Archive for February, 2014

Reading Ramblings – February 23, 2014

February 16, 2014
Date:  Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany, February 16, 2014

Texts: Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18; Psalm 119:33-40;  1 Corinthians 3:10-23; Matthew 5:38-48


Context: This is the last regular Sunday of Epiphany, and the last Sunday of Ordinary Time until June 22.  Next Sunday is the Feast of our Lord’s Transfiguration, and the following Wednesday is Ash Wednesday (3/5) and the beginning of Lent.


Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18 — Once again God’s people are exhorted to holy living.  The reason for this is not arbitrary—God is holy, therefore his people must be holy.  Is this an insight into the enigmatic assertion in Genesis 1:26-27?  Is our holiness a facet of how we are created in God’s image?  It would seem so.  But if last week’s admonitions against lust, murderous intentions and divorce sound manageable, the list of holy behaviors this week clearly demonstrates that we are unable to maintain holiness.  Our behavior towards our neighbor is to be blameless, regardless of how our neighbor treats us.  Holiness is not a response to holiness, but intrinsic to itself.  Regardless of those around us, we are to respond in holiness.

Psalm 119:33-40— Once again, it is not that we don’t know that God’s will is good, that holiness is truly to be desired.  Yet this is often how we act, as if God must continually tell us over and over again what is expected of us.  But the quest for knowledge in verses 1-2 transitions rapidly to a plea for God’s overt aid.  He cannot just teach us, He must help us if we are to have any hope of holiness.  The overtness of the aid intensifies from leading and our active following, to changing our heart, to actually directing our bodies.  Even still, this is not enough.  Verses 38-40 are a confession that despite knowledge, despite the Lord’s assistance, we are still without hope of holiness.  We are still in need not only of the wisdom and assistance of God, but his full grace and forgiveness. 

1 Corinthians 3:10-23 — Where Paul began this chapter with an exhortation to the Corinthians not to make personalities the source of division amongst them, he now exhorts those leaders whom the people take pride in to soberly consider their efforts.  Very important things are at stake here.  Those who follow in St. Paul’s footsteps, building on the foundation he has laid, will be judged, just as he will be judged.  Verses 16-17 in this context are addressed back to the Corinthians—they must realize how seriously God holds them in his hands, and the high expectations He holds of those who purport to lead and teach them.  Those in Christ have received all things, the most important and enduring of which is Jesus Christ and therefore God himself.  If they have such amazing blessings, then the importance of individual teachers pales in comparison and should never be a point of division or contention.

Matthew 5:38-48 — The Lord’s teaching in this passage continues to intensify, as He systematically sets out to disabuse his disciples of the notion that their righteousness is to be found in obedience to the Law.  Rather, their salvation is found in relationship to him, the one who has already made them blessed (5:1-12), salt and light (13-16).  This is not because of their personal righteousness, but rather that they have received their righteousness in Jesus’ coming to perfectly and completely fulfill the Law, from the most obvious maxims to the tiniest nuances (5:17-20).  The Law is not disbanded in Jesus but fulfilled.  In that fulfillment, those in Christ are pronounced righteous not because they reject the Law but because they are free to embrace the Law not as their master and source of condemnation, but in joyful response to being declared righteous.  Of course the righteous will obey the law!  And when we fail, as we must fail until we are perfected in Christ’s return, we are forgiven and judged by grace, not by the Law.

Today’s verses focus on our response to others.  If verses 21-37 could broadly be described as how we choose to act towards others, regardless of their actions towards us, verses 38-48 deal with how we respond to the behavior of others.  What is our due when we are clearly wronged?  What do we strive for in our relationships?   Preservation of pride?  Keeping face?  Making sure that all things are even-steven?  Or is there a greater goal towards which the righteous and blessed in Christ persevere? 

The teachers of the Law (in Jesus’ day and our own) have come to stress the rights we are entitled to  when we are wronged.  Reasonable compensation when we are injured.  But this is not ultimately the concern of salt and light.  Salt and light have no need of pride of place in the world’s order.  There is no compensation that can compare to the righteousness received freely in Christ.  So we are freed from thinking in such narrow and often vindictive terms.  We are capable of grand and extravagant grace and mercy and love in the face of abuse.  What better witness can we give to the love of Jesus than to reject the world’s affirmations of what matters? 

Likewise, worldly wisdom and standards would dictate that even if you were to show such graciousness to your friends, to those like you, to those who agree with you, there is never an expectation of such generosity to those who disagree with you, to those who strive against you, to those who wish you ill.  Be good to your friends if you like, but you are entitled to hate your enemy. 

Not so says Jesus.  Does God only love those like me?  Those who agree with me?  Those who view the world and God the way I do?  Has not God created everyone and everything in creation?  Is there anyone exempt from his love and grace?  How could it be that salt and light would be selective in whom they season, in whom they shine on?  Are not salt and light not needed most where there is no saltiness already?  Where there is nothing but darkness?  Is it not here that salt and light are most profoundly experienced for what they are? 

Once again, the exhortation to perfection in vs. 48 is clear.  This is what is expected of us.  This is also what we are incapable of.  In relationship to Christ we find forgiveness and grace and his righteousness given over to us.  Without relationship to Christ, there is only the perfect and good Law of God showing us how we ought to be, and condemning us for failing to be so.  We either rely on Christ to make us salt and light, or we must perfectly follow every step to making ourselves salt and light—and we must always fail at this if left to our own abilities.  We need a Savior.  We need someone who can fulfill the law on our behalf and share that righteousness with us.  We need not just a wise teacher, we need the Son of God made flesh.  As the season of Epiphany—and Transfiguration Sunday—make clear, this is exactly what we have received in Jesus of Nazareth.  Praise God! 


Meanwhile, on Facebook…

February 15, 2014

…you can now configure your gender in far more ways than the traditional two that biology would lead us to expect.

Users of Facebook can choose from 50 different terms to describe their gender, and also opt for three different pronouns (him, her, them) to use.  
I find it fascinating that, as though to legitimize this feature, the article quotes a spokeswoman for an alternative sexuality/lifestyle community in San Jose.  She indicates that their community has been lobbying for this action for a long time.  No mention is made of how many people are involved with this particular lifestyle community that is so prominently featured.  The impression is that a lot of people have been working towards getting this change.  I just wonder what the hard numbers are.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter.  Out of Facebook’s billion+ users, I’m sure this change is relevant only to a tiny, tiny percentage of people.  But it hurts to watch these sorts of changes happening primarily because of the impact it will have on those too young to recognize how their perceptions of reality and normality are being manipulated by a small, vocal group of activists. 

Fun with Assumptions

February 14, 2014

The title of the article immediately caught my eye – The Bible’s Anachronistic Camel Problem.  I mean, how can you resist a title like that?  Doesn’t it just grab you and refuse to let you go?  

Welcome to my world.
Not surprisingly, the article posits a problem with the Biblical Old Testament narratives in Genesis and beyond that refer to domesticated camels.  More accurately, the article summarizes this article, reporting the problem that archaeologists haven’t discovered definite proof of camel domestication as early in the Levant (a historical term for the Middle East) during that time frame.  If we assume that the Patriarchs lived somewhere around 2000 BC or so, archaeology can only qualify camel domestication almost a thousand years later.
Further proof that the Bible is either wrong, or that early writings were edited and updated by later groups, resulting in anachronistic errors and unfactual additions.  Which means we can’t trust the Bible.
Or does it?  A few thoughts.  
First off, while I’m no archaeologist by a long shot, my understanding is that finding stuff is hard to do.  Meaning, it’s the exception rather than the rule to find stuff that was intentionally buried or preserved, and has remained buried or preserved for thousands of years.  The fickleness of natural events combined with the avarice of relic-hunters means that finding archaeological stuff is really a big deal.  Not very much stuff survives identifiably intact for thousands of years.  
So the first problem is the assumption that just because we haven’t found evidence of camel domestication from the period of the Patriarchs in the Levant, that there wasn’t, in fact, at least some domestication of camels.  
This problem leads into the second problem.  The second article states that camels are thought to have been in the Levant since perhaps 10,000 BC or earlier.  They’ve even apparently found archaeological evidence to support this.  But the assumption is that these earlier camel bones weren’t domesticated camels.  
So, we know camels were in the area long before the Patriarchs.  We’ve got evidence of this.  But still the reasonable assumption is that they weren’t domesticated until the earliest archaeological evidence proving this – 9000 years later or so?  This is the evidence that supposedly discredits Biblical authority?
Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to say: Hey, we know camels were in the area at the time.  We’ve found bones that are that old, but we haven’t found any direct evidence of their domestication.  But it seems odd that these animals would be running around wild without anybody attempting to domesticate them for thousands of years, doesn’t it?  We probably just haven’t found the evidence yet – and we might not.  That was a long time ago!  But it doesn’t require us to label the Biblical narrative a lie.
Just because you haven’t found corroborating evidence yet of something reported 4000 years ago doesn’t necessitate that the report be untrue.  Domestication could have been on a very small scale.  People m  This might even account for why the Bible would make mention of camels specifically in this capacity – it was unusual and a further demonstration of divine blessing through Abraham and his family.  


February 13, 2014

It’s stuff like this that helps keep me from becoming a collector of much of anything.  

That and a lack of spare cash.  But really, it’s mostly stuff like that.

Wet Bar Wednesday – Mojito

February 12, 2014

Mojitos were all the rage a few years ago.  This Cuban drink showcases the tastiness of rum, pairing it with mint and lime and club soda for a very light and refreshing drink that goes down easy on a hot day.

As with any drink, fresh ingredients and a little extra TLC will create a more memorable drink than relying on prepackaged mixers.  Frankly, half the fun is making this drink!  Below is my own approach to this drink, which may vary somewhat from other recipes you may find.  I prefer to accent the sweetness and the minty-ness a bit more than others might.  Also, if you grow your own mint (which is really easy to do as it is essentially a weed that will vigorously make itself at home pretty much in any patch of ground), that’s the best!  Experiment with the ratios below until you have something you like.
  • Eight mint leaves 
  • 1 Tbsp sugar (I use organic cane, but you can use anything)
  • 1/2 lime juice
  • 3 oz white rum 
  • Club soda
  • Ice
  • 1 mint sprig tip (usually two leaves framing a lil’ mint bud) and a lime wedge for presentation
Put the mint leaves, sugar, and lime juice into a mortar & pestle and grind together well.  The point is to release the oil from the mint leaves, which adds flavor and aroma to the drink.  You can also muddle this in the glass you’re going to serve it in by using a long spoon to grind up the ingredients at the bottom of the glass.
Add the rum.  If you’re using a mortar & pestle, I pour the rum into this to get out all the sweet goodness, and pour it all into the glass.  Fill the glass to 3/4 full with club soda.  Add ice and stir briefly, dispersing the bits of mint leaf throughout the glass.  Top the glass with the mint sprig tip and the lime wedge.  

Why Am I Here?

February 12, 2014

There are moments when I don’t understand why I am where I am.  

Sure, there are plenty of good explanations.  I’m where I am because God has called me here.  Because I’m capable.  Because I’m willing.  Because I enjoy what I do.  All of which are true to varying degrees, depending on whom you ask.  But there are times when I can’t begin to understand how it is that I am in the place that I am, with the people I am with.
Tonight I was shooting pool.  A tough home match against a good team.  Neck and neck, back and forth all night.  We managed to win the match by a single game – the last game of the night.  But I wonder how it is that my team mates put up with me and deal with me when we appear to have very little in common beyond our love of the game.  
Tonight I found out that a young lady on another team is without a place to live.  There were plans for a place that fell through and suddenly, despite a job, she doesn’t have money or a place to stay.  She’s camping in a tent at a campground or sleeping in the back of her car.  Granted, she was pretty buzzed on marijuana when we were talking, so it was hard to get a clear picture of things, but she seemed somewhat resigned to her situation.  She has already been dealing with it for a couple of weeks.  She doesn’t have a definite plan (or not one she could articulate) about when she’ll be into another place, or where that place might be.  
Such resignation floors me.  I can only barely imagine finding myself homeless.  But I can’t begin to imagine not having a place to stay and not having a plan on how to deal with it.  Without saying I’ll be dealing with things for this span of time, and then I plan to do this.  
It was clear pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to be able to help her much in her state at the time.  I left her my cell number and told her to call if she ran into a bind.  She was pretty sure she wouldn’t.  She didn’t want to inconvenience people.  She’d figure things out.  And perhaps when her head clears she might.  
I didn’t want her to get the wrong impression about why I was offering to help or what I might want in return, so I went out to forage in the trunk of my car for a business card.  I found one and put my number on there.  She looked it over and when she had figured out what it said, she gave a sort of half-chuckle.  Seems a friend of hers had suggested that she go to such-and-such a church to see if they could help her.  I’m sure she found it ironic that the near-stranger taking an interest in her situation  is part of church as well.  Ironic, perhaps, but I trust not just coincidental.
I got her number as well, since she had pretty much said she wasn’t going  to call me.  She agreed that I could call in a couple of days to see how she was doing.  I’ll do that.  I don’t know what else to do.  I don’t know why I’m here.  
I pray that around the games of pool, around people with ways of thinking and living that I don’t always understand, and who probably really don’t understand the little they know of my life, around all of that, I can be of use.  That there’s a reason that matters more than how our team is doing (slipped to 3rd place tonight) or how I’m personally doing (barely holding 7th place in the division).  But I know that there’s a big gap to be crossed between identifying a need and being able (or allowed) to do something about it.  It’s not a gap I can cross on my own, so I pray that the Holy Spirit creates the bridge that allows crossing in one direction or another.  
Until then, I wait until Thursday, knowing that barring a miracle, she won’t return my text, and even if she does, she won’t want help.  And I’ll trust that there’s a reason for me to be here even so.

Another Point of View

February 11, 2014

Thanks to J.P. for sending me a link to this blog from a woman who is leaving the United Methodist Church for the Presbyterian Church in America because of her self-identification as “pan-sexual”.  It’s a very long letter about her decision to leave one of several denominations she has loved and identified with.  It link to it because of my recent post regarding the change in rhetoric/approach that some gay/lesbian/bisexual/transexual individuals are coming to, where the need to portray sexual preference as genetic rather than a matter of preference is shifting.  

This author clearly feels that her sexual identity goes beyond choice – at least at one level.  Since she basically asserts that she has no preferences either for or against any gender or sexual expression, it’s hard for me to understand how this could be a natural way of approaching things rather than an expression of personal preference.  
As is often the case in such discussions, she is quick to dismiss the Biblical teaching on this matter, though she does so not by outright rejecting it but rather by calling it “complicated and unclear and disputed” on the matter of sexuality.  Disputed by whom?  More often than not, it is disputed not by unmotivated parties.  In other words, it has been understood not only in Christian but Hebrew culture earlier – for a period of close to 4000 years – that the Bible speaks against homosexuality in rather clear words.  Only in the last 100 years – and really only in the last 30 years has this been challenged.  Not on any sort of exegetical or linguistic basis, but as near as I can tell only because some people don’t like it.  It contradicts what they want to be true.  It rules out what they wish to be accepted.  
Does Scripture provide any sort of  guidelines regarding sexuality?  Would the author of this essay say that anything is off-limits, sexually, according to Scripture?  Is it completely complicated and disputed, or only disputed in this one specific application?  What is the “experience” that she hopes for the church to draw on in reaching conclusions to this issue?  And if the issue really is as “complicated and unclear and disputed” as she claims, how is it that she is so quick to dismiss those who disagree with her as hateful, unloving people?  Is that a stance one can hold in good faith, and particularly as a leader of God’s people?  Or is she really saying that her position on the matter is correct and others are wrong, in which case Scripture must not be as confusing as she wants to make it.  
There are so many fascinating aspects of her self-revelation and how her identity apparently has formed over the years, reinforced repeatedly by everyone around her.  I wonder if anyone sat down and seriously tried to argue against her feelings when she was much younger?  I wonder if anything might have changed if she was lovingly directed not to her own feelings as the validation of her preferences, but to something larger.  
And how dangerous is it for anyone to claim that if love isn’t what they themselves insist it to be, they can’t possibly want any part of it?  Can’t possibly want to know the truth, trusting that the God who created this Truth and is this Truth can help them into it?  How would she define this grace she claims to have been denied?  

Reading Ramblings – February 16, 2014

February 9, 2014
Date:  Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany, February 16, 2014

Texts: Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Psalm 119:1-8;  1 Corinthians 3:1-9; Matthew 5:21-37


Context: We continue in the season of Epiphany and the consideration of our Lord’s divinity.  The passages today that work together (Old Testament, Psalm, and Gospel) point us to the importance of living as God desires us to, rather than going through the motions that may be a cover for our own vanity.  As with Ordinary Time, the Epistle is not intended to directly relate to the other readings, but we continue our journey into 1 Corinthians.  The Gospel lesson is a continuation from last week, and it would be good to read it starting at the beginning of Chapter 5 to assist with the proper context.

Deuteronomy 30:15-20 — The call to holy living is compelling and straightforward.  In this passage Moses states it in the starkest and simplest of terms: choose life.  Living against or outside the way that God has structured creation is death.  Life is found in obedience to God.  Blessings come to those who obey; curses follow those who do not.  What could be simpler?  How many Christians have made this the focus of their lives in fear or pride!  We are indeed called to obedience, but lest we get too prideful, we need Jesus to show us the depths of our inability to obey.  And unless we give ourselves over to despair at our failures, we need Jesus to reassure us of our identity in relationship to him.

Psalm 119:1-8— The longest psalm begins with affirmation and exhortation—affirmation of the goodness of the Word of the Lord that instructs us towards salvation, and exhortation to God’s people to be obedient to it.  Verses 1-3 affirm that those who obey the Lord are indeed truly blessed, just as Moses promised they would be.  Verse 4 sets the instructions of the Lord in their proper context—they are commanded.  They are not optional.  And verse 5 acknowledges that keeping them—as reasonable and desirable and logical as that may be—is no simple matter.  Our ways are more often than not wobbly, rather than steadfast!  Verse 6 holds out the hope that in obedience we will be honored, not disgraced, so that we might in verse 7 worship in fullness and truth without hidden guilt.  Verse 8 draws together the two themes of the goodness of God’s Word and our inability to keep it regardless of how we extol it—we commit ourselves to obedience, and we rely fully on the power of God himself to sustain us towards that, and to forgive our failures.

1 Corinthians 3:1-9 — Paul continues his admonitions of the Corinthians for their divisions based around charismatic leadership.  We are naturally inclined to prefer some people over others, to be drawn to some more than others—this is human nature Paul admits.  But when we allow these preferences to interfere with our Christian community and fellowship, we tear apart the body of Christ that is knit together not by individual leaders but rather by the power of God the Holy Spirit. 

Paul acknowledges the work of the Holy Spirit even in providing different voices that articulate the same Gospel, so that as many as possible might be won over (v.5).  But we are remiss when we allow these differences to separate rather than unite, and when glory is given to the messenger rather than to the God who created both the messengers as well as the message!  Those who labor for the Lord are unified in their service to the Lord, and those who are brought to faith and nourished in that faith are to be unified as well. 

Matthew 5:21-37 — The Gospel selection for today sounds pretty harsh, but we have to read it contextually with the entire span of Jesus’ teaching as recorded in Matthew 5-7.  Jesus begins with the assertion of what those who trust in him (and therefore in God) are—what they have already received in terms of blessedness.  He continues with last week’s assertions that those in Christ are already salt and light for an earth desperately in need.  But He continues teaching.  The world approaches righteousness and good conduct in a certain way—if you don’t follow through on your impulses, you are righteous.  This is the teaching of the Pharisees as well as every other major religion in the world.  Learn to control your body and you attain enlightenment, you please Allah and earn salvation.

Jesus will have none of this.  If his followers are to be salt and light, their standards are far different from the world.  They must understand that it is not just the acting out of anger of lust that is sinful, it is the indulgence internally of the sin.   Temptation works not immediately on our members, but on our hearts and minds, so that we are enticed, like Eve, to consider the sin carefully, thoroughly, enjoying the thought of it long before it ever works itself out in our members.  Eve’s sin quite specifically began when she started looking at the fruit as though it were to be considered as a possible item on her plate, when she refused to reject the suggestion outright and set her mind and heart on other things in obedience to God’s instructions.

The calling to be salt and light is heavy in implication—we are not to be just like everyone else.  We are not to assume that the standards of the world are appropriate.  We have been born again!  We have died and risen to life again, and our standards should have undergone just as massive a transition.  Jesus’ teaching is designed towards several ends—to show us what salt and light looks like, to keep us from spiritual pride in thinking that we can perfectly attain this goal by our own strength, and to encourage us with the hope that even though we cannot attain this perfectly, yet by faith in Jesus Christ we remain salt and light. 

Choosing to follow the Word of God woven into creation itself is not an option.  The Christian is not exempted from living this way, but rather the Christian should see more clearly just how pervasive this Word is, how it penetrates not simply the body but also the heart and mind.  We cannot simply choose life—that is antithetical to our sinful nature.  But rather, born again through faith in Jesus Christ, we are empowered to both see what life is, and to strive after it earnestly.  This is not our means of salvation, as though our efforts were somehow in and of themselves impressive and pleasing to God.  But rather, desiring to live according to his Word simply is who we are.  Our desire for obedience should be natural, just as salt doesn’t have to think about being salty, or light doesn’t have to think about being light.  It is who we are made, and who we will one day be fully and perfectly through faith in our Lord and Savior. 


The Techxorcist

February 8, 2014

I didn’t expect much from this article about a man who performs exorcisms via Skype, and in that respect, I wasn’t disappointed.  It relies more on snark than any form of actual journalistic investigation.  Not that this is surprising on the Internet, but there you go.  Heck, half of the links in the article either point to defunct pages or to the wrong pages.  

We might be inclined to chuckle along.  Exorcism isn’t something that gets a lot of air play in my conservative Lutheran circles.  Articles and video clips like this don’t really help that much, though I’m not sure that it’s an issue that needs to be helped one way or the other.  
I trust that demon possession is alive and well.  I trust therefore, that there are Christians who are able – either on an individual basis or perhaps even through a gifting of the Holy Spirit – to cast out demons.  I have no idea if Bob Larson is one of those people.  My 30-seconds of Internet research is not encouraging, but that may not mean anything, nor does it matter for the overall issue of exorcism.  Regardless of whether or not Larson is legitimate, I believe that exorcism is theologically sound.  It’s Biblical, and nothing in Scripture indicates that this doesn’t happen any more.  I found the justification of long-distance exorcisms to be interesting.  Proximity perhaps really isn’t an issue.  I hadn’t much thought of that before.  
But the issue of being compensated for performing online, long-distance exorcisms, that’s a little more troubling.  It reminds me a little too much of Simon the magician in Acts 8:9-24.  Simon was used to a life of celebrity based on his magic, but converts to Christianity and is baptized.  But when he sees the Holy Spirit passing in the laying on of the Apostle’s hands, he seems to covet this skill for himself – perhaps because it might provide him with an income again?  
Selling deliverance from evil for a fee is dangerous.  There are many folks who might argue that this is what the Church has always done, prompting members and adherents to give generously to the work of the Church, which incidentally provides a livelihood for professional church workers.  I don’t think this is a reasonable accusation, particularly if you become aware of some of the very impoverished lifestyles that many professional church workers deal with.  
Money given to a community of faith as a participant in that community seems to me patently different from simply asking someone to pay you a set fee for driving an evil entity from them.  Should this be considered along the same lines as the honorariums that many clergy expect for performing weddings and funerals?  Is exorcism fundamentally in the same vein?
I’d be curious to hear some other thoughts on the matter.  I have no doubt that someone wracked with evil would find a nominal monetary fee a small price to pay for peace.  But is it reasonable for the person performing the exorcism to expect it?  I checked out Larson’s web site and couldn’t find where the suggested “donation” for a Skype exorcism was listed (as per the article).  I admit that his site makes me squeamish and screams of “fake”.  But if it were real, is how can Larson consider himself faithful (as his tag line says), of “Doing What Jesus Did” by charging people for deliverance?  

A Different Approach

February 7, 2014

Contrary to what a lot of friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues, neighbors, former clients, and total strangers might say, I’m really not a jerk.  At least, I don’t try to be.  Honestly.  It just seems to come naturally.  Perhaps it’s my spiritual gift and I ought to embrace it rather than struggle against it.

But my inner jerk got a real kick out of a flyer we (and many others, apparently) received in their mailboxes throughout town this past week advertising a new church launch.  
In all capitalized, white letters on a pumpkin orange background on one side reads “THIS COULD  CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOREVER”.  The word “FOREVER” is in black print rather than white, so you know that it’s key and important.  
On the flip side is an invitation to come to this new church launch.  And a reiteration that it could change your life forever.  You know, just in case you didn’t recognize the subtle play on words on the other side.  With the changed font color and stuff.
This group believes that church should be “life-giving”, which I agree with.  But it should also be “enjoyable”.  What the heck does that mean?  I mean, what is inherently enjoyable about getting up early on a Sunday morning?  Oh, wait – their service doesn’t start until 10am, so I guess that getting up early isn’t a problem.  Whew!
I guess “enjoyable” has something to do with being “casual and comfortable”, where “you can relax and be yourself”.  Again, I can do that at home, frankly.  A whoooolllle lot better than I can around a bunch of strangers.  
I hate being snarky, but the whole flyer seems a contradiction – my life is going to be changed – forever (get it?) – yet the emphasis is on it being casual and comfortable and relaxing and where I can be myself.  How do those things change my life?  What is being changed?  Who is changing it?   How are they going to change my life – forever (get it?) – without really changing anything about my life right now?
My inner jerk decided that my congregation ought to send out a mass flyer as well.  “Come to our Church.  We’ll force you to be uncomfortable.  We’ll ask you to sing songs you don’t recognize using instruments you may never have heard before outside of a Doors album.  We’ll tell you that being casual and comfortable may be what is putting you most in danger – forever (get it?).  And then we’ll tell you the Good News of a God who isn’t content to let you go to hell in your Birkenstocks clutching your latte.  Your life will be changed – forever (get it?) – but it will likely mean that your life needs to start changing today (get it?).
I mean, that’s just a rough draft.  But something along those lines.  I wonder if all the disaffected Biblical Christians in the area who don’t go to church any more because there is too much emphasis on “enjoyable” and “casual” and “comfortable” and “relaxing and being yourself” and not enough emphasis on the Word and Son of God and confession and absolution and forgiveness and grace and hope and transformation, I wonder if all those folks might come?  And I wonder if one or two non-Christians might show up, recognizing that they really do need their lives to be changed forever, and only an idiot would assume that such a far-reaching transformation could leave you comfortable and relaxed?  
Anybody wanna help fund this advertising gem?