Sing a New Song (Beautiful)

By Dave Pappas

Praise the one who made the sunrise at the break of day

Praise the maker of the autumn’s colorful display

Praise the great creator who churns the deepest seas

Praise the beauty of the earth that brings me to my knees

Sing a new song

Beautiful

For the beauty of the earth, the water, and the skies

I praise the beauty maker for opening my eyes

I offer up my hands and heart to humbly recreate

An offering of beauty, a sacrifice of praise

Sing a new song

Beautiful

Beauty Series: Changing Lenses

Everything has beauty but not everyone sees it. - Confucius

Over the years, the concept of beauty has surfaced for us at Trinity. We have been questioning the lens through which we view our world. Many of us have been shaped to see the world through a lens of brokenness; this is not the lens through which God first sees the world.

In order to wade through difficult concepts in Scripture, embrace and value diversity within our community of believers, and understand how we are to interact as followers of Jesus in the world, we need to change our lenses. The fundamental truth of this world is that it is good and beautiful.  And while it is true there is brokenness in this world, that brokenness does not erase the beauty of God’s creation.

This series on beauty will hopefully give us a starting point from which to begin to shift the way we see both God and the world, as well as understanding our place in the story of God, giving us a radically different perspective on what it means to follow Jesus.

TOPICS

You may also listen through the Trinity Church Broad Ripple Podcast or click over to the Teachings page.

September 9: God is Beauty (Psalm 27)

September 16: A Beautiful World (Genesis 1)

September 23: Beauty and Ecclesiology (Mark 11 and Jeremiah 11)

September 30: Beauty: What Which Endures (Leviticus 23)

October 7: Beauty and Worship (Exodus 31)

October 14: Beauty and Eschatology: The Streets of Gold (Revelation 21)

October 21: Beauty and Justice/Shalom (Isaiah 11 & Psalm 101)

October 28: Beauty and the Gospel (Isaiah 52 & Romans 12)

November 4: Beauty and Salvation (Zechariah 9)

November 11: Sheer Poetry and the Blank Canvas (Ephesians 2)

November 18: Beauty and Kairos (Ecclesiastes 3)

*From time to time we may need to switch things up in the series, but this will give you a good picture of where we're going. 

DISCUSSION PROMPTS

-Identify the ways in which God has always showed up as beauty in your life.

-By looking at God and the world through a lens of beauty, what might you need to shed in order to grow in your faith journey?

-In what ways do you see the Spirit moving among us at Trinity toward that which is beautiful?

-Discuss the relationship between the good news (gospel) and beauty and the challenges we face in our world today.  

-In your walk with Jesus, what new experiences of beauty are popping up?

-What might you need to adjust in your life, or what practice might you need to take up, in order to regularly become more aware of beauty?

-In what ways do you sense the Spirit moving you toward justice or shalom?

RESOURCES

*As with any resource, nothing is perfect. There will be things in these resources that may or may not reflect where we are at individually or as a community. May they provide more food for thought, spark further conversation, and deeper growth.

BOOKS:

The Good and Beautiful God - James Bryan Smith

Beauty Will Save the World - Brian Zahnd

The Artist’s Way - Julia Cameron

The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen - Lisa Gungor

Awaken Your Senses - Brent Bill and Beth Booram

Mary Oliver poetry

PODCASTS:

The On Being Podcasts on beauty, particularly the episode with John O’Donohue

ARTICLES:

Walk in Beauty - Richard Rohr

1 Cor 12: Diamond

By Caroline Mosey

 

Could our Savior 

be inside us

and above us, 

all the same? 

 

If He’s anything, 

He’s with us. 

It’s embedded 

in His name. 

 

But He’s more 

than simply with us; 

He is buried in our chest. 

He’s our brightest part--

our purest heart,

the rhythm 

of our breath. 

 

He’s the radiance of Zion 

Scattered wide 

across the sea. 

Every piece of Him 

a diamond 

hidden in humanity. 

 

Now to Him 

who buries diamonds

and who writes The Symphony--

To Him who weaves 

the thread of glory 

into you and me.

To Him who spins the gold 

inside the castle 

of the soul.

To Him who scatters pieces 

of a most 

exquisite Whole. 

 

We hear the call 

you’ve issued 

and we’ve heard 

the Voice Divine.

You are my Diamond-Planter, 

but my diamond 

isn’t mine.

It’s part of something greater, 

something bigger you’ve designed,

refracting all the colors 

of a realm we’ve yet to find. 

 

The realm the prophets spoke of 

and the Witness Cloud professed.

The one we can’t see 

with our eyes 

but burns inside 

our chest. 

The realm we’re trained to fight into 

 and feel compelled to step into

 and know that we were born to do

 our part to make it real. 

 

This man

he gets the clearest eyes 

and uses them to see

what’s wrong, what’s right, 

what’s left, what’s right

and now 

he’s telling me. 

 

You, Sir, 

you hear words differently.

Your hearing’s 

not like ours.

Could you translate 

to our table

from the Language of the Stars? 

 

That woman’sfeeling premonitions

stronger than we could.

So my destiny,

relay to me,

And point me 

at the Good. 

 

The diamond in that little girl

is heavy with her faith,

an anchor in the wavering 

the rest of us will face. 

 

And you

you’ve got the static 

in your hands we need tonight.

Your diamond 

holds the healing 

from the One 

who makes things right. 

 

But there’s dirt 

on top of diamonds 

and we think 

they’re ours to keep.

Then wonder why 

the Brotherhood

stays limping, 

incomplete. 

 

We hold our diamonds tighter,

all our knuckles 

turning white.

Or we never dig 

to find them

and expose them 

to the light.

 

Our restlessness increases

When our gifts 

are left obscured. 

They stagnate 

til we’re sick

But I’ve heard diamonds 

are the cure. 

Encapsulating light and magic

 Gold 

 and green 

 and blue.

The rock that 

sharpens steel

And pulls the Kingdom 

into view. 

 

So pick your shovels 

up and dig 

until you hit the Truth.

‘Cause what you find in there

might be meant 

more for me

than you. 

 

Then we’ll raise 

our glasses higher 

to the Wholeness 

found above--

To our Reconnector, 

Gem Collector,

Source of Lasting Love. 

To the Slayer of Division

and the Banisher of Shame

To the Alchemist,

the Strategist

who reconstructs The Game. 

 

And we, 

as One,

but many,

waxing holier to say,

“I need your light, 

and you 

need mine.”

The purest Namaste. 

 

 

 

Lent

By Scott Smith

Made with ashes, the sign of the cross on the forehead has marked the beginning of Lent for Christians for two millennia. But why? Why is it that followers of Jesus embrace an instrument of execution and torture as the primary symbol of this season we call Lent?

On the surface the answer seems obvious. The season of Lent culminates on Good Friday when we rehearse the story of the crucifixion of Jesus, an event in which we locate God’s infinite grace and forgiveness. While grace and forgiveness certainly are central to the Christian faith, if we dig beneath the surface of this familiar story, we discover that the conspiracy that culminated in the execution of Jesus was intended to silence him and his gospel of the Kingdom of God, a message that was a clear threat to current social order.

This gospel that Jesus preached was a particular vision for the world. It was a vision built on the foundations of shalom, compassion and justice, a vision for a world where everything that is wrong is made right, a vision that necessarily implied actual transformation in human society. It was for that “good news” and the movement he began that Jesus was murdered.. Jesus was fully aware that, like the prophets before him, he would pay with his life for this message he proclaimed.

As we journey through Lent, it seems only logical to reflect on this other dimension of the cross and then ask ourselves a most unsettling question, “Do I really want to deny myself, take up a cross, and follow Jesus?”

"Do not give your heart that which does not satisfy your heart."

By Scott Smith

For centuries Lent has been considered a penitential season – a time of intentional self-examination, and penitential practices have long been understood to be a vital catalyst toward that end.  The original purpose of these practices was to create an atmosphere within the heart that both propelled us toward an honest appraisal of our brokenness and pointed us in the direction of repentance, of returning to God.  These practices were not meant to be an end in themselves that gain us better standing before God.  They weren’t intended to “solve” the problem of human brokenness, rather, they are meant to create an environment which makes self-examination possible so that we can find our way out of the darkness.  Lent is a gracious invitation to perceive and name those things in our lives that are obstacles to the wholeness that God passionately wants to give us, a wholeness that we can never experience apart from learning the many ways in which all of us are broken. 

Of course self-examination will do no one any good at all unless it is approached with a measure of honesty as well as a genuine desire for transformation.  The problem is, however, being completely honest with ourselves is something that we are inclined to shy away from both consciously and unconsciously.  Our natural tendency is to clothe ourselves in layers of denial and dishonesty that disguise our true condition, the result being that we only become more alone in our brokenness.

So what do we hope to discover through these penitential practices.  In the church of my formational years, the goal was to search high and low and see “if there be any wicked way in me,” the result being a list of “sins” we needed to confess “lest we eat and drink damnation” unto ourselves on Communion Sunday.  This approach is terribly reductionistic and ineffective.  I would argue that gaining insight into the mechanisms of our brokenness is a better goal.  I can’t remember for certain who it was, but a renowned psychologist argued that even our most destructive behaviors are rooted in a survival instinct.  As crazy as it may seem, even at our worst, we are driven by a desire to live.  If this is even remotely true, then the insight we need is what areas of brokenness are our trying to address through behaviors that will never get us what we want or need.

The truth is that we are forever filling our lives with things that do not satisfy our hearts, things that actually compound our brokenness.  When our hearts start to ache because of the vacuum of spiritual hunger, we try our very best to soothe that ache in ways that don’t work.  When we are overwhelmed by anxiety and existential angst we are given to a plethora of distractions.  And when we become acutely aware of the profound emptiness of our hungry hearts, we consume that which can never satiate that hunger. 

Abba Poemen (4th/5th century, Desert Father) offers wise counsel, “Do not give your heart that which does not satisfy the heart.”   That is a good word for the season of Lent.  It is an invitation to identify and abstain from those things which do not leave us satisfied.  Lent offers us an opportunity to fast from that which is not food for our souls.  It is a good time to reflect with some measure of honesty about how hungry our hearts really are.  But more than being a chance to recognize that we may be spiritually starving to death, Lent is also an invitation to a feast – an invitation to eat and drink from the wellspring of God’s inescapable love which is genuine food for our souls. God wants our hearts to be satisfied, and God wants to satisfy our hearts.  To borrow from C.S. Lewis, our problem, however, is not that we desire too much joy, rather we desire too little.