great kindness.” 
We are not forgotten dust bound for an eternity of Ash Wednesdays, but redeemed dust, looking forward to that great Easter festival.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Old Dudes with Beards


Last August and September, St. Alban's gave me the privilege of teaching an adult Sunday school series entitled "Old Dudes with Beards."  The purpose of this class was to look at our Anglican theological ancestry and apply those theological contributions to our spiritual lives.

As the case may be, the Diocese of Texas was keen on this class.  They asked me to write three columns about Thomas Cranmer, Richard Hooker, and N.T. Wright.  I was humbled by this invitation.  This columns now appear in the new Diocesan publication, "Diolog."  The link to the online version is pasted below.

I offer these writings to you, the church, in hopes that you can take something from my words that gives you courage, hope, and a radical Christian faith that is grounded in our common history.

http://www.omagdigital.com/publication/?i=62992

Monday, March 7, 2011

abundance = danger

Before entering the promised land, Moses tells the people that when they occupy the land they will live in houses they did not build, drink out of cisterns they did not hew, and eat from vineyards they did not plant.  What a blessing after wandering in the wasteland for 40 years!

But with this blessing comes a warning: "when you have eaten your fill, take care that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery" (Deuteronomy 4:12).

The American church finds itself at a similar crossroads.  We have been blessed beyond measure - we drink water from faucets, we drive on roads we didn't build, we eat food but didn't labor to produce it.  We have a great abundance, but that abundance is a danger.

I've been reading the book "Almost Christian: What the Faith of our Teenagers is Telling the American Church" (pictured above).  The author, Kena Creasey Dean, argues that American Christians have become listless in our faith because we have so much and that we have succumbed to another narrative - the narrative of the market, the very same market that provides us with this abundance.

Abundance is dangerous because we can learn how to live without the self-donation and self-sacrifice of God.  All too easily we forget God, not because God doesn't exist, but because we worship the existence of an abundance gone awry.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

an earthy theology

I love that old gospel song "I'll Fly Away."  The tune, the beat, the high lonesome sound sends ripples up and down my spine.  Essentially, this song expresses a hope that when we die, we'll fly off "to God's celestial shore," leaving behind all of our earthly cares and woes.

This is a view seemingly expressed by many Christians - God doesn't really care that much about earth.  Instead, he wants us to believe in him here on earth so we can live with him forever in heaven.

I just can't buy into that.  The narratives of the scriptures describe God in an incredibly earthy sort of way.  This flies in the face of all our notions about the unattainable and inaccessible God who dwells in heaven.  Rather, God did indeed dwell right here on earth in flesh and blood.  Even earlier, in the Old Testament, God is dedicated to giving his people the land of west of the Jordan River.  If God only cared about heaven, then why was he so concerned that the Israelites have a place to call their own?  (The Daily Office reading for today is from Deuteronomy 4: "So acknowledge today and take to heart that Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other" v. 39.)

What does this mean for us?  We need to get our heads out of the clouds - literally and figuratively - and reclaim our theology that speaks of God in meaty, earthy ways.  This shouldn't be too hard for a society of devoted materialists.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

church on the move

Whoa - we have finally finished studying the Gospel of John!  It was seven weeks of intense spiritual discovery and intellectual query.  It took a lot of effort, a lot of work, and I drank a lot of beer at Barnett's, but it was totally worth it.

Last night we covered the crucifixion and resurrection passages.  There we were, a band of eighteen disciples gathered around some pub tables, remembering the stories of Peter's denials, Pilate's sentencing, the release of Barabbas, and the death of Jesus.  Together we said aloud, "Crucify him!  Away with him!"  I think that we scared off some of the other bar patrons; though it may have been bad for business, I believe it's good for the Church.

Since the demise of Christendom, the Church as a body has all too often retreated into its buildings and comfort zones to talk about Jesus.  Then, because nobody on the outside knows about us, we die away and our buildings crumble to dust.  The Church is not a building, but a gathering of people.  And people noticed.  Because of our Bible study at Barnett's, I've met some regular bar patrons who have expressed interest in attending our church and who say that this is the first time they have seen Christians publicly confessing their faith in a non-weird sort of way.

We had a church service last night at Barnett's because we shared (liquid) bread and remembered the stories that give life and indeed are life.

Jesus was known to us in the scriptures and in the breaking of the bread.