God on Tap Blog

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God on Tap Tonight: Let Us Pray...

God on Tap Tonight: Let Us Pray...

Join us tonight, October 25th, at 7:30pm upstairs at Forest & Main Brewing Company for God on Tap, where we will be talking about prayer.

Prayer is one of the core religious practices across the worlds religions, but one we have not yet discussed at God on Tap. So, here we go!

- What role does prayer play (or not) in your spiritual life?

- Why do you pray? How do you pray? What affect does it have on you? Or, why don’t you pray?

Soren Kirkegaard once wrote that “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” Does that ring true?

- Does prayer change God’s mind, change what happens in the world, or just change us?

- Have you ever been disappointed when something you prayed for didn’t happen? How did you deal with it?

There are many ways to pray: silently, within a group, using icons, writing, walking, enumerating our concerns, giving thanks….

As a spiritual practice, prayer seems endlessly customizable to the one praying, and flexible enough to change with us over the course of our lives.

- Has prayer changed for you through the seasons of your life? How?

I’m looking forward to hearing your take tonight. See you then!

God on Tap Tonight: Our Spiritual Guides

God on Tap Tonight: Our Spiritual Guides

Join us for us for God on Tap tonight, 7:30pm upstairs at Forest & Main. Our topic is “Our Spiritual Guides.”

Who are the people in your life, or authors, thinkers, ministers, gurus, yogis or even celebrities that have been spiritual mentors for you? Why? How have they shaped you?

Faith and spirituality never happen in a vacuum, they are always mediated through relationships with others, whether they are people we know, authors we read, or spiritual leaders or profound thinkers that we watch or listen to. Sometimes they are people in our very families, faith communities, sometimes they are ancient saints, or contemporary writers, musicians, or artists.

This topic springs to mind because in churches this time of year, there is a lot of focus on religious formation and the teachers, mentors, and leaders that facilitate that learning for children, youth, and adults. 

One of my favorite books on spiritual mentoring is called Father Joe: The Man Who Saved My Soul and tells the story of the author, Tony Hendra, and his friend and Benedictine monk, Father Joe. Throughout all the ups and downs of Tony’s life it was his conversations and relationship with Father Joe that helped to see him through, find his way, and truly saved his soul.

But that spiritual formation doesn’t just happen inside the church walls, and it isn’t just facilitated by religious leaders. In her book, Choosing our Religion, Elizabeth Drescher describes how those that might consider themselves more spiritual than religious find and follow a variety of spiritual guides, or, as she calls them, “companions on the journey.” She writes, “Teachers, books, movies, music, journals, statues, and the like…provide content—ideas, inspirations, and suggestions, for more authentic living.”

Who are your spiritual guides, your spiritual influences? Who have been your companions on the journey?

See you tonight! 

Discussing Creativity at God on Tap Tomorrow Night!

Discussing Creativity at God on Tap Tomorrow Night!

Join us for God on Tap tomorrow night, July 26th at 7:30pm at Forest & Main Brewing Company in Ambler. Our topic: creativity.

When the universe seems to be sending you signals, its best to pay attention.

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot about creativity—how it works, what fuels it, what inspires it, and what prevents it.

From a podcast reminding its listeners of the importance of boredom for creativity, to reading authors like Stephen King and Anne Lamott describe their writing process, to Elizabeth Gilbert's TED talk about your elusive creative genius, to a conversation just this past week with my friend like Jim Kast-Keat about how he creates great projects like his Thirty Seconds or Less videos. (He describes his creative process as something akin to throwing spaghetti against a wall and seeing what happens.)

Creativity. Its a common thing. We create all kinds of art, theatre, music, school lesson plans, woodworking, gardens, beer, designing, writing, business plans, you name it. We may not have created ourselves, and yet we do create and craft and shape our lives as we tend to our relationships, work, and callings.

Human beings create things. That’s what we do.

While creativity might be something we all share, I bet that we would each describe it differently. Everyone seems to have there own unique creative process. How is it that creativity is universal and yet so particular to each person?

While scientists are understanding more about the biology of creativity as they study and better understand the brain, creativity also remains, at least for me, a very spiritual thing. In my experience, creativity is something that often comes to me, not from me, and its not something I can necessarily predict or control. Even if I know the morning is my most creative time and that my favorite coffee shop seems just the place to spark my writing, I still don’t know what will happen until I sit down to work. It feels like a gift. It feels like the work of the spirit.

Here are some questions to get us thinking:

What do you create? What is your creative process? How would you describe it? What do you think about the science and spirituality of creativity?

See you tomorrow!

Photo credit: Alice Achterhof

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.”

Get in Touch

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