Literature, Film, Food, etc.

Charge to the Deacons / Christian Reformed church

I charge you deacons, to inspire faithful ministries of service to one another, to the larger community, and to the world. Remind us that the Lord requires us “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with [our] God” (Mic. 6:8). Teach us to be merciful and to seize new opportunities to worship God with offerings of wealth, time, and ability. Realize that benevolence is a quality of our life in Christ and not merely a matter of financial assistance. Therefore, minister to rich and poor alike, both within and outside the church. Weigh our opportunities for giving and service and use the church’s resources discerningly. Be compassionate to those in need and treat them with dignity and respect; hold in trust all sensitive matters confided to you. Encourage with words that create hope in hearts and with deeds that bring joy into lives. Be prophetic critics of the waste, injustice, and selfishness in our society, and be sensitive counselors to the victims of such evils. Let your lives be above reproach; live as examples of Christ Jesus; look to the interests of others. And in all your ministries help us participate in the renewing of all things even as we anticipate its completion when God’s kingdom comes.

This is the CRC’s official charge to the deacons. Reformed Christians often suffer from being mired in theology and lacking in the exuberant outreach and action that other denominations are known for. I love this document, as it marries Scriptural literacy and Spirit-led activity.

The Blue Sweater / Jacqueline Novogratz

When looking at what happened in the Rwandan genocide, we can conclude despairingly that the nature of humanity is evil–or we can focus on the things that endured: the extraordinary power of the human spirt, the exquisite dignity of some individuals on even the darkest days, and the number of people who helped one another during and after the tragedies in Rwanda simply because it was the right thing to do. It is from a place of hope, of the possibility of rebirth, of retribution, and even of optimism that Rwanda now has a real chance to become one of the developing world’s success stories.

This book was recommended to me as I started training with United Way of Whatcom County. It helpfully sets the stage of using financial/economic success in tackling poverty and oppression.

Onward, Christian Liberals / Marilynne Robinson

You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. —Leviticus 19.2

I realize that in attempting to write on the subject of personal holiness, I encounter interference in my mind between my own sense of the life of the soul and understandings that are now pervasive and very little questioned. The phrase “personal holiness,” in what at present is its received sense, suggests a preoccupation with (usually) minor, nameable, and numerable sins and the pious avoidance of them where possible. It suggests a regime of pious behaviors whose object is the advantage of one’s own soul. It suggests also a sense of security concerning final things, which is understood as a virtue, though it is in fact a confidence not claimed even by the Apostle Paul. If this is a view of the matter commonly held by the unchurched and the irreligious, it is nevertheless a fair account of the thought and practice of many who do indeed aspire to personal holiness, or who feel they have achieved it…

Marilynne Robinson is incredible. I read this article every year, which is maybe not often enough. There’s a short list of media that I want to send to everybody ever, and this is in the top five.

In 2015, she and President Obama spoke about faith and hope, how to live with conviction, and other stuff.