(In The Life Of The Church)
This last Sunday I began my sermon on joy explaining my apprehension to preach about it. It's difficult to imply, even if subtly, that we should be a joy filled people when we are constantly aware of the suffering around us. I sometimes wonder if this has been intensified by relative ease with which we now have access to global information.
In my senior of college I took a capstone marketing class. In one of the final days of class our professor noted this phenomenon of proliferated information and pointed out that most people see a few culture changing events in their lifetime. He then went on to suggest that we, at young and eager age of 22 (in 2004), had already seen four: the falling of the Berlin Wall, 9-11, postmodernism, and the dawning of the internet.
For my parents it was the assassination of Kennedy and Vietnam. For the generation before that it was Pearl Harbor and WWII.
For me it was the murder of 26 people at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT in December 2012. I realize that event did not have the political magnitude as some of the others on this list nor does it represent the largest sum total of human suffering from a single tragedy, if such a calculation could be made. But something changed in me. I remember watching the news break from a TV down in the weight room at Columbus Avenues the Center. I was then and still am at a loss for words when I think about what happened. Somehow I get a little numb when I think about it. Not angry or even sad. Just overwhelmed. It's just too much.
Whenever I find myself unable to process the events of life I turn to my faith and look for something to match my experience. For that reason I've taken great comfort in Paul's words in Romans 8:26 "We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans."
The complexities of Sandy Hook were magnified for me by the fact that these events happened on the Friday before the Sunday in advent in which the church highlights joy. It seems as though a tragic symmetrical mirror was placed between now and then. Just two days after we celebrated joy in this advent season there was a school shooting Peshawar killing 148 people, mostly children and teenagers.
I don't know what to say or feel. In my sermon on joy I worked hard to point out what joy is and is not. I suggested that it has an eternal character rooted in the transcendent and that we often find its authentic nature in the midst of suffering, where it's doppelgänger happiness, always disappears. Here is a confession. I don't know where the joy is in Peshawar. I can't imagine it.
And yet for so many in the world, joy is full. A college friend welcomed her third child to the world on Tuesday. Other friends found out the gender of their first child. My dad got a great report from his oncologist on Monday. Millions gave sacrificially so that someone else could have a better Christmas.
Early on in my theological reflecting I discovered that our gospel which is so much about life is also so much about death. Now that I've reflected some more I think that's because our lives which are so full of life are also full of death.
Aristotle said that God was the unmoved mover. Consequently he reasoned that God is impassive, meaning without emotion, because to have emotion would be to change how God feels. A change in feeling would imply a change in God and because God is already perfect any change would be for the worse. Early Christian theologians adopted a version of this.
This always bothered me. Sure, the early church talked about Jesus' two natures and how human nature suffered, empathized and all those things, but they stood firm on the fact that God didn't.
One day, as I was walking away from my doctrine of God class in college, a friend suggested that God is omnipassive. Perfectly present in every emotion with all of us at all times. I'm not sure if that passes the orthodoxy test, but that's consistent with my experience.
God in the person of Jesus is both on the floors of the school in Peshawar and in the gender reveal cake of expecting couples all over the world. And right now, that's what getting me through.
Grace and peace ... and because I'm trying to be faithful ... even joy for Peshawar.
Christmas Schedule Information
UBC will be having church services on each Sunday morning through the holidays. We will not have a Christmas eve or Christmas day service. Enjoy your families and/or visit another one of the great churches in town.
The church building will be closed December 22nd-26th. However, a pastor will be available during this time. Please see the contact information listed below.
ITLOTC, aka this newsletter, will be taking a two week break as the seasons wind down. Look for the next edition on Friday, January 9th.
**** Leaving this in here one more week in case you forgot last week *****
We are in the process of getting rid of our coffee mugs that are chipped and stained beyond our ability to tell if they are clean or not.
If you are like me (Craig)-- (A person who has been described as just a little too addicted to coffee, even though I can stop anytime, LEAVE ME ALONE ABOUT IT, OK!)-- you will probably be getting at least a couple of coffee mugs for Christmas. Why don't you go ahead and create space for those mugs by bringing us one or two of the ones currently taking space from your cupboard this coming Sunday? As it stands, we could use about 20-25 new coffee cups.
The kids will be joining us in the services on December 21st and 28th! As usual, the Nurture and Sprout Rooms will be open to you if you need it, but we want you all to know that, as a whole, UBC understands that kids are kids! We consider it our joy to get to share parts of this special season with ALL of our UBCers; both big and small, old and young, developed and undeveloped prefrontal cortices, alike! Service-Survival-Kits (seasonally appropriate snacks, color-sheets and crayons) will be provided in the foyer for those who would like them!
Work is Worship 12-21-14
Mug Cleaners: Craig
Coffee Makers: Toph
Greeters: Jeff and Teri Walter
Shutdown Team: Cavemen Announcements:
- Sunday Sermon Text: Luke 1:26-39 /Advent Theme Love
- Please be in prayer for baby Evie Bates who is being dedicated this weekend
- Advent Sunday School Continues. It will be located in the backside.
- On December 28th, our service will be comprised mostly of carroll singing and scripture reading. Please come celebrate the arrival of Jesus with us on that day.
Do you have an Emergency? Do you Need to talk to a Pastor?: 254 366 9779
If you have a concern or an idea for UBC that you’d like to share with someone that is not on staff, feel free to contact one of our leadership team members.
Chair: Teri Walter: email@example.com
Jana Parker firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristin Dodson: email@example.com
Kaley Eggers: firstname.lastname@example.org
David Wilhite: email@example.com
Jamie McGregor: firstname.lastname@example.org
Byron Roldan: Byron_Roldan@baylor.edu
UBC Finance Team
Do you have a question about UBC’s financial affairs? Please feel free to contact any of your finance team members.
Tom Haines: email@example.com
Paul Taft: firstname.lastname@example.org
Josh McCormick: Josh.McCormick@dwyergroup.com
Chris Kim: email@example.com
Hannah Kuhl: HannahKuhl@hotmail.com
UBC HR Team
If you have concerns about staff and would like contact our human resources team, please feel free to email any of the following members.
Maxcey Blaylock: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mathew Crawford: email@example.com
Callie Schrank: Callie_Schrank@baylor.edu
Jeff Walter: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Heins: email@example.com