Thursday
Oct022014

Oktoberfest Beer and God's Love

From Thomas C. Goodhart

As the warmth of September gives way to the cool of October, doubtless do palates begin to change and many begin to crave the offerings which this season brings, for example freshly picked apples from a trip to a local orchard or the pumpkin-spiced flavoured almost anything that “food” marketers promote. But for some this season harkens to something else: Oktoberfest.

Oktoberfest is the sixteen-day festival that begins in late September and runs until the first Sunday in October. Thus, we are in the midst of it and it concludes this coming Sunday. Officially itself, Oktoberfest, one of the world’s largest festivals, happens in Munich, Germany, the capital and largest city of the German state of Bavaria. It’s historical roots began in 1810 when Crown Prince Ludwig—who would eventually became King Ludwig of Bavaria from 1825 to 1848—married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen on the 12th of October. A marriage celebration was held for the subjects of the Kingdom of Bavaria which included horse races outside of the city of Munich. These races continued in the following years, as well as an agricultural fair, and eventually a parade, a commemoration of sorts that eventually became named Oktoberfest. This festival continues to this day drawing over 6 million people to it annually. Not only has it remained a local celebration in Munich, but it has been replicated both around Germany and around the world with similar Oktoberfest festivals.

As with many festivals, and especially to those who celebrate the fullness of Oktoberfest now, it is about the tastes of Oktoberfest. The various food cravings this season and celebration harken to are the very traditional German foods of the Bavarian region: pretzels and potato pancakes, wurst (sausages)—especially Weisswurst (white sausage), sauerkraut, red cabbage, and one of my favourites—cheese noodles or Käsespätzle. But the food that is most associated with Oktoberfest is obviously beer.

Wednesday
Oct012014

Church in the Digital World

From Jes Kast-Keat

I am on the upper age of being a digital native. Technology is essential in my life. What's a digital native? Glad you a asked. Let's turn to Wiki, "A digital native is a person who was born during or after the general introduction of digital technologies and through interacting with digital technology from an early age, has a greater comfort level using it. Alternatively, this term can describe people born during or after the 1985, but in most cases, the term focuses on people who grew up with the technology that became prevalent in the latter part of the 20th century and continues to evolve today." What this means is that as a digital native minister, church is not just what happens on Sunday morning, but church is what happens in the digital world. So let me offer some thoughts that may be helpful for us as we consider what the gathering of God's people looks like in a digital age.

This past week I was interviewed by two people who were interested in the ways I use technology for ministry. One of the people who interviewed me is the ELCA pastor, Keith Anderson, who is writing a book "The Digital Cathedral: Networked Ministry in a Wireless World." He wanted me to share my story of how I started the hashtag #MySixWordStoryOfFaith. In the early summer I invited all of my Twitter followers to help me write my sermon. I was preaching on Luke 24 and was fascinated by verse 48 when the resurrected Jesus tells the disciples "You are witnesses of these things." Essentially, Jesus was telling the disciples "Yo! You are storytellers of the faith. Each of you has a story about your encounter with me and the resurrection. Go and tell people your story!"

Tuesday
Sep302014

Metaphorically Speaking

From Scott Hoezee

This year I was privileged to be invited to join an interdisciplinary group of scholars.  Together we will study the intersections of economics and metaphor and how using certain metaphors may help not only ordinary folks better to understand the function of the economy but might help also economists themselves to frame their work in more accurate ways.  The group has barely gotten off the ground yet, but I can tell already that the discussions will be fascinating. 

One book we are looking at is a kind of mini-classic from just over 30 years ago: the Lakoff-Johnson volume Metaphors We Live By.  Most of the first chapters of this book bombard the reader with a nearly dizzying array of everyday speech that is substantially--and at times completely--structured by metaphors.  These metaphorical ways of describing reality are, in fact, so entrenched in our language that most of the time we are wholly unaware of the fact that we are engaging in metaphorical talk.  True, when we use more obvious metaphorical expressions like, "He's two sheets to the wind" or "She's a tough old bird," we are more conscious of the presence of metaphors.

But what about when we describe a conversation in which we note, "His criticisms were right on target."   As it turns out, for most of us our entire conception of arguments or of argumentative conversations is premised on the meta-metaphor that "Argument is war."   That's why criticisms can be "on target" even as certain other ideas can be "blown out of the sky" or "demolished" or "attacked."  

Or what about the ways in which spatial orientation becomes associated with positive or negative things?

Monday
Sep292014

Courage and the Border Crisis

From Jeff Munroe

photo credit: Freddy Rosas

Jeff Munroe is away today. His daughter Amanda, Social Justice Curriculum and Pedagogy Coordinator at Georgetown University’s Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching, and Service; is filling in.  Amanda recently participated in an experience in both Washington, DC and on the US-Mexico border looking at immigration issues.

“Let me ask you this,” the Border Patrol Agent’s voice boomed: “Do you have a fence in your backyard?”

“No,” I shot back. 

“Well, do you have a door to your house?”

“Yes.”

“If you were at home, and some guy walked into your yard, and then through your back door, and into your house, what would you do?”

I hesitated -- I felt trapped by the question. I was leading a group of students, and how I responded mattered. The agent was simplifying in order to make his point, but is immigration as simple as he was making it? Did his question capture all the complexities of sovereignty, human rights, race, politics and freedom surrounding migration and border issues?    

Sunday
Sep282014

Christ the Lord

Last year, Iranian-born academic Reza Aslan guested on the Daily Show to promote his newly-released, and instantly-controversial book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. In the interview segment between Aslan and John Oliver, Oliver jokingly wondered why he’d written a book about Jesus, needling, “I think everyone has now heard of Jesus. Everyone in the world has a relationship with Jesus, whether you want one or not.” He’s right.

Jesus of Nazareth, simply, is the most important human being who’s ever lived. His shadow looms large across history: he’s influenced more world history, art, science, music, culture, education, and philosophy than anyone else has, ever. Jesus still pops up, today, all over the place: he’s in Time magazine and on TV; on Broadway and in film.   The late Jaroslav Pelikan, a leading historian who taught at Yale, once quipped that “Regardless of what anyone may personally think or believe about him, Jesus of Nazareth has been the dominant figure in the history of Western Culture for almost twenty centuries. If it were possible, with some sort of super magnet, to pull up out of history every scrap of metal bearing at least a trace of his name, how much would be left?”

Not much. So, what do Christians have to say about the world’s most important citizen? The central assertion of the Christian movement about Jesus, articulated and handed on in the Creed, is that “Jesus Christ is Lord.” In confessing Jesus as “Lord,” the earliest Christians—proud Jews and proud Romans—use the title that the Jews of the time ascribed to YHWH and Romans at the time ascribed to Caesar. Christians believe that Jesus is the divine-human King- of galaxies and grasshoppers, multinational corporations, and even the most private dimensions of your life and mine.  

It is strange and difficult for many people to call Jesus “Lord.” For one, it’s not a title we use in our culture—these United States have not had a King or a Lord for some time now. And, thanks to bosses that manipulate us, institutions that fail us, and parents that abuse us, we have a cynical allergy to any authority figure in our lives.  

But Jesus is not an authority figure like the world has ever seen before. Jesus lives as king over everything, everywhere because he obeyed the voice of the Father, even to death. He is exalted over everything because he descended all the way down into death. Jesus shows us a God who exerts authority through service, and rules through loving self-sacrifice. This is the kind of King that maybe even we could trust.

Jared Ayers is the founding and preaching pastor of Liberti Church in Philadelphia, PA. He is a graduate of Lancaster Bible College, and is currently finishing an M.Div. from Western Theological Seminary’s Newbigin House of Studies. Jared and his wife Monica have been married for 10 years, and love calling Philadelphia home. They’ve been graced with two sons (Brennan and Kuyper) and a daughter (Rae Ann).