How Jesus Saves the World from Us: 12 Antidotes to Toxic Christianity, Morgan Guyton, Westminster John Knox Press, 2016.
I first met Morgan Guyton about five years ago at a required event for soon-to-be clergy in the Virginia Conference. We, and dozens more, were gathered at a college campus for a week for what I like to refer to as “Pastor Bootcamp.”
The distinct memory I have of Morgan was from an evening at a Mexican restaurant (one of many during the week). Over beer and chips and salsa, a group of us found ourselves in a deep theological conversation. For anyone who knows Morgan, you will not be surprised that he was at the helm of this conversation. In between scoops of salsa, Morgan would raise yet another question. Not to be argumentative, but to authentically seek more knowledge.
I was on my iPhone, causally scrolling through my Twitter feed, when I realized that there were a lot of things being said about Paris. I turned the news on, and saw the reports of what would be multiple attacks across the city, killing hundreds. I like many have been in a state of shock over the events. To the point that my journaling was just a list of words or phrases, no complete sentences, reflecting the impossibility of complete thoughts forming.
Today, I attempted to form that list of words and phrases into a prayer:
Rich Wilkerson, Jr. is known for a lot of things. He is a fourth generation Pentecostal pastor. He took a young adult Bible study into being nine weeks into a new church plant. He is the pastor who officiated the wedding of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. He and his wife, DawnCheré, star in the a new reality show, Rich in Faith, on the Oxygen channel. And this week, he adds author to that list.
Wilkerson’s book, Sandcastle Kings, uses four powerful stories from Luke 7 to explain why spiritual fulfillment cannot be found in ourselves, in other people, in material things, or even in organized religion. By examining the stories of the centurion’s faith, the resurrection of the widow’s son, Jesus’ message about John the Baptist, and the anointing by the woman with the alabaster jar, Wilkerson helps the reader take a closer look at all the ways in which we build sand castles that will one day be wiped away by the storm.
I wrote this for our middle schoolers a few weeks ago to use in their Sunday morning small group. It’s a discussion that focuses on doubt and faith, and that we can trust in God.
It has been almost seven months since I have been to L’Arche in Lynchburg for Spiritual Life Night. I went tonight and it was like a homecoming of sorts. I was invited to stay and sing (not realizing that was why I was there). I was asked about baby J and Megan. There were bright smiles and huge hugs.
Then, without instruction or directions, chairs became to circle up and we all took our places. The red song books were handed out, and one by one we sang each person’s favorite hymn. It was gloriously out of tune. And it was awesome! Through “I’ve Got the Joy” and “Amazing Grace,” we made a joyful noise.