Top Posts of 2012

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When I started the “40 days of Writing” Lent experiment I had no idea how valuable I would find the discipline of writing to be.  It is a spiritual discipline.  This realization has been significantly formative.  Beyond putting thoughts to words, I have enjoyed the conversations and have been humbled that you take a few minutes out of your day to stop by this space.  I wrote 138 posts in 2012, below are the 5 posts that received the most traffic.

1.  Eighteen: “Community” Do you Belong?

This was a google search king.  Belonging and Anabaptist were the two terms that drove the most traffic to anabaptistly.  The craziest search phrase was ‘Anabaptists and illegal drugs.’

2.  Reflections on “40 Days of Writing”

It was quite interesting to see how the “40 Days of Writing” impacted me.  I still look over this post from time to time.

3.  Twenty One: #awkward_evangelism

One of the most awkward moments in my life.

4.  Why I may not go to seminary

My favourite conversation of the year.  One I still think about.

5. Twenty Three: Praying with the Anabaptists & Matt Puckett

An Anabaptist prayer I came across just before the execution of Matt Puckett.  May he rest in peace.

I look forward to 2013.  I look forward to writing, to the conversation, to participating in God’s relentless pursuit of shalom.  By God’s grace… of course! Winking smile 

What are you looking forward to this year?  How do you see yourself participating with God? 

Reflections on “40 Days of Writing”

 

The unexamined life is not worth living. – Socrates

Writing 40 out of 46 days had some moments that reminded me of the university grind.  Late nights writing and editing coupled with frustration, procrastination, Dr Pepper, and late night pizza was reminiscent of my university days, though experienced quite differently at 31 (#oldfart).  I thought that sitting in front of a computer hammering out my thoughts and regurgitating them onto the screen would drive me crazy.  But there have been some valuable lessons wrapped within this experience that have screamed at me to pay attention:

Contemplation –  I have learned that it is extremely important to examine life.  To poke at it, prod it with a persistent curiosity.  Needing to post nearly everyday has required me to examine life with consistency.  Surprisingly it has been important for me to articulate these thoughts, otherwise there is a strong possibility that my thoughts could float away into the eternal abyss of nothingness.  The contemplative intentionality forced upon me by blogging has taught me to search for our Trinitarian God in my context.

Connection –   The connections via social networks, blog comments, and over a coffee or beer has reminded me that whether or not we hold similar views need each other.  We need community.  We need to connect.  We need to connect with each other and with God. 

When I embarked on the “40 days of writing” journey, the hope was that this Lenten experiment would draw me closer to the heart of God, while disconnecting me from that which does not give me life.  And it did.  Blogging has introduced me to what an examined life looks like and has given me an opportunity to connect with other folks (A BIG BIG thanks to Jamie) and join the conversation within and beyond the Christian community.   This has been invaluable. 

For these reasons I look forward to writing with regularity starting a week from today.  If you have stopped by ‘anabaptistly’ during this Lenten experiment and we have not yet connected, please connect with me on Facebook, or Twitter and let’s keep the conversation going.  I offer my 2 cents with humility.   

If you are interested below are a few blog post rankings, both by you, and my personal favorites. 

Top 5 viewed posts

1. I jumped on board with the cause to save Matt Puckett.  A man who did not receive a fair trail.  This was the starter of many deep conversations on justice, death, and forgiveness that I am thankful for.  These posts were shared by the many people who cared.  So here are the posts at the heart of this, they rank in first;   #23, #24, #22, #25.

2.  Evangelism is always a sticky topic.  This situation was super awkward. #21

3.  The difference between social justice and charity is an important distinction.  #29

4.  Sorry, the perfect church doesn’t exist.  #6

5.  Super Christian Dance Moves.  A part of me wishes I could dance like this… #38.1

My favorite 5 posts.

1.  The execution of Matt Puckett hit close to home for my wife and I.  My wife’s cousin was murdered in the 80’s. While they were completely disconnected by separate events, this post speaks to the connections between the story of my wife’s family, and the Puckett’s.  #24

2. Belonging is more important to community than one might think.  This post is still getting consistent traffic.  #18

3.  I keep coming across this strong desire for humanity to connect.  I eventually didn’t like the way it was articulated, but this is something I look forward to exploring more.  #9

4.  Parenting is tough.  Seeing my kid have a rough experience was difficult.  Writing helped unpack this experience for me.  I would not have known how much it effected me otherwise.  #5.

5.  Being a registered charity has some interesting consequences.  Churches, more often than not, are registered charities.  The many conversations I had around this post were shocking.  #30

Thank you for all your encouragement, comments, and discussion. 

Forty: The “Day-In-Between”

Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. – Matthew 27: 59-61

It’s the ‘day-in-between’ Good Friday and Easter.  Some traditions call this day ‘Holy Saturday’ or ‘Black Saturday’ as it commemorates the cold dead body of Jesus being laid in the tomb. 

It is an easy day to forget.  Good Friday gives us a compelling and tragic death on a cross where we often take the opportunity to focus on what this death ‘did for us.’  Easter Sunday gives us eternal hope and joy in the resurrection which is a fun thing to talk about.  Yet Holy Saturday, the ‘day-in-between’ is seemingly glossed over. 

As I have done some digging on the ‘day-in-between’ I keep coming across a book by Alan Lewis called Between Cross and Resurrection : A Theology of Holy Saturday. Alan Lewis writes that Holy Saturday,

“appears to be a no-man’s-land, an anonymous, counterfeit moment in the gospel story, which can boast no identity for itself, claim no meaning, and reflect only what light it can borrow from its predecessor and its sequel” 

The rotting corpse of Jesus was no doubt a reality that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary faced as they sat across from the tomb.  Sure their must have been some sort of anticipation as he was the Son of God.  But a dark element of humanity remained.  The Son of God was dead.  Lest we forget.

Thirty Nine: A Good Friday Prayer

 

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfil the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’  A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth.   When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. – John 19:28-30 (NRSV)

There are many beautiful Good Friday prayers.  Below is one of the them. 

Lifted Up 

Good Friday Prayer

John 3:14

Our God,

Lift our eyes, we pray, from present distress to the promised presence.

Lift our voices in weeping, not for ourselves and our complaints but for those whose hunger and thirst are not yet satisfied.

Lift our hearts from preoccupation with great and marvelous things into the quiet confidence of a child at its mother’s breast.

Lift our hands from binding work and leisure into the freedom of praise.

Lift us with your healing touch from our feverish pace into ministering service.

Failing this, God, we will not wee the one they lifted up in scorn, the one you lift up in love for us.

Amen.

Written by Mary Mae Swartzentruber,1989.

Thirty Eight.Two: Footwashing is Gross

I find footwashing to be incredibly awkward.  It is so mutually uncomfortable for myself and the poor person seemingly called to wash my feet.  How can this be considered a spiritual practice? 

It is a practice that screams vulnerability.  Particularly when I’ve been walking around all day in my shoes and socks that have holes in them.  Yet, when called upon, I manage to get the courage to do the unthinkable.  Let someone else touch my feet and wash them.  Still, incredibly awkward.  But upon completion I find that humility is fully and completely the point.

In 1st century Palestine feet were very dirty.  Those folks weren’t rockin the converse all-stars or throw back addidas shoes.  They wore sandals and got their feet dirty.  Very dirty.  It was for slaves to wash the feet of nobility and higher class folks upon entry into a home.  Footwashing was a true act of a servant. 

 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. – John 13:5

Jesus, the Son of Humanity, washed the feet of the people who followed him.  A true act of a servant. 

Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and washing the feet of those who followed him was a game changer for many folks.  It revealed who Jesus was and revealed who God was.  As God is active today, we get to participate in that revelation today.  It speaks to how we in the Christian community are to treat one another and interact with the world around us.  Imagine if we take our call to servanthood seriously…

In my opinion Maundy Thursday is one of the most important days as we walk with Jesus to the cross in Jerusalem.  It is the point in the journey where we recognize that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine.  The divinity of the Last Supper, and the humility and servanthood of the footwashing reveal who Jesus is and the dangerous journey on which Jesus was about to embark. 

May we be blessed by the poetic and beautiful tension of Christ’s divinity and humanity.  Go to a Maundy Thursday service.