Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Funeral and a Moving Truck

Today is the funeral for a member of our congregation who battled cancer for nearly three years. She was, and is, the embodiment of so many cliches you here at a time like this like: "She was far too young to die" or "She was so full of life." She absolutely was those things and more. She leaves behind three teenage children and a husband. However, she was a vibrant person here on earth and so I fully expect the service today to be the same... a true celebration of her life.

What I hope I don't here is those platitudes so often uttered at a time like this. Oh, they are well meaning, but I think sometimes people miss the implications of what they're saying.

"God must have needed another angel." Really? God needed her more in heaven than her husband, kids, other family, and friends? That must be a small weak God you believe in if you believe that God needed her more. Yes, God will benefit by her presence at the banquet table, but I highly doubt God needed her more.

"Don't worry, God doesn't give you more than you can handle." I don't know, call me crazy but I am pretty confident that having your wife die in the prime of her life is more than someone can handle alone. I suspect having to try and raise three teenagers alone who are now, understandably, acting out because of their mother while you are dealing with your own personal grief is probably more than one can handle alone. I have a hunch that having your mother die while you are still a teenager is more than one person can handle. I do, however, believe that God will help you handle whatever life dishes out. With God walking by their side they will be able to handle it... eventually... Which leads to the other problem with the statement. It implies that God has given this family this situation, that it was God who killed their wife, mother, or daughter. Really?

Anyway, I suppose it's an appropriate day for a funeral. Today we are taking a moving van of stuff to Rome. The "For Sale" sign is in the yard and today the moving process "officially" begins even if my call doesn't quite end yet. So today, as we start closing another chapter in our own lives a little piece of us will die.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I've found it interesting that one of the first things Andrew has learned to do is smile. It is also one of his favorite things to do. It turns out this is pretty normal behavior for a baby. So it got me wondering, why do babies like to smile so much? What happens to us as adults that so many of us lose that natural desire to smile?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Take A Chance

Yesterday's gospel reading was the parable of the talents and I'm wondering if anyone else had an Abba soundtrack running through their head? Anyone else hear God saying, "Take a chance on me?"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Are You Ready?

Here is my sermon from this past Sunday. For those who have been following along with this Blog, my apologies for not posting in a while. Last week I was in the office only one day and really only a couple of hours of that one day. I think things are settling out a bit... we'll see though.


I came across this quote earlier today:

YOU MAKE MISTAKES. Duh. Of course you make mistakes. That's what happens when you follow Jesus with passion. Mistakes are part of success. Mistakes validate your ministry because it means you're taking risks.

If only more of us felt so free to make mistakes, to shed the expectations of culture and society and instead to follow Jesus with reckless abandon. Imagine what this world might look like if we lived this way.

If you are a leader in your congregation then I hope you hear this as your call today: Go forth and make mistakes!... for the sake of Jesus of course.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Yes We Can 2: A Lesson in Stewardship

Did you hear Barack Obama's charge to his supporters throughout the campaign? Did you hear what he asked of them? He asked people to sacrifice. He asked people to give what they could be it $5 or $500. The amount didn't matter so much, but the act of giving mattered more. The result was unprecedented amounts of money flowing through his campaign. The result was unbelieveable support and loyalty that came with remarkable celebrations in the street upon Barack Obama's victory.

I don't know about you, but that sounds a lot like a church stewardship campaign to me. Or maybe it should sound that way. Are we asking people to sacrafice? Are we asking people to give what they can? When people respond to this responsibility of ours as followers of Christ I believe we will find that there is enough money for the ministry as well as a support and loyalty to the ministry of the church. As leaders in the church we need to remember that it's not about us, or our personalities, but it is about the mission that we are trying to accomplish. Barack Obama's campaign in large part was about something bigger than him, something historic. Isn't that true in the church as well?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yes We Can

Specific issues aside, last nights election brought some wonderful moments.

I loved how John McCain presented himself in his concession speech. He showed me that if he had been elected he would have made a good president as well. It was the John McCain that had me excited about the possibility of him being one of the final two candidates. He showed a level of class and support for Obama that I wish more of his supporters would have shown. I have a hunch that if Barack Obama winds up with a legacy of bringing this country back together and setting us on a new, positive path that John McCain will be a big reason behind the scenes.

I admit I shed a tear of joy during Barack Obama's speech. I was struck by how when I first paid attention to politics, just a little bit, in my teen years and there was talk then that we would probably never see an African American elected president in our lifetime. That wasn't all so long ago. What about my parents generation? My parents were born before Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream. How differently have things changed in that generations lifetime? Now, I'm looking at a world in which my son will grow up in world where an African American President of the United States is normal, which I think simply opens the doors further for an Hispanic President, a Female President, and whatever other barriers yet remain. If for no other reason, this was a good day.

On a more minor note, I think it was good day for many of us because now the politcal advertising should all be gone. To inappropriately misquote the African American spiritual, "Free at Last, Free at Last! Thank God, Almighty, we are free!"