Today is my dad’s birthday. We had a wonderful time celebrating last night with family and friends, but I thought I’d put up a quick blog here today too. Unfortunately, the camera is at home and so I don’t have any pictures to share from last night. I did find this one from his birthday a couple of years ago. I’d say we both look more or less the same today as we did then…
Happy Birthday, buddy! Thanks for all you have taught me and continue to teach me about what it means to be a man. I love you bunches!
Yesterday I shared some thoughts that had kept “We Are the Church” running through my head for a good 24 hours or so. I have continued to reflect on it and thought I’d share an additional insight that my daughter helped me see. h was in church with me at both Easton and Southern Heights on Sunday. As we drove from Easton to Southern Heights we sang the refrain of “We Are the Church” over and over again.
Later in the day, without any prompting from me I heard h singing, “You are the church, you are the church, you are the church together.”
It was adorable to hear her singing this song, but her choice of lyrics really struck me. Isn’t this how we so often function in the church? We think of programs or ministries that someone should be doing. We make suggestions of the things staff should address. We encourage other people to act and serve and give in ways that we think would be good. We often forget the “I am the church” and focus on “You are the church.”
I trust that h’s rendition of this song was more about a toddler’s developing memory than it was her theology or ecclesiology, but I do hope that we will all be mindful of the fact that “We are the Church Together.”
I am the Church, You are the Church, We are the Church together. All who follow Jesus, all around the world, yes we’re the Church together.
If you’re at all familiar with that hymn I’ll be curious to know how long that refrain sticks in your head after reading those words. They’ve been playing through my head for much of the last 24 hours.
Yesterday we concluded a 3 week sermon series at Easton and Southern Heights called “Belonging” through which we looked at what it means as United Methodist Christians to pledge support to a faith community with our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness.
At the conclusion of both worship services each congregation received new members who pledged to be a part of their respective faith community by contributing their prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness to the good of God’s work in and through that community. In the midst of this sermon series and the celebrations of yesterday it has been an incredible gift to watch both of these congregations function as the church.
- Care has been extended to a single mom recovering from serious surgery.
- Care has been extended to a woman who recently tried to take her own life.
- A special collection of money and needed items has been collected for victims of the storms in Alabama.
- Care has been extended to a family as their wife, mother, grandmother and friend has struggled with and ultimately lost her battle with cancer.
- The HS graduation of young people has been celebrated.
- An 18 year old young woman has been baptized.
- Food has been collected for and distributed to the hungry.
Where have you recently seen the church existing as the church?
In seminary our friend Joey shared a recipe with us for hummus. We made it A LOT for a few years, but really haven’t for awhile. No reason really, it just fell out of our rotation.
We decided to fire up the blender this weekend and to mix up a batch. We look forward to enjoying it in the coming days with celery, cucumber, and peppers. I sampled it before putting it in the fridge to chill this afternoon and it’s gonna be good!
- 4-6 cloves of fresh garlic
- 1 fresh lemon (juice and pulp)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 can of chick peas (drained)
- 1 can of white beans (undrained)
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 2 tablespoons honey (optional)
- salt to taste (optional)
- cayenne pepper (optional)
- In a blender grind together the garlic, lemon, & olive oil.
- Add the chick peas & grind some more.
- Add the white beans (with their liquid) and blend until the whole mixture appears to have a smooth consistent texture.
- Add the tahini & honey (if using) and stir by hand.
- Add salt & cayenne pepper as desired.
For what it’s worth, my preferred method is with the cayenne pepper and without the honey.
I live in Lawrence, but will soon be living in Tonganoxie.
I am the pastor of Easton and Southern Heights UMCs, but will soon be the pastor of Tonganoxie UMC.
I am in the process of preparing to pack and leave one home while thinking about what we need to settle in to our new home.
I am in the process of trying to end my time well with the congregations I currently serve while trying to begin well with my new congregation.
This in-between time is weird. I feel it in the physical and emotional realities of seeking to be fully engaged in multiple communities. The in-between isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just a weird one. My experience of these weeks is that in the in-between time moves both slowly and quickly, that it is both draining and energizing, that it is both scary and exciting. I find myself feeling extremely grateful for the love of family, the support of colleagues, and the presence of God in this in-between.
What experiences of the in-between have you had (or are you having)?
Lawrence First had a celebration last night for their capital campaign. Heather went early to get things set up and to rehearse with one of the bands that was providing some music for the celebration. h and I came later.
h knew where we were headed when we left home, but as we drove across the K-10 bypass and the West Campus came into view on the horizon h shrieked with delight, “My Church! Yay, my church! We’re going to my church. I get to see my friends at church. Yaaayyyy!”
Oh that we would all be so excited to gather together with our friends at church.
In this address Lovett Weems, Director of the Lewis Center for Leadership at Wesley Theological Seminary in DC, calls for individual congregations as well as denominational institutions to “reset the baseline.” If we don’t reset and we remain committed to the status quo, Weems believes the coming developments will be catastrophic. Give it 15 minutes and watch the video. Then let me know what you think.
What do you understand him to mean by “reset the baseline?” What do you think this might look like in your particular congregation?
Last night we had dinner at my parent’s and h went outside to play with her shopping cart when we were done. Something about her playing on the driveway reminded me of a similar outing a bit more than a year ago. Take a look…
My ankle hurts.
But I’m trying not to complain about it too much so I have found myself doing a bit of theological reflecting (or pontificating) instead.
Heather and I are in the third week of the Couch to 5k training program, but I’m not convinced that my ankle is back to 100% after the sprain of a couple of months ago. I am enjoying the running, but have been frustrated some too.
A couple of years ago I was running quite a bit, I even ran a couple of 10k’s. My body was strong. It was healthy. The different members of the body were working in harmony with one another and the results were satisfying and rewarding.
Then an injury occured.
Now what my body was once able to do produces pain. Trying to do it isn’t always pretty. It can be frustrating!
I have been thinking about churches that I know that are like this. At some point in their past they were functioning well as the body of Christ. Ministry was fruitful and rewarding, lives were being changed, God’s presence was felt in a palpable way within the community.
Then an injury occured.
Churches don’t sprain ankles, but they do experience deep and lasting hurts. Sometimes they come in the form of large-scale congregational blow-ups. Sometimes they come in the form of long-term low-grade fevers that over time turn into more severe infections. Either way, when injury occurs within churches things can begin to look like my runs have recently. They aren’t pretty. They are labored. They are painful to live through and painful to watch from the outside. Sometimes they are especially frustrating because of the memory that exists of what once was.
The good news (for my ankle) and for churches is that healing can come.
And so we pray.
And so we wait.
And so we work (therapy, strengthening exercises, practice).
And so we continue to trust that God is good and that God is at work.
Last night I was catching up on some DVR’d shows and actually had my laptop shut when I saw a tweet on my phone from my t0-be brother-in-law, “So long Osama it was real.”
Heather had her computer on so I asked her to look at a news source’s website. CNN.com, no clear indication of what was going on. Yahoo.com, no clear indication of what was going on. She went to twitter and there it was, Osama Bin Laden was dead. The President had not yet formally addressed the country, but there was no doubt that this would be the news he shared when he did step to the podium at the White House.
I stayed up later than usual last night watching coverage, following conversation on twitter, and reflecting. This morning I was finally able to put my thoughts into a few words and tweeted, “We hated OBL for dehumanizing others and celebrating death. I struggle this morning in fear of doing the same.” Again today I have been thinking about this. A lot.
In no particular order some of my thoughts include:
- I am against capital punishment.
- I believe God created all life.
- I believe God values all life.
- I am not sad to hear that Osama Bin Laden is dead.
- I definitely don’t feel “dancing in the streets waving a flag” happy that he’s dead.
- Will this really make our country safer? Our world safer?
- I don’t really understand how this brings closure for those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attack.
I have also appreciated many things I have seen/read today as others reflect on this:
- “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. ’ But I say to you love your enemies & pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:43-45 (thanks to @expatminister)
- “Christians pray for their enemies and love those who persecute them.” (thanks to @carlgladstone)
- Today it feels difficult to be a Christian and an American. (Thanks to Heather’s FB friend Kyle)
- “Heavy Laden” (thanks @toddmit)
- Thoughts on “Celebrating Death” (thanks to Paul)
- God clarifies “Don’t Kill” Rule (thanks for sharing @micaelawood)
None of this has yet gelled together into a coherent statement that I can make with any clarity greater than I did this morning, “We hated OBL for dehumanizing others and celebrating death. I struggle this morning in fear of doing the same.”
And so I pray.
And I invite you to pray.
For thoughtful discourse.