Saturday, November 20, 2010

Ongoing Reflections at NYWC

I arrived at the convention this morning in time to hear Tim Eldredge speak about the importance of including youth in all areas of planning and implementing youth ministry. His message was nothing new or even that revolutionary, but it was a good reminder and a kick in my butt. Even though I’ve implemented a youth council at church, I’ve been reticent to give the youth responsibility for everything. Well, that’s not exactly true. I would love to give them more responsibility, but I worry that if they don’t follow through and things start falling through the cracks, I’ll have people in my face asking me how I could let things fall apart. For example, I’d love for the youth council to actually choose/write curriculum for Sunday nights, and for them to take that next step of sorting through the lessons and decide exactly what we’ll talk about on Sunday nights. I’d be more than willing to walk them through that process the first few times, but I have this feeling that they would lose focus and drop the ball as time went on. Maybe I don’t give them enough credit. In any case, I walked out of there feeling convicted to hand over more and more responsibility to the youth of Harpeth.

Props to Jeremy Camp for singing “our God” instead of “my God” in the songs he led this morning.

Tony Campolo spoke this morning as well. It was mostly his spiel about red-letter Christian replacing Evangelical as a term for those who seek to follow Jesus’ teachings and put them into practice. At one point he said that right-wing Republican Christians and left-wing Democrat Christians focus on the same problems, then listed some of those problems, and said that right-wing Republican Christians simply don’t believe the government should be involved in solving those problems. The only item on the list that I took issue with was war. First of all, I’m not sure that all right-wing Republican Christians are totally opposed to war, especially in “the real world.” Second, who has the power to end wars other than the governments who start, encourage, and continue funding for those wars? Finally, if so many right wing Republicans are opposed to war, why on earth would George W. Bush have been re-elected by those same people? In principle, I agree with Tony that there is more than unites Christians of various political stripes than divides them, but I don’t think we can simply dismiss the differences as being about government involvement.

Friday, November 19, 2010

National Youth Workers Convention-Nashville-2010 Day One

It's been a couple of years since I've attended the National Youth Workers Convention put on by Youth Specialties. I decided that since it was in Nashville this year, I didn't have much excuse for not going. I've just exited the opening session where David Crowder encouraged us to be loud, and that Sandman guy did amazing stuff with a backlit layer of sand. My first half day or so at conferences like these always seem to bring about the same observations:
  1. I may not be hip enough to be a "youth worker." There are lots of folks wearing trendy Christian band t-shirts, girl jeans, Castro-style ball caps, and a myriad of other hip clothes.
  2. Worship seems to be an interesting mixture of participating and observing. It doesn't seem like many people around me are singing, not that I would be able to tell, because the band is unbelievably loud. Now, I know that sounds like and old fart kind of thing to say, but I've seen bands that lead worship and do so in a way that invites participation so that their sound is joined by the worshiping voices.
  3. OK, this one might get me in trouble, but I'm going to throw it out there. It appears as if there are a large number of youth workers who are very overweight. While I understand that youth ministry can be a stressful profession, and there are plenty of opportunities for eating and drinking, I wonder what kind of example we set for our youth when we seemingly make unhealthy choices. Anyway, let the bashing commence.
  4. HAS NOBODY HERE EVER HEARD OF INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE???? I mean, seriously. You can't substitute God for the He pronoun every once in awhile. While David Crowder Band does a decent job using communal language, they fail miserably at using gender-inclusive language.
OK, that's all for now. We'll see how the rest of the convention goes.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Psalm 65

I've been fairly disciplined lately about reading the Daily Lectionary texts along with prayers and canticles provided in the Daily Prayer version of the Book of Common Worship. One of today's Psalms was Psalm 65. Verses 5-13 (text below) really spoke to me today, especially in light of this time of year as we turn our eyes from summer and head into fall. I was moved by the juxtaposition of the image of a mighty, strong, awesome God who offers deliverance and established the mountains with the image of a visiting, field-watering God who intimately cares for the earth and its inhabitants. God the farmer. God the life-giver. God, the one who knows how much water we need and when to offer it and how to offer it so that we grow just so.

I somehow got lost in thinking about the final stanza in which hills gird themselves with joy, meadows clothe themselves with flocks, and valleys deck themselves with grain. As my wardrobe turns from shorts, t-shirts, and ball caps to blue jeans, sweaters, and stocking caps, I not only join the other people who do so, but I join the earth who also changes its wardrobe based on the seasons of the year. And, in the end, we all join together in shouting and singing together for joy in response to the abundant provision and grace of God.

So much beauty and deep theology in 13 verses...

Psalm 65:5-13
By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance,
O God of our salvation;
you are the hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the farthest seas.
By your strength you established the mountains;
you are girded with might.
You silence the roaring of the seas,
the roaring of their waves,
the tumult of the peoples.
Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs;
you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.

You visit the earth and water it,
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide the people with grain,
for so you have prepared it.
You water its furrows abundantly,
settling its ridges,
softening it with showers,
and blessing its growth.
You crown the year with your bounty;
your wagon tracks overflow with richness.
The pastures of the wilderness overflow,
the hills gird themselves with joy,
the meadows clothe themselves with flocks,
the valleys deck themselves with grain,
they shout and sing together for joy.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Tribal Church

I'm close to finishing Tribal Church by Carol Howard Meritt, and I think I can safely say that any church that has any inclination to reach out to young adults should have folks reading this book. It raises many good questions and challenges the church to be intergenerational its focus. With its words rattling around in my brain, I observed some wonderful thing at Harpeth Presbyterian Church last night:
  • James Peeler and I took a group of middle-schoolers to Stratford High School yesterday afternoon to help prepare a newly renovated space for tutoring provided by Martha O'Bryan Center. At one point, Peeler was standing in a dumpster making sure we got every last bit of old carpet in there. James Peeler is the kind of man any parent would want spending time with their kids, whether their kids are 4, 14, or 24.
  • We returned to church to see little Asher Brown (age 2) walking down the hallway screaming and crying for some reason. Two teenagers saw him and rushed to his aid and swooped him up and made sure he felt loved as his mother chased him down. Those teenagers treated him as a little brother.
  • Our church choir has teenagers, college students, young adults, young parents, empty-nesters, and retirees who all gather each week to prepare as worship leaders. There's a buzz in the room as all of these generations spend time together. As rehearsal was gearing down, I looked over and saw the hand-written prayer that our un-official (yet official) chaplain, Carol Bradley, had prepared for the evening. Each week she shares a prayer that she has written and all those generations are enriched.
Is Harpeth perfect? No. Are there ways for us to improve the way we reach out the young adults? Yes. Yet, in many ways, I'm proud of Harpeth for valuing the input of all of God's children, whether they be 2 or 92 or somewhere in between.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Good Samaritan

So, what do you do when you're walking out of the church at 7:45 on a Sunday evening right after you've led a lesson about The Good Samaritan and encounter a strange looking fellow and a pregnant woman walking toward you from a white pickup truck parked next to your orange vibe?

"Hey man. I told my sister here that you was good folks down here. She's had to get away from her husband. She's eight months pregnant. And we was lookin' to get to Dixon tonight. I don't got nothin' to give her, but if you could give us some cash to buy some gas to get to Dixon, that would be real helpful."

To be clear, this woman was definitely late in her pregnancy as far as I could tell.

"Well," I say, "I've got a few bucks in my wallet, but that's it. The morning offering has already been taken to the bank, and we don't keep extra cash lying around." (All of these statements are true, by the way)

"Is there a gas station around here?"

At this point, my internal monologue says, "Hey, remember how you just did a lesson about The Good Samaritan and challenged the youth to think about the people on the margins?"

"Sure," I say. "I'm headed north of here and there's an Exxon a few miles up the road. I'll pay to fill up your truck."

"Well, that's be just great."

As I walk closer to the truck, I notice that it's full of people. I mean, there are six potential seats in there, and all of them are full once the man and his "sister" get inside.

To keep things relatively short, I paid for them to fill up their truck, and as he was pumping his gas, the guy asked if I could use the ATM and help his sister out with some cash. I told him I wasn't going to do that, but I was glad to buy the gas.

Now, I get hit up with the "We just need enough money to get to Somewhereville" story a lot, especially on evenings when I'm the last one left at church. Most of the time, when I say I don't have cash, the people drive off. Occasionally they take me up on the offer of gas, but when my credit card bill comes in, they only pumped $4 in gas.

All of this is to say that I now have a new answer to the question I asked the youth: Why did the priest/pastor walk by the man on the road?

Because sometimes you just get tired of being hustled and lied to. Because sometimes you wonder if the person is really hurt, or at least if the hurt they're claiming to have is true. Because sometimes you wish they would just tell you that they need drugs, alcohol, or whatever. Because what you really want to do is heed MLK's call to fix the road so that people don't get beat up.

Anyway, it's 7:45 on a Sunday evening and you're approached in the church parking lot. What do you do?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Emergency Bowling Banquets

Jeff Fiedler, the former director of The Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps used to say, "There are no emergency bowling banquets." His basic point was that most things in life are scheduled way in advance, and part of growing up is learning to pay attention to when things are scheduled and then prioritize where you will be and when. Put another way, "A lack of preparation/attention on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."

I'm blogging today to express my frustration with a certain volleyball coach who, this past Sunday, put one of my youth in the uncomfortable position of having to choose between an "emergency" last minute volleyball practice and the first youth group meeting of the school year. "When did the coach schedule the practice?" you might ask. I would answer, "Thursday afternoon." Yes, this coach added a practice three days ahead of time, and the entire team was expected to drop any other previously scheduled events (youth group kickoff was scheduled in June, btw) and attend said practice under threat of sitting the bench all week if they missed it. My wonderfully committed and dedicated middle school youth attended youth group on Sunday night, and thus, at yesterday's game, on her father's birthday, sat the bench.

This past summer, another youth was notified of summer drum camp two weeks ahead of time, making him miss out on a mission trip that he had signed for three months ahead of time.

This is a trend that seriously bothers me. Hear me say that I understand the need to be committed to one's sport or musical/dramatic/whatever I left out activity and should plan to be at all scheduled rehearsals, practices, games, performances, or whatever. I was in band through high school and college and didn't miss rehearsal. I was also on the golf team and attended practice and matches dutifully. I am not calling into question the need for practice and dedication. What I take issue with is coaches or directors treating their activity as if it's the only important thing in their students' lives. Young people these days have crazy busy schedules, and many of them do a great job balancing all of their commitments. Why make their lives more difficult by calling "emergency" last minute anythings? What if I called the volleyball coach two days before a scheduled game and said the following? "We've had to schedule an emergency last minute youth group to make sure the youth are ready for Sunday worship. If Suzie Q misses that meeting, she'll have to sit and face the corner and be unable to participate in worship. I'm sure you understand."

Shame on you coach whatever-your-name-is. If you can't get enough accomplished during your scheduled time, I suggest you re-evaluate how you're using your time. Don't put young people in the awkward and stressful position of having the choose between things that are important to them because you don't have your act together.

Monday, August 16, 2010

First They Came...

In response to some recent comments on my previous post about the Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, I post this poem by Pastor Martin Niemoller

"THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

and by that time no one was left to speak up."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mosque in Murfreesboro, TN

You know, sometimes I'm almost embarrassed to be a Christian. I awoke this morning to a local NPR piece about a standoff at the Murfreesboro, TN courthouse yesterday. A large Islamic center is scheduled to be built in Murfreesboro in the next year, and folks were holding rallies to oppose it and to support it. In the end, it was one big shouting match. Some of the sound bytes coming from Christians opposing the mosque were utterly depressing. Most of them implied that the mosque will be a training ground for terrorists, and that we can't allow Islam to grow, because it will destroy our country. Right, because hatred and bigotry doesn't hurt our country. Anyway, I continue to be saddened by the intolerance and ignorance of some of my fellow Christians.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Familiar Stories

I'm in the midst of reading God is Not One by Stephen Prothero. I heard a good On Point podcast featuring Prothero and thought I would read his book. In short, he proposes that interfaith dialogue isn't helpful when we simply imply that God is one and the differences between religions aren't all the important. That's a brief summary, and I won't explore it further until I've read the whole book.

Today, I'm reading the section about Buddhism, and I'm finding the chapter somehow comforting. I took a class on Buddhism at Truman State University back in the day, and while the professor was a bit of a pompous ass, I thoroughly enjoyed the class as a whole. Each week we were given a different style of meditation to try, and we explored various "forms" of Buddhism. I did my final paper on the similarities and differences between Buddhist and Christian mystics. In any case, reading the basic story of the Buddha and being reminded of Dharma/The Way of Enlightenment has brought a sort of joy to me today. The best comparison I can make is the enjoyment I gain from re-reading a favorite book, or hearing a familiar story told again and again. My grandpa used to tell us bedtime stories about a talking white horse, and although the story didn't vary much, I looked forward to those stories as a child.

I write all of this and ponder the proper place for story and narrative in the teaching and preaching of Scripture. I fear, as I'm sure scholars more intelligent than I have already feared, that the ancient stories of Scripture are losing their familiarity in the midst of e-mailed stories that, while poignant, have no root in reality. I wonder about the over all effect of telling the same context-related stories year after year in sermons while leaving so many scriptural stories to sit on the pages of those enormous pulpit Bibles. As I walk on the journey with adolescents, I struggle to point them back to Biblical stories and realize that, when it comes down to it, their own stories carry more weight and authority, and if not their stories, the stories of their parents, or the preacher, or the ethics teacher, or heaven forbid, the youth worker (that would be me).

The irony of all this is that within the traditions of Buddhism, finding one's own way to enlightenment regardless of doctrine, sacred books, or even the gods themselves is valued. The last words of Siddartha (the Buddha) are reputed to have been: "Be lamps unto yourselves; work out your own liberation with diligence." Have we become a faith of Buddhists? Have we decided that we are, in fact, our own best authority? Do we expect scripture to find its way into our narratives rather than seeking to find ourselves in scripture's narratives? I do wonder.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Wild church vans

Today, as I was going to play golf (I shot 19 over, btw...stupid three putts) I saw a church van in a cage with that curly razor wire all along the top of the cage. That must be one wild church van to need such a cage. I wonder what it did. Did it stay out too late? Did it run a red light? Did it go on a rager and end up in Mexico? Just wondering about a church van with a cage.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Random thoughts on this Monday

While eating lunch at VBS last week, I was discussing the finer points of Jesus' death and resurrection with rising Kindergarteners when one kid said, "And then, Jesus was raised from the dead by the force." I said, "That's absolutely correct." :)

Why don't all restaurants/coffee shops that sell beverages in #1 plastic recyclable cups offer recycling bins on the way out the door? If I was king, that would be a requirement.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Presence Centered and Passionate Youth Ministry

I'm currently stuck at home due to immense flooding in the greater Nashville area, so why not blog, right?

A colleague of mine recently resigned from his position in youth ministry after a long struggle with parents of youth at his church. I won't get into the details, but I definitely mourn the situation he found himself in. While I'm certainly not going to provide groundbreaking insight into the field of youth ministry in a single blog post, I do want to include a link to some great quotes and some reflecting: Presence Centered Youth Ministry Quotes

I've read both books quoted in this article, and found both to be spot on, for the most part. I also found myself thinking, "Do I dare ask the youth committee to read these books?" I wondered if I was ready to challenge the system enough by posing the questions offered by Mike King and Kenda Creasy-Dean. I was particularly struck the quote having to do with youth ministry as behavior modification. I admit to feeling those pressure to do youth ministry in such a way to produce "good kids" and not challenge the prevailing values of the community in which they live. I become nervous about emphasizing Kingdom of God language too much for fear of youth and parents accusing me of having a "liberal political agenda." Yes, those words have been thrown at me as I quote scriptures about loving neighbor and jubilee.

In the end, I wish that parents and church congregations would focus more on spiritual development for people of all ages (yes, parents too) and be willing to seriously re-consider some of the "values" that are held so dear by the communities in which families live. It is not my job to create good American citizens. It is not my job to train my youth in the positive aspects of capitalism. It is my job to live a God-bearing life and to point young people to God's story/stories as we find them in Scripture. It is my job to make every effort to live according to the mandates of the Kingdom of God and to invite others to join in pledging allegiance to that Kingdom.

That's all for now. I welcome any additional thoughts, comments, questions, and even arguments.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The digital age

So, I was at a wedding this weekend, and it seemed like everybody in the room with two x chromosomes had a digital camera out. This drives me crazy while I'm officiating a wedding, especially when people stand up in the middle of the service to get some sort of action shot. I mean, hello! Those shots never come out right. But this time, it wasn't the flashes in my face that were bothering me, as I was simply a congregant. This time I kept wondering, "Do these people realize that you can turn off the fake shutter sound and beep that go off every time they take a freaking picture?" I mean, really. Turn off the laser sound effect on your cameras people. It's not cool. You do not need a fake shutter sound to let you know your digital camera is taking a picture. If you don't know how to turn it off, ask somebody, or read the manual. Oy!

In unrelated news, I've decided to give twitter a try. My username is biggitybancroft. No guarantees that I'm a lifer, but I figure I'll give it a go.

Seriously, turn off the sound effects on your digital cameras...especially at weddings.

Friday, March 19, 2010

USMC Car Wash Fundraiser

Yesterday, I was driving down Hillsboro Road, and what did I see, but a Marine in full dress uniform standing on a corner with a piece of posterboard reading, "USMC Car Wash Fundraiser." He was joined by a couple of buddies in camo fatigues and green t-shirts. I've never heard of a military car wash fundraiser before. I'd say that too many of my tax dollars to go support military endeavors that I oppose, so I didn't pull in. And here's the kicker...It was happening in a church parking lot. That's right. The Church of Christ has decided to host military fundraisers. Something seems problematic with those who worship the Prince of Peace hosting military fundraisers. Anyway, that was my moment of "Huh?" yesterday.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Back in the Show-Me state

Well, folks, the adventure is coming to an end. In my previous post, I forgot to mention that on our way out of Wahoo, we found that the main road out of town heading towards Omaha was closed on the east bound side. The GPS attempted to reroute us and we found ourselves on a county road that was half dirt, half slush, and surrounded on both sides by a bog of some sort. When the car began slipping and sliding, we wondered if we would ever make it to the next, possibly equally treacherous county road. We decided to back the car out of there (the road was too narrow for any turning around) and try an alternate way out of town. It was probably the scariest part of our trip besides a snowy mountain pass on Thursday night.

After a stop off in downtown Omaha, which is cooler than you might thing, we headed south toward KC, MO. Around 6:00 pm, Wes and I arrived safely in Kansas City, MO and met up with our friends Meg and Jarrett who graciously provided dinner, lodging, and a wonderful evening of good times. My sister Anna, her husband Jimmy, and their daughter Kinsley also joined us for the evening. We currently sit at a Panera Bread in the plaza area of KC and will soon have lunch with Jarrett. Then, Wes drops me off with Anna and Jimmy, and he heads to Des Moines. It's been a wonderful trip full of fun, great conversation, random encounters, and amazing scenery. Check back for more reflections in the next week or so.

Also, I've posted pictures to the picasa feed on the right side of this blog.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

All the way across Nebraska

The last two days have been full of driving. Yesterday we decided to take a scenic route from Salt Lake City, UT to Fort Collins, CO, thus adding an extra two hours to our trip. It was definitely beautiful, but resulted in a fairly late arrival in Ft. Collins. Thankfully, my friend Jill was totally up for taking us to some fun pubs in old town. It was a fun night with good beer and good conversation. I had forgotten how inexpensive New Belgium beers are in Ft. Collins. Reason #24 for why I would love to live there.

This morning we hit the road for Wahoo, NE. We made our way to Cheyenne, WY and then made the turn for Nebraska. And yes, we've been in Wyoming each day this week since Tuesday. We drove across the entire length of Nebraska on I-80 today, with stops in Ogallala to search for the Presbyterian church there (it's not there anymore), a town I can't remember the name of to see the original Pony Express building, and then Wahoo to see our friend Patrick Marshall. We got to meet the newest addition to the Marshall family who was born earlier this week. Patrick took us to a local Mexican restaurant where we greeted by one of his biggest fans. By the time we left, our waiter had already taken off to go party, or at least that's what the guy at the front said. He said we could come by tomorrow to pay. You gotta love small town America.

OK, the computer is running low on power, and so am I. Look for more pictures in the coming days.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Random Day

Well, Wednesday brought more random adventure that even Wes and I anticipated. We awoke to a snow covered car in Jackson, WY. Thank goodness for the scraper with a brush that came with the Charger. We set off for Salt Lake City with planned stops in Bancroft, ID and Ogden, UT. As we were heading to Bancroft, ID for a fun photo op, we stumbled across Soda Springs, ID, an old mining town that seems to have dried up except for the rival fertilizer plants that sit on either side of the two lane highway. We saw a sign for a geyser and realized that we had arrived just in time for the time-controlled geyser to do its thing. Apparently it's the only man-made geyser in the world.

After witnessing the geyser in all its glory, we made our way to the local drugstore to ask about where we should have lunch. We found out that the local pizza place had gone out of business, but that the bowling alley had great pizza. So, you guessed it, we ate pizza and garlic bread at the Soda Springs, ID bowling alley. We met some wonderful people who were rather perplexed that we were actually going to Bancroft, ID simply because it's my last name and I wanted a picture with some street signs.

Bancroft, ID had more going on than one might expect by its relatively small dot on the map, but not a place to necessarily write home about.

Next, we headed to Ogden, UT, where Wes had arranged to meet another gentleman named Wes Goldsberry. We met him at the Taco Bell in the Pilot Gas Station right there outside of Ogden. Wes Goldsberry of Ogden, UT works for the Sheriff's department. We received a wonderful tutorial on his tazer, including a look at the voltage sparking between the contact points. It was truly a Storycorps moment.

Finally, we rolled in Salt Lake City for taco night with the Kyremes-Parks. Amy-Kim and Justin have some great kids. I helped their son beat a level on the lego Star Wars game for wii, which pretty much makes me a big deal in his world. :) The girl and I talked about our favorite Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift songs.

This morning included sweet rolls and a visit from Loyda Kyremes. All in all a good morning and a good start to another day on the road.

Here are some pictures:

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Bozeman to Jackson

Hey there Renderings fans. After a fun night at the Montana Ale Works for dinner and the Bacchus Pub for drinks, Wes and I turned in for a wonderful eight hours of sleep. We barely made it down to the lobby for the continental breakfast, and were told as much by the lady who was trying to clean up.

As an aside: The hotel had Fox News on the TV in the lobby. I told Wes that Fox News pretty much alternates between covering what's happening in washington (usually bashing on the democrats) and showing stories meant to elicit fear for some reason or another. As we were sitting there, we heard how evil Pelosi is and then saw segments about pythons running loose in Florida, the orca that killed its trainer, an SUV crashing into a school, and a man's Prius that drove out of control on the highway. I'm sure all of that was Obama's fault...that's what happens when you elect a crazy liberal. :)

Anyway, today Wes and I have traversed many mountains, some barren, some snow-covered and have arrived in Jackson, WY. We took a roundabout way from Bozeman so that we could stand at the headwaters of the great Missouri river (see pics below) and explore the town of Butte, MT, searching for a Butte Beer sign that Wes saw in a friend's picture from many moons ago. We didn't track down the Butte Beer sign, but we did eat lunch at the Uptown Cafe. They were serving cajun sirloin with cheesy potatoes. It was pretty good. We discovered that there are a lot of Irish folks in Butte, and it seems as if the town is in a steep decline. Whatever they used to mine must have run out at some point.

Funny Road Sign of the day: Life is a Puzzle. Look for Jesus who is the missing Peace.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Museum of The Rockies

So far, Bozeman, MT gets my seal of approval. The people seem nice, and it ends up they filmed Part of A River Runs Through It at the Presbyterian church here.

I spent part of my afternoon at The Museum of The Rockies. You can see some good dinosaur pics below. I particularly enjoy the hair band dinosaur attacking the "the man" dinosaur. I'd also like to point out that this museum apparently doesn't know about Jesus being a dinosaur rider. I mean, humans didn't live with dinosaurs? Um, hello. Jesus had a pet dinosaur. Those in the know are laughing...everybody se thinks the light mountain air is getting to me. More as Wes and I continue on our adventure.

-- Posted From My iPhone

Friday, February 26, 2010

He's a good guy...He loves the Lord...He's a good guy

I'm sitting at a Panera on a Friday afternoon, attempting to find inspiration for the sermon I'm supposed to preach on Sunday. I just heard a guy, when asked about some other guy, say, "He's a good guy. He loves the Lord. He's a good guy." I've always been intrigued by that description of somebody. He/She loves the Lord. I guess it's just a given that the Lord loves him/her. Which lord? I mean, doesn't everybody love one lord or another? I guess the definite article helps us know that we're talking about Jesus. What kind of love are we talking about? Is this an active kind of love? A social justice-minded kind of love? An "I believe what they say about Jesus" kind of love? A "Jesus is my boyfriend" kind of love? Is loving the Lord what makes him a good guy? Is that the only thing that makes him a good guy? When I was in college, my friend Molly Nahm pointed out that whenever she asked me about guys in my fraternity, with one exception, I would say, "Yeah, he's a Beta, he's a good guy." She wondered about my qualifications for "good guy." I guess I'm wondering about He loves the Lord as an adjective. It seems like some of the guys in Acts would have been said to love the Lord, and it probably meant something different than it does today. Anyway, you never know what you'll hear at a Panera on a Friday afternoon.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pastoral moments

Sometimes, being a pastor means being busy: Busy preparing lesson plans, busy making copies, busy collecting materials, busy with meetings, busy updating websites, busy, busy, busy. But sometimes, being a pastor means sharing intimate moments with parishioners. This week held more of those intimate moments than the busy moments. Here are two such intimate experiences.

Tuesday: I took a parishioner to lunch. We'll call him Tom. Tom needs a wheelchair to get around, so going to lunch is always takes more time and energy than simply meeting someone for coffee. On this particular day, we went to lunch and then decided to make a visit to another church member who is in a rehab facility following surgery. We'll call him Bob. While we were there, the Bob told a wonderful story of a Sunday, 20 years ago, when he was ushering and felt frantic, and saw Tom wheeling in the door. Bob asked Tom to help pass out bulletins as folks came in the door. As Bob told this party of the story, he got a bit teary-eyed, and Tom finished his sentence by saying, "And I've been doing that ever since." It was a beautiful moment shared between two old friends, and I had the privilege of witnessing it. Bob promptly told us to get out of there because we were making him cry.

Wednesday: Ash Wednesday. It was my turn to impose the ashes on the foreheads of parishioners and say "Remember, you are dust, and to dust you will return." What a profoundly intimate moment that is, to remind every person there of their earthly mortality, while marking them with the sign of the cross...the cross that both reminds us of the crucifixion of Jesus and his eventual resurrection from the dead. Marking people with mortality and hope for an eternity spent with God. That's powerful stuff.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Travelers and "for here"

Despite all of my best efforts to be as eco-friendly as possible, I often find myself stumbling and bumbling. I've become a "publix bag" shopper, and I definitely recycle, and most of the time I drive around with a coffee traveler in my car so as to eliminate the waste caused by those paper cups at the coffee shops. As a side note, I'm currently down two travelers because I've left them places or they've been borrowed and not quite returned. Anyway, I didn't get to The Frothy Monkey with a traveler today, so I ordered my white chocolate skim milk mocha (yeah, I know, pretentious) "for here." Apparently at The Frothy Monkey that means I get to drink it out of a paper cup here at The Frothy Monkey. I swear they have mugs. I've also noticed that sometimes when I order a similar coffee drink at Panera, and give them my traveler to use, the person making the drink makes it in a plastic or paper cup, then pours it into the traveler, and...wait for it...throws the cup away. Oy! Maybe I just need to be more like Mr. Bancroft and just order coffee straight up. Good ole Mr. Bancroft...hip without even knowing it. :)

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Proving your birth

I was at Southern Thrift Store in Nashville yesterday, buying a couch for my office, when I looked up and saw a sign announcing a senior citizen's discount. It read, "Discount for Seniors 65 and up with Proof of Birth." Um, isn't the fact that the person is standing there a proof of birth? It could be that the sign used to say Birthday. For now though, it brought me a chuckle.