#God is at #Starbucks

In my life, I am too busy…

I have always been a Martha, I don’t even want to be Mary.

But in the midst of the children screaming, the messiness of the house and the juggling of the schedules, God is there.

Just like Goodnight Moon, where each and every object is remembered and names, God keeps track of us, and loves us.

God is there in the mounds of paperwork, the long to do list and the phone that is ringing–in every worry that is a part of the church.

I know God is in these things, in the sunny walks to buy milk, where everything goes smoothly, in the car rides where everyone is yelling at each other for no reason. God is there.

But although God is there, the time I get to spend with God, is often not at worship where I’m trying to remember everyone in my prayers, or at home where we say our Amens or at the office where its a game of finish the most things. The moment I get to to spend with God is in the coffee shop–at the Barnes and Noble or the Starbucks, its when I go grocery shopping late at night, its when I get time to exercise.

And so I treasure the time I get to spend with God, taking comfort that God is always spending time with me.

The Anglo-American, Caucasian #Christmas, War on #Christmas & #Starbucks Coffee

Apparently Starbucks selling coffee in plain red cups is seen by some as another sign of the so-called “War on Christmas.” And rightly so. How dare they crowd out Advent and Christmas with the color reserved for Pentecost? I only drink liturgically correct coffee.

(Above is a light-hearted post from a colleague of mine)

Did you know the liturgical color for Advent is actually purple or blue? And that the color for Christmas is just plain white (no doubt for holiness?)

The war on Christmas is really a harkening for days when Christianity all looked the same….Christianity and Christians…and America, back when “true” Americans all looked the same and part of being American was being a certain brand of Christianity.

The War on Christmas is not really a war and its not really about Christmas, its a culture trying to come to grips with how the world is changing

Look the outrage at the cups, the outrage at the outrage of the cups, and those who are tired of the whole debate and feel that the Christians who are talking about how ridiculous the other Christians are being make for a good cultural discussion about meaning.

I worked in a Korean American church for a while. It was the melding between a 1.5 generation Korean congregation (those who are truly of both Korean and American heritage) +their young truly American, but ethnically Korean, children.

This congregation joined a regular small, had their heyday in the 1950s Caucasian Congregation.

I was on staff as the Christian Ed Coordinator, but realistically a lot of my job was translating.

Translating between the older Anglo-Christians, the Gen Y Koreans and the up and Coming Millenial-American-ethnically Korean Children.

Advent candles

Aren’t Advent Candles Taught in Seminary?

Ruth, a saint and mother to us all at church asked me this when their Korean-American Pastor didn’t do them.

No, I said, thats an American Tradition, not a Christian one.

Then I explained that Advent differs from place to place (I’ve lived all over America) and that even the words are different and in different order, depending where you came from.

Oh.

We did do Advent Candles, I was put in charge (as cultural translator) extradinare.

So the question is this?

What is at the root of this question about Starbucks (whose CEO is Jewish) and red cups?

As Christianity and Religion changes, as being American changes, perhaps we are asking the wrong questions.

And if people do things differently than you traditionally do…ask about it, learn about what people do and why.

And if you want to learn more, go to church, we have highly educated people, I spent 4 years at Princeton, who know about how things are done and why they are done that way, and how things are changing and why that’s exciting too…

Other thoughts on Red Cups

http://emilycheath.com/2015/11/07/christians-red-cups-and-priorities/

http://marthaspong.com/2015/11/09/more-red-cups/

Let’s Talk about Debt…

Debt is a big problem for us. Even if you don’t personally have debt (hooray) the United States as a country walks around with billions of dollars in debt every day.

What does this mean to be in debt? I’ve decided it means that you are empty–you have are literally worth less than nothing when you are in debt. And here we are in debt.

If you’ve ever studied the book of Ruth there is a weird legalistic part at the end. Instead of an immediate happily-ever-after between Ruth and Boaz (I love that fact that she proposes to him, talk about being ahead of the times!) It basically has to do with the fact that if you take on Elimelech’s indebted land, then you can make it fruitful again. However, if you have a son by Ruth you are then beholden to that inheritence instead of you own. I think thats it. Honestly, scholars disagree. They aren’t really sure what all was meant, and when Ruth was written down it was already ancient history because the whole sandal thing had to be explained.

Image

Anyway, what everyone agrees on is

A. Elimelech’s land had laid empty/fallow for many years and the debt on it had to be redeemed in order for it be planted again

B. Ruth was part of the deal, and Ruth was so obviously (at least as far as they knew in Biblical times) barren, because she didn’t have any previous children.

So here you go, empty land, empty family.

In many ways we the mainline church have the same problem with empty land–have you seen our crumbling-on-the-sale-block-only-six-people-attend-here churches? (the irony being that non-religious people are always sad to see churches close, what is that about anyway???)

Ok but without getting too tangential, we as a church are empty.

Then there’s me, well us, well my entire generation. I grew up during the boom years, I was told that as long as I work hard and do right things will work out for me. Yet here we are (and I speak from my personal experiences and those of my friends) struggling with debt, purpose and fulfillment.

Opportunities are so scarce for my generation, and many people have had to put off marriage, children, settling down or even being able to start their career due to the economy. Every single person I know has had to live off of their parents in some way, shape or form post college.

Married, single, graduate, post-graduate, post-baccelerate, even those with children have had to get help, move in with their parents or follow their spouse across the country only to work a menial job hopefully sort of in their field.

So what is it people want when they come to church?

They want somewhere, where they are no longer empty. They want somewhere where they can be fulfilled. And (more importantly) they don’t want to feel judged. Us Milleniumers, Boomerangers (because we return home), us zero-ers or whatever you want to call us feel the weight of our own emptiness.

All our hard work seems to be for naught, much of what we are characterized by is our selfishness our need to be special our consumerism etc.

I can say (in total biased opinion) that this is not true. We don’t all think we are special or well-deserved, we just hope we might be a little bit, and our experience of adulthood (do you know my second week of undergrad was 9/11/2001–my entire adulthood has been shaped by our post 9/11 world, whereas my entire childhood was pre-9/11).

Do you know what Young People think of when they think of church? Antigay (i.e. judgemental and bigotted). I cannot tell you how much this hurts me. No wonder people think church has nothing to offer, no wonder it seems nonsensical and out of date. People don’t associate church with love and service, but rather selfishness and closemindedness. Plus the church is trying to figure out how to bring people to the church, when instead we should be figuring out how to bring church to people.

So here we are, empty. What does it mean when we forgive our debts? What does it mean when God Fulfills God’s promises?

What does God offer us that is different from the regular activity?

Here is a need, plain and simple, for many “young people” and most people in general. A need to find fulfillment and worth outside of money, a way to struggle with debt and yet not to feel empty, and definition that exists outside the bounds of the day-to-day slog. So what is fulfillment, what is forgiveness. How does debt figure into all of this, and should the church heed this desperate call of the empty young professionals today, or do we continue to figure out how to survive without worrying about these problems!!!

I feel a VERY strong call here to do something about this, what if the church stood in the way of debt, what if we showed how God fulfills us, what would happen then?