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Sunday, 21 January 2007
Marriage, Gifts & Wine ? Partying with Jesus
Topic: Neo Liturgical Praxis

Meditation:“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, you were enticed and led astray to idols that could not speak.” (1 cor. 12 .1--2)  

How may of you have an “idol” in your home?  The Christian landscape is diverse in its definitions, ranging from Christmas Trees, Victorian Cherubs and Santa Clause, to the movies, music and entertainment we prefer. (Incidentally, I have all of these.) The apostle didn’t have these things in mind when addressing his brethren in Corinth, he was talking about literal wooden carvings, kept to appease testy spirits and/or fickle gods who acted as though they were little more than children.  He was also drawing a comparison, that acting as though there are “gifts” that would set those possessing such gifts, over others in the church, is tantamount to dumb idol worship.  Abilities were given by God to individuals in order to benefit others (for the “Common Good”) as a “Gift,” making the Family complete.  

I love weddings.  I really enjoy weddings that I know will last.  You know, where the couple is more devoted to Christ—even more than each other.  I just performed a wedding a few months ago where I had this certainty, knowing the family story and being a privileged witness to much of their history as they journey along life’s road.  It is just satisfying to sit back into the comfort and confidence of knowing that the family will survive.  The things that their parents poured into them will continue; the “Name” and their “Ways” will go on...   

Marriage is not easy though…  We fool ourselves if we believe that commitment is only as good as one’s first failure—or some glaring failure that we would never have expected.  Commitment is holding fast for the other person when there is failure.  In this commitment is safety, and hope that the family will go on, no matter what; children will come and learn our Ways and we will continue to be a people—a legacy remaining in the world.  

Our Lectionary reading from 1 Corinthians chapter 12 tell us that everyone contributes weather they know it or not, with gifts given buy the Spirit for “the common good,” in helping us to live in this family, safely and dependent, (Yes! Dependent…) not one being better than the next.  All the gifts make the family complete—not “idol worshipers,” but worshipers of the One True God.  

We are imperfect if we are family with only those who share the same gifts.  It is dangerous and creates cast systems that make us nothing more than idol worshippers.  

Today within God’s church, Sunday morning is the most segregated day of all, as we all worship the same God, with only those who are like us—those who have the same “gifts.” 

Who do you worship with…?  Who are your exclusive friends?  Do they have homes like yours?   Are your incomes similar?  Do you read the same books?  Watch the same TV shows?  Drink the same beer?  Do they have a home?  Are they mentally ill?  Are they the same color, or the same age?  Are you complacently isolated from the real gifts of diversity?  Hmmmm…  

In God’s family, we are all adopted family members; people transformed into a New Way of being human.  Truly human as we are immersed into God’s family; taking on His qualities, passing on the Hope of this New Way, and in our being Christian, becoming cup bearers of the best wine at the human party.  

The price of admission; humility, servitude and a desire to follow…  

Jesus throws a Great Party!  

Reflection: The Wedding at Cana is a beautiful picture of three essential qualities of Christian discipleship: bringing new life, radical commitment, and transformation of humanity. Are we willing to believe that, like the wine in a grape, we have the inherent ability to be a sacramental presence in the world?  

The early Christian community had to decide, often, what it meant to be Christian. As part of this journey, Paul cautioned the Corinthians to value every gift, every person, and every contribution to the community: Teaching was as important as administration, and public visibility was as important as private consecration.

Are we a people of self consecration or people of sacramental trusting.  

Consider: How comfortable are we in our Christian disciplines to our own edification only? As vessels –or holy grails– where can we invest ourselves as visible sacraments—vessels, containing the new wine of God’s community, and how does this affect our “Living with Jesus” today...?

Posted by Pastor Kork at 1:28 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 21 January 2007 1:36 AM EST
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Friday, 29 December 2006
Can a home be a house of God?
Topic: News Items

Hi Everyone,

I found this on Scot McKnight’s Blog “Jesus Creed” this morning...

We’ve been saying for a long, long time that “emerging” is more than philosophy and theology and progressive thinking. In fact, it is about “how to do church.” Our local paper, The Daily Herald, has a front-page story about homes becoming the house of God. This is no small element of the emerging movement. The challenge for all churches is whether or not they will shift to include such groups as central to what “church” is all about. Church needs to move to the neighborhood.

Can a home be a house of God?
An increasing number of Christians are moving from cavernous churches to worship in a more intimate setting - their homes.
BY LISA SMITH Daily Herald Staff Writer, Posted Sunday, December 24, 2006

There are no pews and no altar, just six chairs arranged in a circle.

There is no pastor relating Scripture to contemporary American life, just a group of friends discussing

Neither bread nor wine is offered. Most who walk in are clutching cups of Starbucks coffee.

Yet the people who enter this Arlington Heights living room every Sunday morning label this gathering - and themselves - church.

“We have a deep conviction that we grow spiritually when we’re in relationships,” said Andy Padjen, 33, who has been hosting this weekly get-together for about the past year. “We feel like a lot of times there’s some structure and theology in the institutional church that limit people’s intimacy with each other. So we’re all about making relationships central, helping people to be known and loved.”

That’s something that attracted Curtis Anderson to the group after a lifetime of involvement in traditional churches. Getting to know Padjen and the others in the group has made the Lake in the Hills resident feel closer to God.

“I would say that we would all agree that we’re feeling God in a very personal way through the group,” said Anderson, 29.

Click Here to Read On...

Posted by Pastor Kork at 11:09 AM EST
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Wednesday, 20 December 2006
CNN to Air After Jesus: The First Christians, Tonight
Topic: News Items

This is a post from Scot McKnight's Blog, "Jesus Creed." If you can tape this show, or find the time to watch it, I would like to spend a little time ourselves discussing it since our church model is trying to leap the enlightenment wall as rediscover what Jesus really meant, and how the early church followed His "Way."Here is what Dr. McKnight posted this morning...

If you have a chance, I recommend each of you carve out tonight, from 7-9pm, to watch CNN. The show is called After Jesus: The First Christians, and it is an excellent and stimulating presentation of the first four centuries of the Christian faith. CNN kindly sent me an advanced copy and I have watched it in its entirety.

Tomorrow morning I would like to begin a conversation on this blog with those who watched the show. (It will also be replayed Friday Dec 22 at 10pm and 1am; Saturday Dec 23 and Sunday Dec 24 at 8pm and 12am.)

Here are some highlights and an indication of the shape and content of the program:


CNN interviewed Bart Ehrman, Claire Pfann, Amy-Jill Levine, Robin Griffith-Jones, Lawrence Schiffmann, Richard Freund, Marvin Meyer and Gerald O'Collins. Ehrman appears the most.


The visual images are brilliant, as always for CNN, and there are an abundance of graphics, icons, artwork, pictures, all done with lovely color and texture.


The emphasis, to be expected, is diversity in the first four centuries, with a solid segment devoted to the gnostic threat to orthodoxy.


I won't give away too much of my own view here, but the essential story line is one familiar to those who have engaged the public debate since Dan Brown's DaVinci Code and Bart Ehrman's numerous publications. In my estimation, the silencing of the voices of Ignatius, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Athanasius is telling.

Posted by Pastor Kork at 9:01 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 20 December 2006 1:30 PM EST
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Friday, 24 November 2006
It's Hard to Be Like Jesus
Topic: Life In The Kingdom
Why would anyone choose to follow a God who promises more hardship, not less? Exposing the myth of a prosperity gospel.
By Philip Yancey

In my visits to churches overseas, one difference from North American Christians stands out sharply: their view of hardship and suffering. We who live in an age of unprecedented comfort seem obsessed with the problem of pain. Skeptics mention it as a major roadblock to faith, and believers struggle to come to terms with it. Prayer meetings in the U.S. often focus on illnesses and requests for healing. Not so elsewhere.

I asked a man who visits unregistered house churches in China whether Christians there pray for a change in harsh government policies. After thinking for a moment, he replied that not once had he heard a Chinese Christian pray for relief.

"They assume they'll face opposition," he said. "They can't imagine anything else." He then gave some examples.

Click HERE to Read On...

Posted by Pastor Kork at 11:58 AM EST
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Tuesday, 21 November 2006
Topic: Life In The Kingdom has a post called "Materials for Thanksgiving Action" that's worth checking out...

Thanks for including the people of Darfur in your Thanksgiving celebration. We truly appreciate your help. There you will find links to download the two documents you'll need to share this desperate humanitarian crisis, including a one page document that provides a brief overview of the crisis in Darfur.

Thanks again for your help and concern.

Posted by Pastor Kork at 11:16 AM EST
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Saturday, 7 October 2006
Frustrated by Some Ugly Truths
Topic: Life In The Kingdom

I was just reading (like others), a quote, of a quote, of a quote, in a recent book, while enduring some terrible realizations about Christians and how they/we selectively "believe" God; inventing our own "brand" of religion that caters to our narcissism. 

We love to convince ourselves that God would never have the audacity to discomfort, or disquiet our selfishness.  We breed this here in the states.  I've heard all too often (more recently now) how God is just "leading" Christians to do everything that I've never seen Jesus do; from witch hunting within my own fellowship, to others autonomously deciding that "God is leading" them to leave friends and family when closer examination is warranted.

This past 3 weeks have been nauseating as I encounter our smiley, well dressed, "you-can-have-whatever-you-want-at-no-cost" Christianity, putting on a professional hypocritical facade of personal rightness, and the exercise of solo Christianity where no one has the right to challenge or "I'll take my toys and go home."

Then I read this...

The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.1

Søren Kierkegaard

Many have, of course, read these words, and many more will read them - even agree with them.  But the modern, western, Christian cultural, rational mind will coddle itself into a numb, selfish, convenient, forgetfulness that will later insulate itself with the low road of "well I'm only human-nobody is perfect-everyone has issues" excuse.  "After all I believe that God would never want me to feel uncomfortable."

Kierkegaard's quote helps my understanding of how we got here.  It frustrates me because, knowing this, will not change a thing.


1. Moore, Charles, ed. Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard. Plough: Farmington 2002.

Posted by Pastor Kork at 10:37 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 7 October 2006 10:57 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 20 June 2006
Sadly, Sacramentis is closing-but for a better Christ worship.
Topic: Life In The Kingdom

It is appropriate for us to note what they are saying, for it is the stuff that we have been trying to embody. It is the Christ-likeness that we try to be. Please take their statement seriously--it is important to God.

Here is their closing statement.

An End... And a Beginning.

Sacramentis has been a pioneer site on worship and culture for seven years. From the beginning, it has been a gathering spot for the best worship resources available. Sacramentis has also been a place where church leaders could go deeper into what classic Christian worship is and does, and where they could re-imagine worship for communities where church-going is no longer the norm. From your letters of support and encouragement, it seems we were able to accomplish these two goals. For that, we are grateful.

We regret that our site has been down for so long and apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you. We had hoped to put Sacramentis back on the web this month, and had been working toward that end. However, we have simply come to realize that it is time to move on. Sacramentis still believes strongly that corporate worship is central to the life and vitality of the Church. But we have become convinced that the primary meeting place with our unchurched friends is now outside the church building. Worship must finally become, as Paul reminds us, more life than event. (Romans 12:1,2)

To this end, Sally Morgenthaler and the rest of the Sacramentis team will be focusing on the radically different kind of leadership it will take to transform our congregations from destinations to conversations, from services to service, and from organization to organism.

We have valued our community with you these past seven years. Your support has been integral to keeping Sacramentis vital and responsive to the shifting needs of congregations in the midst of worship change. We can?t thank you enough for your friendship, and for your own pioneering work in thousands of congregations across the U.S. and around the globe.

Sacramentis may be ending, but the crucial work of connecting people with God continues. We invite you to continue the conversation as we explore what new-world leadership looks like at its best.

Please visit us at our new home: (Launching in 2006).


Sally Morgenthaler

and the Sacramentis Team

Posted by Pastor Kork at 1:42 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 20 June 2006 1:59 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 16 May 2006
How (Not) to Speak of God
Topic: Church & Culture

Pete Rollins has released his first book. A challenging book. "How (Not) To Speak of God" is a thoughtful and original book, delivering some heavy-duty thinking from Marion and Derrida in a manner that is accessible and profound, and offering a fresh perspective on the Scriptures that moves the emerging conversation out of binary oppositions and into the love of God. Heres an excerpt:

How Not To Speak Mini1"In this way the emerging conversation is demonstrating an ability to stand up and engage in a powerless, space-creating dis-course that opens up thinking and offers hints rather than orders. In short, the emerging community must endevour to be a question rather than an answer and an aroma rather than food. It must seek to offer an approach that enables the people of God to become the parable, aroma, and salt of God in the world, helping to form a space where God can give of God. For too long the church has been seen as an oasis in the desert - offering water to those who are thirsty. In contrast, the emerging community appears more as a desert in the oasis of life, offering silence, space and desolation amidst the sickly nourishment of Western capitalism. It is in this desert, as we wander together as nomads, that God is to be found. For it is here that we are nourished by our hunger."
Pete Rollins, How (Not) to Speak of God, pg 42-43.

Posted by Pastor Kork at 10:26 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 9 May 2006
Brian McLaren on The Da Vinci Code
Topic: Church & Culture

An interview by Lisa Ann Cockrel

With The Da Vinci Codepoised to go from bestseller list to the big screen on May 19, pastor and writer (and Sojourners board member) Brian McLaren talks about why he thinks there's truth in the controversial book's fiction.

What do you think the popularity of The Da Vinci Code reveals about pop culture attitudes toward Christianity and the church?

Brian McLaren: I think a lot of people have read the book, not just as a popular page-turner but also as an experience in shared frustration with status-quo, male-dominated, power-oriented, cover-up-prone organized Christian religion. We need to ask ourselves why the vision of Jesus hinted at in Dan Brown's book is more interesting, attractive, and intriguing to these people than the standard vision of Jesus they hear about in church. Why would so many people be disappointed to find that Brown's version of Jesus has been largely discredited as fanciful and inaccurate, leaving only the church's conventional version? Is it possible that, even though Brown's fictional version misleads in many ways, it at least serves to open up the possibility that the church's conventional version of Jesus may not do him justice?

So you think The Da Vinci Code taps into dissatisfaction with Jesus as we know him?

Click HERE to read on...

Posted by Pastor Kork at 11:50 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 9 May 2006 12:00 PM EDT
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Thursday, 20 April 2006
What A Desert Can Do
Topic: Life In The Kingdom
As promised, I am not quite over Lent, Holy Week, and Easter. I hope never to be "over" the remembrance of our Lord's great victory, and the price paid to set the world aright!

While we walked through the desert experience of lent, looking to lay ourselves low; losing ourselves into God's purpose and will, many of our hearts have become far more compassionate, rejecting a programs-process-driven mindset to our identity in Christ and His work.

We are taking the plight of our neighbors and the forgotten in our world personally. As we look to sustain this renewed appreciation of Christ's love for the world, He has certainly been placing many changes, and opportunities before us, for us to embody His will. It seems that there is a daily stream of new connections, needs, and partnerships emerging as we continue to look for where He wants to use us.

It seems a new day is dawning? "old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." 2 Cor 5:17

Only last night, I was interviewed by a reporter from the Philadelphia Inquirer, who was following a story about urban renewal, and how money for revitalization projects is flowing into our area, when he was suddenly redirected to the plight of the poor. At our Washington & Chestnut site, we are about to endure the displacement of people, forced to relocate from the area, to who knows where, when the borough demolishes an entire neighborhood to build a school. People forced to rent, and on fixed incomes will lose all that they know as "Home" to seemingly solve an urban blight problem.

The churches answer has been to pray really hard, and hope that God will magically intervene.

Whether people have to move (or not), is not really the spiritual issue, and praying without personal involvement might make me feel better, but it will not swaddle the brokenhearted. These troubles require action from the church as a response to prayer.

We have seen shelters for the homeless close, and staffing in others cut. This might save tax dollars, but homelessness is increasing. Where is the church?

As I said earlier, the Lenten Desert changes everything. God has spoken to those who are becoming less self-absorbed. He does move upon those who will lose their will, to His. Right now we are following God down a road that is terrifying, should we journey alone--without Him.

There are real possibilities of establishing a Pottstown Homeless Shelter. Bill Kraft is in contact with folks called to this area, and are gifted for this work. One of those contacts has led us to an older woman of faith named Beatrice in Pompano Beach, FL. The front of her house was blown off, and there is a huge hole in her roof from Katrina. FEMA gave her $700 to fix things. This almost paid for windows and she is out of money. Local contractors are gouging prices to the tune of $11,000 to fix her roof.

God has placed her in our path through our pursuit of beginning a shelter, and we have the people to fix her dilemma. He has given her to us. How can we not help? Someone has promised to fund our gas; the permits are in the works right now; we have a place to stay in Florida close by, with a friend who helped plant Still Waters (and who, incidentally, attends, and works at a church run homeless shelter, looking to help us startup while down there); and now we need your help.

The materials will cost around $800. Our labor is free, and our transportation is taken care of. I am asking that you will help us buy the materials to fix Beatrice's roof, and repair the water damage she has sustained over the year.

This will speak very loudly to many in her circles, both in Florida, and those connected to her here in PA.

Please consider her as one of the least, and see if God would have you help her. Please click HERE to DONATE. It is a secure PayPal Service.

Still Waters is a 501(c)(3) organization and your gift is tax deductible.

We are asking for your help and will let you know how this turns out for her, a dear sister in the Lord.

Thank you.

Kork & Bill

Posted by Pastor Kork at 5:06 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 26 April 2006 9:49 PM EDT
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