Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas 2005

  • This was the first year that I was away from home for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning. Weird. Good. Scary. Sad. Yeah, it was all of those things and more. Christmas Eve at Harpeth was awesome. Sure, there were a few flubs in the flow of the services, but overall, it was such a wonderful experience. So much love in that sanctuary. We had youth do all of the major readings, and they did a wonderful job. I love to see them take that kind of responsibility/ownership.
  • Christmas morning was definitely a party. I played a handbells duet with Mary Fink. We had a baptism of an 11 year old. David, Biff, Mary, and I led a kind of spiritual song about the Christmas story. I read a children's story for the sermon. People came in their pajamas. It may go down as one of my favorite worship services of all time.
  • Being home has been good. Anna (with Jimmy, her fiancee, in tow) and I got home Christmas evening. We opened presents and enjoyed being together. In the past few days I've seen some of my favorite people...Jeff, Samantha, Mr. and Mrs. Hadfield, John, Gordon, Catherine, Danielle, Mrs. Walker, David and Carrie Graham, and one of my childhood Sunday school teachers Marty Cutler. The ghosts of Christmas past (as Carrie Simpson calls them).
  • I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas season.
  • GO TIGERS!!!!!!!!!

Christmas Prayer

This is a prayer I prayed on Christmas morning at Harpeth Presbyterian Church.

God of incarnation and grace,

God of chaos and unpredictability,

It was you who swept over the face of the waters…over the chaos that was creation in the beginning…and brought order and beauty.

It was you who led the Israelites through the desert with a whirlwind by day, and a pillar of fire by night.

It was you, and only you, who said to a valley full of dry bones, “I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.

It was your breath that filled the lungs of the prophets as they called upon Israel to live according your will.

It is your breath that fills the lungs of the Christ child who is wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

Today we breathe a collective sigh of relief. Relief from holiday shopping, relief from Christmas concerts and end of the semester performances, relief from exams and finals and projects, and relief from the stress that comes with waiting…with anticipating…with yearning for the arrival of, “The Something Special,” that we know is Christmas day. Creation itself says ahhhh as it experiences your arrival on earth…your arrival in a little baby.

We confess that we aren’t completely ready, and probably never will be, for your presence among us, but thankfully, you don’t wait on us to be ready, but rather seek us and show up in wild and unexpected ways.

On this special Christmas day, the Christmas that falls on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, we call upon your spirit to be among us and to guide us, that we might allow the little children to lead us…that as lions, we might lie down with the lambs, and that as kids, we might not be afraid to approach the leopard in peace and love.

It is truly an amazing thing that you have done this day…emptying yourself and being born in human likeness, that we might receive grace upon grace upon grace…heaps and piles and mountains of grace. As we all let go of that breath that we’ve been holding in throughout the advent season, may we breathe back in your tender mercies so that we can be your people in the world.

In the name of the Christ who is born this day in the city of David,


Saturday, December 17, 2005

More like Lucy

So, there's a little girl at my church named Lucy King. She's the spitting image of Lucy from the Peanuts cartoons, and just about as precocious (without the mean streak). Anyway, during my time at Harpeth, I've decided that the world would be a better place if we were all a little more like Lucy. Here's why:
  • After the childrens sermon, she always has a comment. She's always trying to find a way to make the story connect with her life. Wouldn't it be great if all of us, hearing the word of God, would figure out ways to connect it to our daily lives.
  • She gives a lot of hugs and always seems excited to me, and pretty much everybody. You can't help but be happy when you see Lucy.
  • She's so genuine. She wears her emotions like a badge of honor. There's no fronting, or facing, or trying to hide how she's really feeling. Her facial expressions are priceless.
  • When she read her part of the liturgy for lighting the advent wreath, she read with such feeling. The whole place was abuzz.
  • Finally, just yesterday, she and some other children from the preschool were playing in our big fellowship hall/multipurpose room. Apparently the tricycle was the most popular riding toy of the day. Well, Lucy saw that it was free, so she got off her big wheels and began to get on. Another girl swooped in from across the room and basically shoved Lucy out of the way. Did Lucy pitch a fit or cry or anything? No, she didn't say a word, but simply sat down on the back and went along for the ride. As I stood there watching, I wondered what the world would be like if everyone responded to that kind of thing like Lucy did. No fighting about, "I was here first," or "This is mine," or "Give it back," but rather allowing someone else to enjoy the tricycle.
Yeah, I think the world would be a better place if everyone was more like Lucy.

Monday, December 05, 2005

What time is it?


  • For those of you who went to high school in the early 90's, you know that this question and answer comes from that great band The Spindoctors, who just happened to be in Nashville last Friday night. That's right, the band with the lead singer who I supposedly looked like in high school is back on the road. I went to check them out at a place called 3rd and Lindsley. They opened up with What time is it? Overall, it was a great show. Their guitar player is really amazing.
  • I actually felt kind of bad for them at the beginning of the show. When they would end a song, you could hear so many people talking, as if they were just background music or something. But, as the night went on, and they got into their groove (and some people left I think) the crowd seemed to really be into it. I wonder what it's like for a group like that, who probably played some big shows back when they were big, to play at such a relatively small venue.
  • On Saturday evening, I went over to some church members' house for dinner. It was a fun night. I'm always so thankful when people are willing to have me over and treat me to good food and fun times.
  • Sunday was absolutely amazing. A very talented musician sang "There's a sweet sweet spirit in this place" for special music, and it really hit the nail in the head. Worship felt so alive at both services. I don't know if it's the advent season or something else entirely, but Sunday mornings have felt truly spirit-filled the last few weeks. Then, on Sunday afternoon, we had our Joy Gift Service, which featured the various music groups of Harpeth. I had the opportunity to sing with the choir, which was a blast. The handbells rang, the children's choir sang, and the youth brass group played. Biff and Mary put on a great service. Sunday was one of those days when I think to myself, "Man, I am home."
  • Sunday night, after the Joy Gift service, I went to my first rehearsal with Bone Therapy, a trombone ensemble that is mostly made up of doctors. Clever name, huh? It was fun playing my trombone for the first time in quite awhile. I'm hoping to play with them regularly.
  • Finally, as Mark Shivers has already pointed out elsewhere on this blog, the Tigers of Missouri will be facing off against the Gamecocks of South Carolina in the Independence Bowl this year. I look forward to much jawing between my South Carolina brothers and sisters and myself.

Monday, November 28, 2005

A Tennessee Driver

Yup, I'm officially licensed to drive a car in the state of Tennessee. I'm not sure why there's a little heart in the right hand corner of my picture. Weird. Anyway, it was actually a pretty painless experience, except for having to run next door to an ATM because I forgot my checkbook and they don't take debit/credit cards. I also registered to vote in Davidson County. Now I can write my senators and representatives as a concerned voter in the Volunteer State. Anyway, with the license and the plates on my car, I guess I'm officially from Tennessee now. Wild.

So, I decided to take the picture of my license offline, after the comments below. I don't need anyone stealing my identity, although, I think it would be difficult without my social security number or mother's maiden name, but still, better safe than sorry. Thanks for lookin' out for me folks.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Silly pop songs

  • W - O - R - D Up (repeat) Yes, today in the car, I heard that song "Word Up" by
    Cameo??? (I'm not sure if that's right). I mean, they actually spelled the word "word" and then said "up." Silly...totally silly. It made me think of that great SNL skit when Tracy Morgan was dressed up as the guy from Cameo??? and came to testify before congress. All he would say was "Word up." It was hilarious. For some reason, I remember watching that with Lindsey Wade. Thankfully, she shares my great appreciation for Tracy Morgan..."I'm Brian Fellows!!"
  • I had a great time in Columbia, MO for Thanksgiving. It was wonderful to chill out with the fam and just enjoy being in my childhood home. Highlights of the weekend include the car rides with my sister, breakfast at Ernie's with Dad, lunch at Taco Bell with the whole Bancroft clan, seeing Grandma, lunch at our parents are awesome cooks, Flat Branch with Jeff and Samantha (I had the Porter if anyone cares), and sleeping until I woke up(meaning no alarm clock) in the cave that is my room.
  • Finally, David and I are team preaching tomorrow. It should be a fun experience. I love the idea of trying something different for the Advent season. I do think that every year, as we anticipate the arrival of God on earth, we're called to do a new thing. Isn't that what God says..."Look, I am about to do a new thing." I really do love Advent. We look forward, we anticipate, we yearn to see the birth of a baby. That's right...a little baby boy born to a carpenter and his wife in a stable of all places. It really is a ridiculous story, and I love that. I guess my question for the week is: How am I preparing myself for the arrival of Immanuel (God with us)?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Random thoughts

  • There's something great about small towns. As I was on my way to Atlanta last weekend, I stopped at a BP in a random small town somewhere in Tennessee. I purchased a "cake in a cup" coffee and a h0ney bun. The lady behind the counter only charged me for the honey bun. I mean, how sweet is that? I don't know if it was because I used my own travel mug for the coffee, or if she was just feeling nice. Either way, I chalk that up to one of the great things about small town america.
  • On my way back to Nashville from Atlanta, I heard a little segment of the John Tesh intelligence hour (or whatever it's called). He said that when girl servers write "thanks" and draw a smiley face at the bottom of a check, their tip goes up by 5%, but guys get no such love. WHAT??? All tolled, I probably wasted hours of my life writing "Thanks" and drawing a smiley face on my checks at Flat Branch. I can't believe it got me a big fat nothing. Bummer.
  • I'm headed back to the Show-Me state today. I'm looking forward to some good food and good times with the Bancroft clan.
  • Finally, my trip to Atlanta was awesome. It was great seeing seminary friends. Having dinner with them felt some comfortable. Spending time with Tom and Nicole was equally wonderful. A big thanks to them for letting me bunk out in their hotel room. It was fun lounging around with them all day on Saturday. I especially enjoyed the part of the morning when Nicole wanted Tom and me and get up, and we just layed there telling her it wasn't time yet. AWESOME!!! :)
  • Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope everyone can find something to be thankful for.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

What I'm excited about

This is a list of the things I'm currently excited about:
  • Going to the ATL to hang out with some seminary friends and Tom and Nicole. I've missed my boyfriend tremendously and look forward to laughing in that "milk coming out of your nose" type way.
  • The session of Harpeth Presbyterian Church. last night, the session discussed a very difficult issue and did so with respect, love, understanding, and passion. I just love it that people who think differently about issues can come together and love one another.
  • Harpeth Presbyterian Church in general...There are so many wonderful people at Harpeth. I can't think of a better place to start out as a pastor.
  • Heading home for Thanksgiving. This will include a night at my sister's house and a ride back to Columbia with her. I love having that brother/sister time.
  • The new Harry Potter movie. I think I'll see it with Dad while I'm home for Thanksgiving.
  • Walter Cronkite Newsflash (the frisbee team I played with this fall) won the fall league championship. On a related note, I'm excited about going to practices in the future and learning more about the sport.
  • Advent...We get to come to church every week and know that we're one step closer to the incarnation of God...the incarnation of the almighty YHWH into a little baby. Forget Santa Packs. Jesus Christ is coming, Jesus Christ is coming, Jesus Christ is coming! (sung to the melody of those cheesy Coca-Cola commercials that announce the arrival of Santa Packs).

Sunday, November 06, 2005

My Driver...Carl Edwards

That's right, NASCAR fans. My driver, Carl Edwards, won another race today. He won the Dickies 500, which puts him within 77 points of the Nextel Cup. Carl's a great guy, and I'll be rooting for him to pull out another win and take the cup. Bring home the glory, Carl! Bring home the glory!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

No recycling for you!

So, I just tried to drop off my recycling at a Williamson County Convenience Center and was turned away by the attendant because I don't live in Williamson County. The tags on my car gave me away as a resident of Davidson county. That's right. I made the effort to gather recyclable items and bring them to a recycling center because nobody around here bothers with curbside (hello 21st century) and I was turned away. That, my friends, is one of the many things wrong with America. Heaven forbid Williamson county might pick up the tab for my recycling when most of its residents probably don't give a crap about recycling. That kind of stuff really pisses me off.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Picture I like

This is a picture that Patrick Marshall, Kimberly Warwick, and I used during our senior chapel week at Columbia Theological Seminary. It's entitled Hannah. I think it's supposed to represent the power of God coming to Hannah as she rose and called upon the Lord. In case anyone cares, I totally want to name a daughter Hannah Rose. It seems empowering.

Friday, October 28, 2005


So, I sat down tonight to watch Tom Brokaw's report entitled In God They Trust and instead found a special program sponsored by the Billy Graham Foundation. That's right...The Billy Graham Foundation bought out the hour Tom Brokaw's story was supposed to air. They paid off the TV station. I have now lost all respect for my local NBC affiliate. The only reasons to preempt a news story like the one supposed to air are sporting events, breaking world news, or an address from the President. Unbelievable...Simply Unbelievable.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Mixed feelings about this Miers thing

I have some thoughts on the Miers situation:
  • First, I don't buy the conspiracy theory. I don't give Bush enough credit. I really think that Bush thought he had enough political capital saved up to be able to appoint someone with no record as a judge for the supreme court, simply because he felt good about the person. It sounds naive, but somehow, that's the vibe I get.
  • I feel bad for Harriet Miers. Did she feel competent to be a supreme court justice? I don't know, but I imagine that when the President of the United States asks you to do something, you say yes. I imagine she feels hurt, and maybe a little bit betrayed. I imagine she trusted Bush to know what he was doing, and apparently, he didn't. I was reminded of my days in the Beta Theta Pi fraternity when a group of brothers convinced me that I should run for pledge educator. They assured me that there were a number of people in the fraternity who were looking for a change. Nope. I put myself out there and lost the vote. Yeah, I feel bad for Harriet Miers.
  • I'm a little bit pissed that the criticism from some republicans and members of the religious right had to do with whether Harriet Miers was conservative enough. What about whether she has the proper credentials? What about whether she's a person who will hear cases and judge fairly? What about her integrity as a person? I'm getting enraged just thinking about the absurdity of it all. "She just isn't conservative enough." What the hell does that mean? Is that what we've come to in this country? What the hell does conservative or liberal really mean? Is that what we want in supreme court justices...totally conservative or totally liberal? I thought they were supposed to hear cases individually and judge fairly by the merits of the case presented.
  • It's unfathomable to me that people from "the right" are now criticizing Bush for not being conservative enough. What? Are you kidding me? When are we going to quit playing the blame game? When are we going to quit looking for ways to criticize "the other guy?" When will our elected officials start acting like those pursuing what John Calvin called "the highest calling" and quit acting like little kids who demonize anyone who roots for the "wrong" team? I'm just wondering.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Music you must listen to

  • I recently bought Jackie Green's new album Sweet Somewhere Bound on itunes. It's spectacular. I think it's classified as blues, but it has kind of a rock feel to it. He's clearly influenced by Bob Dylan, but not a copycat or anything. If you're looking for some quality music for a Saturday afternoon drive through the country, this is the CD for you.
  • Fall has fallen here in Tennessee. There was actually frost on my car this morning when I went out to head to the gym. FROST!! I couldn't believe it. On my way home from work in the evenings, I have a beautiful view of a hilltop full of trees whose leaves are changing. The cooler temperatures and crispness in the air make me happy somehow. I just love the feeling in the air that comes with the fall. As I've noted before, some of that may have to do with fond memories of marching band in high school and college, but all in all, I think fall/autumn is my favorite season of the year.
  • What else comes with fall? That's right...The World Series. John Weicher's White Sox are one win away from their first championship since 1917 (Czars in Russia!!!). Apparently, the Houston Astros heard that you only have to play five innings in the world series. They've been in control the last two games until the 6th inning. I mean, last night, they had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the ninth and couldn't get a base hit or a sac fly. Pitiful.
  • I visited some homebound members of Harpeth today. Most of them were folks who are experiencing the autumn of earthly human existence. I hope that I handle aging with the same kind of grace that all of these Harpethians have. I worry, sometimes, that if I get dealt a bum hand healthwise late in life, I'll become bitter or angry. I worry that when my mobility wanes and I'm unable to come and go as I please, I'll get grumpy or crotchety. I hope I won't...I hope I'll face aging with grace and give thanks to God for each day, even if I can't get out of bed. I hope I'll be a blessing to those who take care of me and not a drain on their emotional reserves. These members of Harpeth give me hope for aging gracefully.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

No Coffee in the Sanctuary

  • I attended my first presbytery meeting as an actual minister today. It wasn't any more exciting as a minister. Bummer. Anyway, as I was about to walk into the sanctuary with my coffee cup (containing cake in a cup, you know, those cappuccino drinks at the gas station) in one hand and my green nalgene water bottle in the other, two very anxious looking men blocked my entrance and stuttered nervously, "Um, sir, um, we don't allow coffee in the sanctuary." I then took the coffee and water bottle as if they were bombs or something, and set them on a coat rack/shelf in the back of the narthex. When I was finally allowed into this coffee-free sanctuary, I noticed that the floor was tile from wall to wall. Granted, the pews had cushions that weren't removable, but still, I thought it was funny that coffee was a banned substance. After our mid-morning break, I had to give up my first born and agree to give generously to their next capital campaign in order to get the water bottle in. The two anxious men had to have a quick conference saying, "Well, water doesn't stain, so I guess it's OK."
  • I found the situation quite humorous. OK, I know that we should take care of our church buildings and that the sanctuary is a place set apart, but this was a presbytery meeting for heaven's sake. I'd hate to be the first kid who spills grape juice during communion (well, they probably use white grape juice in order to keep the place looking pristine), or the first mother with a baby who spits up on the pew cushion, not to mention someone who comes in with dirty clothes or muddy feet from having spent the night on the street (fat chance in Franklin or Brentwood).
  • As all of you probably know, The Cardinals blew it. I think they only hit two or three balls out of the infield the entire game last night. Awesome. I will say that I was pretty proud of the St. Louis fans. After a brief moment of mourning, they began applauding both The Cardinals and The Astros. I think at one point they were all chanting, "ASTROS ASTROS ASTROS!!!" Classy.
  • I'm headed to a youth fall presbytery retreat this weekend. This is my first time to this camp and to any youth event held by the Presbytery of Middle Tennessee. I'm eager to see how it all goes. I'm sure it'll be no Shepherds and Lappsley (sp?) event, but still. :)
  • Here are the people I thought of today for various reasons:
    • Tom Katona because I went for a bike ride today and because I totally needed a night at The Flying Saucer when I was done with all of my meetings
    • Jennifer Reid because we sang Prince of Peace at presbytery...well, I guess all of the middle schoolers from Shandon too, but especially Jennifer.
    • Carrie Simpson because I rode my bike through Percy Warner Park where we went for a walk once.
    • Jonathan Knipping because we sang Take My Life at presbytery and he played me a rad version of it when I hung out with him in Chicago.
    • Mark Shivers because we listened to a two hour report from the Peace, Unity, and Purity taskforce today that focused on how to maintain the unity (and implied) existence of our denomination and the whole time I was thinking, "Um, maybe you guys didn't get the memo, but institutions are totally out." :)
    • Lyndsay Slocum because we're playing phone tag and I saw her Aunt Suzie today.
  • If you aren't on this abbreviated list, chances are I did think of you today, but just can't remember at this very moment. Today was one of those days when everything seems to remind me of somebody...somebody who doesn't live here...somebody who I wish I could see and hang out with. Anyway, now I'm thinking about a ton of people because of that whole, "So, this person makes me think of that person who makes me think of another person, who makes me think of this thing, which leads down the road of never getting to sleep."
  • OK, Renderings fans, enough rambling for tonight. Keep it real.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Pujols is the Man!!!!

That's right, folks. Bottom of the ninth, two outs, nobody on, and the Cardinals come to life. Eckstein slaps a base hit...Edmonds draws a walk...and then Albert Pujols breahtes new life into the St. Louis Cardinals (while knocking the breath out of the Astros at the same time). They're headed back to St. Louis to dispense of the dirty rotten Astros.


Saturday, October 15, 2005

Walter Cronkite...Newsflash

Walter Cronkite...Newsflash is the name of the ultimate frisbee team I'm playing with this fall. It's a fun group of folks, and so far, we're doing well. We're 2-1 and and in first place. Today was not my best game. I think I touched the frisbee three or four times. We won the game 15-3, and 2 out of the other team's 3 points came as a result of me getting beat on defense. Granted, this is the first time I've played in such an organized way, but still, it was a bit frustrating. I probably need to be more aggressive with my cuts, but some of it is that I'm not always sure where to be and when. I should probably just ask Daniel or Keith to diagram it out a bit before the next game. Regardless, I had a fun time, and enjoyed going to lunch with some folks after the game.


Thursday, October 13, 2005

They're at it again

Well, I see that folks in Texas are working for a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages. I mean, are there no other pressing issues for their legislature to deal with? Do we not have people without homes after hurricanes Katrina and Rita? Are young men and women not dying daily in Iraq? It just makes me so very sad that people spend their time and energy working so hard to keep people who love each other from professing it in a public way. This Texas amendment will also include a clause prohibiting the creation of any similar legal status with a different name. I mean, what's the rationale behind that? Don't give me that "sanctity of marriage" bullshit and then prohibit similar legal rights with a different name. Just admit that you think gay people aren't entitled to the same justice and equality that heterosexuals are. "Oh, I'm not prejudice, I just don't want homosexuals redefining marriage." Fine (well, not fine, but we'll move past that), but why not an equivalent way to join with another person whom you love? Use your brains people. Division of church and state anyone?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Funny Bumper Stickers

So, a couple of weeks ago, I saw these bumper stickers on the back of a red mini-van. I would have peeled back the corner of the white one so it was more visible, but I thought people might not like me touching their car. Anyway, asyou can probably tell, it says, "I proudly pledge allegiance to one nation under God" However, while this person proudly pledges allegiance to a nation under God, but not necessarily God, apparently, Christ is The Answer. Something about this struck me as ironic.
  • First of all, the allegiance to a nation is above Christ is the Answer. Apparently Christ is the Answer, but really, the allegiance is to a nation.
  • Second, all of that "under God" stuff drives me absolutely bonkers. They act as if the pledge of allegiance was written by the founding fathers (many of whom weren't really Christians anyway) and they included under God in the beginning. Well, click the link at the end of this bullet point, and you'll find that it was written by a Baptist Minister, and it didn't originally include anything about "under God." It wasn't until 1954 that the words "under God" were added to the pledge. Anyway, I'm not a fan of the "our nation was founded on Christian principles so we ought to shove our concept of God in everyone's faces" rhetoric. Pledge of Allegiance History
  • Finally, kind of going back to the first point, I wonder if this person really believes that Christ is the answer. One might ask, "What's the question?" How does Jesus's life and ministry answer the questions of our contemporary world and society? Do we really trust Christ to be the answer, or do we allow substitutes like politicians to be the answer? Do we substitute patriotism and "allegiance" to our nation for really seeking Christ as the answer? I don't know. I just think that we, as Christians, owe our utmost allegiance to God and participation in God's kingdom. I'm thankful that I live in a nation where I can feel free to post anything I want on my blog and not fear for my life, but in the end, it isn't America that will redeem me and make me into a new creation...scratch that...that will redeem creation and remake creation.
  • Anyway, I just found the stickers to be ironic. Anybody have thoughts?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

It's been too long

Yes, Renderings fans, it has indeed been too long in between posts. I can't believe it's been almost three weeks since my last post. Neglectful, I know. Over the next couple of days, I plan on filling you in on many things.

First of all, on Sunday, September 25th, I was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA). That's right...I'm a minister, a reverend, a man of the cloth. I pretty much wear my robe all the time now. :) I'm kidding, of course. The ceremony was amazing. There really are no words to describe all of the emotions I was feeling. Mom and Dad each played a prelude for the service. They are so talented. Susannah Cook came preached and did a marvelous job. I think the laying on of hands was the most powerful moment. I had my head bowed as the Moderator of the Presbytery prayed over me and elders, ministers, and deacons took turns placing their hands on my head. It was truly a powerful experience. Big thanks to everyone who was present in that place on that day, both physically and spiritually.

This past weekend, I was in Chapel Hill for the wedding of John Weicher and Laurie Taylor. Laurie was a beautiful bride and John was a confident groom. It was great being a part of their celebration of love. It was also great seeing so many of my seminary classmates. I don't think I realized how much I missed people like Dan, Matt, Lindsey, Wes, Shelli, Kevin, Davis, and so many others. Good times with good folks.

OK, it's Sunday night, I've talked to my parents, and I have a fresh episode of The West Wing waiting for me in the VCR. I'm gonna sit down and enjoy the brilliant dialogue and witty banter. In the coming days, look for some pics I find humorous, as well as a shout out to my new ultimate frisbee team "Walter Cronkite News Flash."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

informational text messages

You know that little skip in your heart when your phone beeps to tell you have a text message? The thought that someone is trying to reach out and touch you in the form of a quickly entered message with their keypad? Well, I had that feeling today until I realized that it was a text message from Cingular, telling me I can make international calls with my phone. How lame is that? I mean, there I was, thinking somebody loved me enough to text the very best, and it was only an advertisement. Thankfully, it was from Cingular, so it was free. I'd rather get random text messages from Weicher's pocket, because at least that tells me I'm in somebody's phonebook. Oh well, such is life.

Tomorrow, I'm headed back to Columbia, MO in anticipation of my ordination on Sunday afternoon. I'm pretty excited about the whole thing. Being ordained in my home church should be a truly wonderful thing. I've experienced God in so many ways in that church. I can't wait to celebrate God's call on my life in that place. Prayers for safe travel for me and everyone involved would be appreciated.

I ate Taco Bell for lunch today, and it was AWESOME!! I mean, that first bite of my soft taco and sip of Mountain Dew made me feel so good inside. There's probably something bad about that...desires of the flesh and all...but I loved it.

Finally, thanks to my good friend Wes for giving me a shout out yesterday. I was having one of those weeks, and it was great to hear the voice of one much beloved. I enjoyed having a conversation with someone who knows me in ways that only close long-term friends can know. Thanks Rabboni. If you think I wasn't psyched to hear your voice, know.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Tennessee State Fair

This past Saturday, I ventured out to the Tennessee State Fair. The more I attend state fairs, the more I think that the Missouri State Fair is the king of state fairs. I have to say that this one was pretty lame. Unfortunately, most of the animals had already gone home, and the remaning attractions weren't very interesting.

This picture is of a Showbot. If I ever figure out how to put video on my blog, I'll include a video of their performance. They're basically these big shiny robot looking characters who "play" funk music and dance around and tell kids to stay in school and stuff like that. If you ever get to see the Showbots, you're in for a treat. :)

I was intrigued with the cross section of people I saw at the fair. The rich soccer Moms of Brentwood probably weren't there, but other than that, I saw people of different races and socioeconomic status milling around.

If I had had more money, I might have gone in to see the world's smallest bearded woman woman or the two headed turtle or one of the other random "freak show" type things. I mean, who wakes up one day and decides, "I'm gonna travel around the country and show weird stuff to people."?

Anyway, I attended the Tennessee Stat Fair and I was less than impressed. I probably won't go next year.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Daily Manna

Nothing like getting ahead of the game, right? I'm preaching on Exodus 16:2-15 this Sunday...God providing quails and manna. I'm emphasizing God's desire that we trust God for our daily bread. The Israelites had to harvest the manna every day except the sabbath. What does it look like in a world of refrigeration and canning to trust God for our daily bread? Is it merely acknowledging God's provision, or is it more than that? Couldn't the Israelites have given thanks for manna that lasted more than a day? What do you say to people who have no food, especially at the end of the month? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Two Neighborhoods

Yesterday, my day was framed by two neighborhoods. After getting worked by a trainer at Delta Fitness, I came home, recovered, and after a shower, sat down on the couch to eat lunch and watch some TV. As I was flipping channels, I came upon Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood. What a great show!! I was mesmerized. I learned how crayons are made, labeled, packaged, and shipped. It was really interesting stuff. Mr. Rodgers did a drawring with crayons and talked about how if we only think about things, they stay in the world of make believe. He went on to say that sometimes we have to take action on our thoughts...we have to act in the world, not just think and talk about it. He admitted that his picture wasn't amazing, but that drawing it was what it was all about. I sat there and thought about how our offerings to God of time and energy may not be perfect (in fact, I'm pretty sure they aren't) but that it is in doing them that we find some sort of joy. As King Friday was telling Ms. Cow (the teacher in the land of make believe) about his idea for a drawing contest for the people in his kingdom, the phone rang, and I had to come back to the real world.
Then, last night, at our service and mission committee meeting, a woman came and spoke to us about her work at Martha O'Bryan, a local mission in "the black spot of Nashville" as she called it. She talked about children and youth who simply need people to come and read to them. She talked about how so many people on the gulf coast couldn't leave town because it was the end of the month so they didn't have money left to buy a bus ticket. She talked about a neighborhood in which the norm is to drop out of high school. She talked about a girl whose family is shunning her for going to a good college instead of the local Tennessee State.
It was really two different neighborhoods that I encountered, but both Fred Rodgers and Marcia Edwards were calling upon people to act on their thoughts and leave the land of make believe and make a difference in the world.
I think that I'll begin using my Fridays as days to volunteer at Martha O'Bryan. It's time to quit talking about revolution and actually get into the thick of it.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

"These people are strange..."

The following words come from an ongoing series of articles by Bernard-Henri Levy, entitled In the Footsteps of Tocqueville. Tocqueville was a Frenchman who traveled the United States early in her life and offered some amazingly astute commentary. Anyway, Levy has traced Tocqueville's steps and has written these articles from The Atlantic Monthly. In the paragraph that follows, he is writing about the neo-cons who currently hold so much political power:

These people are strange, is the gist of what he (someone Levy is interviewing) says to me. They've spent their whole lives preacing against giving too much power to the government. They told us to beware of the naivete of the social-engineering specialists who purported to be able to eradicate American poverty with one wave of their political wand. And then they lost all perspective as soon as it was a question of eradicating such poverty, along with the roots of despotism, 6,000 miles away. And they have complete faith in a political decision when it's an issue -- as a nation and a government are being constructed -- of winning not just the war but also the peace. And they adopt the same "messianic" tone for which they've so often reproached their progressive adversaries as soon as it's a matter of building a Western-style democracy, ex nihilo, in a country that's never harbored such a concept!

Interesting stuff huh?

A sad day...I have no game

It's now official. As this photo shows, the Buick, the Maroon Marauder, the hooptie, the official vehicle of Alan Bancroft has been towed away to be sold or used for spare parts or whatever. I donated the proceeds to the American Diabetes Association. I stood on my porch and watched as she was hoisted onto the tow truck and driven away. I didn't cry, but it was definitely an emotional moment. For all of you who have enjoyed her sweet ride, I hope that you'll remember her in your own way.

On a totally unrelated note, I had a moment the other day when I realized that I have absolutely, positively, no game. I was standing in the checkout line at Publix, and this cute girl in front of me turned around and began talking to me. After an initial "How are you?" I complimented her on her "ensemble," and then froze up. I just stood there like an idiot. This moment of "no game" brought to you by the letter L, for loser.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Almost September

I can't believe it's almost September. I mean, wasn't I just in Montreat yesterday? A month in Brentwood. The time has flown.

What does September bring?
...Labor Day-what the heck is Labor day anyway? I mean, what are we commemorating? Or, does it just mark a day after which you aren't supposed to wear white? Just wondering.
...Football seasons begin. I still think my favorite is high school football. So raw, so chaotic, so fun. I'll be attending a game on Friday night. As per always, I'll probably be more intrigued by the band than anything else.
...Marching band performances. I had a moment earlier today when I was transported to the front of Baldwin Hall at good old Truman State University...I was preparing to make the walk/march down to the stadium for a Saturday of Dawgs Football.
...A funk. It seems like September is always a funky month for me. With all the new beginnings you'd think I'd be pumped, but somehow I can sense the turning of the earth toward winter, and my soul lurches a bit. There's probably some deep seeded reason for the September blues, but for now, I'll blame it on shorter days and dreary weather.

What does September bring for you?

David's preaching on the Passover on Sunday. In a lectionary group discussion he mentioned a Midrash story in which the lamb is identified with an Egyptian god. It puts the keeping and slaughter of the lamp in a totally different context. With that understanding, the Israelites are holding a god captive and then slaughtering it...and all this with their traveling clothes on. Pretty bold stuff. Shows a big trust in God to deliver them. Part of me wondered if flag burning is similar in that it is destroying what some hold to be almost as precious as God. Do flag burners do so out of the same trust of a greater God who will deliver them? The analogy probably breaks down there, but somehow I see them as similar. I hope that David will pose the question of "What gods of culture do we need to capture and slaughter?" or something like that. Are there people in the world who make us Egyptians nervous because they slaughter our gods of capitalism, materialism, english as the only "true" language, security? Anyway, I've enjoyed thinking of the lamp as representation of a makes the Israelites even more gutsy and bold and faithful.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

All you need is love

Hello there Renderings fans. Over the past few days, the words, "All you need is love," keep popping up around me in some form or another:

This past Wednesday, I was lent a copy of Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince (I finished Friday night before I went to bed). At various times in the book, Harry questions Dumbledore's belief that, in the end, love always wins. Dumbledore explains that it was Harry's Mom's love for him that changed the course of wizarding history. As far as Dumbledore is concerned, love is more powerful than any evil, and he lives his life according to that. As I was reading this, I thought it was an interesting place to find something so closely tied to theology, especially with so many people proclaiming Harry Potter to be of the devil. I wonder if those who lambast it so have ever actually read a lick of it. Probably not.

At the same time I was reading Harry Potter (well, not the exact same time)I was preparing for worship. I sat down to go over the New Testament text, and it was Romans 12:9-21, which, in a nutshell, calls upon Christians to show love at all times, even to our enemies...especially to our enemies. We are called to overcome evil with good. As David so aptly pointed out in his sermon today, it's really a ridiculous never avenge ourselves, to feed our enemies, to give them water when they are thirsty. Do not pay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. Ridiculous stuff according to the standards of the world. Ridiculous stuff for people like you and me and Harry Potter.

But, God does indeed transform the world with love. It is God's love in Christ on the cross that transforms the world. I know it makes God seem like a trickster and comes out of a pre-modern worldview, or whatever, but I like the idea of the devil dancing around after Christ dies, thinking he's conquered everything, but then on Sunday, when Christ is raised, the devil sees that even death can't overcome God's love. In the end, Love wins...we have to keep saying it...Love wins...Love wins...LOVE WINS...LOVE WINS!!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The Bears Drum Corps

OK, so I know I've been posting like crazy the last couple of days, but I just couldn't resist posting this picture. That's right folks...The Cavaliers and The Chicago Bears are joining forces. Former Cavaliers drummers will be performing at every home game. AWESOME!!! We're taking over the world baby!!!


Youth Group Missions

Youth Group Missions:
Where over 90% of youth report growing
closer to God!

This was part of an e-mail that I receive from Group every couple of weeks. What a funny way to advertise your "product." I mean, what are youth going to say at the end of a week? "Nope, no growing closer to God...God sucks." This just struck me as a further attempt by those of a modern mindset to quantify an experience of God. Success is measured by how many youth report growing closer to God. I'm not sure that's...oh what's the word I want...adequate? That's not the right word, but hopefully those of you reading can help me out. I mean, what does "growing closer to God" really mean? OH well, I'm obviously not very eloquent right now. I just thought it was a funny ad.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A different view

So, tonight, as I was brushing my teeth, I realized that when I lean over the sink to spit, I always lead to the right of the faucet, you know, so I won't spit on the faucet and have toothpaste stuff all over the place. Anyway, I decided that tonight I would lean to the left side. In all honesty, it was a bit discombobulating. It was like I was looking at a different sink. I know it sounds silly, but that's how it felt. It's funny how a light difference in perspective can make something look so different. I should e-mail this experience to the emergent folks...I think they're trying to say something like, but in much more sophisticated ways.

The moral of the story: Lean the other way to spit every once in awhile.

The Orange Vibe

Here it is folks...the new Bancroft-mobile. I haven't come up with a name yet, but I'll let you know when I do. Officially, the color is Fusion. Pretty cool huh? Thanks to Mom and Dad for all the help in deciding on the car and all the mumbo jumbo that goes with buying a car.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

There are giants in the sky

The title of this post has nothing to do with its contents, but I just listened to a great song from the musical Into the Woods that starts with those words. It's a song sung by Jack after he returns from his trip up the beanstalk. It's about gaining perspective after being in a different world. If you ever get a chance to see Into the Woods, see it. It's great.

The big news around here is that I bought a new car. Pictures of my new ride will appear shortly. I need to go outside and take some first. I bought a Pontiac Vibe. Pontiac calls it a Compact Utility Vehicle. It's kind of a souped up wagon of sorts. It's also orange (well, "fusion" according to Pontiac). It's pretty sweet having new wheels. I was pretty tired to having to worry about whether I'd return from my errands in my car or on foot.

Mom and Dad were here for the purchase. I had been looking, but having them here to explain things motivated me to get going. It's funny, but here I am, a 28 year old "adult," and yet, there were times in the cubicle with the dealer and then with the financing lady, that my gut reaction was to turn my head and look to Mom and Dad for help/answers. I wonder if that ever goes away. Many thanks to my loving parents for being supportive as I bought my first car. Also, many thanks to God for giving me parents who love me and always make me feel loved.

On a totally unrelated note, I ate lunch at Taco Bell yesterday as I was in the midst of other errands. As I sat there, reading my book and eating my double decker taco, I couldn't help but chuckle as the girl who worked there drug metal chair after metal chair away from the tables so she could sweep. Everyone sitting there would cringe as the chair would scrape across the floor. There she was, just doing her job with no apparent recognition of the fact that dragging the chairs was utterly obnoxious. I couldn't help but chuckle. I mean, why not wait until more people leave, or simply pick the chair up instead of dragging it. I don't know why it struck me as so funny, but it did.

This Sunday is Rally Day at Harpeth. We'll be presenting Bibles and explaining the basic flow of Sunday mornings now that "the late service" is at 10:00. I'm eager to see how I feel after my first Sunday in the regular routine.

I hope everyone out there is doing well.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Riding my bike

So, today, as I was out riding my bike for exercise, some jerks in a gas guzzling SUV drove by and threw a plastic bottle at me and proceeded to give me the finger. I took a bit of satisfaction in the fact that they almost had a wreck as they went around a bend in the road ahead. I wish I'd had a Nalgene bottle full of water to chuck at their car. That would have been awesome! Anyway, I'm just posting to express my rage at such inane behavior. It's like I'm insulting them somehow by riding my bike, or maybe the fact that they have to slow down a bit on a residential street annoys them. I don't really understand it, but apparently riding your bike on the street is worthy of acts of aggression. I seriously wonder, sometimes, if there's some sort of collective internal aggression that's brewing under the surface of people living in the United State of America in 2005. I think Michael Moore probably gets close to the heart of the matter in his film, Bowling for Columbine, when he points out that the United States and Canada have similar numbers of firearms available to the public, yet violent crimes involving guns is way higher in the United States. There's something about our culture that begets violence. I do think that some of it is that there are a lot of lonely people out there searching for something meaningful and coming up empty handed time after time. I also think it's hard to instill values of peace, compassion, and turning the other cheek, when our government provides the examples of invading countries with whom we disagree and continuing to implement the death penalty. "Hey, I think it's stupid that that guy's riding his bike on a residential street, so I have the right, and probably the obligation to throw something at him and demean him by flipping him off." Yeah, that sounds about right.

On a not completely unrelated note. I caught a bit of the Sean Hannity show last night at the gym. Nothing like walking into the locker room and hearing his voice, but anyway. He was talking to James Dobson. Dobson was, apparently, providing an example of what it's like to be stuck in modernity. He made some broad sweeping absolute claims about the use of science throughout history. First, in the context of a discussion about abortion, he said that human life should never be ended for utilitarian reasons. Now, I don't know where he falls down on the issue of the death penalty, but regardless, he's thrown a lot of support behind a political party that is more than supportive of the death penalty. Then, he was trying to defend something he apparently said recently. In clarifying, he said that science and technology have always (did you hear that? always) been used with ethics and morality in mind, except in Nazi Germany. OH MY GOSH!!! I couldn't believe he said that. He went on to talk about how Nazi Germany was the only instance of history of people using science in irresponsible ways with no regard for morality or ethics. OK, now I know that Harry Truman and his trusted advisors took morality and ethics into consideration as they debated the use of the atomic bomb, but in the end, they...we chose to use technology to destroy thousands of lives. They...we chose to end the lives of civilian Japanese in order to spare the lives of American soldiers. I'm not in the mood to get into a debate as to whether we should or should not have used the bomb, but that decision was a utilitarian most likely based on morality, but utilitarian nonetheless. Now, don't hear my saying that Nazi Germany was all. It was atrocious and it was depressing that the rest of the world took so long to intervene, but let's not act like technology is always used in ways that reflect a black and white world of right and wrong. It's amazing to me how uncritical people can be of comments like Dr. Dobson's. Not that I expected Sean Hannity to point any of that out, but still. Hopefully some people watching were struck by the absurdity of such an absolute claim. NO MORE ABSOLUTE CLAIMS!!! "Only Sith speak in absolutes."

OK, now that I'm all fired up at bedtimes, I think I'd better read something soothing to calm down. Peace to you all.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Lame bumper stickers

On my way to and home from work today, I got behind people with bumper stickers that said something like, "Don't be a girly-man...Vote Republican!" What a bunch of malarkey (sp?). There are so many things wrong with that bumper sticker. First of all, for a party that's trying to reinvent itself as being in favor of womens issues, it's pretty demeaning to women. "You don't want to be like a girl, do you? They're really weak and stupid and do dumb things, like voting for democrats." Second, an underlying implication is that if you don't support the war in Iraq (which apparently 54% of Americans now say was a bad idea...welcome to the party folks), you're just a big sissy who could care less about all of the people who lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks. Finally, a bumper sticker like that simply caters to the lowest common denominator. It doesn't say anything. It sounds like a jackass bully who steals money on the playground and calls people names. I know I shouldn't let stuff like that get to me, but today it did.
On a note of my own, I'm including a picture of my favorite bumper sticker that I've seen lately

Simply stated...requires a certain level of refinement to understand...right on the mark.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

My driver...Carl Edwards.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Litterbugs SUCK!

I went running yesterday, and besides the fact that I didn't even make it two miles without having to walk, I was pretty disgusted by the amount of litter I saw on the side of the road. I mean, I couldn't go three paces without seeing a beer bottle or a sonic cup or some other pile of trash. There is just no reason for that. If you have trash in your car, take it home with you. If you happen to be walking, hike out what you hike in. I don't understand how people can be so abusive of creation and nature. Maybe violators should be tossed out of a moving car like the trash they decided to cast away. It was just sad to see the way that humankind mistreats the gift of creation. Responsible Stewards? I wonder...I really wonder.

New Tags

Yes, it's true...the Buick, the Maroon Marauder, the Biggity hooptee is now officially registered and titled in the state of Tennessee. I still give the old double take when I come up on it in parking lots. I think to myself, "Alan, there's a car that looks just like yours...and it has the same stickers...and, oh wait, it is yours silly," only I don't call myself silly, because that would be, well, silly I suppose. :) So, if you see my car driving around, don't worry, it hasn't been sold and/or stolen and taken to TN. It's still in my possession.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Lord of the Rings

Over the past few days, I've been watching the extended DVD of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. It is truly an amazing movie. This evening I watched the final scenes that come after the ring has been destroyed and the hobbits have returned to the Shire. I was particularly moved by the scene when Frodo boards the boat to sail away with the elves. Watching the tearful goodbyes of Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin reminded me that I've heard the song "Walk on the Ocean" a number of times over the past few days. Between that final scene, and the lyrics of that great Toad the Wet Sprocket song, I began to feel nostalgic. In that scene from LOTR, we see four friends who have been through an amazing adventure together, and while they may have told other Shirelings about it, there's no way that any of them can understand. There's something special about sharing the experience of that adventure. I'd say that some of their tears come as a result of knowing that one less person will understand them and the adventure that shaped their lives. There have been a number of times in my life when I've felt that way to one degree or another: the final day of Montreat (especially after serving on a planning team), walking through the age out line with The Cavaliers, watching best friends leave for college, seminary graduation.
now we're back at the homestead
where the air makes you choke
and people don't know you
and trust is a joke
we don't even have pictures
just memories to hold
that grow sweeter each season
as we slowly grow old

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Here's another hymn that warms my soul:

->Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above;
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
Mount of God's unchanging love!

->Here I raise my Ebenezer,
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

->O to grace how great a debor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let that grace now, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to thee:
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for They courts above.

Let that grace now, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to thee... What a great thought....that God's grace causes us to be bound to God in an unbreakable way...that our freedom as people of the way doesn't mean we're free to do whatever the heck we want, but that we are bound to the righteousness and love of God...that we are free to be the people God intended us to be...freed from sin so that we may be bound to God. I like it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Green Feather

Here I am as Green Feather. The mask holds all of the powers of Green Lantern's ring, with the added bonus of magic feathers so I can fly...Dumbo style. I made the mask at the superhero party at Montreat on Monday night. Good times.

Zombie Party

This is a picture of me and my new friend Cameron Kuntz. As you can probably tell, she's a zombie. Despite all of my efforts as Green Feather (you know, all of the powers of Green Lantern, with the added bonus of Dumbo-like magic feathers so I can fly), I was unable to prevent her from turning me into a zombie. Good times at Montreat.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Week two

Hey folks. It's Sunday afternoon and we're about to begin our second week of youth conference here at Montreat. the first week went swimmingly. Keynote was powerful. Worship was awesome. As far as I can tell, recreation was great, even though it had to be inside a lot. Our music leader, John Lee, did a fabulous job. I'm a big fan.

I was hoping to include a picture from another blog, but couldn't find it, so I'll just explain it. the blog is It's a place where people put up secrets in the form of postcards. It's pretty wild stuff. Anyway, the one I was going to post says, "Everyone who knew me before 9/11 thinks I'm dead." Can you imagine that? Can you imagine having no contact with all of the people in your life after a certain date? It makes me sad just to think about it. I imagine this person had a life they weren't so excited about, or people in their life who kept them from feeling like a real person. Still, it made me sad when I saw it. One more time when I felt extremely grateful for all of the wonderful people in my life...a family that loved and loves me, friends who allow me to be me, a church community that constantly reminds me that I'm a child of God. Thanks to all of you out there who have been people I would never want to lose or be separated from.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Darth Vader-Columbia Style

I just couldn't resist taking this picture as Dan Stephens was putting on his costume for the opening night skit here at Montreat. The Dark Side is strong with Columbia Theological Seminary graduates. Thankfully, the great Jedi Napoleon Dynamite was present to defeat the dark lord (See below).

Friday, July 08, 2005

Me and Katie in Ft. Collins

This is me and my awesome friend, Katie Jeffries. We're sitting outside Mugs coffee shop in Fort Collins, CO near the end of our half-week of fun...kind of like a nickel bag of funk, but different. Anyway, I had a great time hanging out with her for a few days before heading over to Colorado State for the Montreat West Conference.

I'm currently in Montreat, NC getting ready to implement two weeks of youth conferences. The planning team is hard at work, and our leadership showed up yesterday. Today I'm thankful for an awesome innie team that's rockin' and rollin' with little or no supervision. God is really good...All the time. Called By Name-The Theta Version is on it's way.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Fort Collins Fun

--I'm currently hanging out at Colorado State University, in Ft. Collins, CO. I'm here with the Montreat West Youth Conference folks, getting ready to implement a totally rad conference. the youth show up tomorrrow, and everybody seems pretty psyched. That last sentence was brought to you by a person who has lived with Kevin Day for a year...Anyway, I actually flew into Ft. Collins on Wednesday and spent the last few days hangin' out with my best bud from college, Katie Jeffries. We spent some time up at the Rocky Mountain National Park. It was absolutely amazing. God's creation really is beautiful. We hiked a mile or so up a trail and sat by a waterfall...the sound of the water drowns out all other sounds....amazing.
--I feel like there was something we discussed in small group leader training that i wanted to blog about, but now I can't remember. I really need to write that stuff down. It seems like a fun group of folks. It's great to see people like Marci, Amy Kim, Beth Watson, John Ryan, and various other folks.
--OK, that's all for now. Look for updates as we get into some theological meanderings this week. I'll probably be pretty fired up.
--Oh, speaking of being fired up, last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to the constitution to give congress the right to ban flag burning. Can you believe that crap?? I mean, don't we have more important things to worry about? Funny that a political party that's all about "smaller government" is introducing constitutional amendments, trying to intervene in state related right to life issues, and calling for more and more money to support a war that most people think is utterly ridiculous. By "funny," I mean ridiculously sad. Seriously!!! Why does it matter if people burn a flag? Does the water quit running? do buildings crumble to the ground? Do earthquakes threaten to engulf our nation when that happens? I think not!!! OK, that is all for now. As always, any comments would be awesome!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Chillin' in Decatur

  • I have now moved most of my possessions to Nashville, TN (the Bellevue area for those in the know). I guess that means that I'm for real moving there. Thanks to the youth and adults from Harpeth who helped me move in: Jamie, Tyler, Natalie, Sarah, David, Carrie, Abbie, Cayla, and Nate. I think that's everyone.
  • Right now I'm hangin' out in Decatur with my boy, the Rabboni, Wes Goldsberry. We had a good session of wiffle ball batting practice last night. The air was heavy, so we all sounded like Darth Vader out there, trying to suck in oxygen amidst the water in the air.
  • On Wednesday, I fly to Denver, and then take a shuttle to Ft. Collins, CO. I'll spend a few days with my good friend Katie Jeffries, and then report for duty at Colorado State University to help out with the Montreat West conference. it should be a fun ten days. Look for updates from Montreat West.
  • On July 5th, I head to Montreat, NC to co-direct the auditorium aspects of the youth conference there. Look for thoughts and meanderings about keynote, worship, and various other aspects of Montreat Youth Conference. Hopefully I'll see some of you folks there.
  • Finally, be in prayer for all of my peeps who will be implementing the Mansanetta Middle School Conference up in Virginia. It's exciting for me to think that so many of us will be spending so much time sharing the gospel with so many youth from all over the country. Thank God for places like Montreat and Mansanetta.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Be Thou My Vision

Over the past few days, I've had the words of this great hymn running through my head:

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art
thou my best thought by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true work
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord;
thou my redeemer, my love thou hast won,
thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.

Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise,
thou mine inheritance, now and always:
thou and thou only, first in my heart,
Great God of heaven, my treasure thou art.

Great God of heaven, my victory won,
may I reach heaven's joy, O bright heaven's Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Finding Neverland

I watched the movie Finding Neverland this evening. What a great film! I love the way that reality blends into imagination blends into neverland. It's amazing to me that a man who has brought joy and wonder to so many children suffered so much pain in his own. There are a couple of scenes in which James Barry talks about moments in a child's life when reality presses in to such a great degree that the child disappears...the child is replaced with an adult. It makes me sad to think that that can happen to children at such a young age. It makes me so thankful that a world was created for me so that I could simply be Peter Pan and yell "Bang-a-Rang!!!" in a variety of ways. The move makes one wonder about the power of imagination and our ability to change the reality around us simply by imagining the change. Of course, there are limits to this, but it's still a fascinating idea. Is this what we do when we talk about the Kingdom of God? Is this what Jesus was doing as he both embodied and taught about the Kingdom? Does God use our faith to transform the world? Any thoughts?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Stupid Computer

Hey folks. I know it's been quite awhile since my last post. Much of that has to do with the fact that my computer crashed hard as soon as I finished up my school work. Thankfully, it waited until after I wrote all of my papers. Anyway, I've been a busy bee since my last post.
  • Graduation: Yes, that's right, the seminary actually let me graduate. I now have a Masters of Divinity. I'll be sure to post some pictures once I can get them loaded onto a computer. My Mom, Dad, and Sister were all here, as well as my Aunt Carolyn, Marvin, Christyl, Nicole and Nadiah. Thanks to my family for showing up. My great friends Tom and Nicole also came. Unfortunately, it cost them a busted car. Some idiot ran into them as they were coming out of a parking space. Anyway, it was a festive day nonetheless.
  • Emergent Convention: Last week I was in Nashville for the Emergent Convention. I'll probably blog on some of my thoughts from the week at a later date (I had to actually write them down on paper because my computer was busted...GOSH!!). I was glad to get a glimpse of the community that's been so important for my good friend Mark Shivers
  • STAR WARS: Yes, I made it to Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith on opening night. It was so awesome. So much darkness and sadness. I'm sure I'll see it a couple more times.
  • Hangin' at Harpeth: After emergent I spent some time in Brentwood with my Harpeth Presbyterian peeps. It was a great weekend full of potlucks, BBQs, and fun times. I'm so psyched about getting up there and beginning my ministry with the youth and families of Harpeth.

Well, that's the basic rundown of my life lately. Look for some more thoughtful posts in the near future.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Sometimes I feel like loneliness creeps up on the shadow of a building in the path of the setting sun. Sometimes I find myself surrounded by people, and yet a sick, sinking feeling finds its way into my heart...a feeling of not being known, a feeling of invisibility. Sometimes I wish we had transporters, so that I didn't have to walk away, or say goodbye before walking I didn't have to say goodbye to people who have actually forgetten I was even standing there...say goodbye in a way that reveals the loneliness I'm feeling...say a goodbye that makes the people around me feel a little ashamed for forgetting that I was there. Yeah, sometimes I wish we had transporters. I hate that loneliness that creeps up on water that overflows its boundaries.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Cars you know

This morning, as I was driving the 1.5 miles home from the seminary, I passed three cars going the other way. Before getting close enough to see who was driving, I already knew who it was, because I know my friends' cars. Katie in the red sporty thing...Davis in the Expedition...Tricia in the Honda. There's something comforting about being in a community where you know what everyone drives. I'm going to miss that next year. I'm going to miss Lindsey in the blue Saturn, Laurie in the silver Honda, Weicher in the green whatever, Jonathan in the maroon buick (but not as maroon as my buick), Shannon in the red SUV, Shelli in the maroon Toyota, Leah in the maroon Saturn with the Grinnell sticker, Shivers in the maroon explorer wow, there's a lot of maroon cars at seminary, Kevin in the silver Honda, and all of the other cars that signify a good friend. Yeah, I'm going to miss that.

The Maroon Marauder...One of the recognizable cars of Columbia Theological Seminary Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 01, 2005

One Week Left

  • Well, actually, it's a little less than a week. All of my work is due on Thursday, May 5th. That's right, Cinco de Mayo. Right now I'm working on a paper of World Christianity. This is one of those papers that kind of pisses me off. We've been given five bullet points, all of which are kind of related, but which have to be answered separately. I'm currently loathing the whole class because of this paper. What's up with making senior write such a tough paper at the end of seminary. I swear we should be able to write one page summaries at the end of each class telling the professor what we learned during the semester. That, or every senior should get to opt out of one paper. I have a feeling most of us would opt out of this World Christianity paper.
  • Cinco de Mayo is a holiday time, a holiday time in Mexico. Cinco de Mayo is a holiday the fiesta we'll go, go, go. LA LA LA LA LA! Those are the words to a song I remember singing in elementary school. Maybe my sister Anna can fill in the lyrics for the verse. I can't ever remember them.
  • I went to church at Oakhurst Presbyterian Church today. I really should have been going there throughout seminary. I enjoy the atmosphere. Nibs doesn't mind addressing some issues. I was particularly fond of the way they introduced their plans for Pentecost Sunday. They're encouraging everyone to invite someone. In the announcements, Nibs said something like, "Invite your friends, your family, your neighbors, your enemies...they won't be enemies after we worship God together." How awesome is that? Invite your enemies to church. What a novel concept. I just love that.
  • Nibs also called for us to be people of the dove. Indeed, what a different world we might live in if everyone covenanted to live as people of the dove...the dove of peace...the dove of the spirit...the dove of understanding.
  • Something I'm thankful for: Good friends. People I can shoot the bull with and have fun with. For example, Clay Thomas just walked in and chatted it up for a minute. Good friends. For example, Lindsey Wade and Mark Shivers went to Martinis and Imax with me on Friday night. Good friends. Yeah, I'm thankful for that.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Pre Prom Party

Here I am before seminary prom. I'm drinking Shiner Bock from the keg that Davis and I purchased. That's right, folks, Pre Prom Party...P3 (that's P cubed).
Before Prom Posted by Hello

To Harpeth and back

  • I drove up to Brentwood, TN this weekend to talk more specifically about my call to Harpeth Presbyterian Church. It was a great weekend. I had fun hanging out with folks from the church on Saturday and Sunday. Sunday morning, some of the younger youth of the church did a musical about Shadrach, Meshach, and Obednigo. Something like, "The Cool Furnace." It was great. Highly enjoyable.
  • On the way up to TN, I was struck by how many of those darned ribbon magnets I saw on people's cars. Some cars had three magnets telling me to, "Support Our Troops." I mean, do you really need three, one yellow, one stars and stripes, and one camoflauge. I finally saw one that was more of an indicative statement rather than an imperative. It actually said, "I Support Our Troops." At least that person wasn't telling me what to do. I have to say that I think the magnets are getting ridiculous. I was chatting with my roommate Davis about this the other day. He raised the question, "Are you really supporting the troops in a helpful way by buying a maget, slapping it on your car, and letting it fade in the sunshine?" He had heard a soldier say that he didn't see it as that supportive. We began to talk about whether it might be more supportive to write letters to a lonely soldier, or send care packages to one's local batallion. Some of us feel like we're supporting our troops by calling for their early return from harm's way. I'd be interested in any thoughts about magnets and their relationship to supporting our troops.
  • Speaking of comments...While I love it that people are actually reading this thing and making comments, I would love it even more if you would sign your name at the end of comments. No need to join blogger, although that would be fun too. Just sign a name at the end of the comment would help me gain a bit of insight into the wonderful people who are reading.
  • This past week at school I felt like every day was full of blog material. I think I've already commented on how disappointed I was with the seminary community for failing to show up for Colloquium, mostly because people didn't like the topic, or assumed that the speakers would be too, "Evangelical," or, "Conservative." Awesome...just ignore those who think differently that you do. Anyway, that bummed me out.
  • We were reading Karl Barth in Christology class last week. Sometimes I really love Barth, and then sometimes I just want to strangle him and say, "Get someone to edit your stuff!!!" I love it that he calls us to believe that Jesus Christ is really God With in, God was really in Christ, reconciling the world to God's self...that God suffered...that God shows God's hand by being truly present in Jesus Christ. My colleague Shelli Latham is write that we don't hear that enough, but does Barth have to say it on every page. Maybe we could space it out amongst other theologians so he doesn't have to say it all the time.
  • OK, so much rambling. Three more weeks until graduation. That's crazy. Prayers for me and my seminary colleagues would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Wishing I had the energy to blog

Hey there, folks. It's closing in on midnight on a random Thursday night, and yet again, I'm feeling too exhausted to contribute anything of any substance to my blog. I feel like I have so many things I've wanted to share lately, but haven't made time to do so. I'm hoping that tomorrow I can get some thoughts down. For now, know that all is well in Decatur. We had seminary prom last Saturday...what a blast. Our house hosted the Pre Prom Party (P cubed for short). Good times. This weekend I'm headed up to Brentwood, TN to, "negotiate terms of call," with Harpeth. Hell if I know what to negotiate. I have some basic ideas, but have no idea about specifics. Any advice would be helpful. OK, off to sleep land with the hope of free time for productive blogging tomorrow.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Spring Break 2005

Last week I was at the beach in Pawleys Island, SC. Big thanks to the Chappells from Columbia, SC for letting a bunch of seminarians crash at their lovely beach house. It was a great week of relaxation and rejuvenation for us all. The core group was Lindsey Wade, Laurie Taylor, John Weicher, and I, with guest appearances from Mark Shivers, Brad Clayton, and Shannon Edgerton. Good times with good friends.
So, I know that some of you are wondering if I've made a decision about where I'll be next year (and a few years after that). Well, I have accepted a call to serve as the Association for Youth and Families at Harpeth Presbyterian Church in Brentwood, TN. It's a 250 member church just south of Nashville. The people there are awesome, and I'm excited about the ministry that the church is doing. There was something about the place that just felt right. Whether you want to call that, "the gut," or the Holy Spirit, I don't know, but something kept saying, "Alan, Harpeth is the place for you." I don't know where I'll be living yet, or really much else than that I'm going there. Thanks to everyone for their words of support and encouragement as I've gone through the call process.
Finally, tomorrow, April 12th, is my birthday. On that date, in 1977, Alan Bancroft entered the world. I'm looking forward to celebrating with folks at Sweetwater on Thursday afternoon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


I came across quite a quandry in Christology class today. We were discussing some John Calvin and his take on the incarnation. Calvin spent a couple of sections refuting a guy named Osiander who,
  • "asserts that man was created in God's image because he was fashined according to the pattern of the Messian to come, that man might conform to him wome the Father had already determined to clothe with flesh. From this, Osiander infers that if Adam had never fallen from his original and upright condition, Christ would still have become man."

So, the questions I pose to you who are reading are these: Would Christ have still become human if Adam had never fallen? If not, does incarnation become contingent on the fall? Is saving humankind from fallenness all that is accomplished in the incarnation?

Any thoughts would be helpful as I try to work through this.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


As I sat in downtown Decatur today, so many different smells assaulted, no approached my olfactory senses. Smells of food, smells of people, smells of industry, smells of animals, smells of who knows what. What is it about smells that take us back to distinct moments in time.
  • As I was sitting at Java Monkey, I smelled something, a perfume or someone's shampoo, or something that took me back to 305 Centennial Hall, 1995. It just smelled like our room, or the hallway, or something. Ryan, Renee, Colleen, and all the rest of the Towne Hall crowd. 305 Centennial Hall.
  • As I walked to the Decatur square, I smelled a perfume that made my mind conjure up an that was intoxicating, and who made me think, and who made my head spin. I was transported to 2122 Tugaloo Ave...sitting on the porch being told, "I just can't be anybody's girlfriend right now." head spinning with those words while being intoxicated by the perfume or the pheremones, I don't know which. 2122 Tugaloo Ave.
  • At truck stops, the smell of diesel takes me back to the cook truck, getting my snack after a performance with The Cavaliers. Standing there in khaki shorts, with my shirt off, wearing my gears, eating a PBJ or banana pudding or leftover lasagna and enjoying the caucaphony of sounds around me...horns playing melodies, drums playing "licks," flag poles and rifles striking the ground, tour buses pulling out of the parking lot. Ah, the sweet smell of diesel. The parking lot after a show.
  • The musty smell in Tom and Nicole's upstairs that takes me back to Grandpa and Grandma's house...the mustiness of lives lived that house...laughter, tears, secrets, hugs, rants, raves, meals shared...coating the house with layers of life...mustiness.

Anyway, I'm amazed at how smells can take you to a different time and place.

Lenten Discipline

  • I just spent a wonderfully beautiful afternoon in downtown Decatur. The sun is shining, people are outdoors enjoying the weather, and I had a great time. I got some reading done for school and did some people watching as well. Thank God for sunny Saturdays.
  • I don't think I've blogged about my lenten discipline for this year. I decided to give up driving places by myself unless: 1. I was going out of town, or 2. I was on my way to pick someone else up. It's been an interesting lenten season. This has meant walking or riding my bike to school, or getting the occasional ride with a roommate. It has curtailed my random trips to the grocery store, Target, or any other random place I think I need to go at any given moment. For the most part, it's been a good discipline, and one which gave me some time to reflect on the sacrifices we make in relation to the sacrifice of Christ. At times, it's meant that I've been a burden to others, or that I simply didn't go do things I wanted to. It's also meant some creative meals when I realized I was out of groceries and none of my roommates was planning a trip to the grocery store anytime soon. Hopefully it's made me more mindful of those who don't really have a choice in the matter of whether to drive because they don't own a vehicle or have access to one...those who rely on public transportation to get them around a big city like Atlanta. I should probably be more mindful of those folks when I say things like, "I need a new car." Anyway, in less than 24 hours, I'll be back in the Buick. I'm sure the people who have carted me around all lent will be happy.
  • I'm not sure if I've commented yet on my friend Julian Jackman and his involvement with an armed robbery. If so, oh well, I feel like commenting again. I thought of him today as I had my legs extended and resting on a chair on front of me as I sat at Java Monkey. I thought, "Man, if someone fell on my legs right now, they'd snap in two." Then, I thought about the time I broke my friend Cory's leg on the playground at Ridgeway Elementary school in Columbia, MO. He was leaning on a fence, waiting for his turn at four square. I jumped to hit a ball and landed squarely on his leg. He arrived at school the next day with a cast and using crutches. It ends up that I had broken his leg...Utterly ridiculous considering at the time he probably weighed twice as much as I did, and I was total pipsqueak. Thankfully, he didn't hate me (for too long), and our friendship remained intact. As we passed through middle school and high school, Cory became Julian (using his first name instead of his middle name), and we grew apart. He played football, while I hung out with the band and choir kids. There was still a fondness between us, but we definitely didn't hang out on the weekends. Anyway, I hadn't thought about Julian (Cory) for quite awhile until a friend sent me a link to a news story from the Columbia Tribune. It ends up that Julian has been tied to an armed robbery in which the victim ended up dying after being beaten repeatedly. It makes me sad to think that my friend Cory...whose leg I broke in elementary school...who survived an awful car accident in high school...who always seemed so jovial and caring would be involved with something like that. I mean, did he plan the robbery? Did things get out of hand? Was he really there at all? What happened in the ten years since we graduated in our green robes and yellow tassles that would lead Julian to commit a crime of that magnitude? Why is he in jail and I'm about to graduate from seminary? It makes me sad. One day Cory is telling me that he's mad at my Mom because she makes him do his math right (my Mom volunteered as a teacher's aid in elementary school) and the next day Julian is involved in the death of another human being. Anyway, for those of you think to pray for such things, please pray for my friend Julian, and his family, and the family of the victim, and, well, for all of the other Julians out there.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Hosanna to Hallelujah

  • That's right folks...It's Holy Week! This past Sunday I attended church here in Atlanta, and while they gave everyone a palm branch (for Palm Sunday), we never go to wave them! I mean, what is that? The choir processed in with the palm branches hidden lamely beneath their hymnals. I made a couple of attempts to wave mine, but nobody around me seemed to catch on. On the interstate on the way home, we were stuck in traffic, so Lindsey Wade and I rolled down our windows and waved our palms for all our fellow traffic sufferers to see. Not exactly a triumphal entry, but still.
  • The title of this post occured to me yesterday as I was sitting in Christology class. We were talking about Martin Luther's Heidelberg Disputation. At one point, he writes: "Now it is not sufficient for anyone, and it does him no good to recognize God in his glory and majesty, unless he recognizes him in the humility and shame of the cross." In the context of Holy Week, I thought this was interesting material to consider. I mean, isn't that what a majority of Christians in our society do? We show up for church on Palm Sunday, wave our palms (sometimes), cry out Hosanna, Hosanna, and celebrate that Christ has arrived, and then go home for a week, buy a nice new Easter outfit, and then show up on Easter Sunday to cry Hallelujah, Jesus Christ is Risen Today. Somehow, we go from glory to glory, and miss the humility and shame of the cross along the way. Yes, I know that some folks attend Good Friday services or Maundy Thursday services, but definitely not as many as are in church on the bookend Sundays of Holy Week. Why is it that we want to skip over Friday and Saturday? Does it remind us too much of our own brokenness? Are we afraid of what it means for God to die on a cross? Thankfully, Luther, and theologians to follow, remind us that the glory and majesty of God only make sense in light of the humility and shame of the cross. So, my challenge to you and to me is to spend some more time living in between the Hosannas and the Hallelujahs.
  • While I'm thinking about Luther, I thought I'd share another great quote, "Therefore sinners are attractive because they are loved; they are not loved because they are attractive." Yes, that's right, God does not love you because of all the good stuff you do, God does not love you because you go to church every Sunday, God does not love you because you have a pretty face, God does not love you because you give money to charity, God does not even love you because you've brought a thousand people to faith in Jesus Christ. God loves you in spite of all these things. God chooses to love us out of God's great love, and therefore, we are made attractive. We don't get any of the credit...none of it. Isn't that a liberating thought? God loves me, and has freed me from the bondage of sin, so now I'm free to live in relationship and according to God's will.
  • Finally, thanks to all of you who have read my previous posts about the struggle that goes into deciding where I will serve the church in the coming years, and have posted encouraging words/thoughts. I appreciate that.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

It's been some people say

  • Alas, I have failed in my effort to blog at least once a week this semester. Please accept my deepest apologies. Life has been way busy, and I've been too busy dealing with my thoughts to type them out...if that makes sense.
  • Since my last post, I have traveled to Nashville, TN to visit Harpeth Presbyterian Church and to Arlington Heights, IL to visit First Presbyterian Church there. Both visits were good...nice people, cool churches. This whole call process thing is so difficult. Just this week, I had to call a church and tell them that I wouldn't be accepting the call they extended me. I mean, I go to these places and meet wonderful people, and in the end, I can only choose to serve one church. In some ways I feel like Pippin in the musical of the same name, when he tries to find himself by experiencing everything. There's a great line near the end of the musical that goes, "...and if I'm never tied to anything, I'll never be free." I know that at some point, I need to make a commitment to a church and really plunge into its community and become a minister for her people. I suppose I'm struggling a bit with the notion of, "what if there's something better just around the corner?" Anyway, for those who care, I'll probably be making the decision in a few days, and I'll be sure to blog as soon as I do.
  • On a related note, thanks to my good friend Lindsey Wade for helping me sort through some of my thoughts with regard to the church I'm leaning toward. Boy, that's an awkward sentence. Oh well, I'm feeling a bit awkward lately. It just feels so hard to sit down and talk about the call process with my fellow students who are looking for similar positions. I feel like I've been pegged as some sort of, "chosen one" by my peers. I mean, I know they're just kidding, but I can sense a seriousness behind the jesting. Am I supppsed to quit being Alan Bancroft? Am I supposed to be sorry for being gregarious? Am I supposed to apologize for being a male in a church that, in some places, still values a male minister over a female minister? It's never my intention to brag about the fact that churches are calling me, but when people ask, I also don't want to lie. Anyway, thanks to Lindsey for not making me feel bad about having options.
  • MARCH MADNESS BABY!!! That's right, it's that time of year again. Even though my bracket usually falls apart in the first round, I love these days of non-stop college basketball. If I didn't have a retreat to lead this Saturday, I would probably sit in front of the TV all day and watch basketball. Good luck to all of you in your office, church, home, and school pools.
  • I think I'm really ready for the sweet, hazy days of summer. You know, those days when it's light until after 9:00...when you can sit out on your front porch and play the guitar after work...when you have hours of daylight to enjoy the world and the people in the world...when you can sit out on decks and porches at bars, drinking and telling funny stories...when there's always a baseball game on TV...when kids are out of school...when it's warm and sunny and wonderful. Yeah, I'm ready for summer.