The Blog of Gordon Pruitt the Pastor of St. Matthew's United Methodist Church in Richmond Virginia

Friday, November 30, 2007

It's not your birthday

I was asked by the Washington Post to write a Christmas meditaion. Just kidding, it was the Goochland Courier that asked me. Here is what i have written below. Let me know what you think.

It’s Not Your Birthday.
It’s not your birthday that we will celebrate on December 25. It’s Jesus’ birthday that we celebrate. What would happen if on one of my daughters birthdays’ I got myself some presents, my wife some presents, and my other daughters got presents, but the daughter whose birthday it is got nothing? There would not be peace on earth or good will toward men. Everybody would think we were horrible parents. The truth is that is what often happens with Christmas, we forget whose birthday it is, we forget the reason for the season. Jesus!

One of the ways we can celebrate Jesus’ birthday is by giving to the poor. As Jesus says in Matthew 25:40, “whatever you did for one of the least of these (the hungry, the thirsty, the immigrants, the naked, the sick, the prisoner, the lonely) brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” What Jesus says in this passage is that he identifies with the poor. If we serve the poor, it is the same as serving Jesus, and when we don’t serve the poor it is the same as not serving Jesus.

Jesus not only identifies with the poor, he was poor. Jesus was born in a stable. When Joseph and Mary went to present Jesus at the temple and have Jesus circumcised their sacrifice was the sacrifice of the poor, a pair of doves or two young pigeons (Luke 3:24, Leviticus 12:8). You could make the case that when Jesus started his ministry he was homeless. Jesus was always eating and staying at someone else’s house. At one point Jesus says, “foxes have holes, birds have nests, but the son of man has no place to lay his head.” When Jesus entered Jerusalem, he entered on a borrowed donkey. When Jesus and his disciples had the last supper they met in a borrowed room. After Jesus died they placed his body not in his tomb, but a borrowed tomb. Jesus identified with the poor and was poor.

My challenge to you during this Christmas season is to remember whose birthday it is and give half of your planned Christmas spending to the poor. If you normally spend $500 on Christmas this year spend $250 on Christmas and give the rest to the poor. How much of what we get or give on Christmas is really needed? There are people that have legit needs some in our own country. There are over 6 billion people in the world and half of them live on less than $2 a day. 30,000 people die a day from starvation. That is one person every 3 seconds. In the time it has taken you to read this article (3 minutes) 60 people have died. Let that sink in. This is not the way things have to be. This Christmas season, remember whose birthday it is and strive to live a simple Christmas so others might simply live.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Intuitive leadership 1

Started reading Tim Keel's book today, Intuitive Leadership and thought i would try and blog through it. I am 0 for 1 in doing this so wish me better luck this time!
Keel is pastor of Jacob's Well, a church in Kansas City Missouri. I heard Keel speak at an Emergent Conference many years ago in Nashville and also some where else, can't remember where but he left a good impression.
The back cover says, "churches need to dicover new ways of leading that embrace intuition, creativity, narrative, and the chaos and tension of our time."

Chapter 1 is about rediscovering the power of story. Keel is big into narrative and believes that churches don't focus enough on the narrative of scripture.
Keel writes on p 36, "The Bible as encyclopedia of topical religious information? Check. The Bible as blueprint hor how ti make life work? Check. The Bible as a book of answers, especially for refuting those with whom we disagree? Check. The Bible as supporting material for systematic theology? Check. The Bible as the story about the confusing presence of personal deity engaging bizarrely unpredictable people in astounding and mundane ways over long period of time? can i Get back to you on that?"

This was convicting to me. I rotate in and out of preaching on narrative but lately i have not done much of that. Keel also makes a great point about how the words "remember! Don't forget" and found again and again in the Old testament. One of the great gifts I've been given is the fact that i was taught the stories of the Bible as a child, and i have not forgotten them.

Bringing this to the my church, what is our churches story. What are the stories we should not forget in our 150 year history? Who are the characters? What are my stories that i should not forget?
Keel says "we are called to story. To remember. To live. To tell."

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Jesus and Football

My friend Tom Houck has written a book about 2 of my favorite things, football and Jesus. It is titled Between the Tackles and you can get it here for only $13. I am proud to announce that we are having our first give away so the first 3 people to send me an email ( will receive a free copy of the book.
UPDATE- The books are gone, Austin, Serena and Ryan Congratulations.

worship with the unchurched in mind

We devoted part of our service to “All Saints Day” on Sunday. We had a candle lighting in memory of all those that were part of our church community that passed away in the last year. What we did differently this year is that we used the screen to project pictures of the ones that pasted away and had family members light a candle as we showed the picture. This worked beautifully and was very meaningful not only to the families but also to the whole church.
Of the 5 people that passed away none of their families have been active in our church in quite a while and this service was an opportunity to show the families that we care and that we wanted to honor their relative and also give an opportunity for them to come back to church.
It would be safe to say that for 2 of the families they had little to no experience in worship. The sat up front, I don’t think they knew how the hymnal worked, and during communion seemed uncertain. And they really did not have anybody to help them (partly because they sat up front). One of the men gave me the attendance pad to me before the service because he thought somebody from the previous service had forgotten it, (I played along). Another gentlemen when he came up for communion starting talking with me, so we had a conversation while everyone else was kneeling around him, which is something I have never done before. For the other 3 families everything was comfortable and familiar. We say we want to reach people who don’t know the good news of Jesus, but would we be willing to change what we do to make that happen. This was a real eye opening experience for me because some of the changes I’ve made to the traditional services have been made I thought with the unchurched in mind. I guess they were not enough so. And is the contemporary service any different?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Reading C. S. Lewis today....

"That is why the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind. We can only do it for moments at first . But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting Him work at the right part of us." Mere Christianity, Chapter titled "Is Christianity hard or Easy? "

I know this and believe it, but it is still a hard thing for me to do every day. Makes no sense. I have a cure to my problem but i don't always take the medicine.