Thursday, April 30, 2009

Now Matters

If we realize that we have choice then we should acknowledge that what we do at each moment really matters and has real eternal consequences (assuming time marches always forward, never backwards). This acknowledgement may not show us what to do, but rather it points to an attitude of how to live (with a sense that all my choices matter and have effects beyond what I may ever know), which in turn points to the type of person we should all seek to become--> someone who is fully engaged in each moment and who siezes the day the opportunity, the conversation, not simply because we may not have tommorrow but because here and now, each person I run into, each interaction, each chunk of time, can be siezed as a small gift, a small point of traction between myself and the universe. When your car is spinning out of control, a small bit of traction can be the difference between life and death). There is so much that is out of my control, the planets in their orbits, the tides, the place and general circumstances into which I was born. The natural processes, and physical make-up of my body. But at each and every moment (also called right now) I am given a small slice of the time-space continuum as something that is under my control, or if not under my control, under my influence. I can choose a red shirt or a blue shirt and its up to me. I can do it randomly, I can choose it based on my emotions, I can even go shirtless, and it is all up to me. I can't control my neighbors shirt color, but why do I need to when I can control my own. The shirt choice I make will effect my day, it will affect what others see, it will affect how warm I am should the sun come out,.... a host of effects ripple out from my choice. What is cool is that we are given so much more of a choice then just our t-shirts. ...

What I want to say is that we should sieze upon whatever we are doing with gusto realizeing that it is important, even while at the same time realizing that we could have done things differently and that they could have turned out differently, and thus we should choose wisely in the moment, but more importantly we should live in the moment, get to know the moment, and the people we meet their, set up camp in the moment, perhaps maybe learn to love the moment, as a place of freedom, where (within contraints of various kinds) we can act with total freedom. We can choose freely, I am getting excited over this, but only because I sense that not everyone realizes that they can choose freely... we are not bound to repeat past mistakes, we are not bound to our lusts, we are not controlled by brain implants, we are not insentient robots, we are children skipping through a field of daisies, and we can pick any flower we want. Some of us are in smaller fields, we may have less daisies to pick from, but freedom is still their. I suppose those people who find themselves alone in a huge valley of daisies should rightfully be confused about which to pick. These children should go and get others to share the bounty.

As I have already alluded, our choices are indeed contrained. We can not do anything we imagine. But I do not want total freedom, I do not want the ability to control others minds, or to make stars and planets collide willy-nilly. Although both abilities would enable some fantastical and crazy things, it would be more then I could bear. I need first to learn how to properly use my slice of time-space as a finite, prone-to-fail, often-sad, continually-perplexed-and-amazed, sometimes-reckless, often-horny, occassionally-gleeful human. Their is enough complexity in the world and people around me, and enough complexity in my head, to keep me going and growing for a lifetime. And I think that that is the point. To go and grow. I don't want to stay and shrink. I want to live and die alive, rather then sit and live dead. There is enough for each of us in this life, (or at least there is enough for me in mine), even when we think there is nothing left, or nothing worth pursueing, there is. And even if all the moments that come at me are random, even if I meet one person out of each million on this earth, then I have the bright joy of choosing how to engage and love that person. I need not worry about the other 999,999 people, but I need focus dearly on him who comes my way, I need to establish myself in the moment, so that I can take in voyagers, whose present moment overlapps with mine, and serve them tea and crumpets, and we can talk about sports, or women, or adventures, or life in the full, in the fear, we can live into one another, instead of dieing past one another. And this mentality I hope will build community and a sense of purpose and life that will burn deeply in all who enter into it, and that will be mutually reinforced by co-engagers, and spread from engager to spectator like wildfire, like the holy sprirt.

May I learn to engage others more each day. May I learn to live more each day. May I each day awaken from the slumber of the previous day, as one arising from the dead, as one being resurrected from then into now, and may I acknowledge and learn to attribute this painful process of becoming real to The Real One Himself... Christ, Lord and Savior.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hello friends,

I have been attending the Westmont homeless ministry "Bread of Life" recently. We take food down to and eat with the homeless at Alameda park at 6:30pm on Thursday nights. Our intention is primarily to build relationships and foster a community of people who care about each other in the context of a meal. Many of these individuals are lonely, homeless, elderly, addicted to something, unmotivated, down-on-luck, or some combination thereof. It is often a great gift to these individuals to simply listen attentavely or engage them in friendly conversation. And of course the food we bring is much appreciated as well. So God be praised and I encourage any of you who want to come to come, we ussually meet at MCC (where the food is prepared) at around 6 to carpool.
That said, I often I see opportunities for supporting, aiding, loving, or spending time with those who come on Thursday nights beyond the 2 hours once a week that we spend with them. Three times I have taken initiative to meet with an individuals outside of Bread of Life, Once to provide Steve with clothing, once to provide financial support to Frank for food, once to attempt to assess/fix a wheel-chair for Courtney, and in all these instances I have attempted to constructively engage the individuals. But I have been doing it alone. Not only does this mean that I have made unsound and guilt-induced financial decisions (which have the potential to harm rather then hurt the recipient), but I have gone as an individual disconnected from the body of Christ. This means that I have far less (if any) potential to represent a community of believers which is called to bring the good news which is primarily relational.
given this, my thoughts are as follows:

Desire1: It would be amazing to establish a core group of people who attend "Bread of Life" and who can meet separately to catalogue, evaluate, compile, and assess what would be required for meeting an observed need.
Reason1.1: together we will make more rational, effective, and and therefore loving decisions as to how someone might best be helped.
Reason1.2:by being on the same page we will be better prepared to go out (in groups of 2 or more) to invite people into an established community.
Reason1.3: we will be able to more clearly assess when an individual's need should be referred upward (or sideways) to a person or agency with a different skill set then our own.
Reason1.4 we can be more safety conscious by identifying patterns
Reason1.5: we can report the needs to financial supporters and prayer warriors.

Desire2: It would also be amazing to have money (beyond what is provided by Westmont Student Ministries for the food) available which could be allocated (as assessed by the core group) to causes and individuals of most need.
Reason2.1: although meaningful things, and amazing relationship can happen apart from from financial considerations, what I have realized is that a relationship hits a brick wall when a need is confessesed and the hearer fails to do his or her very best to alleviate it. The extent to which we help those we know who need help, when we are capable of doing providing it, is a (if not the most important) measure of our love for that person. We may be more then willing to preach a pretty sermon that elaborates the most profound truths of the universe, but if we are not willing to give a cup of cold water then we are probably just trying make ourselves feel good. If we can't get a cohesive group of individuals to be willing to contribute and work towards the mental, social, and economic vitality of individuals (in addition to and perhaps as a neccessary pre-requisite to spiritual formation) then it is all for naught.

Desire3: A core group of people committed to praying regularly for Bread of Life" and all activities relating to or stemming from it (as would be regularly reported).
Reason3.1: because it won't work without God.

I have been thinking about community a lot lately and I see these ideas as stemming from my own currently evolving and expanding vision of a Christ-centered community is actually supposed to be. We should get rid of the all-star christian, or super-hero pastor understanding, and instead seek to all chip in in specific ways, when and where we can (with both time and money) towards the grand vision of Christian community lived among the lost. This very community should one that encourages and admonishes its members to be a more tighltly bound critical mass of accountability and active love which can do nothing but radiate outward, causing chaos and irreversible mutation to all those bound up in and inslaved to the old standards of the world.

thoughts?, reactions?, repulsions?, fears?, confusion?, smart-alek-remarks are all welcome
please respond by commenting on my blog (into which I have pasted this email).
The blog-post can serve as a discussion forum and allow for people to participate in the discussion by choice.
Feel free to forward this email to those to whom it might be of interest, but respond on the blog.

-Ben Fisk

P.S. by the way I am currently still attempting to fix up courtney's wheel chair. I am pretty sure I have found the replacement wheels that she needs online and they are $50+ each. Any contribution to this cause is welcome. If I recieve more money then Courtney requires to regain mobility I will save and use the money on aiding others in the future. It would serve as the kick off funds for what I have been talking about.