Monday, June 28, 2004

Sermons are a Joke

I’m looking for an image. Give me one good, potent image.

Futurist Len Sweet has a favorite image of “the swing.” This swing image embodies Sweet’s feelings about life in a community of faith: in the motion of swinging we lean back and stretch forward. The swing image communicates reliance on our past and stretching into our future. I like that image! It is very good. It is the kind of evocative image I am looking for.

But . . . swings don’t go anywhere. I believe the gospel IS going somewhere and that it unveils the Kingdom of God among us.

So, I’m looking for a Singing Oaks image. Do you have any ideas for an image that captures our mission statement? Our mission is to bring people to Jesus Christ. This calls us to 1) share our faith with others, 2) be devoted to prayer and Bible study, 3) glorify God in our assemblies and 4) live so that others see Jesus living in us.

Yesterday’s joke of a sermon caught some of that meaning. The gospel is similar to a joke. Jokes are meant to be shared. Joke tellers don’t take themselves too seriously and they laugh at life. Some people get the joke and some do not get it. Jesus described his stories (parables) as jokes or riddles that people hear, but don’t understand and see but don’t comprehend.

In our 3rd millennium culture, we need to communicate with powerful images. Do you have an vibrant image that captures and communicates our church’s mission?

Like I said, some people “get this” idea and some do not get it. That is ok. This is a more left-brained activity, but it is worth your thought. I will close by sharing my failed attempt at an image. Last year, I imagined an icon that was a tree with a “P” as its trunk and roots. And Karen Lawson gave it great life -- many people commented on the great graphics. In my mind, the “P” communicates the three aspects of our mission to the world Pursue God, Present lives of Christian service and Proclaim the good news to others. This image did not to capture the imagination. I know one of you can do better than I did at imagining a picture of our congregation.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Shh, don't tell !

Have you heard any good clean jokes, lately? I bet there are some you would tell me and some you would avoid telling me. Maybe you can think of one to share before Sunday.

I have been thinking some about the jokes we tell. The punch line is always held back as a secret until the very end (unless the joke comes from the lips of a child).

We all hold secrets in our lives. Some secrets only a few people know and other secrets have never been shared. Do you have any secrets to share?

I believe the cultural artifacts of twenty-first century America are worth exploring. I am pleased that many found my comparison of The Da Vinci Code with Paul’s ancient “Christ Hymn” helpful. Both deal with "secret wisdom." This secret wisdom eventually formed the ancient heresy of Gnosticism, which arose in the mid-second century. It emphasizes: a secret wisdom for the spiritually elite, the body is evil and Christ only 'seemed' to be human. Gnosticism is returning to popularity in our time. Spiritual navigation of our lives is difficult in our age that blurs the ‘fiction section’ with the ‘religion section’ of our book store.

Do you need more analysis and insight to The Da Vinci Code? I’ve made copies of two articles from Christian Magazines. You may also want to read the articles on The Da Vinci Code novel at Especially, note the Chronicle’s excerpt of Ben Witherington’s new book “The Gospel Code.” This article summarizes the novel’s historical fibs.

Think of a joke to share with me this weekend -- but don't share it till then.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The Blury Line of Fiction

Beginning last summer, people encouraged me to comment on the best selling work of fiction The DaVinci Code. Without further delay, this Sunday I will comment on Dan Brown's book.

The Urban Spirituality series continues with its second installment this weekend. How do we spiritually navigate our suburban lives? I will continue sharing reflections about the unusual word urbiculture, which designates the practices and problems peculiar to cities or urban development.

Return here for semi-regular thoughts from me - Brady.