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God on Tap Tomorrow Night: Mapping our Spiritual Landscapes

God on Tap Tomorrow Night: Mapping our Spiritual Landscapes

Join us for God on Tap tomorrow, Tuesday, June 28th at 7:30pm upstairs at Forest and Main. Our topic will be Mapping our Spiritual Landscapes

It's that time of year where many people begin to take vacations and head off to the shore, to the mountains, to explore the city, or travel to new and far-flung places.

What role do these places—some of which we visit every year—new places—and even the everyday places in our everyday lives play in our spiritual lives? How and in what ways do they become sacred space to us?

Every summer my family goes to a cottage on a small lake. The first jump in the lake, which marks the beginning of my vacation, always feels like a re-baptism. The water is crisp and clear. It seems to pull all the heat and tiredness out of my body and completely refreshes and renews me (as does the time at the cottage.)

Do you have places like this? Places where healing waters flow, or of inspiring horizons, or places of creativity or quietude? What are those places for you? Is it your backyard, your workshop, the beach, the mountains, or even the front porch at Forest & Main?

Belden Lane, who studies and writes about spiritual landscapes, says: “The sacred place becomes the point at which the wondrous power of the divine could be seen breaking into the world’s alleged ordinariness.”

Where does that happen for you?

Lane also says, "Above all else, sacred place is 'storied place;' Particular locales come to be recognized as sacred because of the stories that are told about them."

Let's share some of those stories tomorrow night and together map our spiritual landscapes this summer.

God on Tap Tonight: What do we mean by Religious Freedom anyway?

God on Tap Tonight: What do we mean by Religious Freedom anyway?

Hello friends! Join us for God on Tap tonight, Tuesday, May 31st 7:30pm upstairs at Forest and Main. Our topic will be a timely one: What do we mean by Religious Freedom, anyway?

There has been a lot of talk in the new over the last many months of religious freedom laws, most notably in North Carolina, but “religious freedom” laws are widespread across the country

I wonder: what do we mean when we say religious freedom? Or, to ask it another way: what is the freedom of a Christian? (Because it seems these laws are designed to “protect” a certain kind of Christian perspective.)

That was a topic that good ol’ Martin Luther took up back in the day in a whole essay on the subject and it boiled down to this for him:

“A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant of all, subject to all.”

So, Christians are totally free in that they are justified by God’s grace. But in response to that grace we are called to love and serve our neighbors as Christ did for us. For Luther, our freedoms are tempered, and they are tempered by service to our neighbor.

In addition to this understanding of Christian freedom, Luther also talked about the way government and faith interact. He called it “the two kingdoms.” He said one kingdom is the spiritual kingdom, the kingdom of God, which concerns matters of the soul. The other kingdom is the kingdom of humankind, which keeps good order in the physical world and is ruled by human institutions of government, schools, etc.

Luther said that both of these kingdoms are established by God hold sway over the believer.

But what happens when these two kingdoms collide? (Luther himself struggled with this question.  He actively advocated with the authorities of his day on moral and religious grounds. He also notoriously stood by as the government put down a Peasant’s Revolt, where many protesting peasants were killed.)

When is civil disobedience permissible? When Henry David Thoreau refused to pay taxes to support the Spanish-American war? The non-violent protests of the civil rights movement? Refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, or patrolling bathrooms at Target?

So, some questions for tonight: 

What are the unique freedoms and responsibilities Christians have?

How do we balance our religious and political lives—where do they connect and where do they diverge?

Is the religious freedom of one person or group more important or imperative than another? 

 

Resurrection is Like...

Resurrection is Like...


“Sometimes resurrection is like making love. Sometimes it looks like good food with good friends telling stories on themselves. Sometimes it looks like a therapists office and a box of tissues and learning to tell the truth. Sometimes it looks like church and sometimes it looks like the wilderness. Sometimes it looks like a mountain and sometimes it looks like the ocean, sometimes it looks like a small creek in your back yard, the one the kids float leaves down and pretend are boats…. Sometimes resurrection looks nothing like what you expect and sometimes it’s everything you ever wanted. Resurrection always surprises us: who could expect this?” - Sarah Bessey

Join us on Tuesday, April 19th at 7:30pm upstairs at Forest & Main for our next God on Tap. Our topic: “Resurrection is Like….” It’s inspired by the recent observance of Easter—the day Christians celebrate Jesus rising from the dead, and by a blog post written by the amazing Sarah Bessey (full text below).

A wise person recently noted that sometimes we get caught up in thinking about resurrection as The Resurrection that happened to Jesus 2,000 years ago. Or as something that will happen in the future when God finally gets everything right. But resurrection is something that happens here and now. Its something we every single one of us experience in some way—coming back from a loss, a set back, failure, some manner of death, and finding life on the other side.

Rob Bell has great way of talking about this when we experience failure in life:

“You failed,
and yet that failure made you a better person.

You failed,
but it worked in your favor.

You failed,
but it made you stronger, more resilient, more appreciative.

You failed,
but it created all sorts of new life and growth and maturity in you.

You failed,
but you’re now realizing that failure isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

This is the beautiful, counterintuitive, strange, unexpected, reliable mystery built into the fabric of creation that is at work every time we fail.”

Resurrection is at the heart of that “counterintuitive…reliable mystery” at the heart of life.

We all fail. We all experience loss. We all have encountered death in some way. And yet, it does not damn nor define us. Life and love persist. That’s resurrection.

So, join us on Tuesday and let’s remind each other that resurrection as a present reality, not just some past event, not just something in the future. But now.

Come and share: Where do you see resurrection at work in the world? In your life? Where do you long for resurrection to show up and take root?

Here’s the full text of Sarah Bessey’s post:

Resurrection

"Sometimes resurrection feels like spring cleaning. First we have to admit to the dirt and the mess, stomp around asking if the people who live here think they live in a barn. We have to scrub and scour, our hands grow tired but we’re setting things to order and to beauty and the whole time we’re working, the windows are wide open and the curtains are lifting with the breeze and everything in the house feels like it’s waking up.

Sometimes resurrection feels like walking slowly with a toddler. You have to stop and examine each new flower or leaf or blade of grass, every gum wrapped and cigarette butt has to be swept away from little fingers. It feels disorienting to be noticing everything, to be moving so slowly, it seems like it would be easier to sweep that toddler up and just stride quickly to where you want to go but this is how we learn and this is how we teach. It’s slow going indeed but as we walk we find ourselves walking right into who and where we were meant to be all along, our lungs are strong and our feet are on the ground and a child keeps saying, “look!” and you are beginning to finally see.

Sometimes resurrection feels like springtime when everything is a disastrous mess of mud and muck and left over salt on the edges of the roads. It’s brown and dead and ugly, even winter would be better than this resolute barrenness. And then one day there is one little snow flower that pokes up from the brown ground and you catch sight of it and point it out to the neighbours and to your children and you grin like a fool all day because look, a little flower is up!

Sometimes resurrection feels like growing up. You think it’s taking forever but then you’re out on your own in your grown-up life and you realise how short your childhood was really in the scheme of things and now you’ve got all of this life ahead of you as the person who were always headed towards becoming.

Sometimes resurrection is like making love. Sometimes it looks like good food with good friends telling stories on themselves. Sometimes it looks like a therapists office and a box of tissues and learning to tell the truth. Sometimes it looks like church and sometimes it looks like the wilderness. Sometimes it looks like a mountain and sometimes it looks like the ocean, sometimes it looks like a small creek in your back yard, the one the kids float leaves down and pretend are boats but then you next find resurrection in the prison handing out diplomas and in the hospital rocking babies and in the hospice singing “It is Well With My Soul” under your breath. Sometimes resurrection looks nothing like what you expect and sometimes it’s everything you ever wanted. Resurrection always surprises us: who could expect this?

Sometimes resurrection feels like the spring equinox. You’ve been waking up in the darkness and feeling the sun as a weak attempt, a cousin of light instead of actual light, and the tinies come home from school in the sunset even though it’s only 3 o’clock and you move through your nights in the darkness and rise again in the dark. And then one day you realise you’re making supper and it’s still light out. And then you realise you woke up in the morning and there was sun coming through the blinds, imprinting against the green wall in slats of light. And then you think it’s light and it’s getting on toward being light more than dark and we’re turning, hallelujah.

Sometimes resurrection feels like singing out loud with your own voice even though you never used to sing.

Sometimes resurrection looks like standing outside of the tomb of the one whom you love, weeping without consolation only to find yourself in his presence. It looks like not recognizing him and it looks like being told to go tell the story. Sometimes resurrection speaks your name and you see clearly finally. It looks like scars where there were wounds and it looks like light and hope and you even feel afraid of your joy.

Sometimes resurrection feels like standing in front the Table of the Lord at church, right before a man and a woman who love Jesus, too. It looks like holding your hands open, cupped to receive without striving or grasping. It feels like the goodness of bread and the movement of dipping that bread into a cup of wine. It feels like lowering your head to hear them remind you again and again and again that this body is for you and this wine is for you – even you. Resurrection feels like the wine running down your fingers and into the palm of your hand as you hold up that piece of soaked bread and then you put it on your tongue and push it up against the roof of your mouth, tasting and seeing. You trace the sign of the Cross on your doubting and faith-filled head and heart and then you walk back to your seat. It feels like that moment when you are among the people again and your knees buckle and the power of God sweeps into your body like a reminder: there’s a rushing wind here, there’s a power, a power, a wonder-working power.”

God on Tap Tomorrow Night: Who is God?

God on Tap Tomorrow Night: Who is God?
Join us on Tuesday, March 15th, 7:30pm upstairs at Forest and Main Brewing Company. Our topic is: Who is God?

Our topic is inspired by this short video, in which people from around the world are asked, Who is God? The answers are funny, challenging, and thought provoking. [If you are receiving this by email you may need to click this link to view it: https://youtu.be/qPbMQS73wV4.]

Check out the whole video, but some of the answers were:

  • a character in a book
  • someone with a big heart...if it exists
  • something that is good...a little scary
  • definitely a woman
  • one god but many forms in lots of religions
  • there are twelve gods and they live on Mount Olympus

How would you answer that question? Who is God for you? A character? Love? Goodness? The Almighty? The Creator? A thing, a person or persons, a mystery?

People throughout the centuries and across religious traditions have tried to answer that question. Among some of the the classic Christian definitions of God are:

  • St. Anslem: God is that which is bigger than the biggest thing we can imagine.
  • Martin Luther: God is that which we fear, love, and trust above all things. (And so most anything can become a god or idol in our lives.)
  • In the apophatic Christian tradition, God is ultimately unknowable. We can say what God is not, but we can’t say what God is.

Who is God for you? Is God one thing or many things? Beyond the biggest thing you can think of, or a God of small things? Are world religions avenues to the same God, or do they worship separate Gods?

Where does your image of God come from: Scripture, movies, books, personal experiences?

Our answer to the question, Who is God? has wide ranging implications for how we understand the nature of salvation, how we regard other religions and our neighbors, and how we understand our purpose in the world. I'm looking forward to hearing your answersand questions.

God on Tap Tomorrow Night: What Makes a Christian?

God on Tap Tomorrow Night: What Makes a Christian?

Join us this Tuesday, February 23rd at 7:30pm, upstairs at Forest & Main, for our next God on Tap. Our topic: What Makes a Christian?

Did you see the headlines last week about the back-and-forth between Pope Francis and Donald Trump?

When asked about Trump’s suggestion of building a wall at the Mexican border, the Pope responded, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.” Trump responded, “I am a Christian and I am proud of it," and "For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful." (Catch the whole story here in USA Today.) 

Politics aside, the exchange between the Pope and Trump raises an interesting question: What Makes a Christian?

The answer may not be as obvious as it first seems.

  • Is it being baptized? But what if someone were to reject their baptism? To some, she is still a Christian; others would say not.
  • Is it, as some evangelical traditions demand, “Accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior”?
  • Is it being a member of a church?
  • Following a set of beliefs, like the creed, or political policy positions? Yet most people don’t accept everything in any ancient or modern creed entirely.
  • Is about it following Jesus? And what does that look like? How do you tell?
  • Is it just self-identifying as a Christian apart from any Christian institutions? Is it a feeling?
  • Can one be Christian but also Buddhist? How fluid can religious identity be?

Other religions have similar considerations. Judaism is an ethic identity, so things are a little clearer. However, within Judaism itself, people differ on what makes a Jew. Orthodox and most Conservative traditions say that to be a Jew one must be born of a Jewish mother. Reform and Reconstructist traditions would say that it can pass through the father as well.

As you can see, religious identification can be a tricky thing. And its a timely question as people (maybe you!) don't identify with religious traditions and institutions in the same ways as they once did.

Hope to hear your ideas on Tuesday night!

God on Tap Tonight: Starbucks Red Cups and Keeping Christ in Christmas

God on Tap Tonight: Starbucks Red Cups and Keeping Christ in Christmas

Join us for our next God on Tap, tonight, Tuesday, December 15th at 7:30pm, upstairs at Forest and Main. We’ll be talking about Christmas and the complicated intersection of Christianity, culture, and consumerism.

The start of the 2015 Christmas season was heralded not by songs of heavenly angels, but rather by a social media-fueled furor over the design of Starbucks’ red holiday cups. A rant posted on Facebook by Joshua Feuerstein, a self described “American evangelist, internet and social media personality,” on November 5th, complaining that Starbucks had removed any allusions to Christmas from its holiday cups, quickly went viral. This rant spawned a passionate debate over not only the design of the cups, but also the complicated relationship between capitalism, culture, Christianity, and the church.

We hear different variations of these complaints and concerns all around. Bumperstickers that say keep Christ in Christmas. Laments from some about saying “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.”

Are these part of a “war on Christmas” as some have said, or a needed correction as we live in an increasingly pluralistic, religiously diverse world?

Must we depend on corporations like Starbucks to prop up our Christmas observances, or is that the work of the church and individual Christians?

How do we keep Christ in Christmas? Is it by what appears on our coffee cups, or keeping Christ in our hearts, and letting the love of Christ flow through us in our words and deeds—as suggested by the image below.

Has Christmas become too consumeristic? Too focused on stuff? Too busy? How do we get to the heart of this season—a child born in a manger because their was no room in the inn—a simple and beautiful scene and story.

Let’s dig into it when we gather tonight. See you there!

Christinchristmas

Get in Touch

God on Tap is hosted by members and friends of Upper Dublin Lutheran Church. Contact Keith Anderson for more information.