During Sunday's worship service, Bryan McReynolds introduced us to the TIMO Project.
TIMO will send a team of missionaries, led by the McReynolds, to Tanzania for 2 years beginning in early 2012. This team will be living with and serving the Nyamwezi people, an under-reached tribe in western Tanzania. Their goals include the establishment of a viable church and to equip team members for a lifetime of mission work.
Make plans to join Bryan on Wednesday evening at 7:30 for an informal dessert at the home of Ed and Jamie Kruft (4219 Lostridge, 78731). To RSVP, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Paul Soupiset, friend and designer from San Antonio who also played a part in designing the All Saints logo, is amassing a new set of Lent sketches. Here's how he explains it:
"This sketchbook builds on an earlier project I published online back in 2007 — I had embarked on a daily discipline of creating simple water-colored sketches during Lent (a 40-day period of self-examination observed between Ash Wednesday and Easter in many Christian traditions), as a way to slow down, think about the passage of time, meditate or pray, and root myself in my surroundings. I'd steal away during lunch breaks to chronicle my day and consider the architecture, discarded objects and infrastructure I encountered while walking around."
See them all - LENTEN SKETCHBOOK.
by: Pastor Craig Higgins http://www.trinitychurch.cc/Resources-For-Lent
People from different religious backgrounds have very different reactions to the season of Lent. Some grow up in churches where Lent is observed, but with little to no real explanation. Whether observed as a time of strict austerity or merely as a time of forgoing a few simple pleasures, Lent may seem like an empty, meaningless ritual in such cases. On the other hand, some grow up in church traditions where Lent is not observed at all. These folks may think of Lenten observance as, at best, a hollow custom, or, at worst, quite foreign to authentic Christianity. As a matter of fact, many who grew up in church have the same question as those who didn’t: “What is Lent, anyway?”
How does the ancient liturgical practice of following the church calendar help us consciously step into the gospel, conforming us to Jesus and the shape and purpose of his life? I raised this question in my last blog, giving a theological answer and promising existential explanations as well. Here is one: the church calendar helps us sacralize time.
What does it mean to sacralize time?
To participate well in an Ash Wednesday service one has to understand the season of Lent. To understand Lent one has to see it within the context of the entire Christian year. So the church calendar is where we must begin in order to worship “in spirit and truth” on Ash Wednesday.
Eugene Peterson writes, “When we submit our lives to what we read in Scripture, we find that we are not being led to see God in our stories but our stories in God’s. God is the larger context in which our stories find themselves.”
1) While they’re still fresh, discuss your first impressions of The Social Network. What images or dialogue from the film linger in your mind? What does it leave you thinking about?
2) One reviewer dubbed TSN, Five Angry Men. Who are the angry men in the film? Why are they angry?
3) In my review I assert that TSN isn’t about Mark Zuckberg or Facebook; it’s about relationships. In your opinion is this a fair charge?
Next week (Wed. March 9) All Saints will host its first Ash Wednesday service (actually we will offer two services – one at noon at Red River Church and one at 5:30 PM at St. Gabriel’s.) Why are we doing this? I assure you it’s not just to add another activity to our church’s life in a season that is already very full. These services are also not an attempt to do something spiritually hip or provocative. We are simply seeking to have the life of Christ more fully formed within us through our observance of Ash Wednesday.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians saying, “One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:13) What is the goal of which Paul speaks? What is the prize? Knowing Jesus and “the power of his resurrection.” That’s one way of stating the goal that resides behind everything we do at All Saints. Jesus stated the same goal this way: “Make disciples.”
The question then becomes How?
At the end of their 1979 ode-to-nihilism, The Wall, Pink Floyd, after dismissing most of the things we turn to for comfort—school, work, love, sex, politics—as “just another brick in the wall,” gave themselves an out in the album’s last cut, “Outside the Wall”:
“All alone, or in twos, the ones who really love you walk up and down outside the wall. Some hand in hand and some gathered together in bands, the bleeding hearts and artists make their stand. And when they've given you their all, some stagger and fall. After all it's not easy banging your heart against some mad bugger's wall.”
Yes, I’m afraid even mainstream nihilists cannot be trusted. Bless them, they need something to live for as much as the rest of us do, and what better refuge from the pointlessness of it all than humanity itself? Whatever else may happen to disappoint you, there will always be someone to love you, someone you can trust, someone to rely on.
Or will there be?
In perhaps the best-made of last year’s films, The Social Network turns the cynical eye of reason on the last refuge of the meaningless: human relationships.
In his sermon yesterday Tim quoted from the essay The Advent of Humility (Tim Keller). The bulk of the material he cited can be found below.
The entire essay may be downloaded for free at the Redeemer City to City website. Registration is required. The site provides access to dozens of articles like this one and offers an introduction to Redeemer City to City's work to "catalyze and serve a global movement of leaders who create new churches, new ventures, and new expressions of the gospel of Jesus Christ for the common good."
"There are two basic narrative identities at work among professing Christians. The first is what I will call the moral-performance narrative identity. These are people who in their heart of hearts say, 'I obey; therefore, I am accepted by God.' The second is what I will call the grace narrative identity. This basic operating principle is, 'I am accepted by God through Christ; therefore, I obey.'
Our annual Growth in Grace event is cancelled due to inclement weather. Refunds will be made available. Please contact the office if you have questions (email@example.com). Thanks.
“We choose to mark (certain) dates because in some way they have marked us.” - Bobby Gross
Everyone has certain dates that are charged with meaning. Consider children and birthdays or wives and wedding anniversaries. Then there’s baseball fans and opening day, accountants and April 15th. September 11, 2001 – we all remember where we were on that day. Days and even entire seasons can become filled with significance. They can become sanctified, meaning set aside, from all other days and times. This is what it means to have a holiday (holy day) or holiday season.
The Church calendar is built upon this common human experience of time.
Vigen Guroian is Professor of Religious Studies in Orthodox Christianity at the University of Virginia. He’s the author of nine books and has contributed over 200 articles to journals, magazines, books, and newspaper on subjects from liturgy to bioethics. He’s been featured on programs as diverse as NPR’s Talk of the Nation and Chuck Colson’s Break Point.
He’s also an avid gardener. “I think that gardening is nearer to godliness than theology,” he writes in Inheriting Paradise. “One of the principle things gardening teaches is that you cannot make your garden grow. Other forces are at work.” Of course, “you have to weed. You have to cultivate. This is painful. You get blisters. You bleed, you sweat.”
More important—at least to us—is his fondness for good stories.
1) What are your first impressions of the film? First impressions aren’t considered conclusions; they’re what you’re left thinking of in the moments after the film ends.
2) Contrast the brothers, David and Albert. How are they similar; in what do they differ and why? Which attracts you more and why?
3) Contrast Albert and Lionel. Aside from their professional relationship, what do you think attracted them to one another? Was theirs, in your opinion, an unlikely friendship?
In January of 1936 King George V of England died, leaving the throne to his son David, who reigned as Edward VIII for 325 days before abdicating in order to marry an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson. His brother, Albert, then became King George VI and reigned until his death in 1952.
Tom Hooper’s splendidly entertaining film The King’s Speech is the story of Albert’s unlikely ascension to the throne and of help he received along the way from an equally unlikely source.
You may have noticed that at All Saints we’re still celebrating Advent, not Christmas ... at least not yet. We sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” every Sunday, but not “Joy to the World, the Lord is Come." I’m sorry if this annoys you. If you, like millions of American Christians, start the season with “Silent Night” the day after Thanksgiving, I can offer you sympathy, but only sympathy. At All Saints “Silent Night” will have to wait till Christmas Eve.
There’s a reason for this.
Most people don't take funny movies seriously. If you want to reflect and be challenged, go see the latest foreign import or dramatic biopic. If you want to escape and be entertained, go see “Due Date” (actually, if you want to escape and be entertained don’t see “Due Date,” but you get the point). In the over 80 year history of the Academy Awards only two genuine straight up comedies have ever won best picture – “It Happened One Night” (1934) and “Annie Hall” (1977). If a comedian wins an acting award, it’s almost always for a “serious” role (see Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg or Mo’Nique).
But more pervasive (and insidious) than any Oscar bias is the outlook of the average theatergoer who might dismiss the emotional power of funny or even shy from comedies that deal with “difficult” subjects. As Christians, striving to pursue Christ in all things, reverence will often seem more Godly than its opposite. But are we missing opportunities to experience truths about Christ and our human condition (all while laughing so hard we nearly pee our pants)?
Artist and All Saints member Sonya Berg Menges recently sat down with us to talk about art and life. Her work will be on display at Champion Contemporary Gallery until November 27th.
Sonya grew up in Southeastern Pennsylvania, and traveled often to visit family in upstate New York (Niagara Falls), New Hampshire and southern Maine. Much of the inspiration for her artwork stems from her experiences growing up in the Northeast. She graduated in 2005 with a BA in Studio Art from Messiah College, and earned her MFA in Studio Art at UT this May. She currently teaches beginning design and drawing at St. Edwards University.
In her own words, "Moving to Texas was one of the greatest tests of my faith, but has proved to be the richest blessing. Here I met my husband Austen, joined an incredible church, and embarked on an art career, for which I am truly humbled." When she's not making art in her home studio, Sonya enjoys cycling, cooking, and gardening.
Champion Contemporary Gallery in downtown Austin represents Sonya, so much of her work is available for purchase through them, even after her show ends. You can also see more of her work at www.sonyaberg.com.
Tell us about your current installation, Deep End.
My current show at Champion, Deep End, is my first solo show. It is a display of my most recent work from the past two years, and includes drawings and paintings of both waterfalls and empty swimming pools. I started making works about waterfalls after collecting my grandfather’s and dad’s slides of Niagara Falls.
*The All Saints picnic scheduled for this Sunday has been cancelled due to expected weather conditions.
The All Saints picnic returns next Sunday, November 14. The P. Terry's burger truck will be back to serve fresh burgers and fries. Please make plans to join us. You'll need to register, make your menu selection, and pay ($5/individual or $15/family), all of which you can do online:
Please don't let cost be the reason you miss the picnic. If your personal budget doesn't allow for you to spend this right now, just register and select "Free lunch, please." You'll also find an option to cover a burger (or two) for someone else ... just find the "Sponsor a burger" box.
Andrew D. White was the first president of Cornell University back in 1896 when he published his History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom. His little book (919 pages) was a hot item back then, for despite the persistent rise of science and increasing skirmishes between scientists and theologians (e.g., Darwin published his On the Origin of Species in 1859), it was still hoped that the romance of science, democracy and Christianity would flower in the 20th century and bless the world. White was a naysayer, arguing that science and faith had always been at odds and would always be at odds.
Last March, my wife, Julianna, and I were planning a weekend trip to St. Louis to begin looking for places to live. We were about to move from Austin to St. Louis, so that I could begin a seminary degree at Covenant Seminary. My wife was going to quit her studies at UT, and I was going to quit my work at All Saints. In God's Providence, days before we were going to purchase our flight to St. Louis, I received an email from a friend informing me that a seminary was to be planted in Austin that coming fall. Despite the incredible education and community offered by Covenant Seminary, Julianna and I were drawn to the idea of continuing our education within the church and community of All Saints and Austin. I decided to become one of the seven first-time, full-time seminary students at Redeemer Seminary in Austin.
I love good stories. Sitting in a rocking chair on my grandmother’s front porch on a hot Alabama summer night, listening to my father and his brothers laugh about boyhood egg-stealing; cold November evenings in northern Minnesota while the Block kids recall the bringing-the-horse-in-the-house tale; Edith Schaeffer, dropping names and recounting miracles high in the Swiss Alps: it doesn’t get any better than this.
In my opinion Get Low tells a very good story. My delight in it is, no doubt, due in part to the fact that Chris Provenzano’s screenplay is as essentially southern a tale as the ones I used to hear on my grandmother’s front porch. The personalities, events, music, the look and feel of it are as familiar to me as my Dad’s stories of his childhood. I know these people. Indeed I wonder how many of them I may be related to. For me, watching Get Low felt like a visit home.
“The study… involved 79 college students — 32 men and 47 women — who agreed to wear an electronically activated recorder with a microphone on their lapel that recorded 30-second snippets of conversation every 12.5 minutes for four days, creating what Dr. Mehl called “an acoustic diary of their day.”
Have you ever played the prosperity game? It’s a mental exercise that asks how you would spend ever increasing amounts of money. Here’s how it works. Each day, for twenty days, you receive a sum of money and you must spend it all that day (no giving or tithing on the gross allowed). On day one you have a virtual $100. Each day the sum doubles (day 2 you have $200, day 3 $400, day 4 $800, etc) and you continue to play (spend) for 20 days. For you math nerds, you’ve already figured that by day 20 you will have $52,428,800 – nice job.If you seriously consider your purchases you will learn about your heart. You will also get frustrated as your virtual account is replenished anew each day and deciding how to spend your money actually becomes a burden (ha!). It really is fun to consider what we would do with that money!
“Pardon him, Theodotus: he is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature.” George Bernard Shaw in Caesar and Cleopatra
Shaw has had lots of fans in recent years. “Constructivists”, as some are called, think that knowledge has much more to do with social interactions than reality. The upside to this is obvious: freedom - freedom from taking the tension of our differences too seriously and freedom to go with what one feels is right. It’s a freedom Hollywood has long celebrated in films like Dead Poets Society (1989) and Pleasantville (1998).
Christopher Nolan isn't an old fashioned barbarian, but at the very least he sees a downside to not knowing. For example, consider his latest film, Inception.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart|
Marilynne Robinson's new book, Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self, is a collection of lectures she delivered at Yale last year. You can actually stream videos of the original lectures here.
For more on faith and science, consider attending The Vibrant Dance of Faith. This conference from the The Hill Country Institute takes place in Austin in October.
"There are two kinds of Bible reading that I try to do. I read the psalms through every month using the Book of Common Prayer's daily office. I also read through the Bible using Robert Murray M'Cheyne's reading calendar. I take the more relaxed version - two chapters a day, which takes you through the Old Testament every two years and the New Testament every year. I do the M'Cheyne reading and some of the psalms in the morning, and read some Psalms in the evening. I choose one or two things from the psalms and M'Cheyne chapters to meditate on, to conclude my morning devotions."But don't despair yet. Keller proves realistic and practical:
"The problem with mid-day prayer is finding a time for it, since every day is different. All I need is to get alone for a few minutes, but that is often impossible, or more often than not I just forget. However, I carry a little guide to mid-day prayer in my wallet which I can take out and use.Be sure to follow the links to the ESV website where you'll find the Daily Office and M'Cheyne's reading calendar among several other resources. Bill recorded a short podcast along these sames lines last year. You can find that here.
The PCA has produced a series of videos highlighting the Strategic Plan that will be presented at next week's General Assembly in Nashville. I've included the first one here because Bryan Chapell provides a great overview of the current state of the denomination.
If you're wanting to dig in more, there's plenty for you at the Administrative Committee's website (including the rest of these videos) and a series of articles at byFaith magazine. We'll have a report on what transpires once Bill, Benjie, and Tim get back.
"With their quick reliable hits of satisfaction,
purchases are seductive. Building our life around them almost
guarantees that we will never take the risk of embracing practices,
which call us to long sustained difficulties and deferred
gratification. But if we build our lives around practices, if our lives
are defined by choosing what is initially difficult and staying
committed to it over time, not only will the practices deliver
long-lasting satisfaction — our purchases will take on a new and more
~Andy Crouch, From Purchases to Practices
Bill’s sermon last Sunday reminded me of Garrison Keillor's editorial "BP and Bach" published June 2 in the New York Times. Keillor is the longtime host of NPR's "A Prairie Home Companion" available on radio (yes, radio is still around!) every Saturday evening from 5:00 until 7:00. He's a believer, a decent writer and a very funny man. In his Times essay, he indulges in some ironic musings about human nature that, despite the differences in our theology and our political philosophy, I am struck by forcefully.
"I flew home from Washington Monday night, looking at live pictures on the BP Web site taken by an underwater robot of the greasy waters of the Gulf, and how's that for a Metaphor of Our Times?
Around the office we’ve been talking about books for the last few weeks. What’s everyone reading? What are we looking forward to reading in the summer? Our goal has been to produce a list of recommended summer reading to share. I’ve been more or less carrying the list around. Last week I organized a list to share with the staff at Alpine Camp where I was leading some staff training. You’ll find that list, with a few additions from various All Saints staff, below.
Seems like this book list is necessarily going to always be a work-in-progress. Yet it also seems important to go ahead and put something out there as a record of where it stands today. Hopefully you’ll find something in the list below that you’ll want to add to your own “book list” after reading it this summer.
Podasts return. Take 5 minutes to hear Bill talk through the upcoming switch to a 10:30 worship time, what's in store for Christian Education in the fall, and how all of this relates to one of All Saints' core commitments - rootedness.
The church-wide picnic returns next Sunday, May 16. This time the P. Terry's burger truck will be arriving to serve fresh burgers and fries. Please make plans to join us. You'll need to register, make your menu selection, and pay ($5/individual or $15/family), all of which you can do online:
SEVEN STANZAS AT EASTERMake no mistake: if He rose at all
“I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” (Luke 19:40)
Jesus’ stones crying out always brings to mind Annie Dillard’s essay “Teaching a Stone to Talk”:
Ok. People like this should get help, or at least stay on their small island. But Dillard’s response is more gracious:
So, what is more audacious: Jesus’ words and vocation or Larry’s? Is Larry the “crank”, or Jesus, or both? Would it have been better if Jesus had been requisitioned to a small island (like John on Patmos) where he could teach his stones to talk, or even sit and talk with them till his heart was content?