Thursday, August 28, 2008

Blessing of the back packs

Last week we had an event that I was pretty exciting (well, I thought it was exciting, I’m not convinced anyone else was, but I’m used to being by myself on stuff like this) We had a “blessing of the back packs” during our Sunday morning worship service. About halfway through the service, we had all our elementary school kids come forward and put their back packs up on the alter. We as a congregation gathered around them and laid hands on and pray for them (again not sure every one was too excited about the getting up and touching someone, Methodists are a bit too stoic for that stuff. We would rather watch someone lay hands on someone and pray from our seat, or have someone “stand- in” for us ;-). Next we had our Middle, High School and College students come forward and we did the same for them as well. Finally, all the teachers and school faculty and staff we have who attend come forward and we prayed for them. Now that the altar was covered with back packs, we asked for God’s blessings for the kids who are represented by all these backpacks, that He would guide their steps, bless them with the spirit of wisdom and keep them safe.

I thought it was great! Did I mention I was pretty excited about it?

I mentioned a while ago on this blog that a few friends and I have been talking about the state of our world and our neighborhoods. It seems like Jesus and the rest of scripture speaks to us about those problems that we face today, but for some reason we don’t hear them speak. We often hear someone speak about Jesus, or about scripture, but being 1, 2, or even 3 steps removed sometimes takes a bit of the “punch” out of the revolutionary words of Jesus in scripture. So as my friends and I have been talking we asked what are the biggest problems our neighborhoods face? (I mean really literally asked each other ... out loud... between fork fulls of chimichanga at lunch). Two things seemed to surface the more we talked about it. 1) safety and security especially for kids. 2) crushing debt and a system that allows someone to get into a cycle of debt that they can’t get out of.

I’m encouraging our congregation to intentionally address those problems in our community. The blessing of the backpacks is a start for us. Seeing kids in front of us - putting a hand on their shoulder and asking God to bless them and keep them safe, asking God to give wisdom to those teachers who are given our trust to take care and teach our kids is a small step towards making our neighborhood a safe place with God’s help.

I hope you have a great week friends, and if you have kids heading back to school, or you are heading back yourself as a student or staff person I pray for God’s blessings and safety upon you as you go!


Monday, August 11, 2008

40 Years and one week old...

Well, it has been a busy couple of weeks. Last Sunday was my 40th birthday and the congregation I serve threw a wonderful party for me. One of my parishioners, who is actually attending seminary to follow a call to ministry, cooked me some of his special BBQ ribs Wow! Great stuff. The whole congregation managed to keep it a secret from me, so I was totally surprised when we turned the corner and saw a sea of people on the front lawn of the house! Who knew my wife was such a good liar.. well maybe more of a selective truth teller. I think I got enough coffee shop gift cards to last me the rest of the year. In fact , as I write this I am having a Latte’ at Brewed Awakenings on one of my gift cards.

Then, on Tuesday the family and I got up at 4:30am to get to the airport by 5:30am to make a plane at 6:30am bound for Disneyland and Southern California. Friday was my son’s 11th birthday so it was kinda a birthday trip for the both of us, complete with a birthday lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. Saturday morning before our flight home, we spent the day at Hermosa Beach with my wife’s cousin Lisa. It was a blast playing in the waves with my kids, but we got Sunburned... I mean SUNBURNED.. as in Chernobyl - radioactive sunburned! My feet are barely able to fit in my shoes they are so swollen, and shifting the foot lever on my motorcycle is not nearly as fun as it usually is.

I was thinking on the plane ride home, about the whole Disneyland experience. As a wanna-be-sociologist the whole Disney package is pretty fascinating. I will try to write some of those reflections down here next week. I’m still a bit exhausted from spending 14 hours a day on my feel and asking “how long of a wait is this line?”

It’s good to be home - Tonight starts our annual VBS program. Wish us luck!