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March 7, 2023

My best friend from seminary came in a few weeks ago with his eight-year-old son, who I was meeting for the first time. He was in seminary in Atlanta, and still has a lot of friends here, so he decided to come to visit for the weekend and show his son the sights of Atlanta. In two days, they visited the Aquarium, the World of Coke, the College Football Hall of fame, an Atlanta United game, the National Civil and Human Rights museum, and an Atlanta Hawks game (and both the soccer and basketball games were decided on buzzer beaters). That is…a lot. But they had a lot of fun playing tourist for a weekend, and when visiting with them and walking around downtown Atlanta, I forgot how much there is in Atlanta and all the things to do.

Because, like all of us I think, we get into our routines, and tend not to deviate from them. Being a tourist is fun because it breaks you out of your normal routine, and there are many things to explore even in our backyard. It is with this spirit of exploration that I understand the church. I am both a pastor and a tour guide for the church, through the Bible, and in relationships. I can point out the things to see, and the things to which we should pay attention.

I think there should be a balance in our lives, of being a host and being a tourist. We should find ways to host and guide people in things we know well, and we should also seek opportunities to be a stranger in a strange land. This is a tension Israel faced throughout the Old Testament and a tension that helps us with our lifelong journey of understanding. To host people with what we are familiar with, teaching and guiding them; and, to go exploring. Whenever I get out of balance in this tension, it shows up everywhere. I’m stuck in a rut, or I become untethered, so I have made it a daily practice to check in on this scale. I think it has been helpful, and it has helped me grow closer to God to teach others about God’s love and to explore God’s incredible, vast, and intricate creation. There are so many ways to do this, and I look forward to hearing yours.



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