Wednesday, January 27, 2010

There's always one more thing left to do

Colin Beavan's post this morning. You go on, No Impact Man!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Yes, sometimes I do have to boast

Our webminister said that the mic settings (etc.) for this song were set up for great sound, but didn't record the choir well.  Okay.  But they still sound great, and God was in the house!

Song: God Will Lead Us On!  (David Lantz III and John Parker, Daybreak Choral Series)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

When snark sneaks out

On Sunday, in the middle of an impassioned plea for help to Haiti, the speaker disparaged American systems of emergency aid. It was a sarcastic side comment, irrelevant to the topic, and it made me wince.

I winced not only because it was unnecessarily negative, and not just because it weakened the overall message, which was so important.  I winced because I could imagine myself doing the same thing. Different topics, different audiences, sure, but my inner snark sneaks out more often than I'd like.  This speaker's slip was showing, exposing my tawdry undergarments in the process.

Honestly, I don't know why I do it.  The speaker I heard has a lot of built-up anger and resentment, and it often spills out in negativity.  Is that me, too?  Or is it something else: some demonic possession of my tongue, snaking my words through paths of unkindness. It doesn't matter: I don't want it anymore.

Lord, whatever it is that causes negativity in me, help me find it. Lord, when I find it, help me understand it. Then, dear One, help me forgive others and myself, and, please, if you can't heal it, crush it.

Friday, January 08, 2010

What's best?

I am applying for a long shot week-long writing workshop. Part of the application is submitting a piece of writing, 1000 words or less. Any topic, any form, but one's best writing.

For years all I have written are blog posts, sermons, and grocery lists, all of which are merely personal letters to loved ones and Trader Joe's.  Sermons are too long. Groceries lists too opaque. So I read back through the nearly five years of this blog, searching for something that would accurately gauge my gifts.  That's a lie: I was looking for something that was better than my actual best, something that would wow the committee:

"Have you read this one yet? She's a pastor in California."
"No, not yet."  Reads. Tears of laughter and sadness roll down the reader's face.  "How could we have missed this brilliance before? Where has she been?"
"I don't know, but I think we should send this to the Pulitzer committee today. Maybe she would lead a workshop for us."
"We couldn't afford her."
"Thank God we opened this email. My spiritual life has been made complete."

Or, alternatively:
olive oil
humble pie.

Monday, January 04, 2010

to give up your life

retweeted from Todd Agnew who retweeted from Steve Timmis (@stimmis)

  1. "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Jesus Christ 
  2. If I'm not prepared to jeopardise a friendship so that I can tell others about Christ, I can be fairly certain I won't give up my life.
  3. If I'm not prepared to miss out on promotion so I can stay & help plant churches, I can be fairly certain I won't give up my life...
  4. If I'm not willing to pursue people who are different from me in order to bless them, I can be failry certain I won't give up my life...
  5. If I refuse to give up a holiday abroad so I can support someone in gospel ministry. I can be fairly confident I won't give up my life...
  6. If I'm not prepared to give up my bed to go and serve someone, I can be fairly confident I won't give up my life...
  7. Can't ultimately be sure until I'm called on to do so. But there are indicators in what I am reluctant to give up...

Sunday, January 03, 2010

the problem with confession

There's a darned good reason people confess to priests, and it's not about intercessors or indulgences: sometimes confession is good for the soul and really bad for the hearer.

Remember the conviction I wrote about in an earlier post? Today I made the mistake of acting on it.  For the past year and a half, I have loved being with our youth, and counted myself selfish for loving it, and despaired over the days that ticked by without a new youth and family minister, and been privately grateful for the delay (see "selfish" above).  A few days ago, I emailed the youth volunteers and hiring committee about meeting to regroup and to ask God precisely what the heck He is trying to teach us. Early this morning I decided I wanted to tell the youth about the delay, about the volunteers needing to regroup and confront the Lord, and ask for their prayers and input.
Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus (Youth Specialties)
After worship, I re-read Mark Yaconelli's "Contemplative Youth Ministry", (btw--thank you, Heather, for recommending this a couple of years back. Or curse you. Whichever.) and remembered once again how much I like working with our kids. And what I love about working with adults. And what I love about my own relationship with God.  Surprise: they are all the same thing.  It's presence: the presence of God, the presence of vulnerability, the presence of truth and light, the presence of hope, the presence of abundant life. Asked in the form of a jeopardy question: What is contemplation, Alex?  I want to not divorce myself from our kids because it's yet another opportunity for God to be present with me, and for me to witness and witness to God's presence in the lives of others.

But confessing to the youth would be wrong, at least in the mea culpa, tell me what you want, here's what I really want, wow that's manipulative way I was considering. So, my priestly friends, offer up a few intercessory prayers for me, assign me some ignatian examens, and let's all just move on. Okay?