Thoughtful Boldness

Thoughtful Boldness on God's Love and Grace

October 5, 2014
by kflabarge@gmail.com
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Cultural Changes and the Church
PonyExpress
The idea for the Pony Express came out of necessity. California had experienced a gold rush, they were part of the still growing union of states and the population living there needed to be able to have fast reliable communication with the rest of the country back east. To that end, the Central Overland  California and Pikes Peak Express Company established a mail relay system. The system was a series of stations which had fresh horses. The goal was to build the stations no more than 10 miles apart, the distance a horse could run at top speed without needing to rest. The system was elaborate. There were swing stations which only had fresh horses, and home stations in which the riders could rest after riding 75 miles in a day. The riders were young men, no older than 18, no more than 125 lbs, who had the courage to ride at full speed through all of the dangers along the trail. About 187 stations were built and over 400 horses were purchased for the project. The horses along with the 120 riders and several hundred personnel worked together to deliver mail across the western wilderness in four days. The Pony Express was an organizational and operational success!

 However the system that started its operation on April 3rd 1860, closed its   operations on  October 26, 1861, two days after the transcontinental telegraph reached Sacramento, CA. Even though the Pony Express system had done nothing wrong, something new came along and made what they were doing obsolete.

In the church, we also can have traditions and practices which may no longer serve us well. For example, the practice of a bride walking down an aisle runner in the sanctuary was once something that was done out of necessity. In the eras when most streets were unpaved and churches were un carpeted, the guests coming to the wedding would track mud into the church on their boots and shoes. By the time that the bride was to walk down the center aisle, the route could be filled with dirt which would leave unsightly streaks on a wedding dress and possibly ruin it for any future daughter to potentially use. To protect the bride’s dress and train, an aisle runner was put down for the bride to walk on. Over the years, the reason for the aisle runner was forgotten, and still today, brides will often pay for them and incorporate this expensive item into their wedding plans; even though their original purpose has in many cases become obsolete.

As culture changes around us, as good stewards of God’s time and resources, we as a church must constantly ask ourselves if the way that we are doing things is still in step with the way that things work today.  Are we really meeting a need with what we are doing?  Or are we just feeding the horses in our own version of a Pony Express?

 

August 29, 2014
by kflabarge@gmail.com
21 Comments

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The other day I was shopping in Costco and saw a display of neon signs for sale. Next to a stack of boxes, there was one sign that was plugged in and turned on.  It cheerfully read, “OPEN” in red surrounded by a royal blue border.   –This was a typical neon sign that you would see in a restaurant window or put up next to the door in a shop.  For a few seconds I imagined what it would be like for our church to have a neon sign like this.  I imagined that we could put it in the Chestnut Street Door window and turn it on during the Wednesday Community Lunch.  We could also turn it on Sundays for our worship service, during the times when AA and Recovery were having their meetings, and we could even have it turned on during office hours.  –It would be a very easily understood message by the public.  People are used to having open signs telling them when a business was open for them to come in and purchase things or to order their favorite Chinese entree. For us it could be used to signify that the building was open and that folks could come in for one purpose or another.

            But then I thought about the other uses for the word “Open”.   Are we as a church actually people who are open?  Are we open to the Holy Spirit coming into our lives and inspiring us to actually live as followers of Christ?  What would it look like if we as a group of people really strived to be open to the Holy Spirit?

            What about our minds?  Are our minds open and searching for new and better answers to the questions of our faith?  Are we open to new information, new research, new archeological findings, new translations that can be used to build up people’s faith?  Or are we closed minded people, determined to keep doing things the way that we have always done because we can’t for a minute imagine that there could be anything new that may be worthwhile?

            What about us as a community of people?  Are we open to others, to newcomers?  Are we open to other’s new perspectives, new cultures, new recipes, new friends?   Are we people who are so narrow and closed off that we only concern ourselves with what is happening in Allegan County, Michigan? Or are we open to learning lessons about ourselves and the world from what is happening today in Ferguson, Missouri as well as Syria, Gaza and Israel?

            The more that I thought about it, the more I thought that it would be extremely helpful if each of us wore a neon sign around our necks every day.   –That way we could turn it on to signify that we were up, awake and open not only to the leading of the Holy Spirit, but open to listening to new ideas, to forming relationships with new people, to learning and growing and becoming who it is that God designed us to be.  Those people who were not up to the task of being open to God and others could just turn off their signs, so that people could know to avoid them and to not waste their time offering them their friendship, and their new ideas…

            While it would not be cost effective or remotely practical for everyone to purchase and to wear a $79.99 neon sign around their necks, (let alone  drag around the extensive combined weight of the sign and its necessary battery pack!), the idea of being “OPEN” in our spirits to the presence of God, and open in our minds to new ideas and to new friendships and relationships is something that we as followers of Christ do need to be trying to do.  Every morning we need to choose if we are going to be open to new possibilities and people and let folks and their new ideas come into our lives; or if we are just going to remain closed and lock ourselves and our resources away.   Are you going to be open today? I hope so. Amen.

April 5, 2014
by kflabarge@gmail.com
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What is your purpose in life?

“To love everybody equally.”  –Daniel La Mountain Daniel is the part time custodian at First Presbyterian Church of Allegan.  He was honorably discharged from the military and is a disabled veteran.  He spent 2 years in the Navy and enjoyed more »

April 2, 2014
by kflabarge@gmail.com
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What is your purpose in life?

“To make people happy.” -Krista, Jenison Burger King Krista is the happy, smiling face that will frequently greet you at the front counter at the Burger King on Baldwin in Jenison, Michigan.   After I gave her my order, she complimented more »

March 29, 2014
by kflabarge@gmail.com
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What is your purpose in life?

“To help people realize their full potential.” –Dan Garland I stopped by the Tuesday Morning store to pick up a little reward for Elisa.  And there I met Dan Garland.  Dan’s boss Christy had been on my blog a bit more »