Waking from the Dream

I love our church for many, many reasons, but this panel discussion about race and reconciliation highlights a few that are especially close to my heart. First: I was away this particular Sunday and, as you’ll hear, the church didn’t miss a beat. Second: I love our commitment to balance theological reflection with courageous action. Two weeks prior to this panel I did my best to make the biblical case for racial reconciliation and then this panel helped the church imagine how that theology actually plays out. Third: We have amazing people! Pastor Michelle Dodson was a phenomenal moderator and the panelists were brilliant. Every time we do something like this I learn so much.

You can listen to all our sermons including the panel discussion via our podcast or just the panel discussion below.

The View From Here

Yesterday, after our worship service and monthly potluck lunch, our church joined a few other congregations in Bronzeville for a #BlackLivesMatter Protest in our neighborhood. The first photo shows the churches just as we began to march, we eventually filled in both lanes of the street. The second shows a line of clergy leading the march. I’m on the far left with two of my ministry colleagues, Michelle Dodson and Ramelia Williams.

Photo credit: @CWJ_Consultant
Photo credit: @CWJ_Consultant
BLMBronzeville 2
Photo credit: @skbaer

The march went very, very well even as we all acknowledged that it was simply a small step. You can read more in the Chicago Tribune.

this weekend: christianity and consumerism

I’ve mentioned The Gospel and Culture Conference here a few times, but it’s worth pointing out again.  The conference begins this Friday evening, includes a picnic and session on Saturday evening, and wraps up on Sunday morning.  This is New Community’s first attempt at something like this, and I’m glad that Skye Jethani will be our inaugural guest teacher.

the gospel and culture conference

We’ve invited a number of Chicago churches to join us for the conference and we’re hopeful this weekend will be a time to meet new friends.  Our worship team will open each session and Friday and Saturday will feature a Q&A and refreshments.  New Community typically hosts a few summer picnics on Logan Boulevard and our first one will coincide with the conference, Saturday at 6:00.  The conference is free and open to anyone. Any Signs of Life readers going to make it?

Our guest teacher, Skye, has recently written The Divine Commodity, though we’d have invited him even if he wasn’t published.  I try to have lunch or coffee with Skye every few months because I know I’ll walk a smarter person.  Many of us are convinced that Consumerism as a way of life is antithetical to the Gospel of Jesus but Skye is one of the few people who is imagining a way for the American Church to be faithful in the midst of this type of culture.

If you’re around Chicago this weekend I hope you’ll join us.


a long/good sunday

I’m never sure how much personal stuff to share on the blog.  By “personal” I don’t mean deep-dark secrets but the day-to-day stuff that makes up life as a pastor in Logan Square.  I generally lean away from these kinds of personal details and instead write and share about interests in theology and culture.  While I’m OK with this, I’ve noticed that many of the blogs I read regularly (see the “regular reading” list on the sidebar) occasionally share personal stories.  I always appreciate these personal notes; they add an element of context that works nicely in the blogging format.  My friend Brian strikes this balance of context and content quite well.

With this in mind, I’d like to find ways to share some of the life stuff that leads to the thoughts and links that get posted on signs of life.  I’ll leave it to this blog’s readers to let me know if symptoms of that ugly blogger’s disease, narcissism, are ever observed.

Here’s something: Sunday wore me out.  It was a good day, but probably the busiest since joining the New Com staff in May.  Maggie and I got to the SDA building (our church rents the sanctuary of a Seventh Day Adventist church on Logan Boulevard) at 8:30.  She was helping out with the kids as she does once a month.  As has become normal, I gave the announcements at both services.  During the morning I met with two folks from the church; one is interested in participating in the prayer ministry and the other is volunteering to help with children’s ministry.  Following the 2nd service I drove to lunch with one of our community groups.  This group is going through the Bible in a year using the Disciples curriculum.  In addition to a great pot-luck style lunch (Do churches still do potlucks?  I hope so.) we talked about their experience thus far of going through the Bible.  After a brief stop at our apartment for an abbreviated Sunday nap, I went to the church offices to prepare for a couple of meetings.  Our team of small group coaches came at 6:00 to talk and pray about our community groups.  At 7:00 the community group leaders showed up for our monthly meeting.  Meeting with these folks is generally very encouraging.  It’s always good to spend time with folks whose commitment to community is so high.  Following the meeting I drove to some friends’ house where Maggie had been hanging out.  They had saved me some delicious Korean barbecue and a glass of red wine.  Eating their food and listening to their account of the Obama rally on Tuesday was a great way to end a long day.