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The Ache For Peace (via Winn Collier)

Winn Collier writes about the longing that Advent epitomises, a Gospel fuelled desire for the fulfilment of redemption.
We have peace, and long for peace. We have hope, and long for that expectation to be fully realised.
From Collier:

I’m aching for peace.
To be sure, I’m not angling for anything easy or contrived or oblivious – that’s not peace; that’s avoidance. But I do want an end to relational hostility. I do want the hungry fed and the oppressed to be free. I do want enemies to become friends, or at least not to hate one another. I do want that inner quiet that marks the way of wisdom: the capacity to live in tensions, the courage to refuse the rage of the moment, the open-heartedness that allows us to be surprised, the tenacity to never lose hope.

Read his full devotional here.

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The Communal Action Of Creeds (via Winn Collier)

Winn Collier’s fictional pastor Jonas McAnn writes of the reasons for his inclusion of creeds in weekly worship:

First, it’s important to remember that we don’t just say the creeds – we pray them. The creeds end with Amen. When we pray, we converse with the Holy Trinity, the God of the universe. When we pray these lines from the creeds, we’re not only reciting doctrine, We’re putting ourselves into the right posture again, returning to the place of healing and wholeness, as creature before our Maker. In these prayerful creeds, we acknowledge that we are finite and that only God knows the contours of our desperate hearts and fickle minds. Only God knows our deepest truths.
Second, the creeds do not merely catalog theological facts. They narrate a story, recounting for us God’s actions on our behalf. The creeds assure us that God, in Jesus, has created us and rescued us and that the Spirit guides us even now. We are not alone. Not ever.
Third, the creeds (like every act of prayer) are, by their very nature, communal acts. I side with the Orthodox Christians who say we believe rather than I believe, but no matter the verbiage the creeds’ very existence affirms the essential truth that faith must be something we discern together and strive to sustain together.

Love Big, Be Well. Winn Collier, Eerdmans 2017, pp. 110-111.

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Every Beauty And Every Tragedy Is An Invitation (via Winn Collier)

More musing from fictional pastor Jonas McAnn, as written by Winn Collier:

If the idea of providence means anything, then it must a least mean that our life consists of all manner of truths and experiences we would never imagine and could never orchestrate. The old mystics liked to say that “all is gift.” I still scratch my head over this idea, but I’m learning to trust that everything we encounter, ever beauty and every tragedy, invites us deeper into God, deeper into our truest selves.
In other words, to become more like God (more Christian, if it helps to say it that way) is in fact to become more human. Jesus showed us what it looks like to be God, but Jesus also showed us what it looks like to be truly human. We often flour our human bodies, our human urges and aspirations, our human frailties. But to be Christian is to become more and more human.
Winn Collier, Love Big Be Well, Eerdmans, 2017 pg 84.

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On The Love Of Starting Fires More Than Putting Them Out (via Winn Collier)

Sometimes conflict is unavoidable in pastoral life.
But having a passion for conflict is not helpful. To put it mildly.
Winn Collier’s fictional pastor, Jonas McAnn:

I’ve known a few pastors always licking their chops for a fight. I once heard a pastor recount to a group of other pastors how he had delivered an ultimatum to his church board, and how three-fourths of them had resigned en masse. “And you know what?” he said. I remember his wide, white eyes, as though he would come unglued if he couldn’t deliver the punch line. “That night, I slept like a baby.” He sat back in his chair, satisfied, like a cat after a pounce. There are a hundred reasons why this story disturbs me, but needless to say I don’t have such a disposition. I would not sleep like a baby.

Winn Collier, Love Big. Be Well. Eerdmans, 2017, pg 59.

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A Work Worthy Of A Life (via Winn Collier)

On two stages of being a pastor.
A title received at once, a role you become as you live into it.
The work worthy of a life indeed.
From Love Big Be Well:

You’ve entrusted me with this place among you, but I know I must show myself trustworthy and earn the deeper belonging, the deeper bond. I received the title pastor after a vote, but I will only become your pastor after years of laying sturdy stone upon stone. This is the way it’s supposed to be. This is work worthy of a life.

Love Big. Be Well., Winn Collier, Eerdmans, 2017, pg 44.

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The Pastoral Search Question (via Winn Collier)

Love Big, Be Well is Winn Collier’s fictional account of rural ministry.
Here he puts the question a country church puts to prospective pastors.
Do they love a program, or people?
At its best the answer is not either/or.
Love for pastoring people is the engine, though.

We’d like to know if you’re going to use us. . . . Is our church going to be your opportunity to finally enact that one flaming vision you’ve had in your crosshairs ever since seminary, that one strategic model that will finally get this church-thing straight? Or might we hope that our church could be a place where you’d settle in with us and love alongside us, cry with us and curse the darkness with us, and remind us how much God’s crazy about us? In other words, the question we want answered is very simple: Do you actually want to be our pastor?

Love Big, Be Well: Letters to a Small-Town Church, Winn Collier, Eerdmans (2017). pp.5–6

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Preposterous Blessings (via Winn Collier)

Winn Collier writes about the beatitudes as encouragements for those at the margins rather than a recipe of ‘be this and get that’.
To assure us that in the kingdom, we should never be undone by finding ourselves at the margins.
From the post:

The life Jesus announces really does turn everything topsy-turvy. Jesus passes blessings (well-being) on exactly the opposite of those we consider blessed. The Beatitudes pronounce the shocking reality that the precise people we assume at the bottom of the pile are actually at the center of God’s abundance. These blessings are what God does, what Jesus makes possible in ways that were impossible before.
And while these blessings do not unravel a litmus test for “what it takes to get God’s blessing” (for example, no one’s suggesting we should go out looking for persecution), it’s subversively true that we need not fear these places of deprivation or vulnerability because when we’re most at risk, we have confidence that God is with us in that risky place. So when calamity visits us (persecution) or when we courageously obey Jesus (by being merciful, for instance, to those who we think deserve no mercy at all), we don’t need to fear.