Sunday, October 26, 2008

In Communion

My thoughts about communion and being in communion with our triune God are steeped in intimacy(into-me-see). Intimacy with friends, intimacy with brothers & sisters in Christ, and intimacy with God. I cherish the gift of intimacy. I am blessed beyond measure to have intimacy with God. When most people think of communion, they think of eating a wafer and sipping grape juice. Or maybe they think of dipping a morsel of bread into a goblet of wine. But not many people naturally embrace the idea of communion looking like sharing a pizza with a friend. And that is my favorite way to celebrate communion. Sharing a meal, any meal, with my brothers and sisters in Christ and having a conversation filled with love and joy while thanking God for Christ's sacrifice. To further illustrate, here's a poem my friend Betsy wrote about communion:

Communion, not just about Christ's death
but every aspect:
incarnation and humble things
humanness and hunger
all the meals
all the miracles
all the talking

the 'last' supper
and the one after that

the breakfast on the beach
the feast that's waiting in heaven
(think of the guest list!)

not to mention the things before
(the old covenant
the first world
before the flood
before the fall)


Think about that the next time you say "no thanks, I'll just eat at my desk."
Think about that the next time you say "oh, no, drive-through's fine."

whenever you eat this
whenever you drink this
whenever you do this
its me.

Betsy posted that on her blog several months ago and I think it is beautiful. It proclaims the deep reverence we should all have for the gift of communion.

Regarding the intimacy I feel with God, I express this through a playlist. Music can submerge me completely into pure praise for our amazing creator, provision, and daily redeemer. When I arranged this playlist I selected each song carefully. Most of the songs would not normally be considered "worship songs" but for me they are. When I let these lyrics saturate my being, I imagine them as conversations with God. I imagine (depending on the lyrics) that either I am singing these words to God or that God is singing these words to me. It would take too much space to share all the lyrics. So I am only sharing the playlist below and encourage you to listen to these songs in the order below at your own leisure. Imagine being in communion with God with every lyric in this playlist:

All I Want is You – U2

Spirit – The Waterboys

Picture of Jesus – Ben Harper

The Story – Brandi Carlisle

Have a Little Faith in Me- John Hiatt

I Found Love- Lone Justice

Everywhere I Go- The Call

You’re My Best Friend – Queen

Give it Up – Hothouse Flowers

Trumpets – The Waterboys

Gloria – U2

Golden – Jill Scott

Unspeakable Joy – Kim English

The Whole of the Moon – The Waterboys

These songs are examples of the way I pray. I pray with a heart seeking God's perfect truth and grace in everything

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Diving Bell & The Butterfly

This post is a tribute to my father who passed away this time last year. While watching the Diving Bell & the Butterfly recently, I cried the hardest I have cried over the loss of my father since the day he passed. I do love a good cathartic cry and this movie was just what I needed to help my grieving process.

Here I will quote the bare bones description of the movie I found on Wikipedia:

"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a 2007 film based on the memoir of the same name by Jean-Dominique Bauby. The film depicts Bauby's life after suffering a massive stroke at the age of 43,[1] which left him with a condition known as locked-in syndrome. The condition paralyzed him, with the exception of his left eyelid, so that he could only communicate by blinking. The film was directed by Julian Schnabel, written by Ronald Harwood and stars Mathieu Amalric as Bauby. It won awards at the Cannes Film Festival, the Golden Globes and the BAFTA Awards, as well as four Academy Award nominations."

Here I will attempt to describe how it facilitated a great cry of grief over missing my Dad:

I can't. Really. There are a few specific scenes that prompted the tears, but to describe those scenes out of context of the entire beautiful movie is probably futile. If you have experienced the movie already you will remember these scenes. The scene where Bauby is having a flashback of his last visit with his aging and ailing father. He's remembering shaving his father and the banter they had during the shave. And at one point his father (played by Max von Sydow) looks up at him a little bewildered and says he can't remember what he was going to say. Then says, "Oh yes, I'm proud of you." Well, as soon as the shaving scene started I was a puddle. My dad was a brilliant man. But in his final few years he slipped further and further into dementia. He started having seizures and mini-strokes so we had to take care of him. Before we moved him to the nursing home permanently, I would shave him. I also bathed him and changed his diaper. It was heartbreaking to see him deteriorate. He had been my source of stability for most of my life. But even as his mind slipped away, he would remember his family and tell us he loved us.

My dad was a great man. He spent his life in service to his community. He was extremely Christ-like in that I never heard a word of judgment escape his lips. Never. His community service is without a doubt what inspires my servant's heart. Even in the years I was not a Christ follower, I found a way to serve and contribute to my community in positive ways. And I know that he was proud of my serving efforts.

In The Diving Bell & The Butterfly, Bauby at first does not want his children to see him in his paralyzed state. Eventually he decides that being a partial father to his children is better than them not having a father at all. And there is a scene where his children come to spend Father's Day with him. Much of the movie is shot from Bauby's point of view, from his limited view through his left eye. At the end of the Father's Day scene, his children sing a song for him and then the viewer sees (from Bauby's paralyzed view) the children kiss him good-bye. Again, I was a puddle. I imagined what it was like in Dad's final days to feel helpless as his family came to visit in the nursing home and as we kissed him good-bye.

It would have been easy for my dad to give up and sink to the bottom of the ocean in his own private diving bell. But when interviewed by social workers, he never even hinted at self-pity. In fact, he said he knew his strength came from God and he therefore felt blessed. Towards the end of his life, he would ramble about whatever fantasy he was entertaining that day. After seeing this movie, I now know that was his way of remaining a butterfly.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

2001: A Space Odyssey

One of the many things I love about my church community are the wide range of smaller community groups to choose from. With over 8K regular attendees, it helps to have small groups to get to know others around here. And after almost 7 years, I am blessed with LOTS of friends I met through either serving roles or small groups. One of my favorites was just launched last year and it is called Reel to Real. Twice a month the guys who created this group pull out the carnival-style popcorn machine and choose a flick to view and discuss. I love this group! I only made it to a few last year, but I immensely enjoyed all of them. The facilitators, Don and Andy, do a great job of creating talking points and always list a few bible verses that correspond on some level.

We kicked off this season recently with a viewing of 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is one of those films that, unless you have lived as a media deprived hermit your whole life, everyone knows something about...even if it is just the famous musical score. I had seen bits and pieces before and had heard all sorts of references to it, but had never watched the whole thing start to finish. WOW! How truly visionary to have put this together for release in 1968! The foresight into how the space program would evolve when we hadn't even landed on the moon yet- genius. The foresight into how dependent society would become on computers-awesomely prophetic. The movie as a whole- clearly drug induced! And the discussion after viewing- priceless. Many jokes were made about what drug inspired the end of the movie. And many jokes were made about who in the group may have been stoned the first time they saw it, if they had seen it in the theaters in 1968.

Seriously, great observations were made by several people. Some had read the book series and had extra insights to certain scenes, some weren't sure they even liked the movie but had great comments anyway, and we made thought provoking connections about humanity and God along the way. There was a lot of laughter. Especially when I had the audacity to suggest the chimps at the beginning of the movie could actually hear the singing associated with the big black monolith. The group looked at me so strangely upon this suggestion that I questioned whether I was the only one who could hear the singing at all! Very funny stuff...but maybe you had to be there. In fact, if you live in Cincinnati, you should join us sometime!