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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fiddler on the Roof

Last Sunday Irene and I went to a dinner theater.  It was a late anniversary celebration (March - 31 years).  We went to the Candlelight Dinner Playhouse near Johnson's Corner near Loveland, Colorado.  (I have only been to a few theater plays, and even fewer dinner theaters, so bear with my review!)

First a review.
The food was better than last year.  We both had the cabbage rolls this year.  We had to wait nearly an hour for the food and it arrived ten minutes before the play started.  I give the food a B, the service a B+/A-.  The cost of the ticket does not include dessert or drinks.  You may also upgrade the entree for an additional cost.  The background music level was not loud, which I appreciated.

The play itself was well acted.  The play was not abbreviated - we got home around 5:30; the play started at 2:00.  The singers did well, the props were not lavish, but they supported the theme of the play and were easily moved.  I give the play an A.

I love the Lord of the Rings, but I think that in many ways Fiddler on the Roof hits me even closer.  FotR has within it so much of the human condition.  In it we find joy, sorrow, loss, aging, prejudice, persecution, doubt, faith, testing and much more.  We see how God works in people's lives (those who made it to America were saved the Holocaust, but those who settled in Poland were not) and how decisions affect people for generations and in places far away.

I was struck in the play by a new thought.  The Bible was so much a part of the people's daily lives that they saw themselves as a continuation of the stories of the Bible.  The tailor sang of the heroes of the Old Testament and used them as an inspiration for himself.  Do modern Jews and Christians see themselves in that light?

But perhaps my favorite part is that Tevye talks to God.  He actually believes that God cares about him and will respond.  His theology isn't always great, and his knowledge of the "good book" isn't great either, but he knows God in a way that many with more learning do not.

The saddest part is when Tevye turns away his daughter Chava because she has married outside of the faith.  How far will you bend for your faith?  For your family?  Which do you value more?  I always cry at that part of the movie/play.  My children are now the age when they could make decisions to live away from their faith or marry outside of it.  How will I react?  What will I do?

What would you do?  Where do your ultimate loyalties lie?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Is God working in your church?

How do you know (if God is working in your church)?  Maybe your church isn't really growing numerically  or isn't evangelistic enough.  But are those the only measures, or even the most important?

I just finished reading an article about stress on pastors.  One of the major factors in pastoral stress the author mentioned was the strife and discord in churches, much of it directed toward pastors.

I've had the privilege of teaching the same (or similar) Introduction to New Testament courses at various institutions in Illinois and Colorado.  One of the joys of teaching such a class is reading large amounts of the Bible in a short time.  Recurring themes tend to stick out.  One of these themes is that of unity and lack of conflict.

Dr. Robert Alden shared some thoughts on Psalm 133 once in class.  The psalm begins "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!"  David then continues these thoughts by likening unity to the dew from the mountains falling on dry Jerusalem and to the performed oil poured on Aaron.

This theme of unity continues in the New Testament.  Paul tells his readers to be devoted to each other in brotherly love (Romans 12:10).   Hebrews 13:1 exhorts the readers to continue in brotherly love.  Paul prays for a spirit of unity among the Romans (15:5ff).  Paul commands his readers (Ephesians 4:3) "make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."   Paul isn't saying that we should only try to keep the unity if we feel like it or to make a small effort, but rather make every effort.

If you are in a church that acts mostly in unity, where there is little gossip, where people actually listen to each other and care about each other, where decisions are made after thought, prayer, and consideration, and dissenters are seriously listened to, might it be a sign that God is at work?  That people are being shaped by God's word and prayer and the Holy Spirit?

We often think that if God is at work our attendance will increase, and that may be true.  But God is at work in other ways as well, just as powerfully, but perhaps more quietly.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


Let's throw the pollsters, media, and the political candidates a curve ball.  When you are called by a pollster to answer questions about your political views, simply (but politely) tell the caller that you only do one poll - the one on November 6.

If enough people do this, it will frustrate the whole process.  Maybe the candidates will concentrate on persuading us rather than pandering to us.  And the media will lose a news story.  And the media can't use the "momentum" to skew the election in the way they think it should go.  And that would be good.