Halloween: take the best and leave the rest

      We can all see what is happening in the world around us. How we, as a consumer culture, have chosen to celebrate the ancient celebration of Halloween is a prime example.       

      Exaggeration seems to be the name of the game. It seems to me as if we are all trying to out-do each other. Has it really become a race to see who can go over-the-top and create the most outlandish costume, the most grotesque, the most horrifying, the most spine-tingling, the most bizarre? And for what reason? 

     The first documentation of Halloween or All Saints Day can be traced back to Diocletian´s brutal treatment of Jesus followers in the year 397. Followers of Jesus began to gather together to remember the countless lives of those who had been tortured and brutally killed by the Roman Emperor and his predecessors. They gathered together to share a meal and they prayed for each other under candlelight.

     500 hundred years later in the 800´s the festival lived on and was imported into Irish culture and replaced the Celtic festival of Samhain. All Saints Day had become a lively festival, celebrating the late harvest of apples, pears and pumpkins. The Irish made the point of going door to door to pray for families in their villages who had lost loved ones in the last year. As a tolken of thanks they were given a soul-cake. And so began what today has been exaggerated into "Trick or Treat".

soul cake.jpg

     700 hundred years later, in the 1500´s, the Spaniards brang their festival to Mexico. All Saints Day was combined with the Aztec festival for remembering the dead with its construction of altars and brighly painted skeleton costumes to attempt to bring back the spirits of the dead. And so began the idea of dressing up in costumes to honor the dead.

    Fast forward another 500 hundred years and we find ourselves living in a global society... a society largely inspired by the likes of Hollywood. Mix it together with consumer capitalism and you have a giant recipe for exaggeration and misinterpretation.

     I am saddened to see how modern Norway has responded to Halloween. Only since 2000 has Halloween made a real impact here. What is Norway´s contribution? Our stores have certainly decided what think everybody wants. But what have you decided? How will you react? Will you let the mainstream decide for you?

      Do we need to invent more evil and darkness? Are we not suffering already? Do we need more excuses to buy more and more candy? Are we dressing up our children as demons?

      Why not save the best and leave the rest? Why not look for the best expressions of Halloween, and simply leave behind what does not bennifit ourselves or others?

pumpkin2.jpg

     Our family just threw an amazing block party. We made personal invitations to all of the families with children in our neighborhood. We invited to a costume party with the simple request for "no scary costumes". We spent the week decorating the house with candles, leaves, pumpkins, apples and like. We created a party play-list with traditional Celtic music (James Gallaway). We made a giant pot of Chili-con-carne and filled our house with cakes and doughnuts. We took the best things from Halloween through the ages and turned in into something ours, something that we could give to our neighbors. It was a party full of laughter. We made new friends. We made lasting memories. Our neighborhood is getting closer. We are starting to realize that we are better together. 

     What are you doing with the darkness?

The only thing we can give to God is our worship

Think about it, what does God get from us? Can it be that the only thing God receives from us is our love for Him expressed through song? Song is a powerful thing. I in fact discovered a relationship with Jesus through seeing people in passionate worship. Passionate in the sense that you could see that what is being sung about has a heart connection, not only a head-connection. The entire bible can be "cooked down" into two sentences... in it religion is completely striped away. What emerges is relationship. The most central relationship and every other form of relationship flow from these words. 

Love the lord your GOd with all of your heart, all of your mind, all of your soul and all of your strength (what you are good at). And love your neighbor as yourself. 

We are building a community centered around the best kind of love the world has ever known. Enter into it. Let´s build a community that loves to love. 

Kirby Kaple and House Fires are doing an amazing job capturing the emotions and heart of what worship to the Heavenly Father can be like. Have a listen and give Him what he is longing to receive from you. We are all meant to praise something. Will it be a car, a person, a bank account, or a chance to connect with and be loved and filled by the creator of all.

 

What is God´s dream for Sandnes, Norge?

God´s dream for Sandnes. Lets get ahold of it... and make it our dream.

God´s dream for Sandnes. Lets get ahold of it... and make it our dream.

Perhaps His dream for Sandnes is the same as Gods dream for Jesus`home town, Nasareth.

Let´s listen close to Jesus´ heart for Nasareth... (the very place he chose to announce his work):

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed me (the anointed one, the messiah) to preach good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed (who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by troubles, to proclaim the accepted and acceptable year of the Lord (the day when salvation and the free favors of God profusely abound." (Isaiah 61:1,2).

Who are the poor? Do we have so many poor in Norway?

Lets ask an expert. Mother Teresa said this about the poor:

"Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty."

All of a sudden, I feel the poverty of Sandnes and Norway overwhelmingly strong. 

What are we to do?

We need to do something about loneliness. We need to do something about people and kids feeling unwanted.

Our answer... Jesus had an amazing heart for Nasareth. Let´s get ahold of His very same heart for Sandnes... and end loneliness and feelings of being unwanted, one person at a time.

We want to put an end to loneliness in Sandnes. We have started a new community, a community in seed form now... maybe even a small plant, but it is growing and any good community becomes very attractive for more to call it home.

Join us, and together we can make a difference, change lives, end loneliness, show and demonstrate God´s amazing compassion, His power to heal every hurt and do it together in loving community, growing and maturing as we go.

Dream with us and take steps with us for a better tomorrow... 

 

 

Making what Jesus cares about... what we care about

IMG_3957.jpg

How do we know what Jesus cares about? The bible has short biographies of Jesus life called the Gospel accounts. You can find them in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They are written by Jesus friends and come from eyewitness accounts from public events where Jesus says and does what he has received from Heaven to do and say. In them we see Jesus caring for people. He heals every type of illness, heals broken hearts and relationships and desires to restore every part of our lives to make us completely whole again. He was not shy about saying we also have an adversary, a very real adversary who desires to stay hidden. 

In one of Jesus most famous speeches He is witnessed by several hundred saying this: He (meaning His heavenly Father) has sent me to proclaim freedom for the captives and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lords favor.

Luke 4:18

He is still doing this today, and his plan is that everyone who follows Him gets to do the same. The trouble is, are their enough churches who still teach and do what He desires and equipped us to do? That is why we a planting a new church. Following Jesus is and should be the greatest adventure in life. We gather to see heaven open and people transformed by His love. Once we have received this life-changing love it compels us to share it freely.