Heard at Café: 4/25/2017

To end the Spring 2017 semester, we had the classiest of classy Cafés on Tuesday night. There were bountiful amounts of cheesecake, Shirley temples, nice attire, and an opportunity to make your own monocle.

We also talked about change, and how the end of the school year can mean some major life changes for some people - seniors about to graduate, interns about to move on, students about to study abroad, people leaving for the summer, etc. While these life changes can be daunting at times, it's comforting to know that God is still with us through it all.

Jeremy talked about 2 stories from the Bible that help illustrate the idea of God with us. The first was from the Old Testament - the story of Moses being told by God that he would help free his people from the oppression of the Egyptians.
The LORD said, 10 "So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” 11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’
“This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation. 16 “Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. 17 And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.’"
God asks Moses to do something that is way out of his comfort zone, and Moses responds just how any of us probably would - by asking questions. God doesn't promise Moses it will be easy, but he does promise to be with him through it all. He also gives Moses an odd response when Moses asks for God's name, just saying "I am who I am." Translated, this phrase is spelled out YHWH in English, and looks like this in Hebrew:

It's an odd name for a lot of reasons, but a major one being that this word, YHWH, is a verb as opposed to a noun. God is saying he isn't meant to be distant, or something we can easily describe or put in a box. Instead, he tells us that he is, was, and will always be.

This response is similar to what Jesus tells his disciples during his final days on earth after the resurrection. Matthew 28:16-20 says:
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
While Jesus had shown the disciples time and time again that he was the Messiah - performing miracles, resurrecting, etc - they still doubted at times. Even with this doubt, Jesus challenges them to go make disciples of all nations. And while I'm sure they had many questions, they end up following his commands and changing the world for the rest of time. Their willingness to follow Jesus, though they probably felt unqualified and inadequate, is the reason why you and I are here today - reading/writing about Jesus and how he is/was/will always be. Jesus doesn't tell the disciples it will be easy, and for many of them it wasn't, but he does tell them that he will be with them always, to the very end of the age.

Heard at Café: 4/18/2017

The penultimate Café began with the musical stylings of Jen Turnello, a spotlight on the paintings of Ebie McDonnell, and learning more about the weekly Compassion event, Knit-A-Square. Then Jeremy began his talk by talking about scars - how we all have them and how they tell a story of where we've been and mistakes we've made. They are reminders of pain from the past that we've healed from and that no longer hurt us. But sometimes we carry pain with us - internal hurts/scars - often in the form of regret or wishing things had turned out differently.

Peter, one of Jesus' disciples, knew this feeling all too well. While he had followed Jesus around and loved him deeply, Peter quickly turned his back on Jesus and claimed to have not known him when things got tough. This denial had been predicted by Jesus and happened as Jesus was being arrested and on his way to being crucified. Peter had refused to believe Jesus' prediction, so when it happened he was devastated by his ability to fall away so easily.
But then - 3 days after Jesus died - he was resurrected and came to find the disciples...
John 21:1-17
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. 6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. 
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.
In this moment Jesus makes himself known to Peter, and reconnects with him. He asks him again, "Peter, do you love me?" Jesus asks 3 times, echoing the 3 times he had been denied, and gives Peter a moment to realize that he doesn't have to carry that pain with him. Jesus challenges him to look ahead rather than look back on what's already happens, and he shows forgiveness and grace in the process.

Jesus met Peter at the point where he probably felt hopeless and ashamed, and helps him realize that it's more important to move forward than to dwell on the hurt. Life didn't end for Peter in the moments where he felt weakest and most scared, and it doesn't end for us in similar moments either. We listened to the song "Roll Away Your Stone" by Mumford and Sons, and tried to put ourselves in the shoes of Peter - what it would've felt like before/during/after he had seen his Messiah again, and how he would go on to accomplish incredible things in the name of Jesus.

Heard at Café: 4/4/2017

Spring was in full force this week at Café as we had Coffee Hour in the front yard, decorated the tables with flowers, and hyped up the Spring Retreat (April 7-9, ahh!). Some interns gave the talk this week, and had some things to say about springtime as well.
As the seasons change - as dark, wintry times give way to brighter, warmer, sunshine-ier days - we are reminded that hard times end with the promise of better days to come. Much like the Israelites of the Old Testament, sometimes we wonder if all the troubles we face will ever come to an end. We are promised good things by the God we believe in, but more often than not these promises feel like they will never come to fruition. Thankfully, we have prophets like Isaiah who give words of encouragement when the easiest thing to feel is despair.
Isaiah 55: 10-13
10 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.”
There is a Hebrew word that echoes these sentiments: "shalom", meaning peace/harmony/wholeness. We all have moments when the idea of "shalom" seems like an unattainable feeling, but God promises that the world will be restored to the way God intended. The interns each gave examples of times when they were struggling with this idea, and how they've had people in their life give them hope and help them think through what it means to feel whole. It's reassuring to know that we're always on our way, and that we can surround ourselves with people who will remind us of spring when the winter seems to last forever.

Heard at Café: 3/28/2017

This week at Café, we put an international spin on the night by singing a song in Malay, nomming on Chilean cocadas and Mexican horchata, marking places we've visited on the CCF wall map, and learning a little bit about Globalscope (an exchange program that CCF partners with).

Jeremy talked about Romans 12:1-2 and 9-18, and we discussed the Scripture at our tables after re-reading it in The Message version:
12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you...
...9-10 Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.
11-13 Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.
14-16 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. 17-19 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody.
These verses come from Paul who wrote them at a time when he and other new Christians were learning how to follow Jesus in cultures that they were unfamiliar with. We are challenged to follow Jesus above all else and to allow God to bring out the best in us even when things feel foreign and difficult.

We then heard from some of our friends who are currently studying abroad with Globalscopes in Scotland, Spain, and Chile. These friends, like Paul, wrote letters to CCF to tell stories about adjusting to a new culture and how they've grown in their faith since arriving - allowing themselves to be transformed by the renewing of their minds and being representations of Jesus to people who think of Christianity as a foreign concept. Mark Jackson even made an appearance, and told us about some of his experiences with Globalscope and how he's seen dramatic changes in the lives of his Chilean friends because of their time in campus ministry and learning more about who Jesus is.

Heard at Café: 3/14/2017

Before Spring Break, three of our interns spoke at Café about anger and what the Bible says about it. Emily, James, and Michael spoke about some of their experiences with anger and different ways they've dealt with it in the past.
While some people keep anger bottled up, some people lash out, and some people act passive aggressively, we all have to deal with anger at one point or another and we've all had moments where we haven't dealt with it in the most healthy of ways.

We then read from the book of Ephesians to see what the early church thought about anger:
Ephesians 4:25-5:2 NIV
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Paul, one of the world's first missionaries and the writer of Ephesians, challenges us to get rid of all forms of anger, and goes so far as to say that we should, instead, forgive each other and treat each other with kindness and compassion.
But what happens when our anger is righteous - when the thing we're angry about is worth being angry about? When things happen out of pure bitterness, rage, malice, slander, etc? When things are done with an evil/malicious intent? Well, Paul challenges us to forgive anyways, just as Christ God forgave us.