I began another book this morning as I prepare for our next worship series at Asbury titled The Leading Causes of Life. This series from Marcia McFee (WorshipDesignStudio.com) is based on a book by the same name. I stopped reading and began writing when I came across this quote from the book: “We have noticed that life happens when these five Leading Causes are present and that their absence contributes to the void so many of us feel. We have seen that churches thrive when they connect with a mission, when their members and friends learn how to ‘neighbor.'” Yes! Another affirmation that mission and church should be one and the same. Without mission there is no church – just a social club.

Leaving the author’s quote orphaned without further information about their list of “leading causes of life” would leave me empty and render this post lacking. Therefore, another quote is in order: “We live in connections; we thrive in webs of meaning that make reality coherent; we flourish in our capacities to work together on things that matter [agency]; we bloom in our experience of giving and receiving blessings across generations; and we prosper as we are drawn toward hope.” The underlining and word in brackets are my addition in order to highlight the list of causes from which life happens: connections, coherence, agency, blessing and hope.

It helps stir my interest that one of the authors is from Memphis, the city of my early childhood and thus part of my own roots. It helps more that in the midst of the water crisis in Flint, this overwhelmed urban pastor can spend some time reading about the process of life in the midst of so much struggle and conflict. I hope that others will travel with me as we take some time each week to focus on life and living even as some of us are experiencing the sting that death leaves on our being. Most important, God has not and will never leave us orphaned nor without hope. The promise of eternal life makes our conversation relevant no matter how close death may seem.