30 December 2013

Duck, Duck, Goose...my prayer for the flock in 2014

Further exasperated by the flu, I'm sure, which has been an ongoing battle for nearly a month, discouraging issue after issue compounded with a couple of sucker-punches took their toll on me from the end of November thru much of December.  A serious suspension from blogging was the result.  Maybe that was for the best considering the lines I had woven together in my head.

I felt a bit blasted by mediocrity here in river city going into Thanksgiving.  So help me, if I hear another comment about brain drain I will come unplugged.  A few circumstances made me realize no matter how hard one works to make Republicania county a better place, for many in leadership there is a certain relishment in the banal, in the good enough........while the rest of the country and much of the state pass us by, again.  This is what I mean when I say it takes a great deal of character to love this place we call home.  And man, am I a character.....so I'll keep loving away.

Then shortly thereafter we heard Rush Limbaugh schooling the pope of all people on theology.  Marxist?  Seriously Rush?  The guy points to scripture to form his theology on immoral aspects of capitalism and you state that someone must've gotten to him?  That he must've been listening to someone?  Yep-if you'd been paying attention in Sunday School you might just have the answer.  And then a week later we were mired in Duck Dynasty.  Positively the worse black eye the church received this year.  I was saddened to see fellow Christians run to their defense.  It made me want to ask did you really read what he said?  Not so much his position on the issue, but what he said, including his comments about African Americans?  Friends, if we've decided that Phil Robertson is going to be a role model for our faith and spokesperson for the church we've got serious issues to work through.

The growing culture in the American church continues to drive a wedge between ourselves and those Christ told us to reach, to love, to heal, to be His hands and feet for.  What I saw in this last month was a reaction of rage and assertion of rights that continues to polarize.  And I try for the life of me to understand how that fits the person of Christ who gave up his rights, as he called us to do, and only lashed out at the religious leaders.  The Christ, who healed, who said give away everything, who came not only to be our sacrifice (where we like to keep him), but our model.

My prayer for the church going into 2014 is to stop and consider the actions and the life of Christ, who we are to follow, and begin to remove the other voices around us that pollute our understanding of the scriptures.  I would pray that we spend more time reading and living the words in red than modeling what we see on cable, read on Facebook, or listen to on a.m. radio.  My prayer is that we would be much less concerned about our rights than the souls of others.....and realize our words, actions, and easy spouts and shares on FB could make the real message of the Gospel be ineffectual.

Consider these words from Matthew 5, Christ's directives from the sermon on the mount, and then reflect on how the church demonstrates, or does not demonstrate, these today, and then pray with me that we bow our knees in repentance in 2014.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

09 December 2013

Remembering Studebaker

It was on this day, December 9th, 50 years ago that South Bend was dealt a pretty tough blow.  Studebaker announced that it would be closing its plant after a long history of production in the city from horse-drawn wagons to automobiles.  That history has been extensively erased from the city's landscape, but two buildings serve as towering reminders of a past that put South Bend on the map.  The following are photos I recently snapped from a tour of the last surviving assembly building on the city's near south side.  Here's to hoping for better days again......

Typical assembly floor

Stair tower

Top assembly floor

Stair tower

Top assembly floor

Looking down on the Studebaker Administration Building

Last assembly building and administration building flanking Lafayette Boulevard