Friday, May 25, 2007
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Ready for this lineup?
Are you freakin kidding me?
It's too much - it really is hard to absorb it all and let it soak in before another headliner comes up and does it again.
And in the morning before I have to come home? - Brian McLaren
I think this event is going to have to stay on my "go to" list every year.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Preachers and manure - you know the rest.
Anyway, it's been an eventful gathering thus far.
I ran into so old seminary friends, and am eager to catch with them while here.
Last night we heard the chancel choir from First Baptist, Nashville, at least 80 voices strong.
Outstanding, in fact, they remind me of my own choir at Saint John's.
Tom Long gave the opening sermon. First time I've heard him in person, although I've heard of him for years. Very stirring and indicting on the nature of worship too easily co-opted by culture, and the preaching worship moment lost.
We also heard from Barbara Brown Taylor, who was fabulous - in speaking to us about preaching in parables. Having had her at Saint John's only a few months ago, it was good to see her again and share in a few minutes of conversation.
On tap today:
Long and Brown Taylor this morning
Anna Carter Florence and another Faith/Health Symposium alum, Walter Brueggemann.
Also, "on tap," today, some much needed table fellowship with old friends, if you know what I mean.
Monday, May 21, 2007
You see, 20 years ago, 20, wow, hard to even type that, after graduation from Memphis State in May, then, in June, I loaded up the Ryder truck and drove across the river into the strange and foreign land of the Tennessee Conference, to take my first pastoral appointment.
I was appointed as Associate Pastor at Old Hickory United Methodist Church, just outside of Nashville.
Actually, it’s in Nashville, they just didn’t want to admit it.
I moved and took the appointment in anticipation of my entry into Vanderbilt Divinity School.
I had an apartment in Hermitage, Tennessee.
I can’t take this drive now without remembering that seminal journey then.
College graduate. Days of fun and frolicking (and, oh yes, my friends, I funned and frolicked with the best of ‘em in those days, and some of you who read this can tell plenty of stories to that point – but please don’t, my people think I’m a good boy) giving way to the “mature” person I was supposed to be.
I left a girl I had fallen in love with only the year before, at a time I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to fall in love with anyone.
Oh yeah, that girl is now my wife.
So, off to Middle Tennessee - Time to put on the big boy pants and see how I’d do.
I recall this story of my life for many reasons – I remember my family sending me off. I recall leaving “youth ministry” at an affluent suburban Memphis church, and they being supportive as I went.
I think it comes down to this – within each of us, there comes a moment when a person’s call moves from dream to reality – and no call of God, not a one, is exempt from examination, testing – some wilderness wandering even, to see, in part, if that call is as deeply felt during the stresses and strains of living.
This trip was one such moment for me. Sure, there’d be more, but this one was as significant as any I’d ever take.
The other reason I recall this today is that I’m reminded that I’m leaving this event earlier than originally planned. The event goes until Friday, but I’m leaving Thursday afternoon to attend my oldest son’s graduation from the 8th grade.
Granted, I’m still not over the “scam” this graduation thing is at every level now. Kindergarten, Elementary School, Middle School, and oh, yes, High School.
Capitalism at work, I say.
But I’ll be there, camera in hand, probably a little misty. My boy is taking another step toward his moment when he’ll have to go out on his own to see what he’s made of.
And I’ll be there cheering him on, although I know it's his journey and his alone to take.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Monday, May 14, 2007
I didn't work this past weekend.
For the first time in a very long time, Kristy and I took the weekend apart for ourselves. Thanks to some very willing grandparents, we had no responsibilities for our children. We chose to have no responsibilities for our work - and focused, instead on each other.
I'm not sure I can communicate fully how badly I needed that. I've long lived with the mantra that I can only be as good a pastor as I am father and husband - and all of those characteristics have been stretched in the past year.
So this weekend was just what the doctor ordered.
Slept in every morning.
Went to the movies.
Sunday morning, got up, read the paper, and, while my congregation was worshipping, I was in the middle of a three mile walk with my wife.
Not too shabby.
And as much as the weekend was good medicine for body, soul, and the marriage, I'm left a bit uneasy.
I'm back at the desk this morning, on the meeting merry-go-round, and while refreshed, I'm concerned about just when it happens that the conviction I feel not to get too out of balance again will be overwhelmed by calendar, life, the grind of routine.
To what degree is that any of that a choice? And if a choice, what control have have I to keep all in check.
That's a question to be worked on. Is there a healthy way to manage life as it comes?
You'd think so.
And I'd so much prefer that to the usual feeling, when saturated with life, that one more thing is one thing too many.
When I've been at my best self, I get that. There is the intentional practice of non-doing that makes room for the sacred. It gives the body and spirit time truly to rest.
On this side of recent re-creation, I'm all in.
I know myself well enough to know, though, that I need to work hard to protect sabbath time in each day just as I had to work to protect this past weekend.
Otherwise, I'm back to what I was in no time at all.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Friday, May 04, 2007
Either we'll succeed, or we won't succeed. And the definition of success as I described is sectarian violence down. Success is not, no violence. There are parts of our own country that have got a certain level of violence to it. But success is a level of violence where the people feel comfortable about living their daily lives. And that's what we're trying to achieve. President George W. Bush
I truly don't know where to start with this one.
There are many issues running here.
But the thought that continues in me is that just when I think we can't slide any further down the slippery slope that this war has brought us, I find that I'm wrong.
The cynical side of me (which I freely admit too often dominates my thinking) can easily lead me to the darker places of the soul. Could it be that, in part, a perpetual war keeps the war industrial machine fed and maintains an oil supply issue that will always keep the price per barrel high enough, for long enough, that we no longer think that what we're paying at the pump is too high?
To be sure, on a global scale, what we pay isn't too high - but when $3.00/gallon feels o.k., guess who benefits? And guess who is harmed?
And, if my cynicism carries a bit further down the road, that this administration is, without dispute, in bed with those who benefit from such a scenario, is, I'm sure, only coincidence.
But there's another side to this quote that I can't get past.
"..success is a level of violence in which people feel comfortable living their daily lives."
Nothing reveals the heart more than this.
The day we accept any level of violence is the day we are no longer working for the coming of the Realm of God in it's fullness.
And as long as there is a level of violence we're o.k. with, wars with continue, violence in this country will persist, and the makers of such tools will get richer.
So, rhetoric once again masks larger agendas, only now, it's so absurd, it's as if they're not even trying any more because they know that we know it's a bunch of crap, and we can't do anything about it.
Through my eyes, it's just that simple.