New Blog Site: www.fccgreeneville.org/scotts-thoughts.

For now (and maybe for a little while and for posterity’s sake, if posterity cares, which I’m thinking it probably doesn’t) I’ll leave scottwakefield.org pointing to this blog, BUT… I’ll soon begin posting on our new church website at this location: http://www.fccgreeneville.org/scotts-thoughts.

So, all you throngs of (like, 4) RSS feed subscribers, change your links… Pretty soon I think I’m gonna make scottwakefield.org automatically point to the church website’s blog, but for now… I’ve got other things to do.

Empty Inbox, Repetition, The Beautiful Internet…

The many hours I’ve invested in whittling down my email inbox to zero have finally borne their intended fruit. I give you… (pause for drum roll and the deafening din of throngs of frenzied supporters)… the empty inbox, in all its resplendent glory. Believe me, people, this inbox is empty for the glory of God. It’s the only thing worth sifting through [actual number deleted to protect the reputation of the guilty as a hard worker] of emails!

The Empty Inbox

“Thank you. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. It’s good to be here. Thank you.” All this repetition reminds me of something I came across… This is hilarious. I believe Ann Curry uses the word “morning” 4 times in a span of about 3 seconds.

Ohhhhh goodness…. Can you believe this stuff? I love the internet.

An Apology

A brief public apology is in order. Yesterday (for about an hour) I posted a funny picture of a guy and his cat and started sorta “writing his story,” guessing what his name was, and offering anyone to post a caption to join in the fun. Well, it was poor judgment and I’m sorry. It could’ve turned into the internet equivalent of elementary school kids standing around and making fun of him. It’s been deleted. I’m sorry.

Affle House in Greeneville

For those of you who needed visual confirmation of what we’ve known intuitively for a long time, I recently scored this great pic here in G’Vegas…

Affle House

Excerpts from our Good Friday Service – “Gaze at Jesus Until the Darkness Comes”

Here’s some of the gist of tonight’s gathering. There are Scripture readings, cool touchy-feely videos, and extinguishing of candles interspersed between the Responsive Reading and the Closing Thoughts. Very Old School meets New School. And we’re not doing Communion tonight… which is the more original church tradition (i.e., recreate the Last Supper on Thursday.) Protestants have sometimes done the Friday night Lord’s Supper thing. I think we need to reclaim a little of the angst of the original liturgies… with cool videos and candles, of course! You can’t celebrate Resurrection as well without experiencing death. Special thanks to one of my mentors, my predecessor Charles Reese, for some of the service content.

Introduction

Normally, at the beginning of a service, someone stands up here, as I’m doing now, to welcome you with a warm smile and maybe a joke… But tonight, at the beginning of a Good Friday service, welcome seems like a strange word to use, doesn’t it? We don’t say things like, “Welcome everyone to this occasion at which we remember this man’s death!” You just don’t do that. Tonight, “welcome” doesn’t fit.

It doesn’t fit because we have not gathered tonight to celebrate. We don’t sing songs tonight. We don’t read rousing Scripture that lifts us up nor do we speak words that encourage. We don’t partake of the body and blood of Jesus at the Lord’s Table tonight. Maybe… on the Friday of Christ’s death… maybe we should fast. We should be silent. We should mourn… mourn that we were in that crowd last Sunday, waving branches and yelling, “Hosanna, glory to God in the highest” and that now, here we are, watching… God… die…. We’ve gone from palms of victory to a cross of crushing defeat because of our sinful rebellion against the very One sent to save us. Tonight our role is not a happy one… we read of our betrayal and desertion of our Savior and are reminded of the weight of our sin that sent Christ to the cross.

So “welcome” doesn’t exactly fit. Not tonight… because this evening, while there is still light left, while there is still time left… we are together so we can fix our eyes on our Savior who bore our sin on the cross. Tonight, we want to experience what those first Christians experienced as they stood in wonder and gazed at Jesus until the darkness came… until the darkness of our own sin betrayed our Creator and sent him to the cross.

Opening Prayer

“Lord, we acknowledge at the outset that tonight occurred, not just because the religious and political powers schemed to murder you, but because we also bear responsibility.

We have heard the message. We know the story. But in faithfulness and humility we come together, at the foot of a cross that should’ve been ours… to stand in its shadow… to hear and feel… to sense the story again… to experience anew what you suffered for our sake. Grant that we would quietly and humbly come together to gaze in worship at the lamb who was slain for us.”

A Reponsive Reading

Leader: The Light came.
People: But we preferred the darkness.

Leader: We tried to extinguish the light.
People: We crucified Jesus of Nazareth.

Leader: This is the day of darkness.
People: The Lamb of God will be slain.

ALL: We stand in the shadow of the cross and gaze at Jesus before the light is extinguished. Father, forgive us for extinguishing your light.

Closing Thoughts

Tonight, we have extinguished candles one by one to symbolize the death of Christ and the snuffing out of the life of a man sent to save the world. The darkness symbolizes the feeling of helplessness we experience when sin reigns and we consider that our sin snuffed out our Savior’s life. We have read of our own betrayal of Jesus. We have watched images and heard music that stirs emotion within us. We have taken the time tonight to gaze at Jesus… to quietly focus our attention on what he suffered and gaze at the Messiah, the Anointed One, on the cross.

But…… there… is… hope…. We call it “Good Friday.” The Greek Orthodox Church calls it “Great Friday.” We call it “good” because there is more than just darkness and death. Though we can’t see it now, eventually there is victory. Eventually there is grace and freedom. Eventually it is good.

Even though we might as well have been the original traitor or we could easily have been someone in the crowd cursing and judging Jesus, yelling, “Crucify Him!” Even though we have lived in doubt and despair, skeptical that our Savior could possibly be who He claims, it is Good Friday that brings us hope that Sunday we can partake together as a body around the Lord’s Table… a body of believers made whole by the body and blood sacrificed on Friday. On Sunday we will gather to sing songs of joy and praise. On Sunday we will read Scripture that encourages and affirms that God has done what He said He will do.

Because of Good Friday we have freedom from sin. Because of Good Friday we walk in the light… in the light of love and grace. The death which brought despair has no power and we are justified by the blood of Christ. Because of Good Friday…

A few useless but interesting links

Check this out: http://www.thisintothat.com. This guy makes bookshelves from, uh, books.

Then there’s the online Lego arms dealer: http://www.brickarms.com.

A skeleton made of Craftsman tools: http://www.neatorama.com/2008/03/05/craftsman-skeleton-ad.

This one’s crazy. It’s amazing pictures and “drainsploration” information: http://vanishingpoint.ca/tailrace.html. Check out some other stuff on the site: http://vanishingpoint.ca. Who are these people? There’s a whole online world of taking pictures of exploration of abandoned stuff. The internet never ceases to amaze me.

And then, everybody’s favorite, the online photo gallery of tombstones of Russian mobsters: http://englishrussia.com/?p=1782.

“All things excellent are both difficult and rare”

Spinoza was onto something, I think. And it seems especially germane today. I’m amazed at how often I find myself wondering, “Certainly there is an easier or faster way to do this.” Now, it’s not like I have good reason to think that in those particular circumstances, and I’m aware that efficiency and progress can be important values, but when it’s just a general assumption about how life should be easier in an advanced and technologically drunk society like ours, uh… something’s wrong. And I think it affects our assumptions about spiritual growth and church ministry. Certainly we can just buy something or start a program or make our website to be a little more 2.0… Yeah, I don’t think so. There’s no easy way to memorize Scripture and get it into your head and heart. There’s no substitute for flat-out praying with God. Why should we expect a fast track to an excellent relationship with God?! We are talking about the unfathomable, perfectly holy God of the Universe. Easy? Not so much.