Sunday, May 3, 2009

Day 357

*the following is the raw outlinings of many conversations and observations and occurrences. i apologize for this scatteredness, for any cheesiness, and also for the made-up words like outlinings and scatteredness. but i'm interested to see how they continue to converge and connect over the next couple weeks so i'll probably keep this manner of breaking pattern for a little bit because i might need them again soon. here we go.*

i couldn't put a finger on what i had sensed, but from the moment of walking into the school auditorium that holds imago dei church services i felt there was an uneasiness. maybe it wasn't that clear of a disturbance, but i wondered if something was wrong. we hadn't been in time for the the first part of music and pastor rick mckinley was beginning a message that eventually came to a screeching halt. he'd been talking about the community which, for what i've noticed in during the past week in portland, holds high priority for christians in this area. people all seem to support involvement in community and togetherness. some also express their spiritual feelings through the public display of signs. but the pastor was saying how some of these things were not working.

pastor shawn barden and i had talked about the likes of super pastors and popular churchs back in fernie during an afternoon at the tea house. imago dei received a ton of awareness because of don miller's book blue like jazz and i wasn't surprised- and was also very interested- when my friend sarah told me that part of her decision to move here three years ago was because of what she'd read in that book. she told me that there were several people in that new members class who would mention how they'd also been attracted to the city and church because of what they had read.

so this morning rick mckinley told the congregation that all activities outside of sunday services would be cancelled for the next month. and he seemed sad because he was concerned people weren't concerned as much with the inner community and living of the church. the image of God. he joked about people already starting to get mad in their seats about one less barbeque event and followed by asking the full room for a show of hands of whom he could expect to show up for pray on wednesday regarding the growth of the church and the earnestness of its members. maybe ten percent of people raised their hands. and he seemed sadder- like this was going from bad to worse. i haven't been here around long enough to know what's up really but it seems from some other conversations that some of the regular attenders haven't been experiencing the same flow as before. i'm not sure how to exactly translate that further.

but there was something towards the end of the sermon that i wrote down in the little back pocket idea notebook. he described christianity as coming to the cross alone and leaving in community with both God and others.

and as the afternoon's thoughts and conversations unraveled among friends and another trip to the piano warehouse and a little breakfast restaurant, the entire context of the past three hundred fifty-seven days displayed this same kind of community through correlations and connections of most every person who's had an impact on my life and the growth and progress during all this. Jesus is still the bottom line and, in this way, my experience with christian community has been linked step by step by hundreds of other christians. that's been life changing in of itself.

[man, i'm starting to lose ability to pull in the thoughts and occurrences and connections that have been become more and more frequent this past week. so many pieces are connecting and i'm starting to feel an end to what has been almost a year.]

and over an afternoon breakfast i heard another story from another person who is getting ready to graduate college and seek swift transition into a job to start paying off loans. maybe they weren't ready to accept these steps as the fulfillment of life thus far. i'm thankful for all the people and their honesty and their relating of their experiences. even while some are growing successful many of my generation seem to be seeking something different. unfortunately there are two sides.

parker's dad, ken, had told me last week how he didn't understand this generation very well. rightfully so he observed that they seemed to be looking for more and more of a handout while taking more and more steps away from hard work. i've been finding so many people my age both in portland and in every previous place who are content to live to get by and who seemingly embrace these christian aspects of community and love. it seems to work and also seems to have flaws. still- and maybe it's the west coast liberal influence or something- i've never met so many christians my age who go to church and profess to follow Jesus while also having a heavy involvement in alcoholism and incessant cursing.

they guys at the house here had a meeting about it today. there are a couple of us staying here temporarily and we were asked to come and participate in the talk. after the main seven of them talked about their monthly bill allotments they began to share ideas and rules for avoiding falling into anything detrimental to their community and spirituality due to alcohol. apparently this buzz has been going and growing for a while and it was actually kind of cool to be on the fringes of these guys who are trying to straighten some things out amongst themselves.

but towards the end i spoke up.

i've been here a week as of today and the meld with the guys and greater college age community here has been flawless, really. i'm thankful to have been accepted and to have grown so comfortable with them in seven days. but i had to tell them that when i first came to town i'd thought that my friend parker was the only christian in the house. it hurt me to hear them swear and curse constantly and then was confused to find that they're all active christians who seek to show Jesus' love to others. a few of the guys are making changes because of what was said at the end and they told me so.

man, i really am starting to feel pretentious and incapable in explaining the greater goings on lately. they've been so good. and there are so many stories to be told and connected that i'm kind of losing hope in sharing them on this silly blog. but i'm trying pretty hard right now so please forgive the briefness and cuts in explanations. the only reason i try to share this is to share and remember the spiritual excitement and personal change that's been happening through what i've been able to see happen and connect during only a week in portland.

so if i couldn't immediately put a finger on the sense in church this morning i can now tell that i was uneasy about the lethargic approach i've been seeing in christian communities. and i've been told by others here that it's hard to know whether they should cut ties or if they should stay in hopes of inducing positive changes.

this is the last major thing. it has to do with the hand outs ken had mentioned. ashamedly i admit to having these kind of 'hand out' thoughts. here is the proof. but today it struck me anew how having what little i've had thus far has exponentially increased the amount and depth of relationships and pursuit of life and spirituality. even not having a cell phone has been one of the greatest affecting factor to the relationships that have come along because even though i can't get a hold of many of these people at any time the depth and quality have been increased.

parker and i were talking about random things late last night and there was a point where i counter-observed something he said. 'if you gave one dollar to every homeless person you meet for the rest of your life, they'll still be poor and you probably won't have anything at all.' and by this we would have been also talking about how living is the most important aspect for doing lasting good.

so, less is more. i have no student loans. i have no phone here. no car. some money. but i've never seen and experienced and been so moved by the affects of constant exposure and involvement with the body of Jesus Christ.

and tonight at this house on south east clinton street there were over twenty college age students who gathered to hang out as we had a barbeque. the smell of smoke lingers on the couch of this outdoor front porch where i've chosen to sleep for a third night in a row.

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