He took the bread, not the lamb

I don’t know if you read the article “He Didn’t Choose The Lamb that I mentioned the other day. The author made one of those simple observations that end up having great impact.

Basically he discussed why Jesus didn’t use the Passover lamb for the Lord’s Supper, why he chose instead the bread. Jesus had been called “the lamb of God” by John the Baptist. Paul would later refer to him as our Passover lamb. Wouldn’t it have made more sense if he had taken a piece of lamb and said, “This is my body…”?

But he chose the bread. The lamb was a symbol of the sacrifice. The bread was a symbol of liberation, a remembrance of the Exodus.

The Lord’s Supper is not a sacrifice. As John Mark Hicks eloquently says in his book Come To The Table, it’s not the altar of the Lord; it’s the table of the Lord. We gather not to offer again the blood of the Lamb but to celebrate the results of that offered blood. We remember his death; we do not reenact it.

Because he didn’t choose the lamb.

No links for you!

I finally got fed up. Most websites have stopped the ridiculous practice of tacking on extraneous material every time you quote them, but a few still do it. You copy and paste the headline of an article, and they add, “Read more at _____.” They do this for the very valid reason that… no, there is no good reason for this. If someone is going to plagiarize, they’re not going to hesitate to delete the auto-reference. If someone like me is wanting to quote and give credit, we’re merely hampered by the garbage characters added to what we cut and paste.

So I’ve decided to quit using the offending websites, as much as I can. I love the material on Relevant Magazine, but don’t like the irrelevant junk that comes with it, so I won’t quote them any more. Same with numerous others.

I’m not kidding myself. None of them are sitting around crying because they won’t get links here in the Kitchen. Nor will any of them change just because I don’t like what they’re doing.

Maybe if enough of us get fed up, they’ll stop this practice. If not, well… no links for you!

Links To Go (December 8, 2016)

The Narrative of Fear Surrounding Refugees: Preparing Ourselves for the Conversation

What is an Evangelical to do? We are to hold to the critical pro-life issues that we have always held to. And we must remind ourselves that being pro-life is about all of life from conception onward, from start to finish, and all the moments in between. We cannot say that we are pro-life if we turn our backs on those in need. And so we must circle back to the refugee crisis.

Jesus, a Broken Car Window and a Girl from Oman

We shook hands. I said goodbye. Reminded them they were welcome to come at Christmas. Got into the car and drove off. With the window up. And with a fresh sense that God is so close in situations such as that it’s right in your face. I’m gonna pop in before Christmas with a Colin Buchanan CD for the girls and some Christmas biscuits for them.
Sometimes the sparks of the Incarnation flicker and spatter so hard around this planet some two thousand years after the event that you can almost feel it.

A group of veterans just did an incredibly moving thing at Standing Rock

On Monday afternoon, Jon Eagle, who is the tribal historic preservation officer for the Standing Rock Sioux, posted several photos to his personal Facebook page of veterans kneeling before indigenous activists, acknowledging the long history of atrocities committed against Native Americans, and asking for the forgiveness of the tribes in attendance.
To their surprise, Leksi Leonard Crow Dog, a Sioux spokesman, forgave the veteran military members present for the past actions of their government, and in turn asked for forgiveness for the Battle of Big Horn, also known as Custer’s Last Stand, when Sioux warriors killed approximately 268 U.S. soldiers affiliated with the 7th Cavalry.

Most Americans Say Assisted Suicide is Morally Acceptable

Where there are differences among demographic groups, most still agree. For example, Americans age 18 to 24 (77 percent) and those 35 to 44 (63 percent) and 55 to 64 (64 percent) agree. So do white Americans (71 percent) and Hispanic Americans (69 percent). Those with some college education (71 percent) or with graduate degrees (73 percent) and those with high school diplomas or less (61 percent) also agree.
Among faith groups, more than half of all Christians (59 percent), Catholics (70 percent), Protestants (53 percent), Nones (84 percent) and those of other religions (70 percent) agree. Most of those who attend religious services less than once a month (76 percent) also agree.

Texas Lowe’s hires veteran and his service dog

Luthy said he was trying to find a job after serving in the Air Force, and wanted to find an employer who wouldn’t mind his side kick.
“I was trying to figure out where I could go that would be a good fit and it wouldn’t mind having Charlotte, and my wife said I was at Lowe’s so much anyway, I might as well get a job there,” he said.
Charlotte – a 10-year-old yellow lab – is by his side in and out of the work zone. Jay Fellers, Lowe’s human resources manager, said it was a no-brainer to hire the pair.
“They were the best person for the job,” he said. “So, we went through the interview process and Clay and his own merit won the job. And we knew he was gonna make a great employee – we just got the benefit of getting Charlotte right along with him.”

Letting the arts come to church

pottery-makingI’m not a cultured person, at least when it comes to the arts. I’m not interested in ballet, nor opera. Most classical music leaves me cold; symphony tickets feel like an upcoming jail sentence. A visit to an art museum is typically wasted on me.

It doesn’t help that I come from a church tradition that downplays the role of artisic expression in worship. We tend to have utilitarian buildings, with little focus on aesthetic values. (Though it’s interesting that I grew up in a church that breaks from that mold and attend one that has a cathedral-like feel to the architecture). Historically, we have rejected the use of musical instruments and “special” music (choirs, solists, etc.). An artist finds little room for expression in most congregations within our fellowship. (Outside of children’s Sunday school, of course)

I think we need to recapture God’s love of beauty and creativity. We need to see that God’s Word addresses the senses and not just the mind. We need to find a way for individual Christians to share their artistic gifts with the rest of body; special times and spaces could be created for any such expressions that don’t fit our corporate worship time.

Even those with a lack of general culture can appreciate the giftedness of others in our midst. We can encourage them to use their talents for the glory of God, rather than making them feel that such things only belong to the world. Our churches will be all the richer for it.

Churches partnering with churches

For the last four years, the University Church of Christ in Abilene has been partnering with a congregation in Cuba to aid them in the outreach efforts. It’s something I’m very proud of, largely because I think it’s the type of mission effort that we need to see more of going forward.

We’re used to a model where a church in the United States supports an individual, typically a preacher. At one time, these were mainly missionaries from the United States. Now I’d guess that more locals are supported than foreigners. I think that, as we come to recognize the maturation of churches outside the United States, in many cases the best course of action will be supporting a congregation rather than an individual.

In this case, UCC partners with the Versalles Church of Christ in Matanzas. This congregation was started by Tony Fernández and his parents, and Tony continues to lead the church today. Over the last 10 years, the Versalles church has planted over 40 other congregations. They also have their own missionaries working in other provinces.

They have the know how. They have the manpower. They lack the material resources to continue to expand this church-planting ministry. UCC has the funds (thanks to a generous donor) and shares them with the Versalles church, no strings attached. We visit them, participate with them, listen to reports about what they are doing, but do not control their efforts. The church leadership makes the decisions about how to best use the funds they receive, and they’ve done a much better job of that than any outside church could have done.

Tony works fulltime for Hope For Life, a ministry of Herald of Truth. All of his funds, personal and work funds, come from this ministry. I’m in a funny middle position. Sometimes I carry funds to him from Hope For Life. Sometimes I carry funds to him from UCC. Sometimes I have both.

Tony makes a clear distinction between the funds. Those that are brought for the church are given directly to the church leadership. If possible, Tony doesn’t even touch them. The funds from Hope For Life go to Tony, for he has directed the Hope For Life efforts in Cuba since 1991. He, like me, responds to the board of directors of Hope For Life for the use of those funds. But in Cuba, he is responsible for the administration of those funds.

A lot of people at UCC have the mistaken idea that we somehow support Tony. I hate that, because I think they are missing out on the fact that we are part of something unusual and highly significant. Direct partnership between two congregations is an exciting prospect not only in Cuba but around the world. Our experiences over the last four years lead me to encourage other churches to do the same. In places where the church has already been established, don’t fund an individual; fund a church. Come alongside your brothers in Christ and say, “Here are the resources you need. Go do God’s work.” And put no other strings on the money.

I think you’ll be amazed at what God can do.