Feasting Versus Fasting

a-simple-dinnerWe are now in the church season of Easter. During this season, we at The Table are practicing the spiritual disciple of feasting. Feasting may not seem like a spiritual discipline, but it is. It is the contrasting discipline of fasting. During the season of Lent, we fast from the excesses and prepare ourselves for the work of Jesus on the cross.  During the season of Easter we feast, we party, focusing on the life of Jesus resurrected.

I would argue that we have a harder time feasting than fasting. I think this is because we often relate feasting with excess and drunkenness. These things are not what the spiritual discipline of feasting is about. Feasting, when focused on Jesus, celebrates life. It acknowledges the gifts of grace given to us by God, gifts of creation, of provision, of goodness. But, we often feel guilty for receiving these gifts, and therefore focus on our payments for them. And so w/ the gift of life before us, we fast. We deny the gift of grace, in our hearts, and turn our minds toward working for our gift. We do a better job of fasting, than feasting. We get distracted by our own guilt, or feelings of obligation. We get distracted from the abundant life of Jesus.

There are seasons to fully engage in the discipline of fasting. In fact, we should engage in it more. But, there are also season to fully engage in Jesus-cenetered feasting. This is the challenge, the discipline if you will, of the season of Easter. The good news is that Jesus lives; He is moving in His work of redemption; He invites us to live in Him. So how will we live as a result of this news? I call us to celebrate living, celebrate the fact that our God lives! Celebrate the moment. Celebrate the ordinary. Live with gratitude, acknowledging the gifts of grace, and embrace them. Jesus came that we would have life, abundant life (John 10:10). So live!

Table Worship, April 26th, 5:30pm – Fairhaven Library Basement

religionJoin us this Sunday evening at the Fairhaven Library (1117 12th St.) for a Table worship gathering. We will begin at 5:30pm with a shared meal. Bring something to share, if you are able (main dish, side/salad, or dessert). After our meal we will sing, pray, and continue our study of Resurrection and the book of Philippians. This week we will look at Philippians 1:12-26, and ask ourselves, “What distracts us form the rich, full life in Jesus?” Invite a friend and join us. Everyone is welcome!

The Resurrection in Film

MV5BMTY5MjA3MTY2Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTMzNzYzMw@@._V1_SX214_AL_As we are celebrating the Easter season, with a focus on the resurrection, I got to thinking today about all the movies I love that mirror the death and resurrection of Jesus (in some way). I found the list below online. I think it is generally a good one, with a few exceptions. One movie I think is a beautiful picture of life reborn amidst sacrifice is Stranger Than Fiction (2006). Will Ferrell’s character discovers that he is a character in a writer’s (played by Emma Thompson) novel, and will soon be killed off. He knowingly makes the choice to participate in a sacrificial death, but later discover he lives. His life results in the novelist’s life holding greater purpose. Although the film does not mirror Christ 100%, i love it as a an awesome representation of a sacrificial life.

Whether you check out this movie or any of the one’s on the list below, I pray you will celebrate life this Easter season, looking for Christ’s work around you (even in movies).


Movies/Scenes Representing Resurrection (from www.textweek.com)

  • John Q (2002)
    • This movie depicts the plight of a father (Denzel Washington) willing to lay down his life for his son and therefore should be cross-referenced under Abraham and Issac and Cross and Resurrection in the sense of the suffering of God through the evil of Jesus deathAs a social commentary, it pricks our conscience about a society with medical services for those who can afford them and death for those who cannot. As redemptive drama, it also shows the metanoia or reversal of thinking in several characters who broker the power of the HMO medical system but in the end ultimately side with the powerlessness of John Q. and his son. (Dr. Barry A. WoodbridgeOrangethorpe Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)Fullerton, CA)
  • The Shipping News (2001)
    • The wake, during which Jack arises, is found at DVD ch 17. This entire movie is the story of rebirth for many characters, especially Quoyle, who is portrayed as the walking-dead. He finds life through confronting the “demons” of his past, and through finding community and relationship in a village in Newfoundland.
  • A Beautiful Mind (2001)
    • The “resurrection” of John Nash’s humanity. Being lost in the land of schizophrenia – his losing (almost) his wife and son. The recognition eventually of his essence – of his gifts. (Joanna Christian-TippleCatskill, NY)
  • The Hurricane (1999)
    • Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, a champion middleweight boxer, is imprisoned for life for murders he did not commit. After exhausting every possibility for appeal, he tells his wife that he wants her to divorce him and to move on with her life, saying, “I’m dead. Forget about me.” The Hurricane uses his prison time to read, study, and eventually write a book about his life — a book that is published and becomes a best seller, but which is then soon forgotten. Years later, a Black teen from the ghetto finds a copy of the Hurricane’s life story at a used book sale, and buys it for a quarter. Moved by what he read, the young man, Lesera Martin, writes a letter to the prisoner, and begins a relationship and a process that eventually leads to the overturning of the conviction. At a pivotal moment, the Hurricane notes that it was “no accident” that Lesera had come across that book. He quotes Genesis 49 about himself, “Reuben, my firstborn . . . pre-eminent in pride . . .   Unstable as water, you shall not prevail.” He then contrasts his name to that of Lesera, a form of the name Lazarus, the one raised from death. The Hurricane tells Lesera that hate had killed Reuben and buried him, forgotten, in the prison walls, but Lesera’s love had raised him and given him life once again. (Mark D. Johns, Instructor of Communication/Linguistics, Luther College, Decorah, Iowa)
  • Fantasia 2000 (1999)
    • Resurrection themes or “new beginnings” are visited in the segment for The Firebird Suite. (Kirk VanGilderCampus MinisterGallaudet University)
  • Bicentennial Man (1999)
    • Andrew (Robin Williams) is an android who develops the sensitivity, creativity and emotions of a human. Over a period of more than 150 years, he persues his dream of being recognized as human. His appeals are denied because, since he cannot die, he lacks the essential mortality of humanity. Finally, Andrew arranges for his body to deteriorate. He would rather die as a man than live forever as a machine. Andrew enbraces the “cross” of mortality, giving up his life in order to gain it. (FUMC, Natchitoches, LA)
  • Double Jeopardy (1999)
    • There’s a great resurrection/raising of Lazarus scene within this movie. Libby is locked in a casket in a New Orleans tomb by her husband. By the illumination of a cigarette lighter she realizes her condition and even sees a corpse in the coffin next to her. There’s a moment when we see light streaming through the stained glass window (cross) onto the coffin, after which she shoots the locks from the inside and then pushes the lid open and comes out. But she’s still locked in the tomb. So she takes a vase from the altar smashes the stained glass window, and escapes (through the cross!). (DVD chapter 13)
    • Matty finds sees his mother whom he thought was dead. (“They told me you were dead.” “No, Sweetheart.”) (DVD chapter 15) 
  • The Mummy (1999)
    • The return of the mummy is a kind of “Night of the Living Dead” like the raising of Lazarus. (Also a spooky story.) Compare with the resurrection of Christ.
  • The Matrix (1999)
    • Neo is shot dead and comes back to life toward the end of the movie. (See reviewat Hollywood Jesus.)
  • At First Sight (1999)
    • The movie “At First Sight” from a few years ago, on the overwhelming power of the resurrection to totally reorient someone from one kind of life to another. While it might desirable for someone who is blind to be able to see, if one is accustomed to functioning and thriving as a blind person, gaining one’s sight can be totally disorienting. It can even make one dependent and not able to function as before. Discontinuity between the past life and new life. (Allen Schoonover)
  • Dogma (1999)
    • Bethany is fatally shot and healed by God. (see review at Hollywood Jesus)
  • Wild Wild West (1999)
    • Jim West is resurrected just before he defeats “Satan”. (see review at Hollywood Jesus)
  • Dark City (1998)
    • John escapes from the Time Cross and battles the forces of Evil. (see review at Hollywood Jesus)
  • Patch Adams (1998)
    • “I used Patch Adams for my Easter sermon last year: Patch’s unwillingness to conform to expectations and the unwillingness of established authority to entertain his eccentricities; Patch’s resolve to do whatever is necessary to make the connection with patients, even if it means breaking the rules as an image for what God does in the Resurrection; and, of course, the nearly explicit image of resurrection that is evoked when Patch is questioning his own life’s mission and a butterfly (the ancient symbol of resurrection) is received as a message from God that gives him hope to carry on. A red nose on Easter Sunday isn’t too bad either!” (Jed Holdorph, St. Lawrence Episcopal Church, Libertyville, Illinois)
  • Beloved (1998)
  • The Truman Show (1998)
    • What about the final scene of The Truman Show! The friend went to the basement to find Truman (The empty tomb). He was not there! He was in a boat on the water. Notice the drowning scene when he is laying on the boat with arms spread out and left for dead. Notice his gasp for air, his new life, resurrection? When he reaches the end of the set and notices the sky is only a painted canvas, Truman ascends the stairs to hear the voice of his creator. Interesting twist eh? He then goes forth into the unknown darkness of the world to live in the world! Not unlike the gift of the Paraclete? (David W. Girod, Durham, NC)
  • The Mask of Zorro (1998)
  • Titanic (1997)
    • final scene in movie
  • The Game (1997)
    • Nicholas “dies” (is drugged) where his father died, and is “resurrected” in Mexico
  • Spitfire Grill (1996)
  • A Walk in the Clouds (1995)
    • A vineyard that has existed for generations is destroyed by fire. Yet, there is hope, because the root of the original vine is still alive. From it, the vineyard is regenerated. I think this would be a great illustration for the Root of Jesse. (Kris Sallee Pleasant Plains, IL)
  • Powder (1995)
  • The Stand (1994)
    • Nick Andros visits at the end of the movie. The birth of a healthy baby.
  • The Secret of Roan Innish (1994)
    • This movie has a powerful resurrection theme along with the theme of faith. If you haven’t seen this gorgeous movie, filmed on the Irish coast, rent it and love it. (Kristen J Ingram)
  • Jesus of Montreal (1989)
    • This is a film that is so rich it could illustrate any number of themes: discipleship, temptation, redemption, etc. Jesus of Montreal tells the story of an actor hired to help update a parish’s annual Passion Play. He gathers a group of actors around him and  in interesting ways the actors lives mirror the stories of Jesus and his followers from the gospels. Memorable scenes for me include the gathering of the actors (Jesus calling his disciples); the actor destroying a television studio (Jesus destroys the temple); a lawyer trying to get the actor to sign a contract (temptation in the wilderness); and the dead actor’s organs being donated so that others can have life. (Rev. Maria Nightingale)
  • Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
    • Dr. Jones, Marcus, and Salah all presume Indy to be dead. They mourn him. When he turns up alive seconds later, it’s back to business as usual. (Bill Mosley, New Ulm TX)
  • Dead Poet’s Society (1989)
    • Keating?s disciples are questioned and pressured into signing a confession, all set into motion by a betraying Judas who tells the other students “save yourselves.” Keating?s regeneration comes in the final scene, when the disciples engage in a demonstration which affirms his impact on their lives. (“The Messianic Figure in Film: Christology Beyond the Biblical Epic,” Matthew Mc Ever, Journal of Religion and Film, 1998)
  • The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)
    • An interesting “Raising of Lazarus” scene. Jesus goes to the tomb of Lazarus, obviously afraid. He reaches into the tomb for Lazarus, struggling (perhaps with his own death) and almost being pulled in before he pulls Lazarus out.
  • RoboCop (1987)
  • Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock
    • Spock is resurrected on the planet “Genesis”. (Chip Gorman)
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
    • There is a wonderful scene in E.T. where the Elliot sees a potted flower come back to life and realizes — all of a sudden — that his friend and guide is not dead but alive.  It beautifully illustrates the JOY of the resurrection. (Bruce Jones)
  • Superman (1978)
    • After being thrown to his death in the water by Lex Luthor, Superman is resurrected in the presence of Eve.
  • One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
    • The final scene’s broken window as an “empty tomb” image.
  • Cool Hand Luke (1967)
    • photo of Luke with 2 women is taped back together
    • This film has several resurrections, starting with his “crucifixion” following the egg incident. The other, as was mentioned, was his picture being taped up and superimposed on a cross. A third was when he was ordered to dig his own grave, and kept on crawling out; he finally gave up the ghost, and the reaction of his “disciples” was very interesting. The ignored him as a “sell out,” which is what the disciples might have felt when he died that Good Friday – ‘Here we put all our marbles in this one hat, and he goes and dies on us. What a waste. Boy, were we ever stupid. This isn’t God after all – it’s just a guy, like you and me, a guy who can be killed.’ Which made his ensuing escape even more victorious. (Tim Ihssen)

Table Blessing, Sunday, April 19th, 5pm at Our Saviour’s Lutheran

There will be no worship gathering this weekend.

This is because this Sunday evening is The Table’s April Blessing project. We will be cooking and serving neighbors at the South Side Community Meal. If you are able to join us, come a little before 5pm to Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church (1720 Harris Ave.). From there we will take turns serving, eating, and visiting with neighbors. Come and Bless the neighborhood with us!

Our next worship gathering will be on April 26 at the library.

A Declaration of Celebration

We are now in the church season of Easter. This is a season where we celebrate life, and life resurrected. So how does this look? Living a resurrected life, means enjoying life, enjoying relationships, and actually enjoying it. It means being present, celebrating the moment, celebrating the ordinary. It means praising God in the ordinary, worshiping Him in the moment, and living with gratitude. 

To help us celebrate life as a community, we are declaring a season of celebration. With no obligation to participate, we hereby declare this Easter season to be a season of celebrating life, a season of living out our rhythm of Hospitality. This means, we will be partying every week during the Easter season. So starting this Friday, we will gather to have fun around games. We’ll start at 6pm with potluck, then play some board games, old-school Nintendo, and just hang out (contact us for details).

That is how we will contribute as a community to living a resurrected life. But the question for you personally is how will your life look differently this week as a result of the resurrection? He has risen, and invites you into a rich, full life, both now and into eternity. So how will you live into that reality?

Table Worship, April 12th, 5:30pm – Fairhaven Library Basement

This week is the 2nd week of the Church’s season of Easter, a season where we celebrate life resurrected. We invite you to join us for a worship gathering this Sunday, April 12th, at the Fairhaven Library basement (1117 12th St.). We will begin at 5:30pm with a shared meal. Bring something to share if you’re able, or just show up and eat (there’s always enough). After this, we will begin a study of the New Testament book of Philippians and the Resurrection. Look at Philippians 1:1-11 in preparation, asking yourself, “What does a life centered on the Resurrection look like?”

Invite a friend; everyone is welcome! See you soon.

Easter Week Devotion

With a group of any size one must acknowledge that there are a spectrum of emotions and experiences present. So, where are you on that spectrum? In your life, are you excited about new possibilities before you? Are you feeling discouraged because things are not working out as you planned? Or, are you in mourning over lost possibilities? As you encounter the Easter story, where are you at?

Perhaps, you are feeling the Palm Sunday hopes that were present when Jesus entered Jerusalem. Mark 11 says, “Jesus was in the center of the procession, and the people all around him were shouting, Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the LORD! Blessings on the coming Kingdom of our ancestor David! Praise God in highest heaven!” As Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, hopes were high. The crowds were stoked, because they believed that perhaps the political messiah they had hoped for was finally here. Maybe you feel this excitement today, and you are excited for the possibilities to come.

Hopes were high in Jerusalem, as Jesus entered the city, but as the week progressed, things changed. As the Apostles Creed states it so concisely, Jesus “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.” In other words, all those exciting possibilities did not work out. The hopes of the people were beat down when Jesus was suddenly hanging dead on a cross. Mark 15 says, “Joseph took Jesus body down from the cross, wrapped it in the cloth, and laid it in a tomb that had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a stone in front of the entrance. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joseph saw where Jesus body was laid.” The hopes of the people were now laying dead in a tomb. Maybe you can relate to this; the exciting possibilities that were once before you have been beat down, and are now dead?

Perhaps you are carrying that weight of death with you, and so when new possibilities arise you are suspicious, like those who sought Jesus’ body on Easter morning. Mark 16 says, “Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, [the women] went to the tomb. On the way they were asking each other, Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb? But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, but the angel said, Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died. The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened.” Perhaps you can relate to the feelings that these women must have had that morning. They must have celebrated with the crowds on Palm Sunday, excited for the possibilities. But their hopes were beat down, and their savior killed. And now, they are told the story they thought was over is not done yet. The women were bewildered and frightened at the possibility that hope was perhaps still alive. Hope had suspiciously been re-awakened, but was not yet realized.

So where are you at as you read these words? Are you excited about new possibilities? Are you discouraged because things are not working out? Or, are you in mourning over lost possibilities? Where are you at? And what will you do with the truth of Easter morning? The truth is that “On the third day he rose again from the dead, that “He ascended to heaven and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty?” Regardless of where you are at, the truth is that Jesus walked out of that grave. Hope is not dead. Hope lives. Our Savior is alive. So what will you do? And, how does this truth affect where you are at? Wherever you at, I encourage you to acknowledge where you are, take hold of the truth of Easter morning, and ask yourself that question? My prayer is that Jesus will surprise you, just as He did with His disciples when He appeared before them, alive and surely smiling, and said, “Peace be with you.”

Good Friday Worship, April 3rd (7pm) / Easter Worship, April 10th (10am)

Light-tunnel-thumb-350x262Join us this weekend for 2 special worship gatherings with the greater Mosaic Family of churches. On Friday, April 3 at 7pm, we will gather at the Fairhaven Library basement (1117 12th St) for a Good Friday service, meditating upon the death of Jesus. Then on Sunday, April 5 at 10am, we will gather at the Majestic Ballroom (1027 N. Forest St.) for an Easter service, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. Join us; invite a friend; everyone is welcome!

The Destination of Prayer

prayer3“It feels like my prayers before God simply fade into the air before me.” Looking at Revelation 8:3-4 confronts this idea. It says, “Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all God’s people, on the golden altar in front of the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand.” Here we read that the prayers of God’s people are placed before the throne of God, raising before Him. The things you converse with God about – requests, complaints, praises, etc. – are before Him in His glory. Be assured by this passage that your voice is heard, and God hears. Be blessed by this truth and pray with the confidence of this reality.

Blessing, Sat. 3/28 at 10am / Worship, Sun., 3/29 at 5:30pm

60594lgJoin us this Saturday, from 10a-1p, at Larrabee School (1409 18th St.). We’ll be sprucing up the educational garden, laying soil, pruning, etc. Bring any garden tools you favor, we’ll have some tools on site. Invite a friend and come out. Let us know if you have questions. 

Join us this Saturday, from 10a-1p, at Larrabee School (1409 18th St.). We’ll be sprucing up the educational garden, laying soil, pruning, etc. Bring any garden tools you favor, we’ll have some tools on site. Invite a friend and come out. Let me know if you have questions. See you soon!This Sunday, March 29 at 5:30pm, The Table is gathering for a worship gathering. Join us at Fairhaven Library basement (1117 12th St.) as we continue the season of Lent by studying the prayers of Jesus. We will start with a shared meal (bring something to share, if you’re able), then we’ll pray, sing, look at Jesus’ prayers from the cross, and then take the Lord’s Supper together. We hope you can make it. Invite a friend; everyone is welcome!

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