Jibstay

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Pm Sunday 2012

Worship...a call for terms

A term that makes me pause more and more is the word "worship." In a recent article in "Relevant" magazine website, the author commented on musical skills in worship with the phrase "the worship leader" opens his mouth.
The problem I see is that we are increasingly aligning the word "worship" with the activity of singing and music. Now clearly that is a crucial part of worship. The worship arts director on staff with me is truly excellent, gifted and sensitive to the whole act of worship. But worship does not end when the worship team leaves the chancel. Worship is so much more than the music. Worship incorporates music, vocal and instrumental and then goes deeper and farther.
In some churches the parts of a Sunday are: worship, prayer, announcements and teaching. The word "preaching" has been eclipsed by "teaching." Certainly there are parts of every sermon I preach that entail teaching moments: facts about Judaism, the Roman Empire, current cultural trends and word studies in Hebrew and Greek. But there is more than facts being conveyed onto an outline. Preaching is that mysterious collaboration between the pastor, Holy Spirit and congregation. It demands embracing mystery and uncertainty. It acknowledges that we work hard, but let go of control; that God is at work in deeper and more wonderful ways than we can anticipate.
And worship is so much more that the preaching time. I'm impressed that it begins on Saturday as we anticipate and prepare for the day, reading the texts and, if available, looking at images. It happens in the parking lot as we see friends and strangers emerging from their cars and we do or don't greet them. It's the welcome at the door, calling strangers by name and recognizing the children and grandparents. Worship happens when we stop talking and engage in some silence and stillness (a short commodity today). Worship happens when we put cash and checks into offering plates and fight the stranglehold of money on our lives. Worship happens in the stillness after sermons and the prayers with others after the benediction. I would venture that worship happens at lunch with friends after church, as we debrief, critique (it happens!) and explore what God is doing in our lives.
"Come let us worship and bow down!"

Friday, March 30, 2012

O'Hare at 5:00 am

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Happy Girl

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The beauty of the hills

It's good to get out, away, and up.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Morning in Santa Barbara!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Planting for Glory: John 12:20-33

Sunday, March 18, 2012

On My 59th!


59 years old seemed like a pretty old age....when I was 30. When my dad was 59 I was four years into ministry in Lafayette, Indiana with three kids! At 59 I unapologetically ask for AARP discounts. At 59 I no longer get carded for anything, but have not yet been asked if I need some assistance. At 59 I'm a grandfather! Yikes, a grandfather! Aren't grandfathers old? They used to be...when I was 30. At 59 I'm really enjoying what I'm doing more than at any other time in my life. At 59 the house gets quiet by 8:00 p.m. when I want to read or write or reflect. At 59 I'm accepting my limits and getting awed by God's limitlessness. At 59 there are some battles I'm not fighting any more. At 59 there are some other battles I'm fighting for fiercer than ever. At 59 I realize that if I don't head to the gym or beach, gravity will win everywhere! At 59 children are less of a nuisance and more of a privilege and delight. At 59 life if really getting fun!

Nicodemus

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bailing Out...a new trend?

Is it a new trend or am I noticing something regular and normal? Over the past months, I've heard several stories of planned events where people registered their interest to participate, help and even lead. But at the last moment they cancelled or just didn't show up.
Someone suggested to me that the driving reason for this is smart-phone calendars that show only the day we are in and don't show the details about the coming days (like the old paper calendars did). So that means when people promise to show up, they often do not realize other competing commitments until the day of the event. Students routinely tell teachers that they did not "know" about an assignment that was due or a test that was coming, even though it was on a printed syllabus or in the calendar, because all they go on is the day on the phone.
Is technology to blame, or is there something more? Are people more overcommitted than in other generations (can you say more and overcommitted together?)? Does our culture of immediacy and spontaneity erode commitment and reliability?
When I read polls about religious behavior, when people identify themselves as regular attenders in worship, that means once or twice a month. Is that the new regular?

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Touch

Isaac & Anna went out for dessert. We gladly took Elise. She fell asleep in my arms, then, later stirred awake and fussy. Martha took her from me and said "Where's the Yo Yo Ma cd? She found it, put it on, and at the sound of that sweet cello and Martha's humming rocking, Elise immediately settled down. What is it about the cello that is so calming? Or is it that Martha has not lost her touch?

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Slide

It's one of the things I do: officiate. It's a role that I both inherited and have learned to love. It's the offering of an invocation, blessing or benediction. It's a titular experience of representing the church in my office of pastor.
In two areas I have noticed a subtle slide or shift: weddings and funerals. In my past and in the midwest, I was regularly called on to officiate at funerals for families both of the church and families who had no church. The ethos dictated that a clergy person say the words and guide the process in cooperation with the funeral home personnel. Now in the West, that seldom happens. Funerals are rare. Memorials are more common. And many families host their own events at parks, beaches, homes and restaurants without needing an "officiant".
The other area where I was often called to step in an officiate was for weddings. I think I have logged over 400 weddings now in my life as a pastor. But the calls to officiate at non-church weddings is becoming more infrequent. Sunday's New York Times Style Section clearly and succinctly identifies a cultural slide away from institutional clergy officiants to instantly certified friends of the family. It's the shift to a privatized faith and ritual unhinged from history and a larger community. We feel we can make it up as we go, drawing from here and there to make a pastiche ceremony of our own.
This slide translates into the life of the church where regular gathering in one place with others to sing, pray, and listen to a sermon is becoming less the norm. This is a growing segment of our community who have a faith in God, but when asked about religious affiliation, label themselves as Nones. I think we in the church need to carefully examine these trends as a critique on the church, but also make a stronger case for the church in our day. It's going to be an interesting ride!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

From This....To This

Several weeks ago we gathered around the empty site for the new playground to "break ground" only to find that the ground did "break" under the weight of the bobcat machine that the playground company brought in to prepare the site. A deep mud hole "sucked"the bobcat down into the ground. So we gathered and prayed.
Now, several weeks later, the playground is totally completed. Each day for almost three weeks a crew of two and sometimes three guys painstakingly prepared the site, filled in the mud hole, installed drainage, spread gravel, sunk footings. I know. I stopped by to monitor progress every day. I never know how complicated and precise a playground like this had to be!
It started as a dream by an older couple who loved this church's commitment to children. After they died, they designated that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of their home go the MCC Children's Ministry.
What a surprise and delight in a tight economy and an always tight church budget to be mandated to spend money on children. The former Children's Ministry Director, Ashley Miller and her Children's Ministry Team reviewed all types of playgrounds and proposed this playground to the church council for approval.
When Ashley left the position and Heather Shennum stepped in as Interim Children's Director, she asked a friend of MCC, Dan Heckman, to act as project manager since Dan is in construction. Dan stopped by regularly to answer technical questions by the installation crew.
And now it's done. After a training video Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. for supervisors and teachers, the playground will be ready for children ages 5-12. Thank you Herman family for making this playground possible!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

What happens when Peter takes my phone in church!

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Deny Yourself, Take Up Your Cross, Follow Jesus

Lenten Cross

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