"We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God’s coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God’s coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us. The coming of God is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news for everyone who has a conscience." Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Nationalism, Pragmatism and Sentimentalism are blinding the church to the reality that Jesus Christ came to bring a new way that would someday make the world unbroken, where God gets God's way on Earth as in Heaven.
John the Baptist testifies to this, "Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth." Luke 3:5
The Virgin Mary proclaims this, "He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty." Luke 1:51-53
Argentine has a lot going for it with new efforts at revitalization, but like many under-resourced, urban neighborhoods, it has familiar problems. Connect with young people who are joining God's mission to restore beauty in Argentine. Hands-on work during a Youthfront Missional Journey in Argentine will include painting, clean up and minor home repair.
Our after-school program in Croc has more than 14 years, and is currently run by a local team. It provides kids with activities and classroom time where they can learn their place within God's mission. On a Youthfront Missional Journey in Croc, your will host a summer camp for local kids, prepare games, workshops, and classes. You'll work alongside a local team to give kids a quality education in subjects like math and Spanish, and also to better understand themselves, one another, and the world around them.
I WAS HUNGRY & YOU GAVE ME SOMETHING TO EAT
Something to Eat is a learning experience where we equip youth to discover the systems that produce hunger. A pulsating spirit sweeps over our events where youth package meals to help families both locally and globally. As they draw closer to the struggle that is faced by nearly 1 out of 6 kids in the US, they also draw closer to God and to one another.
Youthfront Justice initiatives tap into a longing for a more free and just world already stirring in young people's hearts.
These learning experiences equip youth to participate in God's mission to restore the world. We create pathways for youth to stand with hurting people and to discover how ending injustice is central to the heart of God's kingdom and mission. We help youth connect the dots making poverty easier to understand even if the solutions are more difficult.
FIRST THINGS has reposted an article by Stanley Hauerwas entitled, AN OPEN LETTER TO YOUNG CHRISTIANS ON THEIR WAY TO COLLEGE. We had a great summer working with nearly 100 college students in our ministry initiatives at Youthfront. I'm posting excerpts of this article for their benefit and for all of those who are entering a new season in their life. Hauerwas discusses the destructive myths that too many Christian students fall into concerning what college is all about. I pray that the students we have worked with on Youthfront staff, along with the hundreds we have ministered to who are beginning their college experience will read this and take it to heart. God Bless you. You are beloved.
The Christian religion,” wrote Robert Louis Wilken, “is inescapably ritualistic (one is received into the Church by a solemn washing with water), uncompromisingly moral (‘be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect,’ said Jesus), and unapologetically intellectual (be ready to give a ‘reason for the hope that is in you,’ in the words of 1 Peter). Like all the major religions of the world, Christianity is more than a set of devotional practices and a moral code: it is also a way of thinking about God, about human beings, about the world and history.”
Ritualistic, moral, and intellectual: May these words, ones that Wilken uses to begin his beautiful book, The Spirit of Early Christian Thought, be written on your soul as you begin college and mark your life—characterize and distinguish your life—for the next four years. Be faithful in worship. In America, going to college is one of those heavily mythologized events that everybody tells you will “change your life,” which is probably at least half true. So don’t be foolish and imagine that you can take a vacation from church.
Be uncompromisingly moral. Undergraduate life on college campuses tends in the direction of neopagan excess. Good kids from good families too often end up using their four years at college to get drunk and throw up on one another. Too often they do so on their way to the condom dispensers. What a waste! Not only because such behavior is self-destructive but also because living this way will prevent you from doing the intellectual work the Christian faith demands. Be deeply intellectual. We—that is, the Church—need you to do well in school. That may sound strange, because many who represent Christian values seem concerned primarily with how you conduct yourself while you are in college; they relegate the Christian part of being in college to what is done outside the classroom.
It takes an educated mind to do the Church’s work of thinking about and interpreting the world in light of Christ. Physics, sociology, French literary theory: All these and more—in fact, everything you study in college—is bathed in the light of Christ. It takes the eyes of faith to see that light, and it takes an educated mind to understand and articulate it.
I certainly hope you will be attracted to the work of theology. These days—at least in the West, where the dominant intellectual trends have detached themselves from Christianity—the discipline of theology is in a world of hurt, often tempted by silly efforts to dress up the gospel in the latest academic fashions. So God knows we need all the help we can get. But there is a wider sense of being a theologian, one that simply means thinking about what you are learning in light of Christ. This does not happen by making everything fit into Church doctrine or biblical preaching—that’s theology in the strict, official sense. Instead, to become a Christian scholar is more a matter of intention and desire, of bearing witness to Christ in the contemporary world of science, literature, and so forth.
Let me return to Robert Wilken’s observation about the ritual, moral, and intellectual life of the Christian. Don’t fool yourself. Only a man or woman who has undergone a long period of spiritual discipline can reliably pray in the solitude of a hermitage. You’re young. You need the regular discipline of worship, Bible reading, and Christian fellowship. Don’t neglect them in college. Also, don’t underestimate the moral temptations of the contemporary college scene. We cannot help but be influenced by the behavior of our friends, so choose wisely.
To worship God and live faithfully are necessary conditions if you are to survive in college. But as a Christian you are called to do more than survive. You are called to use the opportunity you have been given to learn to construe the world as a creature of a God who would have us enjoy—and bask in—the love that has brought us into existence. God has given your mind good work to do. As members of the Church, we’re counting on you. It won’t be easy. It never has been. But I can testify that it can also be a source of joy.
What a wonderful adventure you have before you. I wish you well.
Stanley Hauerwas is Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School.
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children...This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."
Who Said This? A Republican or a Democrat or a Religious Leader?
If Obama said this, Republicans would continue to declare that he is exactly what they've labeled him to be - a liberal, idealogue, crazy, anti-American, etc. (And Democrats did the similar kinds of demonization to George W. Bush).
If a Religious leader said this, she/he would be ridiculed by the religious right who find it easy to pledge allegiance to the flag of the USA. (I will compare my citizenship to any religious zealot, I've never cheated on my taxes, I vote, I serve, I love being an American, I love my country).
Who Said This?
Republican president Dwight David Eisenhower made this statement in a Presidential address on April 16, 1953. Isn't the vision he shared in this quote in sync with God's mission to bring about restoration and a return to Shalom for humanity, the world and the entire cosmos?
I know that we live in a sinful, fallen and broken world where evil people desire to harm and subjugate but I also believe that followers of Jesus Christ must be willing to pick up their cross, walk in the way of the cross and stand up for peace, for the greater true, for the oppressed, for the marginalized, for immigrants, for the poor, for the mentally ill, for the persecuted, for minorities, for the left outs and stand up to the oppressors, the persecutors, war-mongers and the self-righteous religious idealogues.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:3-11
"I wonder what we Christians are known for in the world outside our churches. Are we known as critics, consumers, copiers, condemners of culture? I'm afraid so. Why aren't we known as cultivators-people who tend and nourish what is best in human culture, who do the hard and painstaking work to preserve the best of what people before us have done? Why aren't we known as creators-people who dare to think and do something that has never been thought or done before, something that makes the world more welcoming and thrilling and beautiful?" Andy Crouch
My friend Jeremy Affeldt, a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, just celebrated his 35th birthday, which coincided with back to back wins on consecutive days. Jeremy has won two World Series Championships with the Giants and factored significantly in the titles. He was his team's 2011 nomination for the Roberto Clemente Award and was voted MLB Setup Man of the Year in 2009. Affeldt was also recognized for his anti-slavery efforts with a nomination for the Jefferson Award for Public Service. So far this year Jeremy is once again showing that he is one of the premiere relievers in the major leagues, pitching in 24 games with 19 strikeouts, 9 holds and a 1.71 ERA. And, I might add, the Giants are the hottest team in baseball with a 41-21 record.
All that to say, Jeremy is a better human being than he is a baseball player. Baseball player doesn't define Jeremy, his faith in Jesus Christ does.
That is the introduction to say, if your father hasn't read Jeremy's book To Stir aMovement,do something special for your father on Father's Day and give him this book. Then you can read it after he is done. It is interesting, inspiring and informative. Act now, and you will have it in time.
In Matthew 25, Jesus shares a parable in which he says, "I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." The righteous ask, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?..." And the King replied, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
This teaching of Jesus fires my imagination and provokes a response. What are we doing in this to literally minister to Jesus himself by serving others? Desiring to shape young people formationally as disciples of Jesus in the context of this teaching we started Something to Eat™ several years ago. By the end of this year young people will have raised money and packaged well over two million meals for those lacking proper nutrition in Haiti, Africa, Central America, the Philippines, and also throughout the USA where millions of people are dealing with food insecurity everyday.
We have developed amazing collaborative partners such as FH and Generation Alive. We've had incredible support from foundations, donors and others who believe that it's not only part of God's mission to "give them something to eat" but who are also passionate about discipling a generation of young people to follow obediently in the way of Jesus.
This weekend, I'm working with my dear friend Jeremy Affeldt, who has provided deep vision and passion for Something to Eat™ , to package 250,000 meals. The cool thing is that the teenagers packaging the meals are from East Palo Alto. Most people know Palo Alto as the home of Google, Facebook, the Silicon Valley, the wealthy land of the innovator and Venture Capitalist. On the other side of the highway is East Palo Alto, a place that many people have written off. But that is not the story that these young people are embracing. Through the opportunities provided by organizations like Able Works, these young people are leaning into a different story, a story that mirrors the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 25. Pray for us this weekend.
Pray for young people who want to not only give something to eat to those who are hungry but also want to stand up for the stranger and push for immigration reform; shine a light on the naked and end the scourge of sex trafficking; and cooperate with God's mission in the world in hundreds of other ways that bare witness to the reality that a day is coming when restoration will be completed and God will get God's way on Earth as in Heaven. This is a generation of young people that according to some of the latest research by Barna are more faithful than any other age group to speak up for Jesus and the Gospel.
In Matthew 25, Jesus was not giving an exhaustive list of the things we should be about in order to come alongside the "least of these." What are ways that you can minister to Jesus directly by serving the least of these? Listen deeply and allow God's Spirit and your imagination to open up the possibilities all around you.