Never wear a red shirt on an away mission. Someone began to notice the pattern: the various unnamed crewmen in the red shirts died first on a hostile planet. After the second season of the original Star Trek series it became an unspoken but inside joke. By the time of the 10th movie it became a cliché. Some of you know of my fascination with the fictional world of Star Trek. Star Trek references and technology are constantly showing up in news articles, scientific papers and pop culture. I attended my first Star Trek convention in 1976. I heard a lecture by the late author Ray Bradbury at an early convention here in Tulsa. His was a call to keep dreaming and to let our imaginations overcome the impossible.
Keep your phaser set on stun. Even when hostile forces were overtaking the crew, the precautionary order was always the same. It was creator Gene Roddenberry’s attempt at modeling subdued force when dealing with conflict. He was using science fiction as a way of commenting on social issues such as peace, civil rights and the Vietnam War. When seeking out new life and new civilizations, non-interference is the prime directive, but human pride, greed or lust always ruins things.
Humans are highly illogical. They are emotional, impulsive and self-sacrificial. The tension between emotional behavior and rational action is what makes Mr. Spock fascinating. When dealing with advanced technology, insufficient data does not compute, so when your logic fails, trust a hunch. I once wrote a doctoral paper for seminary on the theology of Star Trek. Even in our own world, sometimes we are the aliens. We have an on-going mission. Let’s go faithfully, humbly and boldly, telling our story, and God’s story, of life and grace.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Live long and prosper. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
Ours has always been a “missions-minded” church—a church doing missions locally and supporting missions around the world. A world missions report made headlines recently when it was announced that the United States has become the 5th largest mission field in the world. “Missional” has become the operational word of the day. A missional community is the term used to describe a group of Christians united by a common call to a specific ministry to reach and disciple people for Christ. This Sunday, as GracePoint Church becomes co-laborers with us, we seek to grow into a community of missional communities.
Our initial missional ministry expands both of our churches’ food ministries to our geographical neighborhood. Our Eastside Meals on Wheels ministry provides hot meals three days a week to the homebound elderly and disabled. GracePoint’s The People’s Pantry provides groceries to our neighbors by appointment once a week. Volunteers are needed to serve in both endeavors. The People’s Pantry will be located by the church kitchen and will continue to minister to families in our neighborhood. The ministry receives food from the Northeastern Oklahoma Food Bank. As the recipients arrive for groceries an opportunity to build relationships can develop into life transforming possibilities. Other points of shared ministries are being explored.
GracePoint’s pastor, Dr. David Willets, grew up in our church. His father, Dr. Bob Willets, was Senior Minister here from 1960-1973. David’s creative leadership and spiritual maturity will provide a dynamic energy to the emerging ways of engaging our neighbors for Christ. This is not a merger of churches. Our services will run simultaneously so visiting guests will have alternative worship experiences to encounter God. The first step begins Sunday. You are welcome to join us on this missional journey.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Go missional. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.
One day I learned a valuable lesson from a seminary chapel service. The speaker was Elton Trueblood. Dr. Trueblood was a distinguished theologian, religion professor, author and presidential advisor. His was a call to world-wide Christianity to “wake-up” to decline in the church due to idolatry. Sounds quaint by today’s standards, doesn’t it? He was talking about idols such as church buildings as monuments of pride and affluence, clergy hired to do ministry for the congregation, entertainment disguised as worship, and Christian service defined as “attend our Sunday meeting.” He was calling for the Church to be a “company of the committed” to Christ, seven days a week.
In one of his books, “The Incendiary Fellowship,” Trueblood tells the story of the fire-keeper, a young man chosen by ancient tribal elders to always keep a fire burning. In the long ago fire was a necessity for tribal survival. As nomadic people moved to follow their herds and their game, someone needed to keep a flame going throughout their journeys. It needed to burn through rain and storm, heavy wind and blowing snow. Elders showed the young man how to protect the flame by sharing it with others during the riskiest times. Carelessness would be a costly mistake. It was easy to carry the fire on most days, but preparation for the unexpected was mandatory. From Trueblood’s perspective, every Christian needs the commitment of the fire-keeper, for Christ is our world’s only hope.
At the end of chapel that day an announcement was made inviting anyone to join Dr. Trueblood and some of the faculty for dinner that night at a local restaurant. I called Dorothy and she indicated that she was always open to dinner out. That evening eleven of us spent a marvelous time with a profoundly insightful Christian. The valuable lesson I learned that day was: never miss an opportunity to learn from the best, for they will share the fire.
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Keep the fire burning. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.