Reconciliation by Adjustment

By Nancy Thompson As a bankruptcy attorney, I’m often struck by the similarities between concepts important to my faith and my legal work. How these concepts work in “real life” even helps explain their meaning to Christians.  For example, understanding exactly how Christ’s birth, life and death redeemed us can be hard to grasp until you see redemption being used in bankruptcy. Debtors can pay a price for property they value so it won’t be lost to them, just as Christ paid a price to keep us from being lost. Likewise, God’s command to the Israelites that they observe a year of Jubilee so that debts could be forgiven and property rights restored brings to mind the “fresh start” concept that’s key to federal bankruptcy law. In fact, the purpose of bankruptcy — to allow for the forgiveness of debt– is a great illustration of grace.  I frequently tell clients that, as a big proponent of grace, being a bankruptcy lawyer is a great way for me to help debtors obtain the grace I think they should be given.      Another one of those crossover concepts is reconciliation. In Christ, the world was reconciled to God but the importance of reconciliation for all of us was made clear when Christ taught in his Sermon on the Mount that “if you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person.” In other words, drop everything and go make peace if someone is angry. Sadly, many people think reconciliation means little more than avoiding conflict and interaction with others...

Resolutions for Renewal

by Brian Ford Well, it’s that time of year again folks. Time for some of us to make well intentioned “New Year’s Resolutions” and the like. Perhaps we gained a few pounds or spent too little time with family last year, and want to make a new start and renew our efforts to eat right, exercise more, and prioritize family time. These personal efforts of maximizing what is important in our individual lives are good no doubt, but what about making a new start and renewing our efforts to improve our communities and the lives of our neighbors? After consuming the 24 hour news media these past twelve months, I’ve sensed a strong narrative of fear and suspicion being proclaimed that warns us to take care of ourselves & those we love most, and keep everyone else at arm’s length, even an ocean’s length away. With all the mass shootings, terrorist attacks, and other horrible events across the nation and world, I can see why this fear narrative is popular & sells TV time, radio time, and print space. I hear the fear echoed in conversations with fellow church members, with subdivision neighbors, and in the grocery store aisles to name a few. “The world is a scary place these days…you can’t trust anybody,” is a phrase I hear often in casual conversation. What are we to do? Might I suggest two “New Year’s Resolutions” that are personal and communal. First, reduce our time spent consuming 24 hour news media. This resolution will free up time to spend preparing healthy meals, exercising, and/or with family. Second, get to know...

Myriads and Myriads

A two-hour worship service on Sunday night is typical at Providentia Baptist Church in Bucharest. Last Sunday night two young children read a poem and recited scripture. A 12-year old boy playing a guitar (as big as he was) played and led us in “Our God is an Awesome God.”  Tiger Pennington would preach to our gathering on the Good Samaritan passage. During the service the pastor read from Revelation 5:11-13 — “…many angels surrounding the throne; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!'” (NRSV) The majority of the worship time was congregational singing accompanied by a 30-member mandolin orchestra. We sang the English words to familiar hymns and choruses. We stumbled badly pronouncing the Romanian words of songs we did not know. Toward the end of the service Tyler Tankersley brought greetings from his home church. I brought greetings from CBF churches in America’s Heartland. There is an 8-hour time gap between Bucharest and Missouri. I noted that as we were gathered at Providentia, the Fellowship churches in Missouri were gathering for their morning worship. For an hour or more I had been blessed by children reading, a youth leading a song, and a mandolin orchestra combined with hearty singing. During that hour I had also been praying for and remembering churches back home. I testified in those moments of greeting that my heart had been enriched for I was experiencing Revelation 5:11-13 — for in Bucharest and back home  “numbered myriads...

Kingdom Kia

Last week I was in mid-Missouri – a beautiful week to be on the road enjoying fall foliage and the rolling terrain of south central Missouri.  As I entered Rolla I noticed a huge new car dealership beside the interstate – Kingdom Kia. In conversation with a friend, I learned that Kingdom Kia had once been the home to a large bustling church. Along the way, tensions filled the church and eventually it closed down – with the building probably returned to a local bank for lack of payment. A car dealership spotted the superb location.  Probably also spotted a good deal from a bank wanting to unload a defaulted loan! As my friend in Rolla commented wryly, at least now the parking lot is filled with cars. I drove to another church in Kansas City this past Sunday as a guest preacher.  The parking lot was amazingly empty 20 minutes before worship was to begin.  I then learned this church has worship first and then small group Bible study after.  The worship center was pretty well-attended after all and so was the parking lot with cars. Cars in the parking lot are not what matters.  It is people faithfully gathered to worship, learn, fellowship, and prepare for engagement with our culture that matters. That church in Rolla forgot how to “be church” it seems – and now when you enter the building you can find cute chipmunks and drive off with a Kia Soul.  The church in Kansas City (like most of our churches) is wrestling with schedules to fit the lives of people in its community. They...

Turning Left

A favorite recent movie is The BestExotic Marigold Hotel about seven “British retirees who decide to ‘outsource’ their retirement to less expensive and seemingly exotic  India.” The movie chronicles the exploits of the energetic young owner trying to make the hotel look as good as the brochure he provided his clients. It is also the story of new residents adjusting to a new place of living and how they cope with change. One of the seven eventually decides to return back to native England and expresses pride that when she boards the plane she will “turn left.” On a recent trip to Atlanta I got bumped from economy class to first-class — this meant I also would get to “turn left” as I boarded the plane. I found myself feeling a bit “puffed up” (to use King James language) as I waited in the boarding area because I knew I would board first.  I walked down the jetway with a bit more anticipation than the normal getting on a plane.  Sure enough, an attendant looked at my boarding pass, held out her hand and said “turn left, sir.”  Immediately my jacket was taken and a drink was offered.  Shortly after, the captain came out and shook hands with every one of us, thanking us for flying Delta.  The announcements were made about drinks and no reference to snacks for those in economy seats. Meanwhile, we not only had drinks but a breakfast snack. We even had free wireless internet available. When the plane landed those in economy were held back while we deplaned first to retrieve our luggage which...