content top

Summer 2017

Listening for God on Broadway This Summer

If you step back and analyze it, a musical is an odd way to present stories about the human condition. People don’t really talk by singing to and at each other like they do in Hamilton or Oklahoma. But here’s the thing about a musical: you don’t step back and analyze it; you step in and immerse yourself in the music, dance, and sets. You do it best when you see the professionals in the great theatres like St. James in NYC or the Kennedy Center in DC. But you do it good enough when a local high school or community theatre performs their amateur versions.

As a young person, I was relatively content to compartmentalize: I could be deeply moved, even enthralled with the Sound of Music or West Side Story and never ask what they had to do with God. As I grew in my faith I grew in a desire to see some connections. If God is God, the inspirations for the story, songs, and production have their final source in him. If God is God, a completely secular picture of the human condition is incomplete, is closed off from some of the most important data of the situation. And in the other direction, if God is God, the gospel message about God seeking to recover those who belong to him needs to be told in a way that not only reaches the mind but also the heart.

Recently I asked the worshiping congregation to note their favorite Broadway musicals. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of answers. I started from that list, added a couple of my own favorites that weren’t on there and came up with the list below. Throughout the summer, we will hold in conversation these musicals and the scriptures as noted. The basic elements of our worship will be scaled back to the essential minimum to give us more time for the songs of these musicals to be presented by our musicians and guests.

As you look at the list, you may have special memories associated with one or more of the 12 musicals we will look at. If so, I would like to hear from you. Please hand me a note on Sunday morning or send an email to lewparks20@gmail.com. I look forward to this journey together as we listen for God on Broadway.

Pastor Lew

 

Read More

March 2017

Deadly Sins—Saving Virtues

Sometimes we find ourselves in experiences without the language to name them – overwhelmed and muted at the same time. Then someone comes along with a toolkit of names for what is happening; we borrow the words and we gain a foothold for the climb out of the overwhelming experience.

I think the church’s lists of Seven Deadly Sins and Seven Saving Virtues is one of those toolkits. This toolkit of names, often brought out in the season of Lent, was created by Christians through the centuries as they wrestled with the temptations of daily life and heard or read the scriptures. The sins are “deadly” not because they cannot be forgiven or overcome – they certainly can and that is the whole point of listing them. They are “deadly” because they want to take over a person’s soul. They are insidious. If left unchecked they can cut a person off from love and community, and ultimately from the life-giving Spirit, the seal of their own sacred worth.

Less well-known then the list of seven deadly sins is a list of seven parallel saving virtues. Virtues are pathways given by God out of the deadly sins and into a life of confidence, consistency, and fruitfulness. God gives the pathways of virtues but we must choose to follow them, to practice and practice until the virtues become automatic reflexes. The Apostle Paul calls this work of progressing from life-destroying sins to life-affirming virtues “growing up in Christ.” John Wesley calls it “sanctifying grace.”

Please join me in the worship service this season of Lent as we look at the seven deadly sins and their counterparts in the seven saving virtues. March 12: the deadly sin of PRIDE and the saving virtue of HUMILITY… March 19: the deadly sin of GREED and the saving virtue of TRUST… March 26: the deadly sin of LUST and the saving virtue of LOVE… April 2: the deadly sin of CONSUMING ANGER and the saving virtue of SELF-CONTROL… April 9: the deadly sin of GLUTTONY and the saving virtue of TEMPERANCE… April 23: the deadly sin of ENVY and the saving virtue of REST IN PROVIDENCE… April 30: the deadly sin of SLOTH and the saving virtue of HOPE.

Your traveling companion through the season of Lent,

Pastor Lew

 

Read More
content top