The Weekend Wanderer: 19 March 2022

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


Ukraine rubble“Wartime Prayers of Ukraine’s Evangelicals” – Jayson Casper in Christianity Today: “The Ukrainian church needs support. But so do the individuals who shepherd the body of Christ. Often they are lost behind the headlines and statistics of war. Even their quotes fail to convey the full depth of their struggle. Christianity Today asked Ukrainian evangelical leaders to help readers enter their war-torn world by sharing a glimpse of it. Each provided a Bible verse that has proven meaningful for perseverance, prayer requests for both concrete personal needs and more profound spiritual longings, and a referral to how readers can get involved.”


webRNS-kyiv-tv-tower1“Catholic theologians question the morality of Ukraine’s violent resistance” – Thomas Reese in Religion News Service: “The response of Catholic moral theologians to the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been universally negative. ‘The war in Ukraine is a spiritual, human and ecological catastrophe,’ said Eli S. McCarthy, a peace activist at Georgetown University’s Justice and Peace Studies, in a recent email to me. The view is shared by Catholic pacifists as well as followers of the just war theory. There is no justification for the invasion, they agree. The fighting should stop, and the Russian troops should go home. Where Catholic moralists begin to disagree is on what means are appropriate in responding to the invasion. Peace advocates like McCarthy believe that a violent response will make matters worse. He bemoans the fact that ‘we have failed to adequately train people in nonviolent conflict, resistance and civilian-based defense.’…But pacifists aren’t the only ones questioning an armed response to the Russian invasion. The just war theory has never supported fighting a war, even a defensive war, if there is no chance of winning.”


Ambivalent Embodiment“Lenten Privations?” – Scott Cairns in The HuffPost Blog: “I, too, used to puzzle over the idea of “giving up” one thing or another for Lent. Having been brought up within a community of folks whose sense of who they were (Baptists of an exceedingly fundamental sort) was not nearly as strong as their sense of who they weren’t (Catholics), I hadn’t been offered much of an explanation along the way. More recently, having followed my heart to the East (specifically, the very Jewish-inflected early Church of Eastern Christian Orthodoxy), I’ve found a good bit more help in understanding the double whammy of self-deprivation and almsgiving. In that tradition, the period of Great Lent is certainly a period of fasting and self-examination, but it is no less a period of turning one’s attention from oneself to others. That is to say, the fathers and mothers of the Church have constructed an efficacious ascetical program that precludes eating meat and dairy for the duration, but they have coupled that program of self-constraint with an insistence upon giving to those in need….Fair to say, nothing about the Orthodox way is solely a matter of turning away (from sin, bad habits, or certain foods), but is necessarily a matter of turning toward Christ. One finds, as it happens, that when one turns toward Christ, the particulars of sin, etc., are relegated to being behind him. The point here is that the energy of saying “no” to one thing or another is far less efficacious than the energy of saying “yes” to something (Someone) more desirable.”


“Holy Sepulchre Church pavement restoration allows first-time excavation” – Judith Sudilovsky in The Jerusalem Post: “An archaeological study of the floor under the Church of the Holy Sepulchrewill be possible for the first time, after a two-year undertaking to repair and restore its pavement stones got underway in an inaugural ceremony on Monday. This is the second phase of restoration work in the church following the restoration of the Edicule in 2016-2017, revered by Christians as the tomb of Jesus, which was directed by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and conducted by an interdisciplinary team from the National Technical University of Athens. The current work is being conducted under the direction of the Custody of the Holy Land in cooperation with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate and the Armenian Patriarchate, the three historical guardians of the Church, according to the 1852 Status Quo agreement that solidified the territorial division among the Christian communities in the church and other holy Christian sites.”


“As Fewer Americans Attend Church, Can Coffee Shops Fill the Void?” – Dora Mekouar in Voice of America: “Churches and other houses of worship have historically played critical social and political functions in American society. But fewer people are attending religious services, and the decline of churches and other houses of worship threatens to leave a void that could potentially be filled by coffee shops. ‘For so much of American history, the church has really been — or their congregations have really been — essential, providing an unheralded role in providing cohesion and connectedness in communities … encouraging civic engagement and political participation,’ says Daniel Cox, director of the Survey Center on American Life and a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. ‘It was not happenstance or luck that the civil rights movement emerged out of the church,’ Cox says. ‘And you see that cross-culturally … whether it’s in predominantly white rural communities, in the suburbs, wherever, churches have historically been really, really important.'”


128121“10 Biblical Terms I Wish Christians Had in English” – Jost Zetzsche in Christianity Today: “You’ve probably read the articles about foreign-language words that don’t have an immediate counterpart in English. As a German, I immediately think of schadenfreude, that apparently untranslatable term for, well, schadenfreude—the guilty joy you feel in someone else’s misfortune. Kudos to you virtuous native English speakers for not having your own word for that smug feeling. Other foreign words are also woven seamlessly into daily life, like the Swedish ombudsman, the Finnish sauna, or the Italian pizza. There are many others, of course, especially in a language like English that derived its uncommonly large dictionary from the treasure chests of many languages. Then there are the words that haven’t made it into the English dictionary yet, though they’ve achieved notoriety as beautiful but untranslatable terms. (As a translator, I’ll add that “untranslatable” isn’t exactly true. It’s just that we don’t have a word-to-word equivalent.) This includes terms like Danish hygge, which alludes to a sense of cozy comfort in the company of others, or the Finnish sisu, the concept of hidden inner strength in times of adversity. These words enrich how we view the world and offer insights about their cultures of origin. (Again, I apologize for schadenfreude!) What if we could similarly peel back linguistic barriers to see how other languages and cultures view God through the language they use? For almost five years I’ve been collecting and curating data about how languages around the world translate the Bible in different and often insightful ways. Here are a few examples of words I wish we had in English to understand and communicate with God more deeply.”


Music: Max Richter, “On the Nature of Daylight,” from The Blue Noteboks

Dealing with Sin in the Church: Notes from Matthew 18

Sin and forgiveness. We deal with these things daily. Perhaps one of the most painful and difficult times is when we deal with sin and the need for forgiveness within the church. It seems that as followers of Christ we should understand these topics and live accordingly. Christianity is known as a faith marked by deep emphasis on sin and forgiveness. And yet, we seem to struggle with these realities in one another. It seems surprising.

But it isn’t surprising to Jesus. He expected that we would struggle with sin and forgiveness as His followers. He knew that working toward whole, reconciled relationships with one another would be a challenge. Because of His knowledge of these things, Jesus taught His followers about them. In Luke 17, we find powerful words about the necessity of complete forgiveness and our response when we are sinned against. It is in Matthew 18, however, that Jesus teaches on the process for dealing with sin in the church. What follows is a series of notes on the contours of Jesus’ teaching about dealing with sin.

One to One (vs 15)
It is important to note that Jesus calls us to discreetly and privately address the wrong done to us by speaking to the person one to one. Jesus says to ‘point out the fault’ which means we do not avoid talking about it nor do we rub the other’s face in it through guilt messages. We simply point it out. Also, we are not to trumpet the wrong to others or publicly humiliate another for their sin against us. Jewish teachers around Jesus’ time said that to publicly shame someone who had sinned against us would run the risk of exclusion from paradise. We must go to the person directly and neither hold it in – which gives birth to bitterness – nor talk behind that person’s back – which gives birth to division in the church. The goal, as mentioned in Luke 17, is to win the person over, or to restore relationship.

Two or Three to One (vs 16)
If the person does not respond to the individual conversation about the wrong, then we are to take one or two people with us to point it out. The intent here is not to gang up on the wrongdoer but actually to safeguard them from any false accusations. As in 1 Timothy 5:19-20, the extra witnesses come along in order to corroborate the facts; that is, to insure that a wrong actually has been committed. If you have been sinned against, you should not bring others with you in order to intimidate a wrongdoer. Bringing one or two others safeguards the conversation and helps to keep it firmly grounded in truth, without false accusations flying back and forth. The witnesses should be neutral. And in case we had forgotten, the goal is to win the person over, or to restore relationships within the people of God.

To the Church (vs 17a)
If the wrongdoer will not listen even with a couple of others in the room, then the situation has become very serious and must be addressed within the broader, local church community. Still, Jesus is clear that the utmost energy and care should be exerted to deal with this privately at first. It is only after this that Jesus says, “we should tell it to the church.” Why does He say this? Jesus is helping us to see that, if the relational tensions haven’t already become an issue that is noticeable to the whole church, this issue should come to the attention of all so that bitter divisions do not take root in the church. The focus is on pastoral concern for the entire body of Christ. The aim is still that the wrongdoer would listen, and the ultimate goal is still to win the person over, or to restore relationship between the wronged and the wrongdoer. In our day, some might wonder what the appropriate way to bring this to the church would be? Clearly not to start a rumor mill or to stand up in the services to yell out an accusation. Those two responses lack the pastoral concern that pervades Jesus’ teaching. I would propose that the appropriate route is to bring it to the pastoral staff, elders, or other church leadership for guidance and help. These leaders stand, as it were, with responsibility for the entire church and should be the easiest point of access within the church.

Treat Them Like an Outsider (v 17b)
If there is still no repentance, then we are to treat the wrongdoer like an outsider to the faith, “as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” While the goal has always been to restore and reconcile relationship, this is the end of the road. Some scholars debate whether Jesus is referring to a formal excommunication from the church resulting in spiritual death (as in 1 Corinthians 5:5 or 1 Timothy 1:20) or simply the manner in which we treat someone relationally. Regardless of which direction you take this, three things are clear: 1) the wrongdoer is apparently unwilling to listen to anything anyone has to say; 2) there is little option available other than treating them like an outsider; and 3) this is NOT the place we want to arrive at within the family of God called the church. Hope does linger in the background that, as with the Corinthian case, the cold shoulder of treating them like an outsider may help them come back around, but we never can tell. In a sense, we have come to a point where we finally admit that our best efforts to win them over and reconcile have failed, and only God can win them over and change the heart of another person.

All along, the goal has been to point out sin so that wrongs can be made right through forgiveness. The prayer of Jesus before the Cross was that the community of His followers would walk in unity so the world around us would know the love of the Father:

…that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me. (John 17:23)

May that be our aim in our relationships with other believers.

For further resources on dealing with conflict, I strongly recommend Ken Sande’s book, The Peacemaker, as well as the web-site for Peacemaker Ministries.

To Live as One for the Sake of the World

This past weekend as part of our preaching series, “United,” with other churches I had the privilege of preaching at Kettlebrook Church. This final week of the series I expanded upon the statement that the church is called to live as one for the sake of the world. I explored the two halves of Ephesians 2 in order to look at the way God has made us one with Himself through Christ and also made us one new humanity together through Christ. I explored that portion of Scripture with some attention to the reality that, as Archbishop William Temple once said, “the church is the only organization that exists for the benefit of its non-members.”

You can find the message video and outline below, starting at 24:48. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


Eastbrook at Home – January 30, 2022

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Join us for worship with Eastbrook Church through Eastbrook at Home at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM.

This weekend we conclude our four-part series, “United,” which explores the essence of what it means to be the church. For this four-part series we are partnering with other churches in the “Brook” family of churches, and thus will pause our extended walk through the Gospel of Matthew, which we will return to next week .

Here is a prayer for the fourth Sunday of Epiphany from The Book of Common Prayer:

O God, you know that we are set in the midst of many grave dangers, and because of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright: Grant that your strength and protection may support us in all dangers and carry us through every temptation; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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.

To Be Sent on Mission

This past weekend as part of our new preaching series with other churches entitled “United,” I had the privilege of preaching at Northbrook Church. This first week of the series I expanded upon the statement that the church is a people called by God that is sent on mission. I explored two key truths, that we are blessed by God in order to be a blessing (Genesis 12:1-3) and also that we must live that out at the intersection of the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:36-40) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

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.