hands down, my favorite christmas album (or albums, i guess i should say) is sufjan’s christmas collection, songs for christmas. between 2001 and 2006, sufjan recorded a series of EPs for friends and family each christmas. finally, these were all released to the public and have become a staple for me.
whether or not you’ve read rob bell’s love wins, you’ve heard about the book. and you’ve likely heard that in said book, rob bell has done away with hell. and unfortunately, if you’ve heard that, you’ve received false information.
bell’s book is actually an affirmation of the theology of hell. but it’s a very different hell than the fire and brimstone you grew up hearing about.
i pastor a church primarily comprised of 20- and 30-somethings. amongst that group, a relatively large percentage have come back to the church after a period of time away. generally speaking, like many, at some time after high school, they drifted away (or just made a decision to leave) and had a difficult time reconnecting. hearing their stories of why they left and why they’ve returned is always fascinating to me.
certainly, the people at our church aren’t an exception. barna group president david kinnaman, in his new book you lost me: why young christians are leaving church and rethinking church, presents his findings of an extensive research project that included interviews with teenagers, young adults, parents and pastors. kinnaman focused on 20-somethings who were regular churchgoers during their teenage years but disconnected at some point after the age of 15.
throughout the year, i been blogging about derek webb’s ongoing project called democracy vol. 2. fans were able to cast votes for up to 10 songs that they wanted webb to cover. then, the 10 songs receiving the most votes would be covered by webb for the album. the album is being recorded over the span of 2011, with 1 track being recorded and released each month. from march to december, webb has/will release 1 track each month. for those who would like to catch up, here’s links to each month’s blog posts so far:
today, we found out july’s track: be thou my vision.
it is finished.
since last january, i’ve been blogging about derek webb’s latest innovative project called democracy vol. 1. fans were able to cast votes for up to 12 songs that they wanted webb to cover. then, the 12 songs receiving the most votes would be covered by webb for the album. the album was recorded over the span of 2010, with 1 track being recorded and released each month. from january to november, webb released the first eleven tracks. here’s the current track listing:
1. the beatles: while my guitar gently weeps
2. coldplay: fix you
3. bob dylan: the times they are a-changin’
4. gnarls barkley: who’s gonna save my soul
5. sufjan stevens: chicago
6. u2: where the streets have no name
7. huey lewis and the news: power of love
8. the beatles: eleanor rigby
9. simon and garfunkel: the sound of silence
10. radiohead: karma police
11. leonard cohen: hallelujah
instead of releasing the the full list of tracks, webb revealed each track month-by-month. and today, we found out the twelfth and final one.
i’m thankful to be a part of a faith community that is actually a community. no doubt, we’re far from reaching the zenith of what that means (to say the least), but i think we’re getting a few things right. we do life together. we share meals. we meet the needs of people who cannot themselves. we engage in open and honest dialogue. we challenge each other to be more like jesus.
of all those things, i think the last one—challenge each other to be more like jesus—is the linchpin of all the other things i listed. without a constant urging and encouraging to explore what it really means to be jesus, we wouldn’t be able or compelled to do the other things.
a couple nights ago at our weekly gathering, i certainly felt both challenged and encouraged to engage others more like jesus.
last night, i participated (along with a few friends) in what was dubbed a “common prayer party”. in essence, it was a book release party (which corresponded with hundreds across the country) for a new book of common prayer compiled by shane claiborne, jonathan wilson-hartgrove and enuma okoro, called common prayer: a liturgy for ordinary radicals. the night, organized by my friend kim, was a reading of a handful of the prayers as well as an opportunity to participate in prayer stations engaging us in the season of advent.
it was a good opportunity to begin this season with a time of quiet and reflection and communal prayer. throughout the night, we had an opportunity to check out the book. it’s a great collection (that i highly recommend for churches) and one particular prayer caught my attention as i skimmed through it.