Friday, May 26, 2006

11 years behind the moustache

Well believe it or not I'm not too into change. On a whim, last Saturday I decided to modify the facial hair experience that is my face.

For over 11 years Hi have been sporting a Goatee:

The new and improved facial hair experience:

These are the "thoughtful" ones I'll use on my book jacket :-)

Crap! Now I have to write a book! Have a great day !

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Pastors burned out

I saw this on a friend's blog.

It's some thoughts by Mark Driscoll on stress on pastor's and its effects. I typically don't find my self agreeing with Mark Driscoll much - let me preface that. He is one of those guys that I may agree with from time to time, but his style and personality bugs me, so on occasion its not so much dissagreement as much as it is my hang up - but I think he is right on, on this subject.

Check it out HERE

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Sandwiches in the park

I wanted to share with you, an experience I had with a few folks from our congregation. As many of you know, on the third Saturday of each month, two women from or congregation, Macia G. and Leila A. have spearheaded a project in which members of our congregation head down to Orchards Park and hand out sandwiches to any one who wants one. (If you didn’t know about it... now ya’ do).

I went with them last month. Jennifer, Jackson, Adeline and myself (my family) met with Leila in the church kitchen and made about 20 sandwiches. We loaded up signs and sandwiches, a thermos of coffee, some cookies (Of which I had to test one... maybe two... just to make sure they were ok. Food tester is a very important job!). We set up our table and sat on a bench and pretty soon someone came by. We asked if he would like a sandwich and he said “ya’ talked me into it”. As we handed him a sandwich and some coffee, his reply was, “Why are you doing this?” and Leila's answer was wonderful: “We go to a church up the road, and we just felt like the good Lord told us to give people something to eat.” I followed up with “So have cookie,” and put a bag with some peanut butter cookies in his hands. I think he was a little thrown off that we didn’t want anything from him, or maybe it was because we welcomed him to stay and eat with us, but there was a smile on his face. Although he didn’t stay and eat with us he gave us a very heart felt “thank you” as he hurried off to get to a job.

Another gentleman rode up on a bike with all his belongings in a carrier behind it. His name was Homer. Homer stayed to eat with us, Marcia and I shared a conversation with him that ranged from Bible names to the DiVinci code movie. (He told us that his mother had named him after Gomer in the bible. I didn't want to ask how "Gomer" turned to "Homer", nor did I want to elaborate too much on the fact that Gomer was Hosea’s unfaithful/prostitute wife... That's kinda’ a second conversation with someone topic.) After he ate with us he thanked us and hopped on his bike and rode off.

A county work van pulled up, and Leila and Marcia waved as it parked. Seems that a couple of months ago a work crew was at the park and Marcia and Leila gave them sandwich’s and struck up a friendship with the supervisor. So he was back and we gave the work crew some sandwiches and heard their stories about what they had done in order to be serving this community service. Again, I think they were a bit thrown off because we didn’t want anything from them, or that we weren’t there to scold them for the things they had done. In fact I was surprised at how long these relatively young men and women wanted to stay and chat with us. I wasn’t expecting that, nor was I expecting to get driving tips for driving a car 95 mph. (The tips didn’t include how not to be arrested for reckless driving though... so I took them with a grain of salt)

In the hour and a half we spent at the park we fed about 20 people, but beyond that I heard people’s stories, learned their names and offered kindness, which was returned to me with hand shakes and thank you’s. Over and over they wanted to know where was this church that does this for free.

It was a great time, that reminded me that so much of what Jesus spoke to us about happens beyond the walls of our church building, and at times other than Sunday mornings. I am amazed at how much people are surprised when someone just wants to sit down and meet them, without an ulterior motive or judgment, especially if they find themselves living on the streets, or are in a position of having to do something to atone for some action they have done. I pray that we will learn more about what it means to be a gathering of people, who share a common faith, that allows us to be Christ’s presence in the world - not just in our building.

Ready at a moments notice to test cookies,


Monday, May 08, 2006

A Toast!

Well, today has been a strange day. As I write this it is about 10:30 pm and I have just come back from a Monday Night Group of guys that I hang out with. As we gathered we drank a toast to the brand new baby daughter that was born to one of the guys this week. We lifted our glasses and toasted the wonderful new life of Jane Elizabeth Hyatt.

Earlier in the day I sat in a hospital room with seven other friends as a dear friend passed away. His wife held his hand as we prayed and cried and shared stories.

It has been one of those days where I am struck by the nature of the friends God has put in our paths. One is grieving the passing of a spouse for 50 years and I’m trying to be a Pastor to her and also deal with my own emotions and feeling of loss over a dear friend that I joked with and teased. Someone who shared my sense of humor and a faith that made us both weep at Easter when we sang “Hallelujah He Is Coming”

The other friend left early so he could go home and be with his wife, son and brand new daughter.

Last week I performed another funeral for a friend and parishioner who ultimately died of issues surrounding his fight with Alzheimers.

In seminary, as I was training for ministry, I was taught the theological framework for both the situations. But the reality of celebrating with friends and grieving with them, sometimes at the same time, is something that those of us who answered a call to be pastors know as one of the oddities of this unique relationship we share with people.

So here is a toast to Jane, I pray God’s blessings for her new life and the family that loves her dearly, and a toast to Don Hall a friend that is resting in the arms of a God who loves him.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Only drink milk from a Christian cow

For those of you who read my occasional brain barfs here on this Blog, you know that in the past year or so I have really been rethinking what Church is, and should be, and what community really means.

I meet every Monday night at a pub on Belmont in Portland called the Horse Brass (try the Fish and chips!) with some guys. Last Monday I was there till about 11pm talking with two friends, Charlie and Aaron, about this whole idea of community. Particularly, we were talking about when a community turns into a closed bubble that isolates us from the rest of the world. All of us had experienced such communities in our lives.

I’ve become increasingly dissatisfied with the church’s ability to become a meeting of individuals who don’t particularly care for one another beyond the superficial “passing of the peace” and occasional potluck supper. The middle sized church’s I have served in my career have often felt like anonymous places of worship.

I am amazed that in the 11 years I have been an ordained minister, I have met on an average three nights a week committees on top of weekly worship services and classes and retreats...and...and...and... Yet the largest numerical growth I have witnessed in a congregation I’ve served is 10% (we used to call it death plus 10% since the average age of most Methodist churches is usually more conducive to funerals rather than weddings and baptism... That's a thought for another blog)

I don’t want to get hung up on numbers and fall into a trap of saying a church of 500 or 1000 is better than a church of 100 or 200 (because I don’t believe that to be true) What is frustrating, is that after 11 years (in my case) of meeting 3 or 4 times a week we still don’t see the communities we live in changed much by our presence there.

So when did we get to the place where we spend 4 nights a week to work out what the church is, yet become so closed that we have little or no contact with anyone who doesn’t go to our church?

Maybe I’m just struggling with the fact that I feel like I need to spend more time with “sinners” (That was a loaded phrase wasn’t it?) So how do we kick the bureaucracy that keeps us gathered in basements, passing motions like the Judean Liberation Front (Or was it the Liberation Front of Judea??) in the movie “Life of Brian” that never did anything, but voted on statements of support... “let it be known that we support Brian’s martyrdom...”

I guess I have been feeling God’s call to foster a christian community that genuinely loves and cares and supports one another by sharing their lives together. A community that would be a touch stone and body that sends us out to coach little league, and volunteer at hospitals, and what ever else way we can interact with the world. I am tired of being such a closed community that we think we can only drink milk from a Christian cow (That is my most favorite song lyric ever written, “Guilty by Association” thank you Steve Taylor!) So what would it be like to be a community of faith that God uses to transform our world??

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Sister update

Just a quick update on my sister, for you all that stop by here on occasion. The Dr said the surgery went well. He commented that things were not in the places they normally are (which in my mind is a confirmation that this surgery was the correct diagnosis and treatment) They didn't have to sever the nerve, so Nancy will just have to recover from surgery and wait and see if this takes care of the pain.

Thanks you all for praying for her during this time!