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Thursday, April 30, 2009

ghetto 117 

Thursday, April 16, 2009

ghetto 116 

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


This post is somewhat related to the previous post "new beginnings".

As part of the trip I was asked to be the worship leader for the week. For the week I had wanted to throw in some experiential worship (link is to a book by my friends Dan Kimball and Lilly Lewin, cause I think worship is more than just singing, and tonight I had a headache so this is what I came up with.

Using some items that happen to be on hand at the place we are staying at, I started by thinking through what it meant for us to be helping people recover from a disaster, namely hurricane Ike.

I came to the scripture of Noah and the flood, Genesis 7-8 and that was to be the text for our time.

I wanted to talk about how God uses times in our lives to create opportunity for us to start over. A cleansing amongst disaster.

I found some animal crackers and had hoped to find some bars of soap, I couldn't find soap so I had to settle on some disinfectant wipes. I wanted to help people encounter a smell of "clean".

I used the animal crackers as representations of both the animals on the ark and of us, how God chooses to save certain creatures and people. And also how the animals were offered as an offering at the end of the story. The wipes symbolized the fresh start that Noah and his family were given after the flood.

I started the time by talking about Galveston and the idea that even after the flood this community was starting over. That lives were being used and that us being here was far more valuable than we may even realize. I then introduced the items that we would be using. Telling them that the animal crackers were to be examined when the animals were put on the ark, and then eaten once we reached the sacrifice section. I instructed them to smell the disinfectant wipes once we reached the point in the story where the water had fulled receded and the earth was dry.

I the proceeded to read the above mentioned text and allowed the participants to interact with their items.

It was a nice way to spend worshiping and at the same time think about the work that we were doing and the people are interacting with throughout this week.

Hope you feel inspired to maybe try it yourself or to amend it towards your own group and your own needs.

new beginnings 

In case you missed the memo.

I'm in Galveston Texas for the week on a trip with high school student and college students doing relief work post hurricane Ike that occurred last fall.

It's been a different kind of mission trip. It's a different feeling than past trips to mexico. The work is still of a construction/repair nature but it feels much different. Partly due to the fact that we are working inside of the US. Partly because of the organization that we are working with.

The jobs vary from day to day. The people we work with are not professionals and the tasks might not have finite endings or be completely detailed. What is important to keep in perspective for us is the impact we are having on lives and on a community.

When I think about it, Ike happened 7 months ago, and this community is still in the early stages of putting itself back together. While the damage and impact wasn't as large as Katrina, it still is eye opening to see how a community is challenged to rebuild and work towards building a new life.

Disaster changes things fundamentally. No matter how hard we try and how hard we work things will never be the same. We can strive to restore things to the way things were before life was turned upside down. Even if we recreate what was before, the place we are now is still different, because of the experiences we went through. The best hope we can dream for is one that takes what we had in the past and fuses it with the current situation. The hope of the new, the hope of the now, the promise of the future. It does not mean we need to forget what was in the past. Those times, places, things are valuable, they have shaped us to who we are now. They will continue to live with us. We cannot be crippled by a desire for things to return to the state that can no longer exist.

It is often hard to remember that in many cases in the world, things must die before they can become new. This is a painful process, yet it can be a liberating process. It is a process of grief. It is a process of death. It is often a painful birth. Yet it is a necessary step for things to begin to grow again.

I am excited that cities like New Orleans is taking this opportunity to rebuild communities that are taking advantage of new technologies and thinking when it comes to city planning. To retrofit an entire city to new standards and thoughts is nearly impossible. But through the destruction, which was painful, in many ways people were given a clean slate.

The idea of being able to start over is many times feared. We cherish everything that we have build, stored, poured time and energy into. Though with accomplishment, comes baggage. Baggage that we carry around for a lifetime. Intentional baggage and unintentional baggage. When we start over, that baggage is removed from the picture.

I like the idea of living a life that periodically cleanses itself from the baggage of life. There's a feeling that comes with being able to start a new. There's also fear. I can hope that people attach themselves to the desire to have a new start.

Slight tangent: It's always bugged me on the show Lost that these individuals did not take the opportunity to start new lives. As we learn many of the survivors come from checkered pasts. Yet they all allow their pasts to define them on the island. They are incapable of taking hold of the gift of starting over. We quickly see relationships form yet be held hostage by the past that has crashed landed yet refuses to die.

Life brings with it build in chances to renew ourselves. The question is are you ready and looking for those times in your life? Are you willing to take the opportunity and risk that is presented before you?

Thoughts for the comments? Have you been given an opportunity to start over? Did you take it? Why or why not? What have the outcome(s) been of your decisions? Leave your story in the comments or link to your own post.