Pastoral Backstory 08.29.13




(What is this and why?)


August 29th,  2013

Vivian Maier, Self Portrait

Vivian Maier, Self Portrait

Her name is Vivian Maier.  More know and revere here in death than they ever did in life.  Few even knew her while she lived, and nearly none knew her greatest secret.

She lived a quiet life, nannied for a young family in NYC, but whenever she could, she took to the streets.  Not to gallivant among its delights but to capture its essence–on film.  Her work will arrest your attention, its skill and grace all the more astonishing given she had none of the tools for retouching and enhancing available to modern photographers.

Perhaps what is most compelling about her work though is not its quality, which some regard as peerless. It’s how she went about doing the work–how she understood and viewed her work.

A documentary about her life opens soon


Last Sunday we sought to reframe our present lives with the hope of future resurrection.  Far more than “mere” consolation in the face of death, we argued that Jesus’ being raised again means to inspire a deep courage now, an expansive love now, and a penchant for ordering our lives now that would seem astonishing to others.  There are therefore manifold present implications for what awaits those in Him who is the “resurrection and the life.”

But those implications pertain also to that domain of existence in which we invest most of our waking hours and the lion-share of our faculties.

I’m talking about our labor, the work we give ourselves to each day, whether in a building, on a jobsite, in a classroom, or in the home.

Many wonder, perhaps many of you:

Why do we work?

What if I don’t like my job?

How do I really allow God to be in the middle of my work?

These aren’t idle (ha) questions. They dig down into the deep soil about our nature and purpose, about what God has made us for.  Given how much of our very selves we give to our work, we have to ask these questions and dare to find some respectable, if incomplete, answers. For while the questions center on our work they are more fundamentally questions about our faith.

Vivian Maier Self-Portrait (14)


We know next to nothing about the faith of Ms. Maier, or even is she had any.  But I would argue the orientation to her most profoundly inspired work points us to how we must view and do our work before the face of God.  The One who works, commissioned us to work, and saved us for good works.

Our nation recognizes those who work by giving them a rest this Monday.  God beat them to the punch.  He recognizes our work and supplies it a rest intended not merely to constrain us but to protect us.  And in God’s greatest work to date (the work we’ll remember this Sunday by partaking from the Table), He binds our work to His, rescuing it from profound distortions as He rescues our soul from distortion.  That will be our topic this Sunday.

A Labor Day Sermon from Exodus 31 and Colossians 3:15-17, 22-24

The Glory of Work

The Governor upon Work

The Grace for our Work

And as it is our Sunday for Communion, that time of reflection we’ve written about before is in order as we seek to eat and drink worthily of the Table He’s set for us.


In case you missed yesterday’s email, we will be gathering this Sunday at the Hilton Garden Inn at our usual meeting time of 9am. Please share this information with one another and with visitors for whom you may have contact information.

And if you will, continue to pray

  • for our Session’s discernment and wisdom in the negotiations with Fairmeadows Baptist Church
  • for Hugh Comer and Jim Akovenko as they continue in training to become elders this fall
  • for little Seth Smith as he recovers from a bacterial infection
  • for Don and Helen Johnson as they seek treatment for his breathing
  • for Nathan and Virginia Vandermeer as they both face some chronic health issues
  • pray also for our leadership as we take some substantive steps toward developing a ministry effort for our school aged children

As always, peace to you




Author: Glenn Machlan

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