Heard at Café [Unplugged]: 3/7/2017

Last week at CCF, we celebrated the Week of Compassion & gave up from something every day to learn what it's like to live without something that we use as a part of our daily lives. Tuesday's focus was on electricity, and how 1/9 of the world doesn't have access to it (and how many more than that experience spotty electricity, at best).

In order to honor the Week of Compassion, Café happened last Tuesday sans electricity. We filled the room with candles, made desserts without using the ovens, and talked without microphones. While it was pretty different than a normal Tuesday night, Café "Unplugged" was a cool way to experience how a lack of electricity can make things more difficult, and it helped give more meaning to the talk which revolved around the idea of being thankful regardless of circumstance.

We read from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22:
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.
While the verses in this passage are pretty simple, they carry a pretty significant message. Paul wrote this to the people of Thessalonica after facing some hardships of his own, so the words "rejoice always" come with a deeper meaning - in the good times and the bad, it's always worth celebrating what God is doing in your life.

What better song to end the night with than Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", which, when translated, means "praise the Lord". The final verse says "And even though it all went wrong, I'll stand before the Lord of Song, with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah"... Even in the tough, in the times of struggle, we can hold on to what is good and find those things to be thankful for.

Heard at Café: 2/28/2017

Are we paying attention? This was one of the questions posed to us at Café on Tuesday. This semester we've been using songs to help give a better illustration of what the Bible is trying to tell us, and this week we chose a song based on its lyrics but also because of its music video:


According to OK Go,
"The song "The One Moment" is a celebration of (and a prayer for) those moments in life when we are most alive. Humans are not equipped to understand our own temporariness; it's deeply beautiful, deeply confusing, and deeply sad that our lives and our world are so fleeting. We have only these few moments. Luckily, among them there are a few that really matter, and it's our job to find them."
When we look back on our lives, we can think of specific moments that are pivotal to the person we've become. Although just one moment, these instances shape our lives for days/months/years to come.

One particular moment that was definitive of Jesus' time on earth was something called "the transfiguration". We read from Luke 9:28-36 and discussed what it would've been like to be in the shoes of the disciples who witnessed this event.
28 About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. 29 As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. 30 Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. 31 They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. 32 Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. 33 As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)
34 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” 36 When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen.
Peter, John, and James head down from the mountain dumbfounded. The transfiguration was probably a moment that gave them absolute clarity and certainty in their belief in Jesus, but it's not too long after this that these guys feel confused and defeated again. Even after witnessing undeniable proof of Jesus' importance, the disciples still go on to experience doubt and hard times in the future.

And if the disciples experienced doubt - even while being a part of events like this - then surely we, too, are allowed to question and struggle with what we believe. More importantly, though, we can learn from the disciples and understand that Jesus wants more from us than just a belief that he is who he says he is; he wants a relationship with us, too. After all, Jesus came down from the mountain to continue his ministry and continue living among his disciples.

Frederick Buechner, a Christian theologian, quickly sums up this thought with a quote:
"It is not objective proof of God's existence that we want, but, whether we use religious language for it or not, the experience of God's presence. That is the miracle we are really after. And that is also, I think, the miracle we really get."
The transfiguration of Jesus was an experience of God's presence for the disciples, and it was probably a moment they looked back on and clung to during times of fear and uncertainty. We may not get a "transfiguration moment" in our lifetime, but if we're paying attention we can experience God showing up in our lives in other ways.

Café ended with a Lenten challenge: to pay attention. We can do this in a number of ways...

  1. Look at the Bible. Read through one of the Gospel stories (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), and find one example from each passage/chapter of God showing up.
  2. Look at your own life. Find an example each day during Lent of God showing up in your life. 
  3. Look to others. Talk through some of these things with your friends or someone you trust, and think about how God is showing up through the people in your life.

We'd love to hear how you guys are paying attention during Lent. Let us know by dropping a note in Mugshot, talking to a member of the Café team, or a leaving comment here.