Wednesday, June 29, 2005

To The Roof Of The Sky

I don’t know anything about construction. I love watching television shows like This Old House, but when it comes to actually doing construction work, I’m more lost than Jerry Falwell at a gay pride event.

So, I was a bit shocked to find myself two stories in the air straddling a couple of trusses in an attempt to put plywood on a new roof. Some friends from church had decided to turn their 1 story house into a 1½-story house. To save money they had decided to do the work themselves, with the help of their church friends.

From the beginning, the project seemed much larger than it had appeared on paper. Panicked, my friends pleaded for additional help. We responded in force. It was a rag tag group of volunteers to be sure. Among the many volunteers, there was a Ph.D. candidate in history, a graphic designer, and a seminary student (that would be me). If you were to look at us as physical specimens, you would not exactly imagine physical labor as something we’d excel at.

(Speaking of physical specimens, I’m still upset that I was forbidden to remove my shirt for fear that my painfully white chest would blind someone. I care about workplace safety as much as the next guy, but it was bloody hot out there.)

What we lacked in experience, we made up for in spunk. It turned into an old-fashioned barn raising (minus the square dance and flirting with your cousin). This is church at its finest – people coming together to help others out.

After one of the longer days, the academic, the designer and myself were hanging out reminiscing about the day’s events. There is a sense of pride you gain from helping to build something, especially when you know the act of building is helping someone else. Not only had we helped build the top of a house, but we had bonded with each other as well. It was empowering to do something like that.

Not only had I helped a friend out, but I had also learned that if I get too jaded by Christian ministry, I will always have a future in roofing.

Friday, June 3, 2005

Patriotic Worship

This past weekend was Memorial Day, a time when we remember those he gave their lives for our country. These celebrations are important. We should remember those who fought for our country, even when they did not necessarily agree with the politics behind the wars.

However, I did find it odd that a local church had a sign in their lawn advertising “Patriotic Worship” for the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend. What exactly is patriotic worship? Do we gather round the flag and tell it how much we love it? Do we bow down to larger than life statues of President Bush? “We praise you, O Lord, our President, for giving us life and making us understand that Christianity is best viewed through a political lens.”

This is the problem with American Christianity. Certain groups have decided that Christianity and nationalism must be joined together. Last time I checked, Christianity was never about an individual nation. Of course Crazy Jim Dobson doesn’t believe that (James Dobson’s descent into insanity and mean-spiritedness is a whole other discussion by itself).

I’m not saying people should not be patriotic, although disrespecting the flag by wearing an ugly American flag sweater or painting it on your truck isn’t exactly patriotic. I just wonder if we’ve diluted the Gospel too much by trying to force our political views into it (and yes, I am condemning the liberals like myself as well as the conservatives). We’ve taken a message that is about love, salvation and hope in eternal life and turned it into a weapon to yield political power.

And now we’re singing patriotic worship songs because apparently worshiping God wasn’t cutting edge enough. I just wish Kirk Cameron would come back and rapture us all. Oh wait; is Kirk the one coming back or J.C.? I’ll have to reference my Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible.