(In The Life Of The Church)
The Death of Expectation
Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Let me connect some musings in my head centered around a theme.
Moment 1. It started years ago when I was searching for a sermon illustration and stumbled on Barry Schwartz’s Ted Talk, “The Paradox of Choice.” Barry is some kind of social scientist (I don't remember what for sure; go Google if you’re curious) who talks about the overwhelming nature of choice and what it does to humans. I found my illustration, used it, and moved on. Later that week I watched the full Ted Talk on my own time. As Barry moves through the talk, he develops the theme that we are overwhelmed and ultimately disappointed by too many choices. The reason is this: when we have so many choices, we begin to believe the statistical chance that the perfect-for-me product exists. And then we consume said product (and assumption) and are disappointed, because even in a nuanced market we find that the best product can’t satisfy us. So what is Barry’s punchline? “Lower your expectations,” he says, drawing a collective guffaw from the crowd. He’s joking, but he’s not. It’s the uneasy and yet truthful confession of a scientist making a suggestion after having studied the myriad of options in segmented markets.
Moment 2. I watch season 3, episode 1, of Chef’s Table, an absolute baller program on Netflix about chefs. Season 3.1 features Jeong Kwan. Here I’ll just post a few lines cut and pasted from Wikipedia: “Jeong Kwan is a Seon Buddhist monk and chef of Korean cuisine born in 1957. She lives in the Chunjinam Hermitage at the Baegyangsa temple in South Korea, where she cooks for fellow nuns and monks, as well as occasional visitors. Jeong Kwan does not own a restaurant and has no formal culinary training.” Like all episodes of CT, this one is not just about Kwan or food; it’s about how life, worldview, and lifestyle form the artistic approach to creating food. I’m taken not just with Kwan’s veganism, but also with the romanticism of her life philosophy. I’m still just evangelical enough to be suspicious of anything that doesn’t have its origin in Jesus, but I’ll be shucky darned if this Buddhist vegan chef didn’t seem to have a lot to do with Jesus. Now I’m thinking about the Bhuddist and the caricatures I know of their philosophy. I Google and find “4 noble truths,” but I’m suspicious because someone could Google Christianity and find something like “4 spiritual laws.” I read the second, “suffering has a cause, namely craving and attachment (trishna).” Well hot dang, that’s kind of what Barry Schwarz said.
Moment 3. I’m in therapy this past spring. I make two big discoveries that I think about all summer. I’ll share one, but not the other. I’m not ready for that. We finally get to the part of my existential disgruntledness where I report to my therapist that I could be completely happy if I had a farm on Lake Superior, but until that happens, I can’t be happy. She suggests that happiness comes from within and that getting a farm on Lake Superior won’t really make me happy. I know she is going to say this, so I’ve prepared a rebuttal in which I explain she doesn’t understand how important place and topography are for me, and then I conclude it by quoting Jose Ortega y Gasset. I’ve rehearsed this for a few days and stick the landing. There’s a meme flashing in my head in which Gabriel Union from Bring It On says, “Bring It!” My therapist takes a deep breath, and I can see her trying to exhale some zen or some other voodoo into the air. Then she flashes me a sympathetic look that I imagine Delilah from the radio uses when she’s talking and says, “I think in order for you to be happy, some of your dreams may have to die.” I’ve never been this offended. It’s like my therapist is not American or has never seen a Disney movie. WTF! (Why the Face). Who tells people to kill their dreams so they can be happy? Then it hits me. This is exactly what Barry Schwarz would say and how Kwan cooks her food.
Interlude in which I remind you all how committed I am to the vision of the agrarian philosophy of Wendell Berry. I keep chickens, grow a fledgling garden, and have named at least one kid after him. Also recently, I found out that my second child has the same birthday as him. This, because you should know that I am anti progress and -technology even though I consume it and love it.
It’s July of 2019, and I’m on sabbatical in the Catskills with my wife because we liked the beginning of season 2 of Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. It’s our 15th anniversary trip. Lindsay originally wanted Jamaica or a beachy place. I hate hot places. We negotiate. Catskills. I’m in for the Catskills. It feels like a victory. I’m just glad I’m somewhere above the 40 degree latitudinal line. Because of our proximity to NYC, Lindsay proposes we go in town for a musical. I freak. I’ve heard about the cost of Hamilton tickets. I assume it’s all like that. I say we can’t go. We get in a fight. Jeremy Nance assures me I can get cheap Broadway tickets if I plan, so I concede. When the Catskill part of our trip is up, it’s time to head to the Big Apple. I’ve seen Chicago, London, Paris, Dublin, and Rome. I tell myself I know what cities are like and don’t think much about NYC or the show. In my mind, I’m just doing what my wife wants because anniversaries matter more to her.
I LOVE NEW YORK CITY! I hate how much I like it. The lights, the busy, the people, the Empire State Building, Broadway, Times Square. Somehow it’s all magical. Every time I smile, I apologize to Wendell Berry in my heart, but goll, is this place off the charts or what? We fly home. I process a few weeks after the fact because that’s what emotionally repressed 3s do. I decide I loved my vacation in New York. Then I ask how can this be? I have my answer. I had no expectations for New York. I never thought about it, so I was completely surprised. This is how joy works.
Now I’m thinking about my heart and its emotional agnosticism coming into NYC. I think this is why it worked. I had no expectations. Barry Schwartz, Kwan, and my therapist are right about this. But I’m still suspicious because unless I hear Jesus say it, I don’t agree. Then it hits me. This is the tradition of death in the gospels. Lose your life to save it. Crucified in Christ. It’s no longer me, but Christ in me.
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This coming Sunday we will be commissioning all of our kindergarteners as they begin their formal educational journey! Please be in prayer for our kindergarteners as the prepare to participate meaningfully in our liturgy and begin this journey. And also be in prayer for their parents as they help them journey a little further down the road of life. If you are the parent of a kindergartener and you have not heard from Taylor about this Sunday please send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org so that she can get you the info that you need!
UBC Start Time
Friends on Sunday 8-25, UBC will officially begin it’s worship time at 10:45.
So Sunday schedules once Sunday School begins in the fall will be as follows
9:30-10:30 = Sunday school
10:30-10:45 = Fellowship Time
10:45-Until the Spirit says so = worship
Now some of you may be thinking, “we all but start at 10:45 now, why are we announcing this?” Fair question. Officially UBC has started at 10:30 for years. Most Sundays that doesn’t actually happen. Recently, I, one Josh Carney, and brother Jameson chatted about the logistics of pulling off the start time at 10:30. We were able to identify the difficulties and, we believe, address them with this new strategy. Still you might be wondering why announce something that is de facto? This official move allows for a few things. First it honors our child care workers, greeters and other volunteers. If we officially start at 10:45 then we can say to them, “hey you don't have to be here until ________.” Secondly, for those of you for whom time is precious and would prefer to come to church the minute it starts and leave the second it is over, now you have a promise from us that the start time is officially 10:45. Our responsibility is to stick to that. Deal? Deal.
Youth Parent Meeting this Sunday after church in the youth room
Do you have a student currently in 5th through 12th grade? Do you wonder what this whole Order of the Phoenix thing is, and what goes on in the Church on Wednesday nights? Well if you answered yes to both of those questions then the youth parent meeting right after Church this Sunday is the place to be! Hannah and Dilan will introduce themselves, explain what a typical youth group meeting looks, and explain all things youth at UBC. This is open to new and returning families, and students are more than welcome to attend as well. Email Dilan@ubcwaco.com or Hannah@ubcwaco.com with any questions.
Since the inception of this fine publication in November of 2013, ITLOTC has come to you on the afternoon (sometimes evening) of Friday. It has been suggested that this is less than ideal—that some of you have your hearts and minds fixed on your weekend at the Hamptons and are disengaged with something like a church newsletter. Alas, the release date of the ITLOTC will now be moved too Tuesdays. This means two important things. First, you will not get a newsletter next Friday 8-23-19. We are shutting the grid down for a reset. But lo, you will get an ITLOTC the following Tuesday on 8-27 and forever after on Tuesdays. So use that extra 10 minutes next Friday to buy yourself come cracker jacks and enjoy the view on the Brazos because this newsletter is changing publishing days. Sincerely, the management.
Greeter Team Help
As we get ready for the fall we need some help in the greeter and welcoming station department. Greeters and welcome station folks arrive to church around 10:00 and … wait for it … greet and welcome new people. Greeters serve once a month. interested person should email email@example.com.
Parishioner of the Week
Jillian Haag for putting the finishing touches on an all American summer of children’t ministry help.
Sermon Texts: Hebrews 11:29-12:2 “The Risky Tradition: Faith and Grace Part 1”
Welcome Back Lunch: 8/25
Mi Casa Leader Training: 8/25, 9:30AM
UBCYP cookout: 9/7
Sunday school Starts: 9/8
Work is Worship
Coffee Makers: Shanks
Mug Cleaners: Kyle and Kristen
Money Counter: Jen Carron
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.
Byron Griffin: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kerri Fisher: Kerri_Fisher@baylor.edu
Jeremy Nance: Jeremy.J.Nance@L3T.com
Joanna Sowards: email@example.com
Kathy Krey: firstname.lastname@example.org
Student Position, Samuel Moore: email@example.com
Student Position, Anna Carol Peery: firstname.lastname@example.org
UBC Finance Team
Do you have a question about UBC’s financial affairs? Please feel free to contact any of your finance team members.
JD Newman: JD_Newman@baylor.edu
Catherine Ballas: email@example.com
Jen Carron: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Dodson: email@example.com
George Thornton: GeorgecCT1982@gmail.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.
Ross Van Dyke: Ross_Vandyke@baylor.edu
Jared Gould: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rebekah Powell: email@example.com
Kristen Richardson: firstname.lastname@example.org