Heard at Cafe: 3/31/15

It was Holy Week this week, the time where the Church celebrates the last week of Jesus’ life, so it only felt appropriate to talk about just that. We talked about three important moments in the week; the last supper Jesus’ ate with his disciples, Jesus’ experience in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Crucifixion itself.

We talked about how when Jesus was in the garden he knew he was about to suffer and die a terrible death. He was extremely grief stricken, sweating blood, and praying to God that he might escape the misery he was about to endure. In this moment we can see just how human Jesus really was. He was scared, anxious, and lonely. However, he had a choice. A choice to endure this trial, to honor his word, and to die for the good of all men. He chose to endure.

From his example we can learn we have a choice too. We can choose to do the right thing even when its hard. We too can choose to endure.

While Jesus was enduring the cross, what was he thinking about? We talked about how hard it would be to be in the middle of dying a terrible death, for crimes you did not commit, surrounded by the people you were dying for, and having them mock you and yell insults at you. It doesnt make sense to us for Jesus to die for people who hate him. So we took a look at some of the other people who were there when Jesus was dying. His friends, his followers, his family; people who loved him and had been changed by knowing him. These were people who might even be willing to die for Jesus too. If we squinted, we could maybe imagine why Jesus would die for those people, people who already loved him. So maybe thats what it was, maybe Jesus was able to see past the hate on the others faces, and see them as who they could be if they had a chance to get to know who he really was, if they had a chance to be changed into who he made them to be. So we have to wonder, what does Jesus see when he looks at us individually, and how would knowing that change how we live our lives?

Finally we talked about what the disciples must have been going through when all this was happening. Perhaps they thought back to the last meal the shared with Jesus when they gathered together to celebrate Passover. During the meal Jesus took bread and broke it and said “ this is my body, broken for you. Take and eat”. Then he took a cup of wine and said, “ This is my blood poured out for you. Take and drink.” He told them to do this and remember him. Today we celebrate the last supper, or Communion to do just that, to remember him. We talked about what that really means, and about how often we take communion without really thinking about the reason behind it. What can we do to not take this beautiful tradition for granted? Maybe what we need to is think seriously about the sacrifice he made for us. To think of Jesus as a friend, as a brother, who was killed for our behalf. To think about how because of what he did for us we not get to be a part of God’s family. How much more meaningful would bread and juice be to us if that was at the forefront of our minds? If we could try to think back to the last supper in the same way the disciples did?

Heard at Cafe: 3/3/15

At café this week, we talked about the idea of greatness. In our lives, we've all wanted to great—not just good, but great. As Tech students, we all want to be the best, the smartest. We ALL are trying to beat the curve. But there’s this issue, when we are all striving to be the best, and it is this: there are always people better than you, at whatever it is (unless you are like Michael Phelps or Dumbledore, in that case, why are you reading this anyway?). So in trying to be the best and trying to size up the people around us, two different things can occur. One, we come up short and end up feeling bad and have deflated self-worth. Or two, become we become people of great arrogance who are always trying to stay on top. We become people with inflated self worth. Neither option sounds great to me. So how do we become great? The great MLK Jr. coined this phrase—the ‘drum major instinct’. It refers to this idea that we are all trying to the best at something. Maybe it’s part of human nature, to do desire to be best, to be great. However, instead of greatness being found in being the best, maybe it lies in something a little bit different. When the disciples asked Jesus what it takes to be great, he told them to not be first but to be last. That greatness means being a servant. He says that in his kingdom, things are opposite. So in light of all that, it’s a very simple question I have for you: what are you trying to be the best at? At what? And for what? Let’s continue to think about this desire to be great. Let’s continue to strive to be important and the best—but in a different way, so that God’s kingdom can exist here and now.

“And this morning, the thing that I like about it: by giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's theory of relativity to serve. You don't have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

To listen or read the full sermon by MLK, Jr. meantioned above: http://mlk-kpp01.stanford.edu/index.php/encyclopedia/documentsentry/doc_the_drum_major_instinct/

I think this topic has also come at a very appropriate time, with this year marking 50 years since the events of ‘Bloody Sunday’. To read President Barack Obama’s speech in Selma: http://time.com/3736357/barack-obama-selma-speech-transcript/

Heard at Cafe: 2/24/15

What would it be like to never see with clarity?

Tonight at cafe we talked about how clarity is more than just vision. It can be mental, not understanding what you're studying is lack of clarity. Though our eyes are clear, things still can be foggy. Life choices are hard, we have things we’re wrestling to understand. We all have this in common. The disciples whole life revolved around following Jesus and trying to figure things out, trying to see clearly. They were striving to connect faith with life.

We looked at a story in the book of Mark(chapter 8) about Jesus giving sight to a blind man. Jesus spit in the dirt to make mud, he then too the mud in his hands and rubbed it on the blind man’s eyes. He asked the man what he could see. The man said,“I see people; they look like trees walking around”. So Jesus put his hands on the mans eyes again and he was able to see clearly.

Why did Jesus heal the guy in two steps? Scholars say Jesus intentionally does it in two parts. Maybe so he can make a point to his disciples. Maybe he was saying that being a Christian isn't easy all the time. Jesus served willingly and with love, but it wasn't easy for him. He was making a sacrifice. We must do the same. The point of life is not avoiding difficulty. It's about choosing what's good even though it may not be easy. Choosing things like marathon running, or choosing to have grace after a tough breakup or being hurt by someone; things that are not easy, but they are good. There are also things we can choose like porn, or alcohol, or anger. These things are easy, but they are not good. Things that are good push us beyond ourselves and that's what Jesus wants for us. Not a life that is easy, but a life that is truly good. Getting there means denying yourself, picking up your cross and following Jesus. And when we get there, how worth it, how good, and how spectacular it will be for us and the world around us.

Heard at Cafe: 1/20/15

Tonight at cafe we talked about family. We talked about how the words, Mother, Father Sister, Brother, they carry weight. We know they are supposed to be meaningful. The ancient Roman world, the world Jesus was living in, put a large weight on family. Everything was geared around keeping the family together and strong. They did business together, they needed to be loyal to one another to survive and thrive. However, in the book of Mark (chapter 3) Jesus challenges this ancient view of family.

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

When Jesus says this he's probably not trying to criticize his family, but he's challenging people not to let their last name define them, to find a new family in Him. He's saying all can be part of that family. and you get to choose it for yourself. His family is about looking at your past and future and choosing which path you want to take and with whom you would like to take it.

The book of Acts talks about the first church, about how they lived like a big family. The letters we can read to the early church are addressed “To my Brothers and Sisters”, even the ones written to strangers.

Jesus welcomes all, and challenges us that his family is the one who takes action, who puts his words into action, embracing the life the embodies God's will; treating each other as brothers and sisters, responding to their enemies with love, responding to those in need with help, doing whatever it takes to lead to peace, making the world better. A world like God wants. A world that loves, moves, and embraces.

What does that mean for us? Maybe realizing our friendship are families, and they are meant to be about more than just us. They can be about more than fun or gossip. They meant to be about standing together, arms locked. They are meant to be friendships that aren't about shutting people out, but welcoming others into our family. Some of us are lonely, but God wants better. We are loved. We are included. We should strive to share that with the world.