Chapter 7 + 8 Thoughts on Heaven & Liturgy

I’m back! After more than a week away from writing I am back. Last week seemed to be full every second of everyday. I was emceeing the second annual Regeneration Christmas Coffeehouse event, I had a busy week at school, I had coffee dates, and housemate dates, I was reading another book, I was living a full and busy and hectic life, but it was great. This week is much slower and I should be able to catch up on some thoughts and questions. Here are my thoughts on chapter 7 & 8.

Coffee + Christmas vibes xoxo

Chapter 7

What do you think of the idea that Sin Management is only the beginning of atonement — that there is real work and transformation in the Gospel of the Kingdom of God? That there is a difference between converts and disciples?
I loved that I read The Divine Conspiracy before I read this chapter. Often when I was reading the Divine Conspiracy I would get lost in the writing and theology and forget what the book was even about. I still waver on the whole thesis, but reading Sarah’s words helped add a new level of clarity.

I think there is a huge difference between  converts and disciples. Even outside of the Christian world I think there is a diffenence. I am a convert to using CeraVe face cream. I think it’s the best and makes my skin feel wonderful. I don’t however consider myself a disciple of CeraVe. I don’t study and spend time pondering the ways of CeraVe. I don’t feel that I have a duty to win over converts for CeraVe. Sure, it’s great and if people ask I will recommend it, but that’s a far stretch from feeling compelled to reshape my life and create a lifestyle that compliments my CeraVe life choices.

It’s the same with my faith. I would consider myself to be a disciple of my faith, not simply a convert. A disciple takes potential energy of the convert and turns it in kinetic energy.

Do you find yourself focused on the broken and the darkness? Think about where you have seen the light and beauty in the world recently — evidence of new life being breathed into death. If you like, share what that light and new life have looked like in your life.

It’s Christmas time so thanks to Diwali, and Hanukah, St. Lucia’s Day, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, and New Years this is a literal bright time of year. I love that around the world, because of the days growing longer, this is a time of candles and light. The world is dark so humankind fights back, we create artificial light to bring joy and celebration into our bleak dark long nights. Oakland is still having sunny days, and on Saturday you could not have guessed it was December due to the huge number of people out around the lake and around town enjoying the sun with a variety of summer activities.

Even without Christmas I have never been one to dwell on darkness, my personality is much more often attracted to happy and bright people. I see new life in the flowers, brought by rain. In packing up and leaving, new friends. The sunny side of life. Light and new life in my life have generally looked like new apartments, new friends, new streets and museums to explore, new books, regenerating myself and discovering parts of me I love, and parts that I can shed.

How can we lean into the Kingdom of God now, and not simply wait for the “yet to come?”

I think this is one of the more simple aspects of Christianity that gets muddled and over-explained until it’s a blurry mess similar to the grey schmear that appears when you erase with a crappy pencil.

To lean into the Kingdom of God now we need to look for direct ways to radiate the love of God in our spheres of influence and communities. Feeding some homeless folks, volunteering in a local school, being a part of a homegroup, always tipping, holding doors for strangers, being kind to the folks at Trader Joes. These are a few ways I try and lean into the Kingdom of God here and now. Try it yourself.

Chapter 8

What seasons of light and darkness- certainty and doubt — have you experiences in your faith? Which is a more natural state for your soul right now?

I think this ebb and flow of light and darkness I have already pretty well wrote about in previous posts, but I will say that I have more certainty that I would probably like. There are full days where I am lit with the spirit. I am 100% confident in my God and his kingdom. Then there are days when I am like WHAT AM  I EVEN DOING. Why don’t I get a real job. Who cares. This isn’t real. None of this matters.

A more natural state of me is probably leaning more closely to certainty, but not full certainty. I am an optimist by default so I am hopeful and full of faith in God’s kingdom.

Do the traditions of liturgy and spiritual disciplines bring you comfort or intimidate you? What has been your experience with these ancient practices?

In high school, when I first started fall away from the Church and Christ I regularly visited the Catholic church in my hometown with my friend and her mother my Spanish teacher. I loved the tradition and the sensory experience. The smells, the up and down, the order, the prayers, the new lingo. It was all new and it was as if I was discovering church for the first time.

The summer after my senior year my Spanish teacher tragically passed away and the last time I stepped into the catholic church was for her rosary service. I have been scared to go back and visit since that time. Her passing and my foray into the catholic church happened so abruptly, but both left huge impressions in my faith. Because of my very protestant faith growing up I was often taught that many of those more liturgical and high churchy denominations were incorrect and following a false Gospel and doctrine.

My experience in the catholic church taught me otherwise. I hope to return someday, but now I am still standing at arms length from many of the liturgical practices.

Without being bound by traditional categories of Christians, try to define your unique combination of theological ingredients? What pieces of the gigantic pie do you desire and need to feel alive in your faith– to see and hold onto Jesus?

Man, this question is huge, and to be honest until I read this chapter I didn’t think this way of thinking was even possible. My upbringing it made it clear that there was no grey area. There wasn’t a piece of pie, there was one path, you commit and go with it.

My faith right now is a bit of the happy clappy Hillsong worship, the solid Biblical teaching of some large mega churches such as Willow Creek, the power and women’s leadership of ladies like Christine Caine and Danielle Strickland from Hillsong and Salvation Army, the theology and deep study I gained from my Southern Baptist upbringing, the urban church “cool street smart” factor I get from my local church in Oakland, the focus on social issues I gained from people like Shane Claiborne, and the intermixing of liturgy that has begun to slip into mainstream christianity these days. My pie is messy and big and full of contradictions, and it’s still evolving. I am adding and taking away, I am ever expanding, but through all of this Jesus is at the center of my pie, he’s the crust and the filling, and the toppings. Jesus is the pie in all it’s forms and styles. 

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