Sunday, December 20, 2009

Anticipation or Relief

Today is the fourth Sunday in Advent and with it a question came to mind: are you feeling a growing sense of anticipation of celebrating the birth of Jesus or anticipating relief that in a few days life will return to normal? Maybe you hadn't thought about that before, how as we get closer to Christmas there is at the same time, for people of faith both a growing sense of the culmination of so much preparation for us to join in celebrating while at the same time for so many Christmas afternoon or evening will bring a sigh of relief that all of the holiday expectations can be put away with the decorations until next year.

Maybe I'm just being a little too cynical this morning, and that's o.k. I guess. It's just that my heart goes out to so many who are working like mad to make their celebrations grand when really the best we can do is give thanks for God's love and for those God has given us. Perhaps our Pilgrim and Puritan forebears were right in de-emphasizing this holy day in favor of others; because if we can't keep straight what it is we are to be about in these next few days as well as throughout the rest of the year then maybe we really have lost our way.

I don't know. Maybe I sometimes wish that I too could have some of the wonder of childhood back. Watching Eric's eyes grow wide the closer we get and seeing him really live faith, albeit faith in Santa, is amazing to behold. Granted, there's nothing all that bad about his faith in Santa, after all his faith in Jesus is stronger and it seems to me that what he believes of Santa is generosity, love, and many other gifts that God bestows upon us. So maybe that's how I'll answer my own question, that is, I'll join with Eric in his childhood faith in Santa and allow my anticipation to build throughout the next week but I will also breathe a sigh of relief as December turns to January that my little boy's faith is still in tact.

Friday, December 18, 2009

City Lights

Today's Gospel is John 3:16-21 and in that passage so well known to so many is a word about what the judgment is to be:
And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.
That the judgment is light made me think about all the lights that go up all over town at this time of year.

And that made me think about all the heart rending rhetoric in December about how people don't remember "the reason for the season." I myself have been guilty of this too and maybe the real problem is that we don't look around and see just how many people understand the power of the light. I mean there are hundreds of homes just in our small city that are all decked out with lights of many colors and designs. Now I'm sure that some might say that has nothing to do with Christ or Christianity. But what about God's ability to use anything for the good?

Maybe God is using all those decked out homes to remind people of the power of light over dark. Perhaps when we see those holiday lights our hearts might just light up and we can see things in a new way. Couldn't it be that all those festive lights turn us toward forgiveness, love, joy, hope and all things blessed by God?

Or it could be that I'm just plain old silly in reading too much into all the lights around town. But then again, why not?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Challenge of Keeping Awake

Personally that's a rather ironic titled blog for me this December since I've been having rather a lot of trouble lately getting to sleep and staying asleep. Between the regular demands of the church and family there is the added nagging thought out on the horizon of my calendar of the impending Judicial Action of Kendall Presbytery slated for early January where I will be chairman of the Prosecuting Committee representing the presbytery against one of our minister members. Needless to say it is something that keeps me up at night or jumps into my thoughts when I awake at the small hours of the night.

But as I read the daily lectionary passages for today: from the Psalms through the prophet Zechariah to Revelation and onto the gospel of Matthew they were all about keeping awake for something big coming, for the coming of the Lord. Now for most of us the December crush has probably gotten our Scrooge going pretty good or at least we're having to constantly remind ourselves, even if we're the most devout Christian, what the reason for the season is.

And that's where this "challenge of keeping awake" stuff comes in. I mean, even for the devout, isn't it difficult to keep focused on Jesus? When there are so many expectations placed on us at this time of year how do we keep our focus where it belongs? What, with sales, and wish lists, and bell ringers, and travel plans, and various tasks to complete before midnight on the 24th even if we're engaged in "religious" activities it can be challenging to say the least to keep our focus on Jesus.

Knowing that and feeling it all too often lately is one reason why I've been starting each day with the daily lectionary. Yes, I'm doing so in part to work on an Advent Blog. But I'm also finding that along the way of starting the day with the daily lectionary that my focus, if just for a few minutes is on something other than the pressing demands that may or may not have anything to do with God's will or my relationship with Jesus. The ancient-present words of the Old and New Testaments push me to think about how God is indeed working in my life and at the same time how far I can get from having God in my life.

So, if you have access to a computer I wholeheartedly encourage you all to spend five to ten minutes a day reading the daily lectionary and listening for how God is speaking to you today.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Revelation

One of the big perennial questions or concerns of new leaders in the church is prayer. Not feeling comfortable praying out loud or more likely, not really knowing what to say is a fear very common in church leaders who are asked to pray. I'm not really sure where this fear comes from. It could be that pastors who are expected to develop a prayer-life over many years of preparation for ministry and throughout our various calls simply look way more comfortable than we really are. Or it could be that those who are less than comfortable praying aloud have seen one too many professional pray-ers and believe that they, themselves, come up short.

But when we turn to the Bible and see snippets of prayer or worship in the Scriptures themselves what is often astonishing to me is how simple and God centered prayer is. Gone are the long-winded prayers that last an eternity, the poetically articulate prayers of note are somewhat missing and in their place what is it that we see?

Well, for instance, take verse eight of chapter four in John of Patmos' Revelation. After John describes the heavenly thrown room of God and the various creatures that inhabit the eternal presence of God almighty we are given a hearing of what the eternal song of praise is when John writes:
"Day and night without ceasing they sing, 'Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come.'"
It really is beautiful in it's simplicity isn't it? It may not be what many people have in mind when they think about prayer, especially if prayer is about asking. But if prayer is about forming our relationship with, to, and for God, then what better prayer than one praising God?

As you continue to move along the path of Advent that culminates in our celebrations of the birth of the One "who was and is and is to come" may your prayer life be just as filled with prayers of praise to God for being God as much as you prayer by asking. For when you do so, I believe you will begin to see how many of your prayers God is already answering.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Be Silent

Those two simple words "be silent" taken from the thirteenth verse of chapter two from the prophet Zechariah are words that we all would be better off heeding at this time of year or any other for that matter. After all, how often do we sit in silence waiting on the voice of the Lord? How willing are we to let the Spirit speak to us and not just ramble on about our needs, wants, and desires? For how many people is prayer nothing more than a shopping list or wish list?

The fuller context of these two words in the particular passage from Zechariah follow a passage about the return from the Babylonian Exile. It is a passage filled with hope and joy and expectation. It is a passage filled with action words like Up!, Escape, Sing, and Rejoice; of many nations, of many people gathering before the Lord in Jerusalem once again. And then we read the words:
Be silent, all people, before the LORD; for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.

Do you have the time to listen? How will you be silent before the Lord? Are you prepared for the coming of Him who has roused himself? Please, I implore you, take some quiet time today to be silent and listen for the coming of the Lord!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ancient Prophecies Today

As the daily lectionary continues to move through the minor prophets of the Old Testament it is interesting to hear how compelling those ancient prophets can be even today. Take for instance the prophet Haggai who opens his message by talking about how the people need to tend to the House of the Lord and not only their own affairs.

Haggai prophesied after the return from the Babylonian Exile when the surviving remnant found their much cherished promised land left in ruins, the Temple included. But like most people they saw to their own affairs and it took someone to speak truth to power before work on God's House, the Second Temple, could begin.

Haggai's words are especially telling as we all struggle with what it means to live within the new realities of our world after the financial meltdown of one year ago. Many of us are making the effort to live within our means and we are hopeful that we are not the only ones, but that those who run Wall Street and sit in the Halls of Power are also doing their best to live responsibly and keep policies in place that avoid another crisis.

Then again, many of us suspect that the old temptations of greed and power have not really gone away; that they are just waiting to reassert themselves and that's where hearing Haggai's 2500 year old word from God is interesting to hear this morning. In his effort to get the powers of his day to rethink a right way to live Haggai said:
"Now therefore thus says the LORD of hosts: Consider how you have fared. You have sown much, and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and you that earn wages earn wages to put them into a bag with holes."
I don't know about you, but to me that sounds an awful lot like consumerism: a lifestyle of never being satisfied. When we are consumed by such a way of living then making time to think about God, to focus on God, becomes difficult. And especially at this time of year when consumerism and shopping are so much a part of what Christmas has become, maybe listening in to the prophets of Israel might do us some good.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Struggling with the Daily Lectionary in Advent

Even though reading the daily lectionary has been a good discipline for me to engage in this Advent, it sure has been challenging with the last chapters of Amos and Matthew in particular has been very straining with their words of condemnation and warning. But maybe that's just the sort of thing we need to hear. I mean, even though many of us have felt the effects of the financial downturn over the last year we all still have quite a lot of stuff and if we are not planning an extravagant Christmas it will most likely not be one of nothing and just another day for most of us. In other words, we're mostly all still pretty well off.

So then, reading today's passage from the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus speaks out against the scribes and Pharisees may be a word to us, even if we are tempted to think Jesus' words apply only to those people he was berating 2000 years ago. In chapter 23 of Matthew we read the following:
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others.

When I read those words a little while ago it got me thinking about how much actual time do we spend thinking and praying about the weightier matters of the law; of justice, mercy and faith. You know what I mean don't you? How often are our conversations, church study groups and sermons for that matter focused on treating others in our society with the justice and mercy of God? How often do we spend talking about what it would mean to live in relation with others in our world based solely on faith and not be influence by politics, status, economics or credential? How often are our concerns and arguments tied up in things as seemingly insignificant as mint, dill, and cummin?

Maybe especially in these weeks leading up to the Advent of the Christ we need to think about how the birth of Jesus changes everything; how Jesus in our lives effects every relationship we have whether the most intimate bonds of family or the most hard to imagine bonds we have with those who are profoundly other, but none the less Children of God endowed with the capacity to love and be loved. What if we really took our preparations and celebrations of Jesus into account in such a way?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Living Psalm 50 in Advent's Blahs

By now we're midway through the season of Advent, nearly two weeks away from celebrating the Nativity of Our Lord or in Layman's terms we're halfway through the Christmas Crush. As we near Christmas Eve/Day many people feel longings that they're not quite going to capture that perfect holiday glow or may be feeling something missing whether it is a loved one who has passed in the past year or the financial crunch or just getting cabin fever in the arctic cold front that is gripping our nation this mid-December. Regardless of what it is this time of December/Advent seems to be the time of year when our inner Scrooge reappears.

So what can we do? Maybe Psalm 50 has an informative word for us that can help re frame our mood this time of year. Psalm 50 has to do with what God expects of us in relationship which comes out most clearly in verses 14-15 and 23:
"Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. ... Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me; to those who go the right way I will show the salvation of God."

Giving Thanks is, of course, not only a national holiday, but a way of living. As I was driving in today thinking about all of the cruddy cold weather in the forecast it really got me down to think about how limiting more snow and freezing rain will be on not only myself but many people I know. If that is what drives my day, thinking about how many people are going to be negatively effected by the fowl weather that is being predicted it will likely drive my day into the dumps.

But what if I remember how upon getting up this morning Kathy took the time to fix us all scrambled eggs, toast and bacon? How much differently will my day be if I thank God for my family no matter what crosses my day? It may not seem like a big thing, but if it is indeed what God wants from us, to offer thanks in all ways and at many times throughout our days certainly it will have power to keep our heart and mind in the right place even in the mid-December doldrums.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Words from God

Throughout today's lectionary passages from the Old and New Testaments there are passages about the effects and consequences of the Word of the Lord upon the earth. From songs of faithfulness in the Psalms to words of warning in Amos to words of comfort in Matthew, when God speaks the people of the Bible not only know it, but they feel it too.

So, do we still feel the word of the Lord? I've been wondering about that over the past few days as we've been gripped in the cold embrace of winter all of a sudden in Twin Falls. Not only is it cold as it is supposed to be in December but it is bitter cold. What with the wind and snow, even when the sun does come out it may look inviting, but looks can be deceiving.

And so we are forced inside, we are forced to draw closer to those whom we love, we are forced by the bone chilling cold to think of those who do not live in warm and comforting homes or who have no shelter at all. Could this cold weather be the voice of God? If we really listen might we not hear something of God in both the beauty and horror of such dangerous weather?

And if we do hear God's voice, what then are we to do? Maybe this nasty weather is a wake up call for us all to realize what we have been given. At a time of year when advertisers are working their hardest to push us into thinking we have nothing or at least not enough, maybe the freezing weather outside might help direct us to seeing how much God has blessed us with which will prompt us to acts of generosity.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


This morning's daily lectionary features Amos chapter six which is a stinging rebuke of the privileged of Israel whose luxuriant lifestyle is mocked by God through God's prophet. This can be either easily overlooked as God's word against people long ago and have nothing to do with me or it can be a lens through which to examine our own luxuriant lives especially in comparison to the bleak global reality.

Then again I'd like to split the difference this morning, especially as I look at my clock and see that I have about five minutes until I have to be on the other side of the building. While I'm not quite willing to assume that this Amos passage has nothing to say outside its historical context neither am I willing or able to go off on a social-justice tirade. Instead, this passage from Amos calls to mind the sight I beheld when I showed up in the bleak and utter chill this morning at church.

Although we didn't have a lot of snow we had enough to make me realize that I'd probably be pulling out the shovel in addition to my usual Sunday morning preparations. But when I showed up at church there was a four-wheeler with plow attached to it sitting out in front of the building, definitely out of the usual. As I got closer I saw that Rob Blackston had left the warmth and comfort of his home, donning hat and gloves and cleared the walk with his four-wheeler and swept the steps and front porch of the sanctuary building. If that's not service I don't know what is.

Rob's dedication of time and being out in the cold ensuring that others would have safe footing into the building today is the kind of lifestyle that Amos ultimately encourages us to live with the prophet's damning language in chapter six. What sometimes can be overlooked or used to rhetorically bludgeon can also point to sacrificial servant hood as I witnessed this morning upon arrival at church. Thank you, Rob for exemplifying the life that Amos and Jesus preached.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Amos, a Presbyterian?

Over the last few days on Facebook I have been watching as several of my friends from seminary and other clergy I've met along the way comment on the various distractions they engage in during Presbytery meetings. Along with it being Advent, it seems that many Presbyteries hold their last meeting of the year in December. One colleague from Denver remarked how she and about eight others (probably among fifty to sixty clergy present) text one another throughout the meeting, even texting the person who is giving a report if they know his phone is on, you know, giving him a buzz. Another friend from West Virginia was lamenting how she wished she had taken up knitting so that she could get something done during the all-day meeting. And earlier this week I pondered whether or not buying a Kindle so that I could upload my Presbytery agenda to it would be justification enough for the $259 expense.

All that is to say, myself included, not too many people a keen on a day spent at the quarterly Presbytery meeting. Included among those who wonder about meetings is the prophet Amos who says for God, "I hate, I despise your festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies" (Amos 5:21). Truth be told, few people take delight in solemn assemblies, which has been evidenced enough on Facebook these past several days.

But as I read a little further in Amos, verse 24 to be exact, "But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream" in those words I see justification for some of the ideas expressed by friends for finding distraction at Presbytery. For wouldn't their be some benefit in knitting a prayer shawl throughout the meeting, of being in prayer for the recipient of the shawl as well as for the work of the Presbytery. Or what about the friend who texts her colleagues in the midst of the meeting, certainly that's better than a gaggle getting up and talking in the halls or worse yet among one another while someone else is trying to speak.

Now I'm not sure that Amos had knitting or texting in mind when he prophesied so many centuries ago, but when you think about how some would have us behave during such a solemn event as Presbytery maybe a distraction every now and again might open the gates and allow justice to roll down.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Boise State & Psalm 102

Granted, that title isn't too catchy and it has little to do with Advent, but then again even as we prepare our heart and mind for the Advent of the Christ we do so within the context of a very real world. After all, are we simply to lay aside all of our worldly concerns in these weeks leading up to Christmas? Does not God want us to enjoy life? What harm is there in cheering for a team that is most definitely an underdog in the world of college sports? Couldn't how we cheer for Boise State be a witness to others about how to go about being a fan?

Maybe its a bit much to say that being a good fan of Boise State is on par with being a good witness to the love of God found in Jesus Christ. Yeah, it probably is. But what the heck, after all, as I said they're underdogs when you consider football programs that have dominated the headlines for generations. So why not join with the psalmist and make our prayer for Boise State:

Hear my prayer, O LORD;

let my cry come to you.

Do not hide your face from me

in the day of my distress.

Incline your ear to me;

answer me speedily in the day when I call. (Psalm 102:1-2)

What could be the harm? Maybe by praying thus for Boise State we'll get into the spirit of relying on God even more on more pressing matters in our life. Maybe by praying thus for Boise State we'll begin to see that there are other concerns in our life that need to be covered in prayer just as passionately. Maybe by praying thus for Boise State we will find in ourselves a longing for the living God who comes among us as the ultimate underdog; as a babe in a manger.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fruits of the Kingdom

Reading today's daily lectionary is a challenge. The Psalm is about God rescuing someone, but in the process of doing so there is much fire & brimstone language. In Amos the prophet speaks for God who has gone to great lengths to show favoritism to Israel and yet still Israel does not turn to God. In the Epistle, 2 Peter, there is instruction about not following those who might lead us astray. And finally in the Gospel for today, the Parable of the Vineyard in Matthew 21:33-46 Jesus tells the story of a man who grows a vineyard and then travels to a foreign land while the neighbors kill all the vineyard workers and even the vineyard owner's son. In short it is not a very cheery set of readings.

And yet, toward the end of the Gospel Jesus says, "the kingdom of God will be ... given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom."

Although I'm certain if I turned around and consulted my Bible commentaries there are many wise men and women who could tell me more specifically what Jesus meant by the "fruits of the kingdom" but it made me think about Jesus' response to the question about what the greatest commandment is and his reply; loving God and loving neighbor. Jesus' words about producing the fruits of the kingdom also made me think about Paul's letter to the church at Galatia where he said, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things."

Even in the midst of some very challenging passages of scripture, Jesus' words about the kingdom of God belonging to those who produce the fruits of the kingdom seem like very applicable words in the hustle and bustle of early December. For if the fruits include loving God and loving neighbor there are many opportunities for us to pause in the midst of our many tasks and give thanks to God as well as looking out for the many people who make up our neighbor.

Likewise, with so much stress being associated with the month of December, trying to keep in mind things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control can bring a lot of growth to our preparations. Granted, adding one more list to an already burgeoning list of responsibilities might seem like a lot to ask, but when we think about the outcome achieved by producing the fruit of the kingdom, that of coming into an even fuller embrace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, perhaps the added responsibility might just be worth the effort.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Heroes and Psalm 147:10-11

Tonight at our church's LOGOS ministry we're doing "Heroes Night" and as I lay awake early this morning I wondered about why we're still fascinated by or repelled by heroes. And then I read this morning's daily lectionary from the Psalms, especially verses ten and eleven which read; "[God's] delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner; but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love."

What those two verses said to me is that we want someone in whom we can trust steadfastly. And even as we are reminded again and again that steadfast love is what God wants from us, we fickle, finite, people are always on the lookout for a being who is greater than we are and yet also one whom we can see.

That's where heroes come in. Whether they are heroes from the battlefield, like the dwindling number of Medal of Honor Recipients, or heroes from the ball field, or heroes from the world of comic books; we all long for someone who can do more than we can and whom we can trust to be there for us no matter what. Of course that is who God is in our lives and our longing for God to be more present was accomplished by God through the incarnation and later the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of God's Son Jesus Christ who made the way for the Holy Spirit.

And yet even as we confess our faith in such beliefs we daily long for something more tangible. And so we put our hopes in the boys in blue on the blue turf in Boise or in the men and women who give of themselves overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan or we look to supermen and women from the world of "graphic novels" to rescue us. And yet at some point or another all of these valiant heroes let us down in one way or another and we would better serve by the One who came to be among us--Emmanuel--God with us. And that is our challenge for this Advent season, to longingly trust that God comes among us and lives in us and that makes all the difference in the world.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Advent Calendars & Amos

This morning I awoke to the sound of Kathy egging Eric on about what new special thing he would get to do starting today. He had all sorts of guesses and it took him awhile to remember that this being the first day of December meant he could begin opening his Advent Calendar.

I'm sure most of you have had Advent calendars with little doors that open up revealing either symbols of the season or maybe even a little treat. I remember being especially fond of the chocolate Advent calendars as a child, but with a little sister that meant that we alternated days of opening the little doors. In our family's case, Kathy last year made one out of twenty-five little tins that reveal chocolate, legos, and this year a Bakugan!

And so I was reminded that, if I can remember, I might try and blog through Advent using the daily lectionary and other sources. And boy what a surprise to read Amos today. I mean, I've been thinking about how the sermon might unfold with this coming Sunday being the Second Sunday of Advent with Luke's introduction of John the Baptist and how people have mixed feelings about having to run headlong into John in their Advent/Christmas preparations, but he's nothing compared to Amos.

Amos' word from the Lord makes John's "voice crying out in the wilderness" seem rather tame. Which makes me wonder about whether or not we really understand the prophetic voice, especially at this time of year. Sure, some Christians will get upset about all the Santas and Reindeers and Elves and cry out "Jesus is the reason for the season." But really, do any of us think that will make a difference? With all the suffering in this world, what does it matter whether or not people focus too much on Santa?

Maybe instead of getting all worked up about decorations or the greetings people extend to us we should look out for words from the Lord that we see in those around us whether or not they claim any faith or not. After all, God doesn't want our self-righteous indignation, but rather the gift of our heart in response to God's gift of Jesus and then our sharing of ourselves for those in need.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Things I Didn't Learn in Seminary #......

There are, of course, a multitude of things I didn't learn in seminary but the most pressing one this week is whether or not to accept the gift of a cut spruce tree for decoration in our sanctuary for Advent & Christmas. On the surface this sounds like a no-brainer, doesn't it? I mean how can you turn down a generous gift, in this case someone in the church who has for the past 20 years been growing a spruce in her yard for the express purpose of donating it to the church.

But the more people talk about it the more difficulties arise: people who are allergic to evergreen trees, the size of the tree and getting it up into our second floor sanctuary, the daily watering and monitoring a cut live tree requires, and then there are the clean up issues just to name a few. On the up side there is honoring the generous gift of a caring member of the church, coupled with the "traditional" feel of a real tree along with the beauty it would add to our worship space for a few weeks in December.

The tough thing for me is I don't simply think its a matter of making a "pro" and "con" list. Is that really how we should be making decisions in the church? Sure we've done it that way for a long time or at least for as long as people can remember. But is there any where in the Bible or in the early history of the church where leaders made a pro/con list or allowed a simple majority to win? No, it seems like prayerful appeals to God and God's Son relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit are the foundations of decision making in the Old and New Testament communities of faith.

So where does that leave us in twenty-first century Southern Idaho? Can we get past a simple issue of whether or not to put a spruce tree in our sanctuary in a way that honors Christ? Should such considerations even matter? Or do we simply let people's opinions or a majority of pros versus cons rule the day?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Great Day!

Today has been one of those awesome, incredible days that keep me going. In worship the handbells offered a very stirring piece, the chancel choir did a great job, the younger elementary kids sang The Lord's Prayer with gusto, folks responded positively to the sermon and we baptized a mother and her daughter! And during fellowship time one of our young moms took me up on the offer of having her six month old baptized on Christmas Eve at our 5 p.m. Lessons & Carols service.

This afternoon the weather has been unreal for mid November. With temperatures in upper 50s, plenty of sunshine and very little wind I joined Rob Blackston for 18 holes of disc golf and had a great time. Then when I got home Kathy had mowed the lawn and while she rested from that Eric and I threw frisbee in the front yard for half an hour or so. He's not really into catching, but he really can throw quite nicely. So we laughed and enjoyed ourselves as a family.

Which brings me to this afternoon and evening's Church Officer Training about to start in twenty minutes or so. Even though I'm pretty tired I know how much folks appreciate the training so we're off to a few hours of reformed theology and the ordination questions. There ought to be some really good discussions and I know when I go home that I'll be tired out, but that it has been a stellar day thanks be to God!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Urban Renewal & Church Renewal

While I really should be working on my sermon this morning another idea popped into my head as I was thinking about an outline for this Sunday's sermon. It popped into my head because last night the Price family was invited to an election wake. One of the men in our church ran for city council and lost by a scant 120 votes out of about 2500 votes cast and one of the issues he was running on was how to go about redeveloping and renewing the downtown area of our small city of Twin Falls. It was a nice affair with he and his wife's neighbors and supporters from around town sharing our condolences over the loss and speculating on what might have been.

Remembering that this morning as I woke up got me thinking about how Twin Falls has (from what I've heard) over the years tried various strategies, hired different consultants, and gone with different approaches to get people back to downtown shopping and living. Of course the reason that business and community leaders have been working on this issue in towns and cities like Twin Falls all over the country is that years ago shopping downtown was the thing to do and these leaders would like to recapture something of those glory days if not at least bring some of that energy back.

This made me think about how downtown churches have gone to similar approaches in renewing their ministries in historic buildings in downtown Twin Falls as well as across the country. Just as downtown businesses have had to struggle with the big boys like Target, Wal-Mart and Best Buy, so too have historic downtown churches had to deal with comparisons to large big-box churches in the suburbs or outskirts of towns and cities.

This really hit home for me yesterday afternoon while sitting down with a couple who are preparing to have their infant daughter baptized this Sunday. After a very cordial and friendly conversation the young mother asked, "When does your young mother's group meet?"

Earlier in the conversation they said that they had attended one of the big-box churches on the edge of town for a few months but that they want to be a part of our church for how welcoming and hospitable it is. But the thing about our warm and hospitable church is that while we have young families we also have many middle-aged families and quite a few much older couples and widows/widowers; not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just that after their big-box church experience they were looking for something similar in our historic downtown church that simply can't offer the same amenities as the big boys.

What we do offer however is that we do several things well, much like some of the downtown businesses in Twin Falls. For instance, if you want to buy new kitchenware in Twin Falls you can always go to Wal-Mart or Target and find a really good price but then again you could also go to Rudy's on Main Street who specializes in and knows all about a whole range of kitchen needs. Or say its time for a new grill, there are three dozen different models available at Lowes, but downtown on 2nd Avenue Brizees specializes in some really amazing grills that will last a generation.

So too, if someone is looking for many niches under one roof there are several big-box churches that offer every conceivable niche ministry under the sun. But here at First Presbyterian there is high quality music, hospitality that can't be beat and people who want to know your name and who you are.

I don't if I have any answers, it just seems that the urban renewal movement and church renewal movement might have something to learn from one another.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Inner Child Is All Panicky

So I have to confess--I really don't like dressing up for Halloween. Oh, sure, I get a kick out of other people doing it. And I really enjoy watching Eric dress up, he just loves the whole idea of being someone else, if just for a little while. But not me.

No, when I was a child my mother had me dress up as a clown for the Halloween party in Nursery School. Yes, I know, that's been 34 years now, but the memory is still vividly etched in my memory. I don't blame my mom, really. Actually, it's all those years of group process in seminary that have helped me realize what this is all about. This loathing of having myself dress up for Halloween, that is.

Not to go too overboard in psychobabble territory, but really my inner child can't take it! Why is that, you ask? Well, for the better part of my life one of my big issues has been trying to figure out who I am. And having reached a point where I don't question my identity the whole idea of taking on another identity, even if it's just for an evening at church with a loving group of kids and adults is just too much for me.

And so I'll have to endure an evening of being the sour-puss, the party-pooper, the pour sport, etc. But as I do so I'll be myself. Even if my inner child is squirming and wanting to be left alone.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Matthew 10:29

"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father."

Jesus' words about the care and compassion of God for even a little sparrow are words spoken by him in a larger passage assuring his disciples that they have nothing to fear in this world as long as they are following him and know that God is watching over them and caring for them. This seems to be the way the above passage is used by interpreters of this passage. But yesterday it was used in a startlingly effective different way in one of my favorite novels: "The Sparrow" by Mary Doria Russell.

This novel has been out for about fifteen years and I read it for the first time about six or eight years ago and for some reason picked it up again a few weeks ago and finished it yesterday. The novel tells the story of a Jesuit and Scientific mission to the planet Rakhat to make contact with another sentient species. The story is told from the vantage point of the trip itself, in 2019 as well as in the distant future when the sole survivor returns in 2060. Throughout there is discussion of faith and God, especially one of the priests named Emilio. This main character experiences extreme mountaintops with God and utter desolation from God.

Very near the end Matthew 10:29 is mentioned as both a comfort and a warning; even as Emilio has fallen deeply in love with God and then feels utterly separated from God his superior reminds him of Jesus' words by saying "But the sparrow still falls." That is, at our lowest point when we are shaking our fist at God and wondering why God let bad things happen Matthew 10:29 reminds us that Jesus, that God never made such a promise. The promise made is that no matter what we go through, no matter how horrible how desolate we may feel God is there still even when we fall.

It may not be what many want to hear, but it is so true.

Friday, October 23, 2009

An Interesting Week

This sure has been an interesting week. It started off with a day off reading Mary Doria Russell's classic "The Sparrow". My morning reading took me from earth to Rakhat and first contact. Russell's book is so moving in its grasp of faith questions as well as what it would mean to contact other species (another way for sci-fi writer's to address race and culture issues). That Monday afternoon was spent doing stained glass, a small project for my nephew in Seattle for Christmas. Then the Price family was off to dinner at Jakkers' and then home to watch both the Denver Broncos & Philadelphia Phillies win on the same night. So it was a great day off and thank goodness because it has turned into a good but trying week of pokes and prods.

I say that because on Tuesday I went to see Dr. Dan about my hand tremors which turned out to be something called "Essential Tremor" and nothing more serious. We are going to look at treatment options in the weeks to come. But what was most trying about the visit was that he wanted some of my blood! And I had to get two vaccinations. So before I left his office I got poked in the left arm first with seasonal flu and then in the right arm with tetanus along with encouragement to fast on Tuesday night in order to show up first thing on Wednesday to have blood drawn for lab work, which I did reluctantly.

I know I sound like a baby, but I really don't need all that attention. Though on the up side it did give me the opportunity to bring out and practice in my head the "Jesus Prayer", that is, "Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner." It may not sound like much, but said over and over and over again in my head it helps calm me. And while I was at the dentist on Thursday--that's right--two vaccinations, blood work, and the dentist all in the same week! Anyway, while I was at the dentist having my teeth cleaned (no cavities!) the Jesus Prayer came in handy once again and while my gums were being probbed I felt for a little while as if Jesus was by my side comforting me through the ordeal.

Thanks to prayer and the fact that I've been flossing and brushing my gums along with my teeth and thanks to some really great nurses I've survived "an interesting week". Now it's Friday and I have Church Officer Training packets to put together and a graveside for an out of town family I do not know along with cleaning my office before I head home later today. All in all, it has been a good week, I can't wait to see what God has in store for the coming week!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hand Tremors

For the last thirty years I have had hand tremors from time to time. Over the last few months it has gotten worse and noticeable, especially at times like communion and when picking Red Bull cans up the wrong way. Earlier this summer a doctor friend in the congregation noticed it and told me that there was medication for such a condition. I don't know why I didn't run to his office right away, maybe its because doctors and others have told me there's nothing that could be done for it for as long as I can remember. But today I am going to his office, granted I'm not looking forward to a needle or two, but if it will help steady my hands in certain situations that would be great.

I guess its just difficult to have to trust that something can be done after so many years of being told to "just calm down" or having people saying "cut back on the coffee". Interestingly enough if I don't have enough coffee sometimes its worse. So I guess this is a good step forward; it has been embarassing from time to time with church folks and even my seven year old son wondering about it. So I will literally put my hands in someone else's and hope and trust that this doctor will be able to find out a way to help steady me.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Visit from Mom

My mom is visiting from Pennsylvania this week. We got her into Twin Falls safe and sound on Tuesday after some airline mistakes and her bag arrived on the first flight into Twin Falls on Wednesday. She seems to be having a nice time, especially enjoying Eric whom she has not seen since February 2008. Granted she talks to him just about every Sunday afternoon so she has known for some time how far he has come and we've sent many photos so she and dad can see his growth, but it isn't quite the same. So she is very much enjoying his expansive vocabulary and equally expansive diet.

We are having a nice visit, even though we haven't been able to spend all that much time together. I was a little concerned about leaving her at LOGOS with all of my responsibilities, not to mention Kathy's. But she was able to talk with several different people and hear about how well adjusted and happy we are in Twin Falls and that means a lot to mom. I do often wonder how they felt about me interviewing in Pennsylvania and New York along with Idaho and feeling God leading us here. But the longer we are here the more certain I am of God's call and it seems the more at ease my parents are with the idea; even if it means seeing Eric seldomly.

Hopefully today will be a little calmer for mom. She is going to book club with one of her pen pals in the congregation and then she and I are picking Eric up from school instead of him riding home on the bus so that they can have a full hour more of time together. Kathy has book club at the house tonight, so that will just mean that much more time for Grandma and Eric to spend together. It's a short visit, but it has meant a lot to mom, Eric, Kathy and me.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Red Bull + Laptop Keyboard = Not Quite Priceless!

My love of the energy drink Red Bull finally gored me! On Saturday before the worship committee meeting I grabbed the can the wrong way and some of it spilled on my keyboard. At first everything seemed to be o.k. Although sticky "v" and "c" keys would be the harbinger of worse things yet to come. But on Saturday morning with the laptop working fine and dandy I thank God that my mistake didn't prove too disastrous.

On Sunday morning, however, reality set in. As I sat down, while coffee was brewing before my regular Sunday morning preparation and went to log on to the laptop and check email, things were much worse. About half the keyboard would not function, meaning I could not log on to my laptop. Thankfully sermon and Sunday school materials were already printed out so it wasn't a complete loss. And thankfully today I called Jerry Green who suggested I plug an external keyboard into a USB port which I have done and accessed email and am writing this blog, along with backing up files.

On the other hand the only way to fix the fritzed keyboard is to send it off to Dell to be outfitted with a new one. That, of course will take 8-10 business days and in the meantime there is much to do. So your prayers are most welcome as I try to get by without my laptop for the next week and a half. It should be an interesting experiment and show me how dependent I have become on technology and my possessions, especially my laptop and internet access.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Mr. Mom Chronicles 21: A Much Quieter Day

After the highs of Wednesday and LOGOS Thursday brought a much quiter and reflective day. Eric got up and dressed while I packed his lunch and started our day. Thankfully Eric's day was another "green light" day, but other than that he didn't have a whole lot to say once he got home from school.

As for me I spent a good deal of time readying myself for tomorrow's worship committee meeting by looking through resources for Advent & Christmas Eve along with a surprise catalogue that came in the mail. When I first saw it I thought it was a joke; it is the "Spiritual Expressions: Worship Dancewear 2010" catalogue. In fact I did chuckle a little until I opened it and saw something that the worship committee has been talking about for some time. That is a two foot long "wand" to which streamers are attached. What you do with that then is put different color streamers on the end of the "wand" and wave it over the heads of worshippers during a processional. I saw something like it when my friend, the Bishop of Idaho Brian Thom was consecrated as Bishop: it was a stunning effect. Saw hopefully sometime soon the Presbyterians of Twin Falls will give this effect a try in worship.

The balance of my day was taken up with working on the sermon as well as a pleasant morning visit with Stan Hoobing, the interim at Our Savior Lutheran Church here in Twin Falls. In the afternoon David Mead dropped in for a nice conversation for nearly an hour.

In the evening, after Eric got off the bus, he let me read a little while he unwound from school and then we throught the frozen dinners in the oven and played some Wii Sports. We watched survivor, read Harry Potter and headed off to sleep. All in all it was a really nice day, both as pastor and as parent.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mr. Mom Chronicles 20: LOGOS gives life!

The real highlight for both Eric and me was LOGOS! On the way home I asked him what he liked best about the night and he said "playing frisbee golf in the church and the table game after dinner." And while I have to agree with Eric that watching two dozen kids zoom foam frisbees throughout the halls of the First Presbyterian Church as well as seeing them turn playdough into different pet related items in a 3D version of Pictionary were both really great, I saw some other things that made my week!

Specifically watching two or three of the quieter kids smile from ear to ear and engage with the other kids and adults in a deep and wide way. As always there are some more reserved kids in any group, just like there are usually reserved adults (I should know as I am one) and as one my heart goes out to them that they just hang in there for there will be moments when everything clicks and they really do enjoy being at the church on a Wednesday afternoon and evening.

And yesterday was just one of those days when I saw a kindergartner who I'm never really sure what's going on with her, I watched her sing with joy and smile and really enjoy worship skills, thanks to Shastina's (the adult leader) definite gift of teaching. I saw an eighth grader who is usually quite reserved get a charge out of frisbee golf in the halls and I saw a very quiet ninth grader engage deeply in Bible study. Not to mention watching, as I've mentioned, an adult leader take the worship skills part of the night not only to the next level but to a place where the kids were having as much fun and getting as much out of singing as they got out of throwing frisbees in the hallway. Shastina Blackston definitely gets a gold star for the night and for what will, I'm certain, be many more successful evenings with our youngest kids.

So even though for all the adults and for a lot of the kids it is a good kind of tiring evening, it is also an time where we get to experience life in abundance! I am so grateful to the kids, youth, parents, and other adults who give so much time and effort to make this ministry happen at FPC.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mr. Mom Chronicles 19: Special Meals

Yesterday was a good day, after the jam jar jumble, that is. It turns out that I was trying to pry the lid off when it was simply a twist top. Live and learn, I guess.

As for Eric he had a "green light" day at school and after I blogged I was able to get the bulletin & some worship preparation done at the office in the morning. As things fell in place with the bulletin and Sunday planning the rest of the day kind of rolled along. Of course it helped that my afternoon had been planned out with the help of Margie Howard as we went and took home communion to several different people.

Those visits really bolster me. Even though I know it's not about me, that is, the reason for taking home communion to people is that they are not able to attend worship and so the church through their pastor (me) and one of our deacons (Margie) shows up at their door and live out Matthew 18:20 "For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” It is one of my responsibilities that I enjoy the most, especially when someone else does the planning for me and I can just show up, visit, share the scripture and we all break bread together. It really makes for a very special spiritual meal.

One of the highlights of those visits yesterday is that we took communion to a couple who are members of FPC, but who haven't been in worship for many years. Their names are Ron and Miriam Watson and Ron is Margie's cousin. When we showed up at their door Ron said that his oldes son would be joining us and so I got to meet three new people who know a whole lot about our church. And what was really fun was telling them who we had been to see before and who we were going to see after and hear about their connections with Lois Matheney and Fern Lewis which led to even more fond memories of their time at FPC. They really lit up when talking about the good times they have had at the church and it seemed to give them a deeper communion with their faith as lived out at the Presbyterian church in Twin.

The other special meal I had yesterday was with Eric. After he had a good day and after I realized that we needed to stay home and not go to a meeting at church I asked if he wanted to roast some hot dogs over the fire pit. Well you can guess his answer. And so he and I got some wood out, I lit the matches and we watched the fire for a while then had some high quality father-son time roasting weenies. It was a great way to end a really great day of special meals.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mr. Mom Chronicles 18: How Spoiled I Am

With Kathy off to exotic locations once again, this time Richmond, Virginia for the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators Board meeting, I am reminded once again how spoiled I am. More on that later, now let me recall yesterday.

Granted, things went pretty for the first couple of hours. We all got up around 5 a.m. on Monday, got Kathy out to the Twin Falls airport and then after a little more sleep and breakfast Eric successfully made it to the bus and I had a very relaxing day at home. I managed to do just about nothing which felt really good. About the only thing I did get done was a sketch of a Star Wars the Clone Wars storm trooper design for a stained glass piece that Eric has been asking for for some time.

Unfortunately Eric did not have such a good day. It seems he cannot wait until recess to tell his neighbors all sorts of things. And since he doesn't text yet he simply leans over and starts talking in the middle of lessons. That he was put on yellow light and then red light means that he had to do it and get caught not once, not twice but at least three times; not to mention the times he wasn't caught. And to top it all off, when he got home, after watching a little TV he announced to me that he thought he had to fart, but something more came out! Not only was he off his norm at school, but then to have an accident, it serves me right for thinking this would be a smooth week. So the punishment at home was that as soon as the pre-game show for Monday Night football came on ESPN his shows went off and mine went on. That and it was to bed early, though he's got me reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban a chapter a night so even though he went to bed at 7 p.m. I did not leave the room until 7:50!

So why am I so spoiled? Well, most every morning Kathy takes care of things around the house so I don't really have to turn on my brain until after I've showered, dressed, driven to church and made a pot of coffee. But not when Kathy's gone. Oh no. Now I have to get up early enough to get Eric showered, dressed, groomed, fed, lunch made, etc. And if any one thing goes a little off I'm not the most warm and cuddly dad, since I'm not used to the routine that Kathy and Eric have.

So the result today? I couldn't figure out how to get the blasted top off of the homemade apricot jam for Eric's school lunch. And in my frustration in thinking that I needed an engineering degree to remove the lid from the jar so I could make a PB & J sandwich I somehow managed to drop the plastic jar into the sink and break it! And of course Eric doesn't want hot lunch and he doesn't like grape jam, so he had to settle for peanut butter and honey sandwich. I'm sure I'll hear about that this afternoon.

So why am I so spoiled. In a nutshell, Kathy smooths out my day so I have very little to worry about other than church stuff. So as usual when she goes away I am very grateful for how much Kathy does that I rarely see or acknowledge. She sure is a strong person to put up with doing so much and going so unrecognized. Thank you Kathy!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

LOGOS Begins Tonight!

Wow, can it have really been nearly a month since I've blogged anything? Maybe Facebook, with its microblogging just fits better into my schedule, but then again it is difficult to really say anything much on Facebook, so here goes.

I suppose the other reason that I haven't blogged anything these past few weeks is that I have been swamped with Presbytery responsibilities and home communion and a host of administrative responsibilities not to mention a funeral or two so I guess I'd be justified in saying that as many of those responsibilties will continue over the next few weeks that I don't really have time for LOGOS. But that wouldn't really be true because of all the responsibilities that I have; taking the time to nurture young people in the faith is one of the most important and enduring things on my to do list. That and I really love being with the kids and the many adults who genuinely love God, love being with the kids and have gifts to share with and for the Kingdom of God.

So while I'm planning Bible study and getting ready to be dinner dean and keeping in mind the funeral for Friday and the ongoing presbytery responsibilities and the myriad of other church and family responsibilties (like Kathy going out of town on Monday and my mother coming to town for a few days the following week) I will do my best to remember that for the next 20 or so Wednesday evenings at LOGOS I will be doing something far more important than deciding which insurance company the church should go with or how to handle some prickly personell issue or how to handle the next stage of the presbytery commission I've been serving for far too long.

So what is that "far more important thing" that called for such a grandiose run-on sentence? It is that I will be helping about 30 young people come to know Jesus Christ at a wider, deeper and more profound level that will hopefully allow them to continue their relationship with Jesus Christ within this community of faith or another one in the years to come. In addition the 60 or so adults who will help make LOGOS happen throughout the year will also grow in their own relationship with Jesus Christ and see how that most important bond with our Lord and Savior relates to getting to know the kids in our church and community as well as their peers with whom they have worshipped with for years.

In other words, even as I may feel overwhelmed at times, I can point to Wednesday evening in the midst of my week as an oasis of Kingdom Living, of relationship building, of grafting our lives into a more profound embrace of God our Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Surprise

Well today it finally happens. What you ask; a new car, my first BASE jump off the Perinne bridge, exercising once again? No, nothing quite that exciting. Rather we are going to finish the project in our back yard earlier this year. Some of you may know that for the better part of the Spring and into early summer I spent part of my free time pulling up sod in our back yard for a bed of flowers and other plants. Of course we didn't do this the easy way by renting a machine, no I did it by hand and a trenching shovel one square foot of sod at a time. Eventually I ripped up a section four feet by about sixty feet, that's a lot of sod. On the up side, when I was doing that work it put me in touch with the soil, which was helpful with all that's been on my mind these last few months.

Then again, today I really have to get in tough with the soil. In a little while we're going over to our friend's home to borrow their pick-up truck and then out to another friend's home who is going to use his front end loader and give us a truck load of dirt/top soil. Then you can guess what happens. Yes, I will use a shovel to unload that pick-up truck load of dirt, dump it onto our driveway and then transfer the pile to the back yard bed one wheelbarrow load at a time. Hopefully sometime this afternoon our big yard project will be done, finally. Thankfully we have friends like the Blackstons and Smutnys who are willing to lend a hand. I really do appreciate their help, I just don't know how much I will appreciate laboring so hard on Labor Day. Who knows, perhaps by the end of the work day I will be a new man.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Social Darwinism

The two words of this post sum up what I think is going on in the Healthcare debates. That is, for those on the right there is a pervailing perspective of social darwinism--survival of the fittest. What is interesting about this for me is that for so very long the right has been identified with the religious right and not just any religion at that but Christianity. Now as a Christian Pastor this is a really interesting thing to me, that is how is it that people who are so opposed to evolutionary darwinism are so ready to accept the precepts of social darwinism? I mean, if survival of the fittest is so off the mark when it comes to the origin of species then why is it o.k. when it comes to who gets care?

I don't know if others have thought about this, but it is something that comes up again and again for me. When someone with a severe pre-existing-condition is booed at a so called "town hall" meeting and those booing her are representing the right I wonder if they have ever really stopped and pondered their position. Sure, if they are atheisitic/agnostic right wing opponents of health care reform then fine. But what if they are religiously inspired right wing phanatics? What if the religion they believe informs their perspective is Christianity? How then does a survival of the fittest, socially, fit in with the Beatitudes, or with Jesus' response to the question "What is the greatest commantment?" If you don't know Jesus' response was love God and love neighbor.

So then what of those who oppose health care reform? I suppose if they simply oppose it on the basis of it costing too much or there are other priorities which face our nation then that makes sense. But what doesn't make sense to me is when people who claim allegiance to Jesus Christ heckle those less fortunate than themselves and say that they are doing so in the name of their religion. Because for me, that isn't Christianity. That isn't loving your neighbor, nor is it reflective of God's intentions for humanity.

Granted, I could be wrong, after all I'm only a pastor in a medium sized church in a small city in Souther Idaho. Who knows, what do I know? It just seems like an interesting perspective that those who seem so opposed to health care reform are also those who so readily embrace the proponents of the religious-right--those American Christians who are so vehemently opposed to evolutionary darwinism but who so willingly embrace a form of social darwinism.

The Mystery of Faith

Its Sunday morning about 9:30 a.m. and I am doing what I can to wrap my brain and heart around what it is that God has called me to be as a pastor and Minister of Word and Sacrament. For the most part, when I think about it, I feel like most of my gifts for ministry are wrapped up in being a pastor, that is; listening to others, being present in others lives, being available to others and those kinds of things. But on Sunday morning the expectation of being the Minister of Word and Sacrament, that is proclaiming God's Word through preaching and administering the sacrament of communion is really a mystery.

Granted, I know that people are showing up for worship for a multitude of other reasons than that Phil Price is pastor. Its just that it is such an amazingly frightening and humble thing to stand up and address and lead this congregation in worship. There are so many talented people who sit in the pews and the memories of some truly great pastors from the past reside in the souls who sit in our sanctuary and that I might follow in there footsteps is a lot to bear in my soul. But I have to do it, don't I? I mean I can't just sit here and pretend that someone else will stand up for me today, can I?

And so my prayer is that the words I have prepared will be enough for the Holy Spirit to use so that those who have gathered for worship today may catch a glimpse of God's grace and glory. And when they are so touched by God's Spirit they too might work to bring about a pieced of God's glory and grace in their own lives and in those whom they encounter throughout this Lord's Day and the week to come.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Thoughts on this Week's New Testament Reading

Sunday's Gospel reading, according to the Revised Common Lectionary, contains two stories of healings; the first of a little girl from a distance and the second of a deaf man. While the RCL contains both stories, for various reasons I'm just going to focus on the first story. A less serious reason for focussing on only one of the stories is that it is communion Sunday and I'm conditioned as well are most people at FPC for preaching to endure no more than about fifteen minutes and the more serious reason is that I believe the first story speaks to us more than the second.

So what about the first of the two healing stories is more relevant? Well, for one it speaks to all of who are parents because the little girl who is healed from a distance receives the blessing as a result of her mother persistently pestering Jesus to heal her daughter. The first part of the passage appeals to anyone who has ever had a sick child and wants to see her made well. I can't imagine anyone upon hearing Mark 7:24-30 not feeling the aching heart of the mother who boldly approaches Jesus and asks for her daughter to be made whole.

Although this mother goes unnamed by Mark, she is a model of persistent faith and prayer. She is someone we can all bring to mind when faced with adversity. She is someone whose trust in God gives us all an idea of what it means to trust in God no matter what we are facing. It is a powerful story in the middle of Mark's Gospel and one I am looking forward to preaching.

Though I must say, since it is about healing it is awfully tempting to bring up the healthcare debate and make the sermon that much more "relevant". That being said, the problem with those kind of sermons is that they really don't proclaim the gospel, the good news that no matter what we face, God walks with us. So I won't give into that particular temptation no matter how alluring it may be.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Many Samaritans

Earlier in the day I posted on Facebook that I felt like someone had beat me up and left me by the side of the road. I really didn't mean anything about that other than I was tired after a stressful week and didn't realize any kind of scriptural allusion until after typing it.

But I soon found out how blessed I am to be surrounded by people who are willing and ready to stop by the side of the road and pick me up. Throughout the day other Facebook friends have helped to boost my spirits along with family and the thought of an evening launching model rockets.

It is times like these that I am truly thankful for how God works in my life. Being surrounded by friends who care, whether they are on Facebook or not is very affirming especially when I've been feeling so down.

So in a little while I'll head home after having been brushed off by those who care for me, keeping in mind opportunities to return the favor.

Monday, August 24, 2009

First Grade

We are all up and ready to go! Eric has on his new Bakugan T-shirt and Z-Strap sneakers. He was a little disappointed that he couldn't wear shorts, but the weather is starting a little cool for the first day so he's got jeans on. Meanwhile Kathy and I are ready to go off to CSI for the exercise trail without having to pay for a babysitter!

Eric seems excited enough, though most of his excitement is due to his new shirt and shoes so we'll have to wait until after school to find out how much of his giddiness is for school. So how are Kathy and I feeling? That's an even more difficult question. In part we are looking forward to our extremely extroverted son having interaction with more people on a daily basis, plus the bus picking up at 8 a.m. and dropping him off at 4 p.m. gives us both some quiet time. Then again, that he's on the track of speeding life along is difficult to watch as well; especially as I watch people at church with newborns and vaguely remember those days as well, but now my baby is into Bakugan and Legos instead of sleeping and messing his diaper. In other words, he's well on the way to not needing me.

Perhaps that's a little to melodramatic for the first day of First Grade. It isn't as though its his first day of college or his wedding day. But it is easy to see how fast kids grow up. That cliche hasn't meant much to me these last few years, oh sure he's grown, but his days have remained relatively the same. But not any longer, now I'll only be able to have lunch with him on Saturdays and Sundays from September through May. I guess I better not get myself in this kind of funk, Eric won't want to see anything from me but a smile and well wishes here in a few minutes--off to Elementary school!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


That one word describes why I haven't updated my blog yet. After resisting the idea for some time, I finally added myself to the social-networking phenomenon. I must say that I was skeptical, after all how much real contact can you have with people when you can't hear their voice or see their face? But what I've found out is that Facebook can be just one more way for me as a Pastor to stay in touch with and find out how the people in my charge are doing. Of course that still means following up with people which takes time and effort. But then again I am able to see who is where and what they're up to and what's on their mind, which in part is part of my responsibility as pastor.

Another thing that Facebook has done is allowed me to be in contact with colleagues around the country who are working hard to discern what it means to be pastor in our rapidly changing world. Throughout the day when I dip into Facebook for a few minutes between tasks I see that other pastors are engaged in the same activities that I am and are also experiencing similar frustrations. And so, in that way it can be a powerful (and cost effective way) to be supported in my own ongoing efforts to more fully serve God in my own particular call.

It is also fun to slip in the different prayer practices that I engage in throughout the day and week. Perhaps by mentioning how I seek to "pray without ceasing" it will encourage others to see that a lofty Biblical goal is possible in life, even for the non-church worker.

Of course, not keeping up with the rest of you who do read this blog from time to time is no real excuse either. I'll just have to find a little more balance, which, in the end, is part of what it means to faithfully follow Christ.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Wonderful Lord's Day

Although I didn't want to get up at all and took an hour or so to finally roll out of bed, I eventually did just that. I got out of bed and headed off to church to prepare for worship today. Between the coffee and the quiet that all went well. People showed up in spite of the heat.

It was just one of those Sunday's when everything works out o.k. The sermon, in spite of fits and starts came off o.k. and the communion even with my shaky hands came off o.k. too. The rest of the day was a dream as several families headed off for swimming on this near 100 degree day at Nat Soo Pah and I headed off for Brunch at Jakker's with a group of women from the church as well as one of their son's. Sadly, once I finally got home, I didn't get as much reading done as I had hoped since my mother called, although we too had a good talk about my past week as well as her's and dad's (spent at the Jersey Shore it's hard to see it being anything but good)!

So here I sit, a priviledged prince whose wife is preparing dinner and whose son is so worn out by swimming that I am assured a little more rest this evening in order to read my latest "alternative history novel." And now Kathy is calling "DINNER'S READY" so we better head off to the dining room!

Saturday, August 1, 2009


WOW! What a great day!

Saturday started off with a very productive Worhship Committee. Among other things we talked about how the Baptismal Font is falling apart and how the sound system could use a 21st century upgrade. It was a long meeting; at nearly two hours, but well worth it nonetheless.

On another front today was the wedding of Kelly Wrigtht and David Ruggles; if ever there were a couple meant to be together; I don't know of them! Today's ceremony took place at 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church and everything went off quite well; even with the pastor trying to immitate the "Impressive Clergyman" from Rob Reiner's classic "The Princess Bride." This purely 80s film captures the beauty and wonder of marital as well as familial love. Thankfully, God on High was watching over me as I attempted to recite some lines from this movie by saying: "Mawage! Mawage is wot bwings us togeber tooday! Mawage, that bwessed awwaangement; that dweam wiffin a dweam!" From those classic 80s lines I attempted to tie-in the Apostle Paul's message about the abiding quality of God's love.

Whether Rob Reiner's stunt was what did it or something else, God worked God's miracles and the wedding was a success! Watching Kelly and David Ruggles make their way into God's future was a joy and priviledge! If it weren't for their love for one another the wedding would not have been half of what it was; but for their love we all experienced a JOY that transcended the wonders of MARITAL LOVE!!!

Thank God for the wonders of two people coming together; of finding one another in spite of their pasts and because of where God is leading them!

Friday, July 31, 2009

From Doldrums to Smooth Sailing

A few weeks ago I blogged about the dead spot that the middle of summer can be. Well not long after that things started moving again. I was asked to do a funeral for a gentleman I did not know, but for whom after talking to the family and his friends it was a privilege to officiate at his service. I have been enjoying reading a good novel or two. My prayer life, through "Praying in Color" and saying the Daily Offices is keeping me more closely in tune with God and God's desires for my life. And this weekend I have the honor of attending a wedding and officiating at one the following day. So life is good.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Praying the Daily Offices

Ever since I was a second year student in seminary, that's almost fifteen years now, I have been encouraged by professors, colleagues in ministry, and others to broaden and deepen my spirituality. I guess they encouraged me to do that because, as a former history major in college I tend to look at things from arm's length. Whereas those who have encouraged me and continue to know that for me to be an even better pastor I really have to have a deep relationship with God and not merely an awareness of who God is. It has taken me some time to appreciate the wisdom of their encouragement, but along the way I have learned some interesting things as well as developing a richer more fuller relationship with God's purpose, presence and power in my life.

One such practice is saying the "Daily Offices" (the times of daily prayer and worship services prescribed in the Roman Catholic Church and practiced in various ways by other Christian groups or churches). That definition comes from Donald McKim's "Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms"; it is a funny definition because it makes it seem as though saying daily prayer is foreign to anyone but Roman Catholics. And I suppose to many Presbyterians and other Protestants it may be something of which they are vaguely aware due to novels and movies. But what most Protestants may not beware of is that daily prayer is part of many worship books within various denominations.

For instance, in our own "Book of Common Worship" there are outlines for saying Morning, Midday, and Evening Prayer. We have been using the Evening Prayer format in our monthly Session meetings for the several months now. And even though that resource exists it can be quite cumbersome to pull out the Book of Common Worship, a Bible, and a list of the Daily Lectionary. Having to pull out several books has meant that for the past year or so I've kept one Daily Office sporadically throughout the week, a few times Monday through Friday and Sunday morning. But just the other day I purchased Phyllis Tickle's book "The Divine Hours" which pulls together several different resources into one book.

So this past weekend I started saying four daily offices: first between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.; second between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.; third between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.; fourth before going to bed. Don't let those time spans deceive you, it isn't as though I've been praying for three hours at a time four times a day. Rather each office is between four and eight minutes in length. I have found it a very refreshing thing to do, to stop and pray; to stop and check in with God; throughout the day whether I am in the middle of reading a novel or having a water battle with Eric stopping to make time for God has been really good.

Please pray for me that I continue to make time for God and grow in this all-important relationship.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mr. Mom Chronicles 17: Water Battle Supreme

Despite the title of this post the day started much more sedate with Eric sleeping in while I said the "morning office" and got ready for church. After a breakfast of reheated waffles we made our way to 209 Fifth Avenue North for Eric's time with the child care worker and my own preparation for worship. Worship went fine with Eric sitting with two much older boys who helped him get through worship without me even noticing they were in the sanctuary.

After Fellowship time we went to Fred Meyer's for sandwiches and snack food, of which we have gone through an awful lot while Kathy has been in Sheridan for LOGOS. Then I filled up the kiddie pool and settled in with a novel expecting to pass the afternoon in peace. That is, until Eric pestered and pestered and pestered me to join in a water battle until I couldn't pass it up any longer.

So I grabbed one of his Super Soakers (one of three he received for his birthday last weekend) and surprised him by starting the battle without his permission. As to my secret plans that unfolded while I was reading, once my super-soaker ran dry I made my way to the hose and nozzle and unleashed what can only be described as water-battle field cannon fire. Eric was none too pleased in the middle of all his giggling at getting completely drenched. He was the only casualty until I allowed him his fare share of time at the controls of the field-water-cannon where he unleashed the fury of being too drenched upon his dear-old-dad. Needless to say he too drenched me to the bone when we decided that the battle came to a draw and we retired to the house for a change of clothes and a much more sedate form of recreation like watching a movie.

Mr. Mom Chronicles 16: Picnic, Pool, and Quiet

Saturday was a great day! Eric climbed into my bed around 6 a.m. but quickly fell back to sleep when he realized I wasn't quite ready to get up. That simple, but loving act of his really exemplified his whole attitude throughout the day. For example, the rest of the morning I needed to finish getting ready for Sunday worship by making final adjustments to the sermon, printing off a new copy and looking into Children's time all of which took a few hours and he graciously allowed me to get all of that done with occasional check-ins to see where the progress was.

We then got done with two of his birtday thank yous and made our way to Centennial Park for the Twin Falls County Democratic Party's picnic as guests of Chris and Cathy Talkington. Again, Eric could have easily melted down as it was well into the 90s and there were no other little boys his age and many adults instead. But somehow he made it through the lunch and a speech or two and through his good behavior and politeness walked away with an Obama Jigsaw puzzle in the raffle.

Though we were both tired or so I thought when we got home Eric asked to have the kiddie pool filled with water, which I did and he played for another two hours in the water as I read a novel, texted Kathy and then later talked with her on the phone. By the way, she and Wendy are having a good time and enjoyed their nine hour drive to Sheridan as well as meeting others and talking about LOGOS at the weekend's workshop.

So the whole Price family had a Saturday worthy of restful preparation for the work of a pastor's family on Sunday.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mr. Mom Chronicles 15

Kathy and Wendy left for Sheridan, Wyoming Friday morning at 5:30 a.m. (which meant Kathy got up around 4:30 which woke me as well) leaving me with a weekend with Eric. Fortunately for me, Eric didn't get out of bed until just a few minutes before I left for running and the baby sitter showed up.

We had a nice quiet morning of being in our separate corners, Eric played Legos and watched TV in the family room while I read my alternative history novel up stairs. We then did some errands including buying junk food, a card for my sister's birthday and going to the church to see if a package showed up for me. There was no package, but Eric played with Virginia while I checked email, packed a few things for the weekend then we headed home.

Eric enjoyed the free lunch in the park and playing while I enjoyed the shade of Sunrise Park and reading a Thoughtful Christian article on Benedictine Spirituality. Then we traipsed off for home where I had my lunch and I read for a little while longer. We then enjoyed about an hour and a half of the Wii stopping for gummy bears and gummy worms between levels after which Eric allowed me an hour nap to recoup after waking so early in the morning with Kathy.

Even though it was approaching 95 degrees when I woke up Eric still wanted to roast polish sausage over the fire pit so off we were once again, this time walking to Smith's to buy firewood and marshmallows. So dinner was a nice quiet affair after which we played the Wii again for an hour or so before heading to bed and starting to read "The Adventures of Captain Underpants."

It was a really nice way to start a weekend of the boys. Hopefully today will go as smoothly.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Midsummer Doldrums

Yes its the middle of the summer and I'm feeling lost in the midst of a wide open stretch of windless water, a bit ironic I must admit as yesterday's winds in the Magic Valley were gusting above 30 miles per hour. It's not that I'm bored or that there is nothing to do, not with a week and a half of evenings full of meetings or social and family times coming up. No, it's more about being between the wonderful things that have happened over the past few weeks in worship and things that are unfolding over the next month or so.

In the midst of this low time I pulled out a resource about Sabbaticals, as you may know I'm eligible for one in the summer of 2011. As I've been dreaming about that I've been following Jan Edmiston's blog, which is chronicling her sabbatical this summer. It is fun and interesting and eye opening all at the same time. She has visited with former members of the church she serves in Alexandria in places like Texas and Istanbul. She led a workshop at the conference I attended in North Carolina. She also blogged about church members not really understanding the sabbatical once she was gone. So I've picked up some ideas and hopefully will be able to implement them in the two years leading up to sabbatical.

I've also been using this in between time to practice some new prayer forms. One that I'm really excited about is "Praying in Color" by Sybil MacBeth. The basic idea is that many of us get hung up in prayer in trying to figure out what words to use, but this new prayer form encourages us to hold a person's name or a desire of our heart or even scripture before God and doodle, yes drawing shapes and using various colors, as a way of holding that person or idea before God in order to keep our mind from wondering. It has been a great way for me to pray with and for our congregation, especially in this in between time.

I've also been reading a lot of fiction, in particular alternative history. It has been a good escape without having to leave Twin Falls.

I'm sure this season of my heart will pass and the next few weeks of meetings, Eric's birthday, Kathy's trip to Sheridan, two weddings, and Kathy and Eric's trip to Seattle will ease me through the doldrums of the summer.

Thursday, July 9, 2009 - Questions - Questions

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A Wonderful Person!

Recently my mother sent me an obituary, granted it is a rather strange thing to send someone, but in this case I was glad that my mother did so. The obituary is for Mary Landis, 84, of Lititz who passed away on June 27, 2009.

Mary Landis is not my grandmother nor is she an aunt, rather she was my Third Grade teacher. Mrs. Landis made quite an impact on me as a third grader as well as on my sister who had her the following year. And through my mother, Mrs. Landis was able to keep up with what my sister and I did in the years following our elementary school years. And because of that contact I received cards from Mrs. Landis as I made my way through college and then seminary and then through Kathy's Christmas Letters we also received updates from Mrs. Landis' life in the years that we served in Kentucky, Colorado and now Idaho.

Not only was Mrs. Landis a phenomenal school teacher, she was also very active in her local Mennonite church of which she was a charter member. Her faith was part of who she was and influenced how she taught in the classroom if not what. Mrs. Landis was a shining example of a Christian serving in the public schools. No, she never to my knowledge crossed the church/state divide in her lessons. More importantly than trying to "sneak" Christian content into her lessons, she treated students and parents alike as fellow siblings in Christ which meant more in the classroom and over the span of the last thirty years of my life.

I am grateful to have had Mrs. Landis as my third grade teacher and to have been given the privilege of knowing her as an adult even as I have moved far away from the small town in eastern Pennsylvania where I was raised and where Mary Landis served God faithfully as a teacher and child of God.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Glad to be Home

It has taken me about a week to realize that I'm home after two weeks on the road. North Carolina was great, probably the best insight I picked up from the conference for "young" (under age 40) Presbyterian Clergy was to be more open to God and strive to fear God more than the congregation. Pretty much what this means is seeking God's will more than listening to the competing egos that make up the congregation. Sounds simple, right? Well, it really isn't not after a generation or two have been taught that if they kick and scream enough their wants and felt needs will be met. I'm not saying that FPC, Twin Falls is too addicted to getting their way, but I do see such behavior (mine included) in the midst of all the wonderful things that have happened in our first three years together.

After a 12 hour "lay over" in Twin Falls it was off to the Oregon Coast to spend upwards of ten days in the South Beach neighborhood of Newport. We really had a phenominal time with uncharacteristically warm (60-65 degree) weather for seven of the full days we were there and it rained on the day we left! Like a lot of people we opted for a really simple holiday, eating most of our meals at the house and doing cost-free things like beachcombing and sand castle building. We did manage to go to Rogue Brewery's resturant on our Anniversary, no better way to celebrate our first 13 years of marriage than with Imperial Stout, Porter and India Pale Ale, is there?

Since I've been home we've planted two aspens in the yard, removed a 26 foot by 4 foot section of sod in the back yard. I've been to Ketchum for an Investigating Committee meeting and have attended several church social functions along with a few meetings and worship this past Sunday. And now I'm getting ready to put together the bulletin for Sunday's worship. So I'm back in the swing of things and glad to be doing it with and among the people I've been called to serve in Twin Falls, Idaho!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mom Chroncles - Last day

Well, Phil is on his way home, Eric enjoyed his last day of VBS, and I got my haircut, but the bags are not packed, things are not gathered, bathrooms not cleaned. I have lost my motivation and would rather watch some silly movie on tv! There are not even commercials to do a quick thing or two. I guess I could press pause on the DVR! Whatever Eric is doing downstairs, he is quiet, so laying on the bed and resting for our big day in the car tomorrow doesn't feel so bad.

One part of me hopes the rain comes on and Eric's tball game is cancelled, another is ready to watch him have a great time. Think I will dress warmer today!

For those who haven't heard, please say a prayer for Betty Olmstead's family. She passed away yesterday afternoon. Looks like the service will be on Monday.

Blessings to you all!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mom Chronicles Part 3

It is the end of Wednesday and the end of day 3. Another pretty good day at the Price house. Eric went off to VBS and had a great day. We brought home his best friend and had lunch in the park and then an afternoon playdate. The two boys had a grand time playing Lego's while I got some work done. Then we went and saw the summer movie "Alvin and the Chipmunks". It wasn't any better the second time around, but the boys enjoyed it. A quiet dinner at home, got the ironing done, read some stories and now off to bed.

Phil called again today and is having a good time. He is making some new friends from all over the country (even Canada)! Tomorrow is his long day of traveling. I think he gets into Salt Lake City around 3 so he should be home late evening. My day will consist of packing, haircut, doing last minute errands, and making sure we don't forget anything! (oh, and a t-ball game!)

A big shout out to Doug and Judy Pollow for dinner last night! We had been out at Eric's tball game in the cold, wind, and rain sprinkles and stopped by to pick up something for the trip and they invited us to stay for dinner. Meatloaf, potatoes,& fruit never tasted better! Thanks so much!

Thanks also for the daily support from DeAun and Shastina with their comments! You make me smile!

See you tomorrow for my final post! Hope Phil lets me do this again!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mom Chronicles Part 2

Hello again! Day two has gone well. VBS - lunch in the park - car serviced. Now a few moments before t-ball game. Oh! And I survived my first mamogram! Isn't that something to be sharing on the pastor's blog? :-) They had no balloons, card, or special gift to celebrate my first time(not even a sticker that says I'm a responsible woman taking care of my body), but I will survive. Eric is happy and having a great day. He's looking forward to a playdate with his friend Kristopher tomorrow and going to the summer movie.

Phil called and is having a good time...resting, reading, going to workshops, and catching up with a few seminary friends. Exactly what he needed. I'm sure he misses us and Twin Falls, but time away is good for him.

Talk to you tomorrow!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mom Chronicles - Part 1

Well, Phil is off to Montreat, NC for his pastor's under 40 conference. I have confiscated his laptop (of course I need 3 computers - one to listen to Pandora, one to leave open to Facebook and Twitter, and one to get some work done), and figured I would add to his blog with my own "musings" while he is gone!

Phil arrived safely this morning and gave me a wake-up call at 6:30 am. Which was good because the sitter was coming at 7 for me to take the dogs for a walk and get my own exercise this week. His trip went well with a brief hiccup and 5 hour stay in the Salt Lake Airport. He says it is beautiful in NC with all the blooming bushes. He says "It smells here!" Which means that coming from an arid climate where smells are free to travel and move, he notices the humid climate and broadleaf trees that trap the rhodi and azaela bushes blooms and their scents in one place. I'm not sure if he thinks it is a bad thing or not. He is looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. Several of my friends on Twitter and FB are there, so I have asked them to lookout and place nice with Phil this week. We'll see if they follow through.

Eric and I have had a good day so far (just 3 pm, so a lot could still happen!). Eric went to VBS at the Baptist church this morning and had a great time. He wasn't too sure at first, but when I picked him up he was very excited. We had lunch in the park with the free lunch program from the school. It was full of kids and Eric enjoyed it all, but not quite the pb&j. Then I got the lawn mowed, Eric played with Lego's and all is well with the world.

For the last hour I have been listening to The God Complex Rado (2 leaders in the PCUSA have a weekly web-show). Today's topic is abstinence and purity pledges. Some interesting tips for when we have those conversations with Eric. The show airs on Mondays at 10 am MST. Check it out at

Well, we are off to Candy Cane park for the Christian Nurture meeting & ice cream. Hope you are all having a great day and maybe I won't take up so much space next time!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

So Excited I Can't Sleep!

For the past few days I have been able to get to sleep alright, but after four or five hours I wake up thinking about where I will be in either 48 hours or next week at this time. In other words, where I will be while I am on Continuing Education in Montreat, North Carolina or Vacation/Holiday in Newport, Oregon.

It really has been effecting me over the last few days as I can think about little else as butterflies inhabit my stomach while I think about the next two weeks. Granted, I will miss Eric and Kathy over the next few days in North Carolina and that congregation from June 12th through the 22nd, but I really feel as though I NEED these next few weeks.

While I say that I know that it will probably rain every day we are at the Oregon Coast and although the conference for clergy under 40 in western North Carolina sounds interesting, I'm sure that it won't live up to expectations, but it really doesn't matter as the time away will give me the opportunity to read, journal and turn my brain off for a little while.

And so I am grateful to the congregation in Twin Falls as well as Kathy and Eric for encouraging me to travel a long way away from the Magic Valley.

Hopefully tonight, after several nights of little sleep, I will be able to get more than just four or five hours of sleep.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Hearty Thanks!

I just have to take some time-out to say thank you to a bunch of people from First Presbyterian Church, Twin Falls, Idaho. At the risk of leaving a name or two off the list, for which I am deeply sorry, I just have to say that there are several people in our congregation who have gone the extra mile and then some.

Earlier this week Harry Geist and Rick Horner braved the wilds of our sanctuary attic and wondered out on top of the stained-glass dome that is suspended over or worship space and very carefully vaccumed off about a quarter of an inch of dust from the glass. According to some estimates, Rick and Harry cleaned away nearly twenty years of dust and dirt from an amazing piece of religious art suspended above our heads to reveal some astonishing colors. And while it is not as dramatic as the cleaning of the Sistien Chapel over the last few years, for many in the congregation tommorrow will be their first glimpse into the beauty that is the dome above their heads.

And while Harry and Rick have been at work on the dome, several other people have been at work adding color to our worship space. A few weeks ago Harry Geist along with Doug and Judy Pollow discreetly added flag-pole brackets to the side walls of our sanctuary. They did so because they wanted to hang banners along the sides of our worship space in order to add color and to visually narrow the width of our large sanctuary. Along with their adventures up the ladders and figuring out the measuring tape a number of women (Karen Grubb, Darlene Annen and Barb Bratt) got out their sewing machines to put hems on eight banners of various shades of red and yellow to hang on the recently affixed flag-pole brackets.

The effect of side banners and the newly cleaned stained glass dome will be, I hope, quite a statement for tommorrow's Pentecost worship. All of the hours put into creating the various visuals is a testament to the church holiday that commemorates the gift of the Holy Spirit to enliven the early group of Christians.

Throughout the last few weeks as those named above and others have come together we, at FPC Twin Falls, have seen a glimpse of what can happen when we rely on God to encourage us to share our gifts of time, talent and treasure for the good of the whole church. Thank you to all who have made this visually stimulating Pentecost possitble!