Posts Tagged ‘Work’

The Cat’s Out

For My Next Trick...

Wilson Valdez won his first professional baseball game as a pitcher on May 26, 2011.  The game began on May 25 and lasted 6 hours and 11 minutes.  His team, the Philidelphia Phillies, used 21 players and had run out of pitchers in the 19 inning game.  19.  That’s more than 2 full games worth of innings.

Everyone was tired.  Fans were literally asleep in their seats until Valdez came to the mound.  It’s a big deal because he’s not a pitcher.  Well, he wasn’t a pitcher, but he showed there was more to him than everyone thought.  He normally plays 2nd base, but now the cat is out of the bag.  Now everyone knows he is capable of doing so much more than they ever thought.

And now, of course, the cat is squirming in everyone else’s bag and going for daylight.  What else is hiding underneath everyone’s facade?  What am I capable of when the innings grow long?  What gifts lie hidden in the church that only come out when they are desperately needed? 

I say, let them loose.  It’s good to have people doing what they do best, but let’s face it: there are a lot of people in our churches who ride the pine and we have no idea what they are capable of because they never step up to the pitcher’s mound and give it a try.  I’m not sure whose fault this is, and I don’t think it’s important.  What I do know is that Valdez, a journeyman infielder, threw a 90 mile per hour fastball and got the win.  What can you do?


From 2 to 17…no 18…ope…back to 17…ope…drivethrough now

Carol, proprietress (is that a word?) of The Way Cup Cafe, and I sit alone on a rainy Spring day.  It’s 9:36 and it happens like it does every weekday at about 9:35 or so.  This place goes from dead to an explosion of people and noise and busy for Carol.  There’s a big house being built down the street and a caravan of workers come here for their break.

Carol loves it and frequently sings the praises of Dick De Vos who is building his house and has been doing so for the last two years.  I say house, but…you know it’s more like a mansion.  I have no problems with it.  In the middle of the economic downturn that hit Michigan in a way it hit nowhere else that house has kept literally hundreds of families afloat in our area.

And Carol.

She goes into a flurry of activity and I can’t work because it gets loud and raucus and 15 guys are on break.  So…I take a break.  I’ve gotten to know a couple of these guys, and it’s led to a couple great conversations.  Someone walks in the door, sees the throng, and turns around to leave.  Then, while Carol is in the kitchen someone shows up at the drivethrough.  “Drivethrough, Carol!” one of the guys yells.  “Handle it!” she yells back.  And he does.  I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have his Food Handler’s Permit, but I’m guessing nobody cares.  He does handle it.

And there’s someone missing something.  It’s the guy who came in, saw the crowd and left.  If he’d waited a couple minutes, enjoyed the atmosphere of joviality, practiced a little patience, and taken a break along with everyone else (save Carol) he would have received more than java and a bagel.  He would have gotten the blessing available in surprise community.

Break is over and the men leave all together.  Carol stands over the cash register trying to figure out how her drivethrough window helper might have handled giving back correct change.  Then it’s back to just her and me. She sits down and smiles.  I know what’s going through her mind…”Thank God for Dick De Vos” or something like that.  I say, “Thank God for sudden community and the ability to go with the flow – to see it for what it is: not an inconvenience, but a bonus.”

Categories: Kingdom of God Tags: ,

The Big Glue

May 5, 2011 2 comments

Dana will remember and point it out to me after she reads this.  I can’t remember where it happened, but I do know when it happened.  It was Good Friday and we bumped into random stranger lady who made a comment about it being strange that the calendar landed on both Good Friday and Earth Day.

Earth Day.  You might know it.  It’s when the hippy community and the Christian community have an extra thing in common – caring for creation.  My first interaction with Earth Day was from my science teacher in 8th grade, Robin Ringland.  I grew up in Stanwood, Washington, and there was absolutely no way Robin could have professed Christ in the midst of her teaching overtly – she’d be out faster than you can say molecular biology.  But she did point us in the trajectory of Christ – especially on Earth Day.

Back to random stranger lady – the kind of person I like to interact with.  She mentioned the shared date of Good Friday and Earth Day with a big question mark on the end.  We were walking away when I saw the glue that brings the two together.  Reconciliation.  Good Friday and Earth Day are all about reconciliation.  God is reconciling to Godself the creation: both humankind and the Earth.  Why shouldn’t they happen on the same day?

If you are one who calls yourself after the name of Christ, I’m guessing you’re called to be a part of that reconciliation.  We usher in this coming Kingdom of God which has within it a shalom, a wholeness, a complete-as-it-was-in-the-beginning kind of reconciling between God and God’s creation: man, woman, mineral, vegetable, science, truth, beauty, art, hard work, work without toil, sabbath, relationships, clean air, birds, and horses.  World without end.  Amen.  Amen.

Lighter Fare

May 4, 2011 1 comment

Recently there has been some heavy stuff that I’ve had to encounter, and so, just in case you need a lighter story to bring some levity to your day (like I do) enjoy the following story which has absolutely no theological import or social commentary:

When I was in college I worked just about every summer at a Christian camp called Warm Beach Camp in Washington State.  Most summers I was a counselor for the campers, but one summer I was on the grounds crew.  We did all kinds of tasks to help keep the camp running: mowing, gardening, fixing fences, and painting.  This story is about painting.  Dan Snowden and I had the task of painting one of the “mountain cabins.”  Stan, our boss, gave us the paint and brushes and said, “Go for it.”

So we set into it.  We gave the first of four outdoor walls a good coat and could see that we weren’t going to have enough paint to finish the job.  The second wall was even larger than the first, so we went and found some paint thinner.  We, with all the knowledge that is imparted to a college kid, thought that if we just thinned out the paint it would be enough to finish the job.  Thinner goes in, volume of paint in the can goes up.

The second wall didn’t look so great when we were done, but passable.  The third wall found us adding even more thinner.  The wall looked…not so great.  We could see that the weather, which was always a little rainy in western Washington, was about to get really wet.  So, knowing that we were going to run out of time to get the job done, we added more thinner and really got to slopping it on.  And just as we were getting the fourth wall painted the clouds opened up and it started to pour.

Our sad little paint job was getting ruined.  The rain streaked the paint and the whole building looked really bad.  Stan would not be smiling.  Then, as Dan and I stood off to the side under a tree we heard a crack of thunder and heard a voice coming from heaven.  God spoke to us and said, “Repaint and Thin no more!”

So, there you have it.  One of my favorite jokes.  Yup, that’s the kind of thing I find funny.  Happy repainting.

The Day Before Easter

April 23, 2011 Leave a comment

8-10:30 – Fresh mulch placed out in front of the building.

10-12 – Wedding shower held in the worship space.

11-12 – Read a few chapters out of “The Charlatan’s Boy” by Jonathan Rogers.

12:30-2 – Set up chairs, test sound system, check powerpoint for spelling mistaks.

1-7 – Alex to a birthday party (I know, long party, huh?).

1-? – Mom and Bis go shopping for Barbie clothes (I don’t know…I’m staying out of it).

2-2:30 – Choir practice.

2:30-5 – Final touches to the church building, get sermon rewritten, phone calls to people in charge of coffee, donuts, easter egg hunt, readings during our Easter worship, find a couple people to handle parking.

6:45 – 7:15 – Pick up Alex from his party, invite his friend’s parents to worship on Easter.

7:15 – 10 – Try not to stress out (and somewhere in there watch an episode of “Chopped” on the Food Network).

10-11 – Cut my hair, trim my nails, lay out clothes for Sunday

What Easter Morning Sounds Like

April 19, 2011 1 comment

Hi.  I’m Jim, the pastor here.  Glad you decided to join us for worship this morning.  If you don’t go to church on a regular basis, or maybe even haven’t been to church at all before, let me introduce you to how things tend to work.  See that guy behind the other mic? That’s Soulinh.  He’s going to play some music and we’re going to sing.  The songs tend to be directed to God or about God or, sometimes, directed at the rest of the people in the room…encouraging them in a certain direction – upward, usually.

After we sing a few songs, we send the kids upstairs to continue worshiping in a way that’s a little more accessible for their young ages.  It’s not that they’re incapable of understanding that God loves them, but the way they need to hear it can be a little more appropriate upstairs.  When they head upstairs we’ll open the Bible and take a look at what God has to say to creation.

If you’ve never heard a sermon before, it can take all kinds of forms.  Sometimes the preacher will talk for a long time, or a short time.  Sometimes it’s even a conversation of sorts between you and the preacher, but the most important thing is that God gets to speak through the Word of God (that’s what we call the Bible here sometimes).  We believe that God speaks through the Bible and the preacher gives some insight into what God has to say to us, here, today.

Now, if you’re new to the Bible, let me give you a short overview: it’s a story, a love story about a God who created a world full of beauty and wonderful animals and the most complex of all: humans – who dwelled in a garden with God and each other.  We were created in God’s image for a relationship with God, to love God, to walk with God, to glorify God and to have a friendship with God.  Being human involves a relationship not only with God, but with other humans in peace and equality.  But things broke.  These relationships were ruptured and separated when people decided to break the trust and attempt to take God’s place, disobeying the only rule God layed out for creation.

Like any good story, especially a love story, there needs to be a problem – a break in the relationship that is overcome.  This is it.  The relationship is broken through the actions of humans, and there is nothing they can do to restore that relationship.  What’s worse, is that the brokenness isn’t just between creator and creation; the rupture goes deeper – into how humans interact with each other, and with the rest of creation.  But, like a good love story, a hero arises who will reunite the two separated parties.

God wants to bring things back into the peaceful wholeness (there’s a great word we use for that – Shalom) that we had in the Garden of Eden.  God wants to reconcile, wants to walk again, talk again with us – this time with the even deeper knowledge of love; the love that reconciles and moves forward.

So, back to the hero who arises.  Through time God raises up a people who represent all that God stands for.  They fail miserably to be God’s representatives in the world, but the Creator continues to bring them back and forgive them.  His plan is to raise up out of them a Messiah (a person who will bring them to salvation – or a restored relationship with Godself).  In time, God did just that – he sent a hero, a Messiah.  But not just any person – God came himself, put on flesh and dwelt among us to be the perfect reconciler.  It’s tricky and simple that he was born to a virgin named Mary – a simple and faithful woman.  The child was named Jesus.

Of course God showed what a human is supposed to look like, what they used to look like: full of love, and in an unbroken, unsevered relationship with God.  It’s something people haven’t seen in thousands of years, and they didn’t quite know what to do with this picture – a picture that showed their own frailties, foibles, and faults in such an nonjudgmental way.  So just when we, the readers of the story, start to get ready for the wonderful resolving of conflict, there is a plot twist.

Jesus is killed by those he came to reconcile with.  And the reader of the story is crushed.  And those who followed Jesus were crushed until the beauty of the whole story becomes clear.  All along God had planned on the death of Christ – reconciliation is not inexpensive after all.  And after three days of death, God overcame death with the power of love and life and brought Jesus back to life and with Him our relationship…all back to life.  At last, in the death of Jesus, the price is paid and a dying, broken relationship is finally put out of its misery.  And in the resurrection life is breathed into Jesus and at the same time breathed into the dead relationship.  Life.  Real and unhindered.  Renewed to the garden we walk and converse freely.

All this was free – the grace God showed free for the taking – a relationship renewed.  It’s when we recognize this that we are free to be truly human again.  And, inevitably, when we try again and again to sever our relationship, Christ’s death and resurrection covers it over and again so that we are reconciled again and again.  Life without end.  What a love story: pure love, broken relationships, a costly reunion, and a renewed passion and relationship more vibrant than before.

So, that’s what a sermon kind of sounds like.  After that we’ll respond.  Because, really, after a love story like that – one that involves us – who wouldn’t want to respond in some way.  Maybe a “thank you”.  And there are a lot of ways you can do that…primarily God wants us to respond with our lives – to give back our lonely self to God, but not just a little of us, the whole self.  That is, after all, what God gave for us.  Here at church we tend to pass a plate where you can respond monetarily, if you’re prepared for that.  If you’re not prepared to give a gift today, let this worship service be our gift to you.  We’ll sing a song, too…usually a praise to this reconciling God.

After this we go out into the world to be God’s representatives: the hands and feet of Christ in the world.  To help the continuing restoration of the relationship between humans and humans, God and humans, and humans with the rest of creation.  God sends us out into the world (like God did so long ago with Jesus’ lineage) to represent love and righteousness and mercy and justice.

Ninja on a Bicycle

April 13, 2011 Leave a comment

David on his way to the Way Cup Cafe

The following is a poem about a friend of mine who is a great example of service and selflessness.  He’s a terrific picture of gentleness and servanthood.  He rides his bike to the Way Cup Cafe and makes sure it’s clean and cared for, and I think he cares for more than just the cafe…because I feel it, too.  Thanks, David!  I hope you enjoy the poem.

Ninja on a Bicycle

Pedals gently

Coat swiftly to its place

Hands moving silently

Sits and stacks scattered papers

If you look away, he’s gone,

But the garbage is emptied

Unsanitary sliced away

And toilet paper restored

A second glance and he’s there, outside

But you never saw him move

Three sips of java and the patio is swept

Dirt cut into oblivion

Everything is gentle

But between the earbuds

A world-altering thought brews

Everything is gentle

But his heart beats with fierce passion

And he’s gone

You catch a glimpse of bicycle wheel

Reflecting the rising sun

Leaving as he came, a glimmer

A reminder of things to return

Categories: The Slow Grow Tags: , , ,