Monday, June 27, 2011

Climbing Croagh Patrick

This past weekend, the Smith family took a trip to County Mayo in the west of Ireland.  For the second consecutive time on a trip out west, we were bombarded with wet weather.  The forecast for Saturday was meant to be drier, but as we set out on a trek up Croagh Patrick it became obvious that the forecast wasn't quite as accurate as we would have hoped.  About 250 feet up the mountain, Juli and Ashlyn (Ashlyn has a comfortable little backpack to be carried in) headed back for the visitor's cafe at the carpark, while I was determined to make it to the top.

About an hour later I was 2500 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, but for all I knew, I may as well have been on Jupiter.  The cloud cover, fog, and mist was so thick it felt like I had been hiking through a bowl of soup.  My shirt and wind pants were as wet as if I had taken a swim out in Clew Bay.  Needless to say, I didn't spend too long on top and quickly began my descent to the bottom.  As I passed a couple of lads from Kilkenny on their way up (I had passed them on my way up earlier), they asked me if I had taken time to say my prayers on the top.  I told that I had indeed offered up a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord, but I hadn't lingered too long because of the rain.

Thankfully I made it back down with only a couple of slips and no injuries.  And I was even more grateful that Juli and Ashlyn had made it down without a fall. Meanwhile, the weather back in Dublin was sunshine and 75 degrees.  We may have missed one of the best days of the Dublin summer on our trip, but it was worth it to check one more place off our Irish bucket list. - Shay
 Beginning Croagh Patrick Trek

Daddy, are you sure about this?

Soupy view of the Atlantic

Yes, caps must be worn!

Traffic jam in Mayo

Friday, June 24, 2011

Reflections on Colossians 3

One of the great things about worshiping Christ in the context of a small Christian community in an organic setting like your home is that you are able to have a more inclusive and participatory gathering.  Often, when we meet in Balbriggan, Raheny, or Baldoyle, we'll share a discovery Bible study together.  With a DBS, we all take the time to write out word for word a short text from scripture before paraphrasing it and then writing down life application statements.  When the community comes together we share our reflections and the entire group is mutually encouraged to a greater understanding of God and his word and a more faithful response in our individual and corporate lives.

We've recently spent time in Colossians and I'd like to share some reflections that I gained from Paul's emphasis on our new lives lived in Christ's body.  Here's my paraphrase and some of my life application from Colossians 3:12-17.

Because we've been raised with Christ to new life (vs. 1) we are a part of God's family - his chosen ones.  We are loved by God and set a part for his purpose.  Since we've stripped off the sinful and selfish rags of our old way of living we are to get dressed up in God's finest new clothes.  We're to immerse ourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.  And since we're part of community, we don't just live for ourselves - we live for others and we put up with their garbage, just as they put up with ours.  Even if we rightly have an issue with a brother or sister in Christ, we are to forgive them because God knows the Lord Jesus Christ has forgiven us of so much more!  We cannot do this without love.  Love allows us to live in the messiness of community life because it creates melody and harmony where there was simply noise and confusion.  Love unites and overcomes all of our human brokenness, so we must love above all else.  And if the peace and calmness of Christ flows through our lives and the lives of the entire community we can live and function as one body.  Thank God!!!  Live in gratitude.  May Christ's word not simply go in one ear and out the other, but may it permeate every fiber of our existence until it transforms us from the inside out.  We all have the responsibility to teach and at times even rebuke and correct each other.  This means that we must in humility be willing to learn from the whole community.  Instruction is always a two-way street.  God's wisdom arises in the context of community.  And when we respond to God's acts of salvation through singing or any other kind of worship - we do it out of a gracious response to our God who has done so much for us.  Whether through the Old Testament psalms, through the hymns of the ancient and modern church, or through any kind of music that puts us into contact with Christ's spiritual reality, we offer what we can to God.  In fact every single aspect of our lives should be nothing less than worship in the name of the Lord Jesus out of gratitude to God the Father.

It's not enough for me to simply strip off the old layers of sin and selfishness.  Full life in Christ calls me to put on a new set of clothes and these clothes don't fit without love acting as a belt to pull it all together.  Love God and love neighbor.  Community life is messy.  Living in community has taught me that so often I am not humble, meek, or patient.  Nor have I been as forgiving as I'm called to be.  I need to repent.  I need greater humility (seems like an oxymoron, eh?), meekness, and patience.

We've been called to one body.  In that body I am to let the peace of CHRIST RULE in my heart.  In that body we as a community are to allow the peace of CHRIST to RULE  in our collective hearts.  I need to let go of some things.  I cannot be a control freak and live faithfully in Christian community.  I need to trust Christ and his Spirit and his peace to work in other people's lives, just as I've seen them work in my life.  I need to trust Christ's community more.  I also need to make sure that I'm always open to learn from the community.

The last verse in this passage challenges me to make everything - every aspect of my life an intentional worship and missional activity.  Everything I do should be infused with an understanding of Christ's Lordship and be done as an extension of Christ's mission.  Everything I do should be done as a gracious response to what God had done for me in Christ. - Shay     

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Nearly a Year In

I should probably wait for another two weeks to post this, but I just realized that Juli, Ashlyn, & I have lived in Dublin for 50 weeks.  Two weeks short of a year and the North Dublin Smith family couldn't be any happier.  By far, this has been the fastest year of my life.  It seems like yesterday that we were selling our possessions, packing up our stuff, saying goodbye to our loved ones in Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas, and boarding a plane for the adventure of a lifetime.  Now, here we are nearly a year in.

A lot of things have happened in these 12 short months.  We've met many new friends, volunteered hundreds of hours, launched two new (small) worshiping communities on the north side of the city, welcomed a new brother into the Christian family, shared our faith with many who are seeking God, mentored fellow brothers and sisters into stronger leadership roles, and are in the process of laying the foundation for further opportunities.  The Spirit is at work in this place and we are simply joining God in the work where it's already happening.

Over the next 50 weeks I'll continue to update this blog with stories of life and faith and hopefully I can convince Juli to write a few too or to at least post a few pictures! - Shay