The Weekend Wanderer: 26 November 2022

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within these articles but have found them thought-provoking.


featured-deeper-journey“The Deeper Journey for Leaders: From the False Self to the True Self” – M. Robert Mulholland, Jr., in Beyond Words – The Transforming Center blog: “Once I asked the pastor of a large, vigorous, dynamic, growing church with a strong emphasis on the deeper life in Christ—a church that confirmed fifty to seventy-five new members each week—where these people were coming from.  His response surprised me.  He told me almost all of these people had begun their journey in Christ in an even larger, more vigorous, more dynamic church whose worship was leading-edge contemporary, whose focus was strongly charismatic and whose corporate life centered in highly emotional expressions of faith in God. These people would stay in that church for about two to three years and then the novelty and excitement would become ritualized and dry for them.  They began to hunger, in his words, ‘for something deeper.’  They began to sense there was more to the Christian life. You may have felt the same thing and asked yourself, Isn’t there more to the Christian life than being active in a Christian community, affirming a certain set of beliefs, adopting a particular behavior pattern?   The answer is Yes. The ‘more’ is the journey from living out one’s false self to living as our true self in Christ—a self that is deeply centered in and utterly abandoned to God.”


5acd2ae5-9c6f-4a8c-ad81-89f8608d9ce9“The State of the Multiethnic Church Movement: Glimpses of the future from Dallas and Indianapolis” – David Swanson in his Occasional Newsletter: “Last week was full of travel. It started with a flight to Dallas for the Mosaix Conference, an every-three-year gathering focused on the multiethnic church. I’ve attended many of these conferences over the years and am always impressed how the organizers, led by Pastor Mark DeYmaz, manage to include so many different practitioners, academics, and other advocates for multiethnic ministry. If there was one theme which raised to the surface for me at this year’s event, it was the role of BIPOC leaders in the multiethnic movement. While not a new theme, it was emphasized by many of the speakers from the main stage. The one workshop I was able to attend was led by Dr. Oneya Okuwobi, professor of sociology at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Okuwobi’s research focuses on the impact of multiethnic churches (often white-led) on leaders and staff of color. It’s not a pretty picture! Dr. Okuwobi detailed the cost extracted from most of the leaders of color whom she interviewed. Having to navigate church cultures which value them mostly for their representation rather than for the experiences and expertise they bring is exhausting. It is demoralizing coming to realize that what these churches said about their goals for justice and reconciliation are nowhere near their intentions.”


Michael Gerson“Opinion Michael Gerson followed his faith — and America was better for it” – Karen Tumulty in The Washington Post: “One of the biblical injunctions sometimes cited by Michael Gerson, who died Thursday at the age of 58 after a long battle with cancer, comes from the New Testament book of Colossians: ‘Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.’ That advice works not only for Christian believers such as he was, but also in the sometimes brutal political world in which he made his mark. He was a presidential speechwriter whose own words were, indeed, singularly seasoned and notably full of grace. For the past 15 years, he enriched the pages of this newspaper as a columnist for the Opinions section. But civility, as Mike also noted, does not preclude tough-mindedness. Nor should it be mistaken for a lack of principles or perspective. His own were rooted in the faith that fueled and defined his involvement with politics, and he was scorching in his assessment of his fellow evangelicals when theirs took what he saw as a more cynical turn. In a September essay, he wrote these supposedly conservative Christians ‘have broadly chosen the company of Trump supporters who deny any role for character in politics and define any useful villainy as virtue. In the place of integrity, the Trump movement has elevated a warped kind of authenticity — the authenticity of unfiltered abuse, imperious ignorance, untamed egotism and reflexive bigotry. This,’ Mike wrote, ‘is inconsistent with Christianity by any orthodox measure.'”


therapyoffice.jpeg“Is Therapy the Cure?: The therapist’s chair could be replacing our community and the pulpit.” – Cali Yee at Mockingbird: “Christmas in 2018 was one of the worst Christmases to date. My older sister and I were in a heated (but frosty) old western standoff. It wasn’t quite unlike that one scene in The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly — where the camera zooms in on Clint Eastwood’s face as he stares down his opponents. As all fights are, it was a competition of who was in the right and who was in the wrong. The real kicker didn’t come until she calmly (bitingly) suggested, ‘I really think you should be going to therapy.’  To which I hurled (screamed) back, ‘You think I should be going to therapy?!? YOU should be going to therapy, you, you, you — ‘ I can’t quite remember how it ended, or what unfortunate nickname I gave her, but I do know that it made for one awkward Christmas dinner. In my family, talk of mental illness and therapy wasn’t common. Therapy wasn’t frowned upon, but it certainly wasn’t praised either. And as you can see in the interaction between my sister and me, the need for therapy was like a silly insult, a weapon of sorts, something you said when you wanted to hurt someone.As the dy-stigmatization of mental illness continues to move at a rapid pace, it appears that going to therapy has taken on a different meaning. It is no longer a weapon, brandished to insult or shame. It has become a crown, adorned by those who pursue their ‘best self,’ or a moral obligation, required on a twenty-something’s dating profile. Of course, this is not the case with all generations and cultures. But the dialogue about how everyone should be going to therapy has certainly increased.”


Wingfeather_BoxSet_View_3_01“The Gospel in Wingfeather” – Thomas M. Ward in Plough: “Originally published between 2009 and 2014, Andrew Peterson’s four-book Wingfeather Saga was already popular within the evangelical world when it was re-released in 2020 by Penguin Random House. Since then, its popularity has surged, and it is now poised to break into the mainstream – thanks in part to a successful Angel Studios crowdfunding campaign which will put the books on screen as an animated TV series. Somehow, I hadn’t heard of the series until last year, when it started circulating among my kids’ circles of friends. Then a strangely enthusiastic recommendation from a friend and fellow dad (and professor of literature) finally prompted me to read the books. I didn’t know what I was in for. I was prepared to enjoy a good yarn and have something to talk to the kids about; I was not prepared to find such a believable depiction of love for one’s enemies and such heartbreaking reflection on the cost of redemption. I don’t say this lightly: I don’t think children’s literature has achieved the theological depth of Wingfeather since the Chronicles of Narnia.”


Waverly Abbey yew“Ancient yew in ruined Surrey abbey crowned UK tree of the year” – Patrick Barkham in The Guardian: “A gnarled yew whose twisted trunk has been growing for more than half a millennium has been crowned tree of the year. The roots of the yew snake around the ruins of Waverley Abbey in Surrey, which was the first monastery founded in Britain by the Cistercian religious order in 1128. The ancient tree, which won 16% of the total votes in the popular Woodland Trust competition, beat the spectacular ‘portal tree’ in Midlothian (11%), a rowan shaped like an archway. The Waverley Abbey yew will go on to represent the UK in the European tree of the year contest, with its success highlighting the unique wealth of ancient yews in the country. The Ancient Yew Group has identified 978 ancient or veteran yews (more than 500 years old) in England and 407 in Wales; France has 77, while Germany and Spain have only four each. Scotland is home to the Fortingall yew, estimated to be about 3,000 years old and the oldest yew in Britain.”


Music:The Porter’s Gate, “Isaiah (O Come),”Advent Songs

His Resurrection Brings Hope

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued our Advent journey and our preaching series entitled “‘Tis the Reason.” In this fourth week of the series we explore two texts in which Jesus predicts His coming suffering, death, and resurrection in Jerusalem: Matthew 17:22-23 and 20:17-19. Along with Matthew 16:21, these predictions shape the direction in which Jesus will bring salvation as Messiah. They also point us through the darkness of sin, evil, and grief to a hope that is found in Jesus the light of the world.

This message is part of the seventh part of our longer series on Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” “Stories of the Kingdom,” and “Who Do You Say I Am?”

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” (Matthew 17:22-23)

Jesus’ Three Predictions

First prediction (Matthew 16:21) – in Caesarea Philippi

Second prediction (Matthew 17:22-23) – in Galilee on the way to Jerusalem

Third prediction (Matthew 20:17-19) – nearing Jerusalem

The Promise of Suffering (Matthew 17:22-23; 20:18-19)

Handed over – entrusted – betrayed; hints at the role of Judas

Condemned to death by the chief priests and teachers of the law

Mocked, flogged, and crucified by the Gentiles

Hope in Jesus, the light not been overcome by the darkness

Grappling with Grief and Hope (Matthew 17:23)

The disciples’ grief at Jesus’ prediction

Losing sight of hope

Bringing our grief to Jesus

The Pathway of Hope (Matthew 17:23; 20:19)

On the third day, raised to life

Love arrives in Jesus

Hope rises through Jesus

Faith grasps ahold of Jesus


Dig Deeper:

This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:

  • Memorize Matthew 17:22-23 or 20:18-19
  • Although we are preparing for Christmas, remember the real reason for this season by reading Matthew’s account of Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection in Matthew 26:47-28:15.
  • Write a prayer of thanksgiving for Jesus’ death and resurrection, perhaps weaving into it the themes of Advent and Christmas.
  • Pray for opportunities to share about Jesus the Messiah with those in your relational network. When God gives you opportunity, speak of Jesus to them.

Eastbrook at Home – December 19, 2021

Eastbrook-At-Home-Series-GFX_16x9-Title

Join us for worship with Eastbrook Church through Eastbrook at Home at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM. Here is a prayer for the fourth Sunday of Advent from The Book of Common Prayer:

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and as we are sorely hindered by our sins from running the race that is set before us, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

This weekend we continue the journey of Advent and our series, “‘Tis the Reason,” as I preach from Matthew 17:22-23 and 20:17-19. Jesus’ second and third predictions of His death also point toward the resurrection that will come through the Messiah. This brings into focus the life that comes through Jesus to a world overcome with death.

You can access our Advent devotional that accompanies the series as a PDF, online, or through the Eastbrook app.

This series continues our extended journey through the Gospel of Matthew, which includes our previous series “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” “Stories of the Kingdom: parables of Jesus,” and “Who Do You Say I Am?

We also continue in-person services at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 AM this weekend at the Eastbrook Campus, and you no longer need to RSVP ahead of time.

If you are new to Eastbrook, we want to welcome you to worship and would ask you to text EBCnew to 94000 as a first step into community here at Eastbrook.

Each Sunday at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM, you can participate with our weekly worship service at home with your small group, family, or friends. This service will then be available during the week until the next Sunday’s service starts. You can also access the service directly via Vimeo, the Eastbrook app, or Facebook.

If you are not signed up for our church emailing list, please sign up here. Also, please remember that during this time financial support for the church is critical as we continue minister within our congregation and reach out to our neighborhood, city, and the world at this challenging time. Please give online or send in your tithes and offerings to support the ministry of Eastbrook Church.

The Weekend Wanderer: 18 December 2021

The Weekend Wanderer” is a weekly curated selection of news, stories, resources, and media on the intersection of faith and culture for you to explore through your weekend. Wander through these links however you like and in any order you like. Disclaimer: I do not necessarily agree with all the views expressed within the articles linked from this page, but I have read them myself in order to make me think more deeply.


Warren - angels“The Cosmos Is More Crowded Than You Think” – Tish Harrison Warren in Christianity Today: “For close to 15 years, I forgot about the existence of angels. I didn’t exactly decide I no longer believed in them. I simply didn’t think about them, and if I ever did, it was a passing thought about how corny the depiction of angels usually is. I rediscovered angels by putting a baby to sleep at night. When my first child was a newborn, I realized one night, to my surprise, that without really noticing I had developed a habit of asking God to send his angels to protect her. Back then I worked at Vanderbilt University and became a regular at a Greek Orthodox cafe and bookstore near campus. I loved its quiet beauty, its ancient books, and its veggie chili. I got to know Father Parthenios, an Antiochian priest, and his wife (known to all as simply ‘Presbytera,’ or ‘priest’s wife’), who ran the place together. One afternoon, late in my pregnancy, Presbytera handed me an icon of an angel and told me it was for the new baby. I appreciated her kindness but wasn’t particularly spiritually moved. I’m a Protestant, after all. At the time I felt no particular skepticism toward icons or angels, but I didn’t feel a deep connection either. Still, I hung the tiny wooden icon on my daughter’s wall.”


Jesus_Christmas“Christmas Celebrates a Historical Event, Americans Say” – Aaron Earles at LIfeway Research: “Christmas is a celebration of a real event, according to most Americans. Just don’t expect them to know exactly why Jesus was born and came to earth. A new study from Lifeway Research finds close to 3 in 4 Americans believe Jesus was born in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago. Even more say Jesus is the son of God the Father, but less than half believe Jesus existed prior to being born on that first Christmas. ‘Most Americans consider Jesus’ birth a historical fact,’ said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. ‘It can be easy to only evaluate Jesus like you would any other historical figure—thinking about when He lived and what He did. However, the Bible also describes Jesus in a way that one must evaluate who you believe He was. Most Americans believe His origin was from God the Father, but half as many believe He existed before His birth.'”


CT Book Awards 2022“Christianity Today’s 2022 Book Awards” – Compiled by Matt Reynolds at Christianity Today: “As a books editor for a Christian magazine, I think I’m contractually obligated, every so often, to mention that verse from Ecclesiastes about there being no end to the making of books (12:12). (Though I can’t help wondering whether an updated version might instead remark on the relentless production of podcasts, that contemporary magnet for ‘everyone and their cousin’ barbs.) The ‘making of books’ verse carries the same world-weary tone that pervades much of Ecclesiastes. And we have to admit some truth here. Consider the investment of mind, body, and soul involved in writing books few may read or remember, and ask yourself: Why do so many people, across so many eras and cultures, willingly empty themselves in this way? Even so, you’ll never catch Christianity Today pronouncing ‘Vanity of vanities’ upon the whole book-making enterprise. Recall that God himself speaks to us through a book—as does the author of Ecclesiastes. Sometimes, you can’t tell the truth about the world with anything less.”


dietrich-bonhoeffer“Bonhoeffer on Holy Weakness and the Victory of the Suffering God” – Chris E. W. Green in The Intersection Journal: “One Sunday evening in the late Spring or early Summer of 1934 Dietrich Bonhoeffer delivered a sermon to St John’s German Evangelical Reformed Church in London, one of two small Lutheran congregations he pastored at the time. He spoke in English because many of his younger parishioners were not fluent in German, and he took as his text one of the most familiar passages in the New Testament: ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me’ (2 Cor. 12:9). Bonhoeffer’s sermon began with what could easily have been taken as an unnecessarily philosophical question: ‘What is the meaning of weakness in this world?’ But if anyone considered the question too academic, Bonhoeffer quickly broke the illusion, insisting that ‘our whole attitude toward life, toward humanity and God depends on the answer to this problem.'”


30williamsembed“The Hidden Costs of Prenatal Screening” – Sarah C. Williams in Plough: “The ultrasound technician put her hand on my arm and said the words every expectant mother hopes she will never hear: ‘I’m afraid there is something wrong with the baby.’ Within an hour it was clear that a skeletal dysplasia would claim my daughter’s life either at birth or shortly after. It was also clear that everyone expected me to have a termination. Hardly anyone in Western culture disputes the wisdom of prenatal screening. It is a practice that most of us take for granted. But what are the long-term effects? As a social practice, prenatal screening is framed as morally neutral. Scans are voluntary. It is the informed and consenting parents who decide how to act on the basis of the information they receive. At twenty weeks there were only two things I knew about my daughter, both of them scientifically derived facts: her physical abnormality and her biological sex. These facts were discovered simultaneously in a routine scan in which only two questions were asked as if they were of primary importance: Does this child have a healthy body, and is this child male or female?”


wildfire“A World Ablaze, Caught by AP Photographers in 2021″ – The Associated Press: “‘Some say the world will end in fire,’ wrote the poet Robert Frost — and for much of 2021, Associated Press photographers captured scenes of a world ablaze, amid rumblings of ruin. In New Delhi, a man sprints amid the funeral pyres of COVID-19 victims — too many fires, too much heat, too many victims. On a beach near the village of Limni, Greece, the horizon is lit by the flames of wildfires raging across the eastern Mediterranean. And at La Palma in the Canary Islands, the inferno is in the Cumbre Vieja volcano. But more than 10,000 million cubic meters of ash turn the world into a negative, with black ash taking the place of white snow. Not all of the combustion is so literal.”


Kentucky church tornado“In tornado’s wake, a church and pastor turn to God, service” – Holly Meyer in The Associate Press: “After riding out the violent tornado that devastated their town in a tunnel under their church, the Rev. Wes Fowler and his family emerged to devastation stretching for blocks: Crackling power lines, piles of rubble and calls for help they couldn’t pinpoint in the darkness. Later, safe back at home, his daughter had a question that left him stumped: ‘My little girl asked me, “Why would God let this happen?”‘ said Fowler, senior pastor at First Baptist Church in Mayfield. While he believes God did allow the tornado to happen, he had no answer as to why the western Kentucky community where he was baptized, grew up and chose to raise his family wasn’t spared from the Friday night storms that left dozens dead and communities reeling across at least five states. But he felt he knew what to do next: glorify God amid the suffering, and serve those in need.”


Music: J.S. Bach, “Schwingt freudig euch empor,” Cantata BWV 36 / Part 1,  John Eliot Gardiner, English Baroque Soloists, Monteverdi Choir