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.