Repentance and Confession

I taught at a gathering of believers in New Albany, Ohio on Saturday night (Dave/Jen Bs and crews), which is why I was absent from our local gathering. They follow the lectionary and also use a traditional liturgy at their gatherings. This altered the way I prepared for this time with them, as they typically teach from the Gospel Lesson during the Lenten season. Last week's gospel lesson was Luke 13:1-9, so we traveled through this passage and the teaching time became even more discussion oriented that I had originally planned. My main focus was Jesus' call for THE FAITHFUL to repent in verses 1-5. In this story,when those gathered around pointed an accusatory finger, Jesus basically said, "Do you think that you are any better than they are? I say, Repent or you will surely perish as they did." He reminds us that none of us are more deserving than others of forgiveness and all of us are in need of repentance, the same kind of daily repentance he demonstrates in the Lord's prayer.

I challenged this body of believers to live lives of daily repentance to God and of regular confession to one another. I challenged them to be vulnerable and real. I challenged them to stop hiding behind false self-righteousness. I played the first 2 minutes of Derek Webb's intro to "I Repent" on the "House Show" album, where he says things like, "I get so tired of trying to hide my sins" and "The best thing that could happen would be if your sins were broadcast on the 5 o'clock news" and "Take joy in the fact not that your sins are not real, but that they are real,and that your Savior's real". Then I played the song, where Webb reveals so many of the "lesser sins" (or so we seem to deem them) that many of us struggle with every day.The discussion was incredible for me.

One line we really wrestled with was, "i repent of trading truth for false unity". This is the life of "church as we have each known it"...false unity... and this is the life I see our local gathering seeking desperately to escape (and yet still falling to at times). We seek a true unity, a deep unity, a real, honest, intimate unity. We are tired of hiding our sins, our struggles, our inward and outward battles of the heart, soul and mind. As I spoke with this group I realized they had the desire for this as well, which is part of what makes us kindred. It also struck me that our group has actually begun to live this. One of the guys wrote a letter on our church's on-line discussion board (a tool we use to share thoughts throughout the week with the larger group) demonstrating the place we find ourselves.

I read his entry and he shared the type of things that I think each of us longs to share and each of us are GRATEFUL TO HEAR.We are grateful that he invited us to join him in that place he found himself. We are grateful that he trusted us to embrace him in his struggle. We are grateful that he trusted us to embrace him in the raw. We are grateful that he opened up a window to the room of his mind he was trapped in, and we see that as an invitation. What HE can be grateful for is that the window is now open and I am climbing through it, and I known I am not coming alone. our whole crew is waiting for their turn. We are coming into that room and if nothing else we will sit with him. We will sit. We will listen. We will pray. We will smile. We will cry... even when he can't. We will sit with each other. Through times that we don't cry and times that we do. Through times that we can't breath and times that we can't think. Through times that we can't see and times that we can't talk. And we will stand with each other and we will celebrate. We will celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and new births and date nights and dance parties and nice weather and great Frisbee sessions and gardens and first fruits and new friends and renewed lives.

I honestly think this all starts with repentance to God and confession to one another of where we are at... and when we need folks to sit with us or celebrate with us or simply listen to us.Transformational community springs to life from this kind of raw honesty and true unity of the spirit and mind is formed.

"i repent judging by a law that even i can't keep
of wearing righteousness like a disguise
to see through the planks in my own eyes"
-Derek Webb wrote this about me
Read more

We were so poor...

(disclaimer: for all of you wise guys I know we weren't poor compared to 97.4 % of the world, but work with me here because this is a fond memory and I learned a lot from the "lean times" of my family's life... a.k.a. my first 10 years)

that the neighbors would often look outside and wonder what those poor Smith kids were doing spraying each other with Windex, Pinesol, Shampoo and lotion. I guess we couldn't afford water guns, or else my parents were simply frugal, but we always saved any plastic bottle from around the house. Cleaning products, shower products, pump hair spray bottles... you name it, we saved it, cleaned it out repeatedly with hot water and soap and VOILA!

Water guns!!!!!!! Sort of.

I was taking out the trash and saw Kelly's enormous shampoo bottle in the bathroom trash. I thought, "that doesn't seem right seeing that in the trash." I remember how excited I would get when I saw the shampoo bottle getting a little low, or if I was doing chores and finished off the windex... NEW SQUIRT GUN!

My sister and I each fill up a few bottles and have at it. Shampoo bottles were good for a quick blast if the enemy was in close range, pump hair spray bottles were good for around the house and cooling down when we were hot, but the best of all were the bottles with the turning nozzles. FLEXIBILITY! We didn't get many of those, but when we did, it was priceless. One moment you were misting the person, conserving your water, the next you were shooting 'em down with the spray feature.

Oh, the memories. Thanks mom and dad! I am so grateful that we didn't grow up with lots of things, because I am now relearning that you don't need lots of things to live.
Read more