Monday, September 26, 2005

Seeds on good soil

I give thanks to God today for the opening of the Columbus (Ohio) YWCA Family Center. The Family Center merges the child care and family services aspects of the YWCA with the family homeless shelter services, allowing for a full-service home for Columbus' struggling families.

More important, the Family Center replaces the rotating-church-shelter model that had been in place for two decades, but was devastating to homeless families. I was the director of the shelter for two years and initiated the transition. Having seen how destructive and wasteful the rotating shelter model was I am deeply grateful for the YWCA's movement to a more humane and healthy model of care.

I give thanks to God today for the trust and hard work of the people of Columbus and the YWCA, and for the churches who gave up their historic investment in an outdated ministry to do greater work in God's name. And I give thanks for my friend and colleague Beth Lonn who remembered to send me pictures!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Send us your music minister

I suddenly realized that about the only place I haven't posted our ministry opening is right here.

I've made fliers and posted on Craigslist and choralnet and all kinds of other places.
I've emailed friends.
I've prayed on it (and prayed some more and journaled and sketched and doodled).

But here it is: Lord God, send us your music minister. Send us someone who loves you and loves your people. Send us someone who loves music -- really loves music -- and wants others to love it too. Keyboard/piano is critical, choir would be very helpful. But passionate love is key.

For anyone who might read this who plays or knows someone who plays, here's the deal:

In the last two years, we have moved from a 1950s-style mainline Christian stand-up-sit-down worship service into something more fluid, with more music and more music participation. When both our choir director and organist retired this year, we realized that God was giving us an opportunity. Our goal is to find someone who has gifts to be a spiritual leader as well as a musician -- someone who loves music and God's people and wants to glorify God by helping people worship.

As we get somewhat younger, and are drawing more from unchurched folks (praise God!) our range of music grows. Our current baseline is piano or organ and choir. We're also nurturing a worship leader and are looking toward the future. We want to be prepared to go where Jesus leads, which means being flexible, attentive, enthusiastic, and team-driven!

We have deliberately not drawn up a task-driven job description, because our goal is to find the person with light in his or her eyes about our vision and mission. We would rather craft around building a team than filling a slot.

All that said, here are some current data: The job will likely be .3 to .5 FTE. Currently the choir meets Thursday evenings and worship planning is Monday mornings. We are a small church -- maybe 70 in worship -- with one worship service We are an "open and affirming" church, meaning that we welcome all seekers, sinners and saints, regardless of race, class, gender, ability, or affection.

And, what makes it hard to simply fill a slot with a typical mainline Christian organist or choir director: We are becoming more and more Jesus-led and Spirit-driven.

So, for anyone out there who feels like praying: Lord -- send us your music minister.


Friday, September 02, 2005

Our third world country

God's heart breaks.

It is not the natural disaster -- not the devastating winds and torrents of rain, neither the crushing waves nor the overflowing lakes. Though we may call it an "act of God", the horror of it is no Godly activity. We say "act of God" to reflect our impotency, our utter inability (and our deep desire) to control the greatest powers of the natural world.

It is the unnecessary pain: the suffering, the starvation, the disease, the dying. It is the loss of hope: being stranded, watching bodies float by, waiting for loved-ones' calls that do not come. It is the ineffectual aid: the planes and helicopters flying over groups of people waving madly to be rescued; the tens of thousands packed into arenas without sanitation, food, water, air (never mind sleep, safety, comfort).

And it is the horror of the richest country in the world choosing -- choosing -- to behave as a third world nation: continually cutting the taxes and responsibilities of the richest people and corporations; propping up invented wars; building prisons and breaking down schools; denying health care; directing infrastructure funds to high-profile pet projects that glorify only the well-shod leaders who build them.

It is the horror of our choosing to allow the median household income in Mississippi and Louisiana to be less than the cost of a new Hummer -- and praising those who make, market, and buy the Hummer.

It is the horror of our choosing to refuse aid and kindness and connection from our global partners out of hubris and unfounded "independence".

It is the horror of redirecting our national guard to protect Iraqi civilians we ourselves are bombing.

It is the horror of the President's pride in sending just $10 billion to the effort to save our own dying, suffering, hopeless people.

It is the horror of redirecting federal funds intended for building the very flood control that would have prevented this precise disaster to increasing the "security" in our airports.

It is the horror of our pretending to be a Christian country.

It is the horror of our calm acceptance of the idolization of independence, wealth, and the GNP, and our disdain for the real needs of real people right here in our neighborhoods.

It is the horror that we are the cause of our own desolation.

God's heart breaks.;;