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.