top3 for August 21-27th


As a pastor, each week means reading. I spend time reading Scripture, books, newspapers, blog sites and everything in between. I’ve been thinking about how I can review and catalogue the ideas, concepts, and stories I come across. I’ve also been thinking that many of my “findings” may be of use and interest to others. To this end, I am launching something called Top 3. This is my list of the top 3 things I’ve read this past week and a bit of commentary around one or more of them. You will find links, when possible, to read for yourself.

#1 – A 2:15 Alarm, 2 Trains and a Bus Get Her to Work by 7A.M.

Here is a story of a woman who has a solid job, making a contribution to the city, and has difficulty finding affordable housing close to where she works.  As a result, she spends 4+ hours commuting to and from work. The undercurrent of her story is a socio-economic reality that exists in cities all across the U.S. and therefore important to all of us.

#2 – In a Christian community everything depends upon whether each individual is an indispensable link in a chain. Only when even the smallest link is securely interlocked is the chain unbreakable. A community which allows unemployed members to exist within it will perish because of them. It will be well, therefore, if every member receives a definite task to perform for the community, that he may know in hours of doubt that he, too, is not useless and unusable. Every Christian community must realize that not only do the weak need the strong, but also that the strong cannot exist without the weak. The elimination of the weak is the death of the fellowship.     from Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (underline mine)

I love that Bonhoeffer rightly asserts (in my view anyway!) that the community is only strong when all the links big, small, significant and unnoticed are interlocked together.  The truth that every person in a community is indispensable and has an important role to contribute. This has implications for a congregation as well as the total society.  Quite frankly, we often see some as more important and gifted as indispensable and therefore they get the attention and credit while many others do their part in anonymity either because what they do is not visible or not seen as important.  The roles in a congregation that everyone CAN do often are the very ones no one wants to do for they are not seen as significant.  Let me pull back the curtain on church life for a quick moment.  We could not make it without the effort of those who show up week in and week out in anonymity toiling away doing the very thing most people can do but few will.  Oil in the candles…coffee made…doors open…HVAC set to a comfortable temp…trash picked up around the building…and the list could go on and on.

#3 – Deep and Wide: Grow

I won’t make a habit of linking one of my sermons on the weekly top3, but I am convinced, particularly if you are a part of the Downtown community of First Church, that this is an important one to sit in for a while.  In particular, Jesus’ example of structuring our life in units of 1/3/12/70 which I describe more fully in the sermon will be our way forward as we make disciples across the street and around the world.