News for January 2013

It is possible.

A couple weeks ago our family was driving up to Bay Lake Camp for a weekend retreat with other folks from our home congregation/neighborhood. I was in terrible mood. Tired and angry and frustrated about a number of things. In fact at one point I actually pulled over and got out of the car to let Jodi drive ’cause I was in no place to be behind the wheel. I even asked Jodi, “Why are we even going this weekend?” (Other than the obvious: It’s the congregation she pastors) Her response? ¬†“It’s transformative.”
That woman. ¬†She’s always right.
We drove out to the island. Driving on ice will never be normal for me. We unloaded. I laid down. I even slept a little bit – a relatively new thing for me. I mean, sleeping during the day. I think it’s called napping.
When I finally dragged my bitter self into the community space and took on the taco bar I wasn’t quite ready for people. But it was that or not eat tacos. And I would sooner drive on ice than not eat tacos.
This would be a nice place to say, “And then everything changed.” And in fact I was hoping someone would flip the switch and I’d be a happy camper. But it wasn’t. All the same I stuck with the community. We turned in our cell phones. We played games. We froze. And we went to bed. And I was only slightly less cranky.
Mid morning day two I went for a walk with a few friends. We headed to the site of the Island Folk School. It may be my favorite place on earth. Which works out well because I plan on retiring there.
On the hike back I was asking my friend Chris how she manages to always be so giving and hospitable. (The sorts of things at the heart of my stress and bitterness.) She shared a number of insights but the big one for me was surrounding ones self with people who see possibility.
That’s when things changed for me. That’s when I realized I was hiking back to a lodge full of people that saw possibility. They were part of a scrappy podunk congregation because they saw possibility. They believe in a God of possibility not prosperity. Of hope not outcome. Possibility not perfection. You and I get to be a part of that possibility. We are possibility.

It’s possible that I’m bordering on motivational speaker here. In which case: Buy my book!

Or receive my thanks: I’m grateful for you, because you keep my vocation a possibility. I hope I can do the same for you. Thank you.

Posted: January 30th, 2013
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New Again

Last year I visited a church. Well, many of them actually. It’s a vocational hazard of sorts. The church I’m thinking about today was one in transition.

Old church. Old neighborhood. The population/ethnic make up around the church had changed and the church had not. Its congregation was made up of folks who drove into the city to attend because that’s where they had always gone. And this congregation was ready to fold. It wasn’t sustainable.

So this church called a new pastor in hopes of giving it one last go before they closed the doors. The pastor’s job was to be the pastor of the existing congregation and simultaneously start a new congregation that was more representational of the neighborhood. New name, new time (evenings), new people, new life, new language, etc…

As he worked with the new and old two things stood out. The new congregation wanted to worship in the mornings when the old congregation worshiped. And the old congregation wanted to worship with the new congregation.

And so there was no longer an old congregation. It died. And it was raised to new life in this new congregation that met in the same place at the same time with many of the same people. It had been made new. New faces. A new call. A new life.

With a new year upon us change and transition are on our minds. Me? I’m ready to start over. How I’ve done things in the past is no longer sustainable. I could use a new set of rules to play by. That’s scary. And may lead to the unknown. But my identity remains. In my tradition I’m carried forward by the promises made in baptism. That I have been made new. That I am whole and loved and welcomed into God’s work in this world.

Whatever the new year holds I need you to remind me of that.

Posted: January 2nd, 2013
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