Mothers and Fathers...

The promises and purposes of God, as set forth in the Scriptures are dizzying. They describe a whole creation flooded with goodness and truth and beauty - the very presence of God. They describe all the nations of the earth discipled and brought into glad submission to His good reign over everything. They describe peace, wholeness. The absolute end of death. To discover what God is doing in history and in the world is to see a world utterly transformed. To then discover that such a purpose is given to God’s people in the world, is to see the whole course of your life redefined - re-contextualized. You find yourself in a wholly different story than you previously thought. 

I remember being intoxicated by these things during my final semester of undergrad. I was taking a class at the time on the use of the Old Testament in the New and left that class every Tuesday and Thursday night riveted. It was like waking up to an entirely different understanding of what life was for. 22 years later and I am still stunned by these things. But there is a lesson in all of that which has taken far too long for me to learn. 

Here’s that lesson: all of this glorious purpose-all of that eschatology, its getting worked out in the most mundane corners of our lives. The fifth commandment follows on the heels of some rich and sweeping theological themes in the first 4. We’ve been commanded to worship God alone. We’ve been commanded not to toy with Him by redefining who he is. We’ve been commanded not to follow him or bear his name vainly. We’ve been commanded to receive his gospel rest. High falootin’ stuff. 

Then the 5th commandment tells us to honor our parents. 

There is much to consider in the 5th commandment. It addresses the nature of authority and how that frames all of reality (more on this later in the week). But I wanted to point out the simple observation that all of this “worship of God alone” first gets worked out in the most mundane, irritating, oft-times disappointing relationships on the planet. We are to honor these relationships. That’s where God goes first. 

What does all of this have to do with eschatology and the nations? What does it have to do with all this purpose our lives have been endowed with? How does this further transform the story we now find ourselves in? Well, this is your part. This is where all of this grand purpose gets worked out. This is the lesson it took me far too long to learn. All of that eschatological glory is getting worked out in the most personal relationships we have. God is changing the world, not through sweeping political reforms or even, primarily through church planting and world missions and all of that. He’s changing the world by reconciling fathers to sons, mothers to daughters. He is flooding the world with glory through friendships, through marriages, through parents and children. All of those frustrating, mundane, anxiety-ridden relationships - all of them, that’s where the glory’s at. 

Wild as it seems, all of that glorious purpose is tied up in the conversations happening around the dinner table between sons and fathers. God is renewing everything as neighbors share a meal and friendships are reconciled and a mother teaches her daughter how to make a marvelous loaf of sourdough. It is unfolding as a father goes for a walk with his daughter. We bear witness to the kingdom of God as we sit around a table, sing the doxology with friends and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters, break open that loaf of bread, and pass the bottle of wine. 

And the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, growing up, almost indiscernibly, into a tree where birds from all the nations make their home. 

Join us Mondays on October 29th, November 5th & 12th as we explore these relationship in a seminar on Marriage and Kids. 6:30pm at 2497 Fenton Street.

Church as Toddler. Church as Family...

One of the more fundamental confusions about the local church that plagues us these days is the unexamined belief that the church should function something like a good restaurant.  It exists primarily as the purveyor of religious goods and services and you choose one that has the stuff you like. Good service, nice French fries, delicious soufflé. This view, if unchecked, will keep any church from embodying the kind of beauty and goodness and truth that we long to see. To make matters harder, Trinity is a church plant - which means that we are a big ball of potential. Lots of raw material, everything still taking shape. We're like a little toddler, bumping into the walls, sticking our fingers in the electrical sockets, doing all the things toddlers do. So, if you come to Trinity in the way that many people come to church in the U.S., well, you'll be sorely disappointed much of the time. 

The church is described a number of different ways in the New Testament - but one of the bible's favorites is to describe the church as a family. What we do on Sunday is gather for a Sunday meal. We care for one another. We sing the praises of our good Father. He tells us, through the Bible and the liturgy what He's like, what He wants for us, and most of all, what He's done for us in Jesus. Now, admittedly, family meals can be a little awkward, and we want our friends and even strangers who don't know our Father to come and sit with us and eat with us. But this is precisely how God forms us increasingly into the image of Jesus - declaring us to be and then making us increasingly to look like sons and daughters. 

One of the implications of this biblical understanding of the church is that most of the things we long to see in our life together at Trinity require all of us to pursue together. We want family-like community with one another. That isn't something that can be programmed. There isn't a "switch" we can throw for that in a church plant. There are simply people committed to pursuing conversations and time and honesty with one another. New people who wander through our doors for our gathering won't feel welcomed by an institution. They need to actually be welcomed by people who are already gathered into this new community. 

As we approach the fall, we are trying to facilitate as many opportunities as we can for our church family to draw closer to one another and to invite neighbors and friends and well, even strangers to come and be with us - in worship on a Sunday, in homes during the week for dinner and laughter and prayer, at an event around town. But in the end, as we long to see the church grow up into greater and greater maturity, all of us have to recognize the church as a family - where everyone is at work - welcoming, inviting, singing, praying, approaching together.