Tuesday, September 26, 2006

89 Days til Christmas

No, I'm not some advertiser trying to create anxiety so you'll go out and buy something for a gift -- BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!!!!!!!!

As a pastor, I always start feeling Christmas in late September and early October. This is the time God moves on my heart leading my thoughts and preparation toward this key season in the church year. Christmas comes to me now so I can lead the flock there later.

In addition to this emotional/intellectual Christmas joy, this year I received an early present -- 90 days early. Yesterday, my little E started laughing, belly laughing for no apparent reason. I must tell you there are few sounds that reach my ears as wonderful and purely joyous as that. He kept on laughing...

It was infectious. I laughed too. And joy of Christmas came...90 days early.


I had the honor of sharing a homecoming Sunday at my father-in-law's church this past weekend. The people were welcoming, the food excellent and the music toe-tapping. I had a great time.

Which honestly strikes me a little odd. I am an unconventional pastor leading an unconventional community of faith. See... we don't even use the term "church." I have devoted the past 6 years of my life and service to creating an environment that reaches/connects to those traditional church has not connedted with. We are casual, acoustic, and try to use current tools to help share the message of God's love, power and leadership (a.k.a. grace.)

The idea of homecoming would on the surface seem antithetical to the conscious and constant choice to be other than the usual and traditional. However, as God lead my study and reflection in preparation of this event, I came back to one of those written-in-ink beliefs of mine. (These beliefs have, through trial and error, reflection and experience, become more permanently etched in my soul.) I believe the pomo move of the present is doomed to fail if it does not start in the tradition and history of our particular blend of the Christian experience. We can not have a clear and attainable vision of the future of Christianity (beliefs and behaviors) until we understand where we have come from.

I feel more energized to continue what so many see as progressive and iconoclastic because I see a clear flowing of principles that begin in the New Testament era and continued throughout our particular Wesleyan Blend. I see traditionalists flowing from the Pharisees through to today with a greater concern over the practices of the past and not the principles that propelled the practices.

So I thoroughly enjoyed my homecoming weekend and reviewing the history of one congregation's attempt at spreading the Good News. I rejoice in the principles of lay and women ministries, personal and corporate sacrifice, willingness to adapt and even physically move to meet the needs around, and the proclamation of the truth that God not only looks at us differently through grace BUT actually changes us into the imago Christi through his grace.

Having seen where I have come from helps me see where I am going.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


What a great name for a show, from a pastor's perspective. I mean really. We use the terminology to mean man's existential separation from the God who created us, our willful choice to deny the basic reality of life -- God is God and we are not.

I must admit I am a devoted watcher of this show. Along with L. I have watched the 1st and most of the 2nd season on DVD with plenty of rewinding and reviewing.

I think the show is a great allegory for life. We are all struggling with the closeness of our mortality and our vain efforts to ignore this truth. We are all trying to decide who we can trust and who to form relationships with. While not always consciously, we all wonder if life is determined or random.

Five Years...

9 - 11

2006, not 2001. That day I moved from naive security to knowing insecurity. I couldn't even think about the next day, let alone what life would be like in five years. Today I can picture the future, I am planning again. I can hardly picture the past before that watershed day.

Has it really been 5 years? So much has drifted back to "normal." Except when you fly and can't take hair jell or a cup of coffee.

I suspect we would all like to forget. I'm sure it's the caring thing to do not to show video of the destruction and desperation so as not to reopen the wounds of those who lost loved ones. But I know we need to remember.

In order to progress we need to know where we want to go AND also where we have been.

I wept 9-11-06 as I thought of the knowledge of danger my E will always have. I had so hoped after the fall of the Berlin wall and USSR that my children would not live with the palpable fear I knew as a child waiting for the nukes to hit Charleston, WV. But life is full of danger and there are things to fear. Sorry E. we haven't left you a better world.

Why I Love Weddings

As a pastor I have the solemn, sacred privilege to share key moments in people's lives. Baby dedications, baptisms, conversions, funerals, burials and weddings. These benchmarks measure segments of a person's life, a families life. What an honor to be there.

September 2 I shared in the marriage covenant celebration for two great folks. The bride I have known for some time through my friendship with her father Rod, who now rests with God in heaven. The groom I had never met until a day before the ceremony.

As I enjoyed the rehearsal dinner, meeting him and his family and getting reaquainted with the bride and her family, I had a moment of genuine joy. I am often struck at the joining of two wonderful people and the merging of two great families. It was a feeling that all weddings should have this feeling of welcome.

I love weddings because reciting the vows for brides and grooms to repeat allows me to renew my vows with Lisa taken 12+ years ago. I actually use our covenant ceremony and only adapt it as much as the new man and woman need. I always pray that what the current couple share will be as rich and life altering as our ceremony was. I also pray that our covenant will continue to flourish.

Thank God for the privilege to share in the joining of lives, families and hearts!