Monday, December 19, 2011
Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Monday, November 21, 2011
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Friday, July 01, 2011
A friend of mine tried to say that she was not awesome. She is a humble person and it probably embarrassed her that I would use such a descriptor for her. Her self-deprecating response gave me pause to wonder.
Does God create crap?
God creates AWEsomely. God is awe inspiring. God’s creation as it reveals God to us is awe compelling. You and I as part of God’s creation are involved in the inculcation of AWE. Upon being present with a newborn baby, so often is the response, “awwwwwwe.”
We all have the awesomeness breathed into us. It seems to be how we exhale as to our articulation and demonstration of AWE. So yeah - you, my friend, are awesome. Oh and you act like it too.
I know she gets this. As I said, she is humble. Do you? Do I?
And what is it like to be that AWEsome? Does your hair stand on end? Do you sleep more soundly? Do you shine? Is it addictive? Does anyone notice? Is it better than your favorite food? let me know - I’d love to hear!
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
June 2011 marks the 10 year anniversary of my ministry at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Edwardsville, Illinois. I know this because my son was born three days after my first sermon. He turns 10 on Monday.
It has been a joy that I am able to raise my son in the same church such a length of time. It is not as common as many would hope for the children of ministers. I can see the benefits as tonight he and I walked on the newly paved church parking lot, paid for in part with money that my son is donating to the capital campaign. His pledge was not the largest received by the church. However his fulfillment of that pledge is shaping his life.
Since entering ministry, I have wanted to serve in a long-term situation of service. It has been a belief of mine that long-term ministry is most healthy for congregations and ministers. My experience with the wonderful people who participate with our congregation has confirmed my wish and hope.
We have accomplished amazing things with the help of God. Some achievements were goals we explicitly worked toward. Others were serendipitous experiences of God’s grace and blessing. Many could not have been celebrated without a long term relationship of God, minister and congregation.
I might say the key to success has been the trust and confidence, knowledge and love that has been uniquely shared over 10 years. While that is in part true, there is something more. Understand that not all 120 months have been a bed of roses. Along the way the congregation and I have at times leaned more heavily upon the other or possibly disappointed the other. That is the reality of human relationships. Sometimes we simply enjoyed seasons of rest. Even God has taken a turn or two at stirring us from the compliancy of familiarity. The “more than” which I will and do forever cherish is that our relationship has continued to grow, continued to remain in dialogue, continued to share ministry. We continually find moments of celebration that God has blessed us with vibrant ministry and vital relationships of faith.
I know of congregations and clergy who do not enjoy this quality or quantity of relationship. The negative impact upon ministry is disheartening. I wish for them what I enjoy here, a context of ministry that continues to provide challenges and room for growth - for myself and all who participate in our community of faith. The results are a deepening love for God, neighbor and self.
I thought I would celebrate this anniversary with a listing of accomplishments but that seems rather prideful or at least out of place. I wondered about listing the folks who have meant so much along the journey such as members and participants, student ministers and colleagues, mentors and my family. Alas I fear I would forget a name and they all deserve my gratitude and love.
I prefer to look ahead. To a future of continuing to be unsatisfied with our service to God’s people, to a tomorrow of continuing relationships of share ministry, and to an openness to the movement of God’s Spirit and to those we have yet to share ministry.
Tuesday, April 05, 2011
Once Upon a Lenten Journey
by Dr. James R. Brooks
Once upon a time, we traveled a path that was long and full of obstacles. The farther we walked, the pebbles of the path turned to stones, then rocks, then boulders. It was a dry path requiring only our upward climb. At one point, the boulders held us high that we might see the glory of the sun shining bright upon the fertile valley beyond.
Once upon a time, we traveled a path that was endless. The farther we walked the pebbles of the path melted into the mire. Sank did our feet as we struggled to advance. Hemmed in by sagging vines and dense canopy, we pulled and pushed our way. Our journey fell into darkness until by surprise we reached through a tackle of limbs to find ourselves upon firm ground with the brilliance of the sun warming our souls.
Once upon a time, we traveled a path that was quite like a maze. The farther we walked the pebbles of the path melded into a uniform surface that teased our attempts to discern our way. Addressed by forks and turns, roundabouts and dead-ends, the journey asked more questions than presented answers. Dizzy and distraught by our own doubt, we rounded a corner right into the face of a breeze so fresh and full of sunshine.
Once upon a time, we traveled a path that was straight. The farther we walked the pebbles of the path soothed the soles of our feet. At the same time we took in the totality of our surroundings and the immensity of our interior. The walk went by too, too quickly and in the distance we could see our destination patiently waiting our arrival. And all the while, we knew our arrival would be even more wondrous than the journey we wished would not end.
Only four of the endless ways we journey threaded together by the simple beginnings and glorious endings. The season of Lent for Christians begins with the simple beginning of Ash Wednesday and for some the rite of wearing ashes. From the humility of dust to dust we journey toward the resurrection of our lord Jesus.
To speak plainly, our journey is as individual as we are. The journey is also as similar as we are, enough to be recognizable. My encouragement is that we not stress about comparisons of journeys. Replace comparison with inspiration. Be inspired by the journeys of others and allow your journey to inspire others. Above all, journey with your best effort by giving lead to the Spirit. Know that Easter will be and for you eternally.
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
“10 Things They Never Told Me About Jesus: A Beginner’s Guide to a Larger Christ”
by John L. Bell (GIA Publications Inc, 2009)
There is that feeling of stretching a muscles prior to heavy use and then right after. The feeling of stretching long in the bed, reaching for both ends with fingers and toes, as the sun streams in the windows and you anticipate a fantastic day. These are akin to the soul-full feelings while reading this wonderfully concise book by John Bell.
I have known him more for his musical reputation. Being in a seminar lead by him is a treat. His knowledge of and passion for singing the faith is inspiring.
This text is equally inspiring. It is impressive how John presses the edges of our notions about Jesus and challenges our stereotypes of Jesus. He is able to do so without undue offense or easily ignored rhetoric.
A real strength of this book is the continual connection to the Bible. John weaves the breadth and depth of our scriptures in such a way as to make easy the seeing of a larger tapestry. Though John does not suggest a radical theoretical system of belief, he provides visions of a faith with far great complexity. The sum of which is a more warm experience of grace and the freedom to share the Good News more broadly. I highly recommend this book.