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Jake Hall

Learning God's new language

Learning God's new language

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by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter June 6, 2019

I have always wanted to be fluent in more than one language. Sadly, the only other languages with which I have proficiency are dead languages and not many people want to talk about parsing the Greek or plucking an obscure Hebrew verbal form.

Though many of you have learned a new language: emojis. If you communicate by text, then you have probably used them, those little pictures that allow you to send a quick response with just one click that communicates a lot in a little space.

The popularity of these little pictograms led Neil Boatman, to create an online dictionary for the burgeoning lexicon. The Noun Project uses crowdsourcing to gather an army of people to define words using icons. For Boatman, “the thinking behind this is that visuals are kind of the one language that everyone can understand regardless of race or ethnicity or cultural heritage," Boatman said. "So I thought building this visual dictionary would be a universal resource for people around the world to use."

This Sunday we will celebrate the story of Pentecost, that moment when the Spirit of God united those early believers across all language and ethnic barriers. Christian Ethicist Stanley Hauerwas claims that “at Pentecost God created a new language, but it was a language that is more than words. It is instead a community” shaped and formed by the memory of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

Could it be that the church is God's new language? Are we God's emojis for the world? What a beautiful thought! The church is a visible, universal sign for people around the world to see. The love and welcome that we attempt to embody in gesture and ritual forms the one language that everyone can understand regardless of race or ethnicity or cultural heritage.

If you are not convinced that we are God's emojis of love for the world, consider this word from the Apostle Paul from 2 Corinthians:

You yourselves are all the endorsement we need. Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives–and we publish it. We couldn’t be surer of ourselves in this—that you, written by Christ himself for God, are our letter of recommendation.

Seven Ways to Avoid the Summer Slump

Seven Ways to Avoid the Summer Slump

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter May 16, 2019

We have a few more days to go on the school calendar until families begin their seasons of vacation and teachers take a break from the classroom, but you don’t need a calendar or a thermometer to tell that summer has already arrived. I can see that dazed summer glaze on so many faces. Students are ready for a break. Families are ready for a vacation. Just at most folks are gearing up for a summer break the church is readying for a season that is heavy with activity and light on attendance.

Almost Summer

Almost Summer

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter May 9, 2019

Graduations mark our calendars in the coming weeks. School is about to be out. The bell is about to ring. Caps and gowns will fly in the air. We will need a different syllabus to chart summer's course. For a lot of folks, time in summer takes in a new quality.

Vocational Evolution

Vocational Evolution

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter May 3, 2019

Frederich Buechner has always informed the way I look at calling and vocation. He once wrote that vocation is that 'place where the world’s deep hunger and your deep gladness meet.' Over the past few months, we have worked to find that intersection for Ruth, and for Highland Hills, a place where the present needs of the church align with the present gifts of the minister.

Meditating on the Cross

Meditating on the Cross

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter April 19, 2019

George Bennard wrote, “The Old Rugged Cross” around 1912. Bennard preached throughout the Midwest as traveling evangelist. One evening he left the service upset because of the behavior of the crowd. During that revival service, some youth interrupted Bennard during the sermon. Their behavior to the good news, as Bennard proclaimed it, led to his reflection upon the meaning of the cross.

Sinning like A Christian

Sinning like A Christian

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter March 21, 2019

Our Lenten muse for the past few weeks has been Will Willimon’s “Sinning Like A Christian.” Willimon examines the 7 Deadly Sins of pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust. Our conversation around the Family Night tables has been both comic and meaningful.

A Winding Walk & A Ponderous Path

A Winding Walk & A Ponderous Path

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter February 21, 2019

The season after Epiphany invited us to see the world with adventurous and amateur eyes, both. During these weeks we have been spiritually challenged by the biblical stories to experience the ordinary world in a new way. Wise Men taught us to look for stars, signs, and symbols to guide our journey. Jesus modeled what happens we cast our life in line with everybody else and wander into the wilderness to find our way. These texts have encouraged us to follow Jesus through the ordinariness of our lives toward something new.

Write a new list

Write a new list

by Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter December 20, 2018

We need new lists.

No, not additional lists. Lists abound in the Christmas season. "To do" lists describe the many things that must happen at work in order to make it to your kids Christmas play on time. "To purchase" lists enumerate just how many presents to buy and for whom. Grocery lists curate how many Christmas hams to purchase and help organize our cupboards and counters when company comes over for Christmas. Even Santa's list names who is naughty and who is nice. We need a new list. Something that names what happens next!