Playdates with God: Notes from Jubilee



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It is indeed the paradox of hospitality that poverty makes a good host. Poverty is the inner disposition that allows us to take away our defenses and convert our enemies into friends. We can only perceive the stranger as an enemy as long as we have something to defend. But when we say, ‘Please enter—my house is your house, my joy is your joy, my sadness is your sadness, and my life is your life,’ we have nothing to defend, since we have nothing to lose but all to give.”~Henri Nouwen, Show Me the Way: Readings for Each Day of Lent

We never run out of things to talk about, my High Calling friends and I, and being together is a large part of why I drive four hours through the snow every year to attend the Jubilee conference. I never knew one could grow to love a people through the mysterious airspace of the online world but it’s happened to me, so when we have a chance to be together in the flesh it makes me happy. I’m not one who talks easy with others, never having learned that fine art, and being in large groups of people can make me uneasy, tired. But I have attended Jubilee long enough to have a sense of familiarity and adopt an air of deep affection for the usual suspects involved. Though I still tend to hang back and observe, each year I have felt more comfortable extending my hand to others, so in about ten years I should feel completely at home.

This year at Jubilee the theme was “this changes EVERYTHING.” The speakers talked about how the Gospel changes our lives, this world, even how it can change the church. There was an emphasis on cross-cultural issues, racial justice, and reconciliation that felt right and good. After one of the worship sets, I commented to Deidra on the diversity of the people leading us in song and we wondered aloud why the arts tend to be more integrated than other areas of life. Music. It is a language of love. When people are united in a common love, a common passion, it’s easier to open the heart and celebrate differences as gifts, I suppose. I wonder how, as Christians, we can let our shared love for Jesus do that in a better way out in the world. And the more we keep wondering together and talking about these things and letting love be our guide the more our talk will lead to wise action and the more hearts will become one. I want to be part of that conversation.

One thing we try to do at The High Calling during our retreats at Laity Lodge is extend outrageous hospitality to all present. This year, as I watched snow fall outside from the warmth of my hotel room, I realized this is a big part of Jubilee too. From Byron Borger (AKA “Double B”) taking a second to say hello to me in the midst of the busy setting up his bookstore to CCO President Dan Dupee taking a selfie with me as they waited for him to come up on stage at Jubilee Professional (I didn’t know), these folks live out the message they preach: Everything in this beautiful, broken world belongs to God and we are here to steward it well. There is only this very thin layer of skin separating us from touching, from claiming all that is holy. The Gospel does, indeed, change everything.

I am beginning to see that all this mingling, this reaching out to others—it is all an act of hospitality. When I make myself poor, abandon that fear of losing what I defend, I am easier in reaching out in freedom. And I see that, just as in scripture, the stranger brings to me so many precious gifts.

Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

Laura Boggess


Playdates with God: Jubilee


I love when I have the house to myself, when quiet embraces me and the only sound is the steady ticking of the mantle clock. Last night, school was cancelled for today, and so this morning, my boys sleep in. I set the alarm for Jeff, but when he rose, I let myself slip back into sleep, wanting to wake gentle into the day for a change. Even in my dreaming I knew the precise moment when the snow began to fall. The quiet house became all the more muted, and the silence awakened me. I wrapped the stillness around me like a blanket, lit a candle, and stepped into the morning.

It is eleven degrees and a thin film of white has been drifting down for two hours now. I have been reading and letting Bonnie make my body her bed and we have been quite happy this way. What looked like a busy week may give way to the weather. We had planned on the Shrove Tuesday pancake supper, Ash Wednesday church services, Thursday evening Bible study … see how God changes things? It is all up in the air now and because it is, I am holding the calendar loosely. I wonder why I didn’t start out that way?

On Friday, I will drive to Pittsburgh for the Jubilee Conference, and I will get to see some of my friends from The High Calling. When I was doing my Bible study homework this morning, I “accidently” looked up the wrong scripture and landed in Leviticus 25, in the verses that outline the Year of Jubilee for the nation of Israel. I love these kinds of happy accidents and have learned how rabbit trails often are the Holy Spirit speaking. So this morning I read about the freeing of slaves, the return of property to its original owner, of the land resting fallow and I ponder what message these words have for me. The year of Jubilee was a reminder that all belongs to God and we are merely caretakers for a time. At the conference, I will be surrounded by young people who are trying to live out this belief. Every year it is the same—I get swept up in their youth and exuberance and am left happy and tired with a shining face. This message of stewardship is one I need to hear often, to loosen my grip on the things of the world. But this morning, it is the freeing of the slaves and indentured people what speak to me.

How often do the two go hand in hand? How often does our grip on the things of this world enslave us? This morning, the falling snow is my shofar, the trumpet horn that sounds the beginning of freedom.

I am letting go of the things I hold tightly today and opening my hands to jubilation.

Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

Laura Boggess

Playdates with God: Jubilee

Friends, I’m still processing all that I experienced over the weekend at Jubilee. I wanted to give you a little taste, so here is a post I wrote last year after coming home. You might also enjoy meeting one of the scholars in attendance, an artist who graced us with his work, and a bookseller who is so much more than that. And, oh yes, the friend I visited with last year is still standing tall. 


I left hungry.
I was up early to finish the book club article, but between checking out of the hotel and Lectio Divina…there wasn’t time for breakfast. In Marcus’ workshop, Nancy tried to give me a trail mix bar, but I was thinking about yogurt so I declined. But then there is morning worship and the last two speakers and time to say goodbye comes too soon. I drive out of Pittsburgh at 12:45 p.m. with a hunger that food will not fill.
It’s always this way after the mountain top, this I know, but at Jubilee I worship and learn with over 2000 college students and the energy along those corridors and in those rooms is a living thing. I am reminded what it is to be young and have your entire life before you. It doesn’t make me feel old—it makes me want to live deeper and when I feel a pang of regret—only once—I remember what my spiritual director said just last week about God’s timing always being perfect. After all, I have more life before me too.
So I drive down I-79 with this aching hunger keeping me company and my Lord and I—we feast. All of the little pieces of heaven that were sprinkled down over the weekend flood the space of my minivan and it’s not until four hours later when I pull in my driveway that I remember I am hungry.
And then the fullness of family grips me and wraps me in its warm embrace. And going away is all the sweeter for the coming home.
How this fills. How this fills…
How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us:

The Playdates button:

Playdates with God: Meeting Byron

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He comes in carrying an armful of books—this the way we’ve seen him throughout the conference—stumbling down the halls weighted down by his stacks. It’s the final workshop of the Jubilee Conference and I’ve wandered into Byron Borger’s presentation amid a cloud of college students. I’m wanting to hear more of his story—to get his voice right…these are the things that editors do.

“I’m honored people came,” he laughs. “I wasn’t sure anyone would show up…”
He sets the books down on the table up front.
“Mind if I pray?” He says. “Let’s start with prayer.”
And this is the first glimpse I get of Byron Borger’s heart. He’s a man that starts with prayer. And in his prayer, he asks the Lord this: “…be with us now as we become a people who desire to learn for your glory…”
I am learning that this is just like Byron. He and his bride started their bookstore in Dallastown, Pa. over 30 years ago for this very reason: A desire to learn and help others learn for the glory of God. Byron shares that Hearts and Minds Bookstore grew out of his relationship with the CCO and Jubilee, that the love for reading and knowledge that he and Beth shared seemed a natural fit for such a thing. And, as their website says, it’s more than just a bookstore.
“What distinguishes us most is our enthusiasm for the development of a uniquely Christian worldview where Christ’s Lordship is honored and lived out in relevant ways in the midst of our highly secularized, post-modern culture. We offer quality books for the sake of faithful Christian living. We serve business folk, scientists, artists, college students, moms, dads (and kids!), pastors, poets and politicos. We believe Biblical faith leads to “thinking Christianly” about every area of life.”
That’s the way he talks. All the time. Byron has read a lot of books. His love for knowledge is tangible, as is his desire to help others fall in love with it. Any book you are looking for, Byron and Beth are sure to have. And if they don’t, they’ll get it for you. Because it’s about more than selling books for them.
In that quick hour and fifteen minutes of Byron’s workshop, he covered wide terrain. He talked about culture-making, assuming a Christian worldview, the importance of reading widely, the crisis of compartmentalization, the erosion of the Christian mind…and so many other topics. He covered a year’s worth of sermons, I believe.
Mostly he encouraged us to read.

“To live that holistic seamless life is a call to adventure and a call to think through the connections of life. Reading is a strategy to help you do that. The word disciple means ‘learner’, so when Jesus called his disciples he called them to be life-long learners.”
Isn’t that what he calls us to be too?
If you are looking for a book in the future, might I recommend you shop for it at Hearts and Minds? Byron and Beth have left the welcome mat out for you.
Byron is writing our final post in our discussion of Tim Keller and Katherine Leary Alsdorf’s Every Good Endeavor over at The High Calling today. If you have time, I think you’ll be blessed by what he has to say. 
How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him.

The Playdates button:

How Conversations Can Change the World

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The conversations stay with me. The way minds touched in between sessions and around exhibition tables. This is the true currency of Jubilee—people who care about shaping young lives, lingering over a cup of coffee…mingling in doorways and halls. There was that exchange I had with Marcus and Dwight Gibsonand Dr.Vince Bacote—the Abraham Kuyper scholar. He wrote the introduction to Wisdom and Wonder—a book on Kuyper that I reviewed for The High Calling last year.

Vince is on faculty at Wheaten College and he and Marcus were discussing the museum there that has several pieces from C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.
“Vince is lamenting that he is a Kuyper scholar in an Inklings world,” Marcus laughed.
Vince smiled and said, “No, no—C.S. Lewis is good too.”
We all laughed and talked a little about Lewis’s powerful voice. I thought of my husband who became a Christian in his forties after reading Mere Christianity. Then the conversation took an interesting turn.
 “People are surprised when they meet me and see that I am African-American,” Vince said. “And they want to know how I can reconcile being a Kuyper scholar with my heritage. Because, well…Kuyper was a racist.”
I groped around in my mind for the words he used in the introduction to Wisdom and Wonder about this issue. When I first read them, I didn’t know he is a black man.

“It is not necessary to have total agreement with a person in order to admire them or find their contributions to be of great value. Some of Kuyper’s specific views on science and art may not be embraced by all readers; while incredibly prescient regarding some developments in society, Kuyper was not omniscient, and at times ventured opinions we might find surprising…While his theology emphasized the creation of all humans in the divine image and while his emphasis on cultural diversity (multiformity) encourages humility about the extent of our knowledge, these emphases did not lead him to proper regard for all humans…”

That’s what he said in the book. But here he was in the flesh and he had our attention.
“How do you reconcile that?” Dwight wanted to know.  
I leaned in closer because Vince has a gentle voice and I wanted to hear what he said.
He drew a deep breath.
“I think…I think that the gravitational pull of his culture was too strong for him to overcome it with his theology.”
He said it for us again. And all I could think was grace. What a grace filled response to the stench of human imperfection.
“If he were alive today, do you think he would be a racist?” Dwight ventured.
“No, I don’t,” Vince responded. And we talked about the pull of culture and Thomas Jefferson and how only God knows what goes on inside the heart of a man.
I keep coming back to this conversation and wondering how this world might look if we all showed such grace to our fellow man.
Would we have made it this far?
It’s black history month here are some books and links that are humbling me:
More than Anything Else by Marie Bradby, Illustrated by Chris Soentpiet.
The Civil Rights Movement, videos from the History Channel
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s I Have a Dream Speech
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
*note: I use Amazon Associate links so you will be able to have a quick resource about  the books I mention but may I recommend you order any books you are interested in from our friends at Hearts and Minds books? Byron and Beth are amazing stewards of the written word and they are so wonderful to work with.