Saturday, March 27, 2010


My life is a life where I have meetings which I know are important, on the one hand, and not thrilling, on the other.

This week I have been to Camp Christian 3 times for meetings - a personnel committee meeting, minister's preaching workshop and dinner, and today a regional council meeting.

I have been on the regional council off and on for 22 years. And today may have been my last meeting. I declined to continue my term as we get asked if we want to continue every three years.

When I was first on the regional board - I would usually say nothing. I would listen to everyone else, vote appropriately, tick off all the issues on the agenda and then go home. I remember being impressed by some of my colleagues who questioned what was going on and really seemed to understand better than I did.

Now, I am not at silent and frequently ask questions, give reports and even will state my position on things. It is so important in any group to have people who are willing to spend time on the inner workings of the organization - we have to vote on the budget, be apprised on what is going on and help to make decisions about the future. And I have been a good and loyal respresentative at these meetings. Over the years the regional board meetings have gotten a little shorter - today's was only 5 hours. It used to be over night and all day on Saturday. I still am happy to be done with it.

As I serve a church I recognize how much people try to avoid meetings - and we try as hard as we can to keep them under an hour - although it really is impossible with our board meetings. Nobody likes meetings - but then the nedxt thing you know someone is complaining about the colore of a room, a change in worship or some new thing we are doing and they could have voted yes or no if they had just gone to the meeting.

Meetings - hate spending a beautiful Saturday at one - but I know we need em.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Gotta write something

Because it has been two weeks and I have not written anything.

Right now it is a Saturday afternoon and I am hanging out in the family room with Chuck and Tom. We are watching Basketball! And it has been pretty interesting so far and when we are not watching tv - they are reading and I am playing a computer game. This is what we call relaxing in our advanced years.

I am preaching tomorrow on Isaiah 43 - "God is going to do a new thing" And I have thought a lot about that. This was written for people in the exile who were going through "dislocation." Their country had been taken over by the Babylonians and the righteous remnant were actually living in Babylon. They were in a place of instability, loss, grief and alienation.

I ended up finding a wonderful quote from Walter Brueggemann about dislocation and how we experience that today. I have to say - especially as you get older and everything seems so different. Everything like media, the institutions we used to count on, our famjlies and our health. It is just different and I have many, many conversations with people about that. We are living in the midst of change, of dislocation, of - we hope - transformation. But it is so often unsettling.

Brueggemannn says (and of course, I will quote him tomorrow!) that our response to dislocation is often denial and despair. The denial is the denial of our feelings of loss (anger, sadness, grief) and the despair is lived out with a cynicism and a detachment. The despair is also founded on a belief that things are getting worse and worse and worse. The glory days are over.

So, this is the word - God is doing a new thing,. In the midst of it all, I trust that. I preach what I know - that God is doing a new thing

But at the same time - especially as we live in the losses of change (like the loss of my sister which I think about a lot with Tom visiting) we all want things the way they used to be. I want her back, I want my parents back. I would like my old more fit body back while we are at it.

But I do trust that here - today - and tomorrow. God is doing a new thing with me, with Tom, with Karl Road Christian Church. With everyone of us.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Diversity in the church

This is what I love about serving at Karl Road Christian Church.

- I just did a wedding for David Koomsen and Florence bassamami. David is from Ghana and Florence from Sierre Leone and they were married last summer in an African wedding and today I did an official wedding that is sanctioned by the state. It was "my wedding service" African style. We started about 45 minutes late waiting for Florence's 92 year old mother come from Pickerinton. I got to visit with her daughter and learn how the family came to America. It is really an inspiring wedding.
- the wedding itself was the one I usually do - but we had LOTS of pictures being taken throughout the wedding. It was really kind of crazy but in a good way.
- right now the reception is going on in fellowship hall. The food is African and the dancing is too - but it looks very much like the way we all dance at weddings except for the music different. The movements are the same. I sit there and just feel blessed to experience all of it.

This morning Charles Montgomery preached - he is our gospel praise service preacher, a gifted young African American man and a great preacher.. I had to encourage him to realize that 20 minutes was probably the max for this service - instead of 30 - 35 that he preaches in the evening. He was slightly more restrained - but so powerful that people clapped in the middle of the sermon. Trust me - I have never had that in my life of preaching!

Audrey was here and a friend came up to her after the worship and said she should have sat in the "gay row." I kind of liked that - we are not an officially open and affirming church - but we are a welcoming and accepting church. So, there is another form of diversity that I celebrate for our church.

This is absolutely the joy of my life - watching a white church become transformed into a place that is more and more accepting of the diversity of God's creation.

Charles Ferguson - our previous preacher for the gospel praise service - said the church is supposed to look like heaven. We are getting there.