"

Of course, since these are tweets, the content is decidedly less spiritual than one might expect given the focus on beer and church. For example, the most common example of a “church” tweet was simply a report such as “I am at _______ church”. More amusing are what we characterize as “competitive church going” when one person replaces another as the Foursquare “mayor” of a church. “I just ousted Jef N. as the mayor of Dallas Bible Church on @foursquare! 4sq.com/5hNW6x”

This of course echoes the Sermon on the Mount and the famous verse, “Blessed are those who check in for they shall inherit the badges of righteousness.”

"

— from Floating Sheep, in an article that maps geographical incidents of tweets of either “church” or “beer.”  But how many tweets with both church and beer?

But What Are We Growing For?

A few years ago I was working as the newsletter editor at a Unitarian church. I happened to be working in a time of staff reorganization. The highly active volunteer church board had posted its goals and objectives around the church. All of the objectives were based on the idea of growth. We needed to do x, y, and z in order to grow.

What struck me at the time was that there was no explanation of why we needed to grow. Why was a larger membership needed? What could we do with more people that we could not do at our present size?

This is an older guest post which appeared on the Fighting Monkey Press Blog. Read the full article on our bias that bigger is better there.

A predominantly African-American congregation that affirms LGBT equality needs your help. Since voting for marriage equality at the United Church of Christ’s 2005 General Synod, Rev. Oliver White has lost 3/4 of his congregation, largely due to his prophetic stand on LGBT justice. He has received death threats, hate mail and last March, his church was shot at during a wedding ceremony - the assailants hurling homophobic epithets while shooting. To keep the lights on in the church he, and remaining members, took out a $150,000 loan in April 2007 with Direct Lending, and have “regretted it ever since.” As reported in Twin Cities:

Direct Lending later sold the note, which initially carried a 13.5 percent interest rate, to Seattle-area property manager Fenn Shrader, according to court records.

White maintains the interest rate has since ballooned to 23 percent.

White said between brokers’ fees, appraisal fees and regular payments, Grace Community has put $90,000 toward the loan in the past six years, but the principal hasn’t gone down a penny. Instead, penalties for missed payments and interest fees increased the debt to $247,000, according to foreclosure documents filed in Ramsey County District Court.

Rev. White told Believe Out Loud, “I am trying to save my church from foreclosure next month, by raising $200,000 … during most of my ministerial career, I have been an out-front advocate of the GLBT community. I am not gay, however, the risk I have taken may lead to me losing everything I and many others have labored to establish, and that’s simply a church that accepts all people unconditionally, regardless of their sexual orientation.”

Here’s the deal. We’re hypocrites. We’re hypocrites if we act on the side of grace and unconditional love on behalf of straight people and yet make a point not to do that for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. The vast majority of our population is straight (or at least straight-leaning bisexuals) – with only 5-8% of the population being gay or lesbian.  You know what it’s called when the majority of the population allows the members of the majority to do something but then don’t allow a minority group to do it? It’s called scape-goating.

"Attending my new church was like having a weight lifted off my chest. I was free to commune with God as a whole human being. I could bring all of who I was to the altar and really worship Him. The whole experience deepened my relationship with Christ…Spirituality shouldn’t hurt. When we go to church to worship God as gay Christians, we shouldn’t walk away feeling bruised and battered."

— Darian Aaron

(Source: thegavoice.com)

agoodthinghappened:

Little Church in Yosemite by Stuck in Customs on Flickr.

I recommend the entire article, but this part is especially worth quoting.

Jesus never said, “The Kingdom of God is like a church service that goes on and on forever and never ends.” He said the kingdom was like a homecoming celebration, a wedding, a party, a feast to which all are invited.

This idea was too radical for the religious leaders of his day. They were more concerned about etiquette, manners, traditions and religious rituals than about partying with Jesus. And that’s why they missed out.

That’s why we miss out.

According to Jesus, the truly spiritual life is one marked by freedom rather than compulsion (John 8:36), love rather than ritual (Mark 12:30-33) and peace rather than guilt (John 14:27). Jesus saves us from the dry, dusty duties of religion and frees us to cut loose and celebrate.

I don’t believe we’ll ever recognize our need for the light until we’ve seen the depth of the darkness. So God wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty with us about life and temptation and forgiveness. And grace.

Priorities

I read in Google Books a line from an article from 1911 which I thought was quite a brilliant observation and a metaphor for something or other:  “The Puritan meeting house had a steeple a hundred years before it had a stove.”

Merry Xmas.

Merry Xmas.

Angel image of the day.

Angel image of the day.

(via haustus)