Saturday, May 31, 2008
It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood today...sunny with a cool breeze. The Team was in the next town over for the Hometown Days Parade.
This is the second year for the Team to participate in the festivities.
It was really cool to watch. Cords were strung, the generator was fired up, instruments were tuned and voices were ready.
There were all kinds of insurance companies, real estate companies, girl scout troops, den mothers, pom squads, politicians and other sundry groups in the parade. It was a cornucopia of cacophonous sounds. (it was loud)
And then WFN was there with the band and worship team. They were cranking the music and leading the parade watchers in worship music.
I was stunned by how many along the parade route easily joined in the music and sang as the float passed by.
Now I would have thought that worship music might not have easily connected with those seated in lawn chairs and on the curb. But I was wrong. People clapped, some raised their hands, others gave the "thumbs-up" sign. It was a God moment!
Some stared. I am used to seeing that expression.
Some covered their ears. Again, not surprising.
Some danced. I think I am going to recruit them to be with us on Sunday.
Some smiled a smile that said, "wow that is neat that a church would have the courage to worship outside of an hour on Sunday morning."
I am reflecting back on the day, and my thought is pretty simple.
Parades are nothing new. David in the Old Testament was leading the parade with the Ark of the Covenant. The scripture says...
"David and the whole company of Israel were in the parade, singing at the top of their lungs and playing mandolins, harps, tambourines, castanets, and cymbals." II Samuel 6:3
We had all of that....people singing at the top of their lungs (with microphones), stringed instruments (plugged into amps), drums...yep! we had em.
I think I even saw a dancer or two along the way.
Rock on....let the parade continue!
Friday, May 30, 2008
The headline in today's New York Times caught my attention.
"Off the Grid, but Plugged In"
The opening words of Billie Cohen's article caused me to ponder. He said, "Sometimes you just want to get away from it all. And that doesn't mean simply turning the phone off."
Maybe a couple of definitions would be helpful.
"Off the Grid" means away from all utilities. It means not being connected to electricity in any way.
"Plugged In" means taking advantage of the utilities to power our conveniences.
Wait a minute...how can one be "off the grid" and "plugged in" at the same time?
Cohen cites a book entitled, The Self Sufficiency Specialist: The Essential Guide to Designing and Planning for Off-Grid Self Reliance, by Alan Bridgewater. In it he says, "while the term was originally used to describe a house in the developed world that by necessity or choice sourced its own energy, the term is now more and more being used to describe an independent way of life."
Every day I meet a lot of people who are "off the grid" and don't know it. Now, before you think I am being harsh, let me explain. These are people who are doing their own thing with little regard for those around them. They are narcissists who live for themselves. They are "off the grid" and yet are sucking up precious resources.
I also meet people who are "plugged in" and its obvious. You have met them as well.
Here's my thought...maybe Cohen is right. Perhaps we can be "off the grid and plugged in."
What if we live in such a way that we are not dependent on the resources around us that can sustain us momentarily, but choose to be plugged into the One who can sustain us regardless of the circumstances of life.
I am still "on the grid," otherwise I could not post daily on the blog. I need to be "plugged in" because the batteries in my laptop will run down.
I wonder if there is a lesson here for fellow pilgrims on the journey.
What do you think?
Thursday, May 29, 2008
While visiting the Shrine of St. Anthony last week, we wandered down a prayer path entitled Our Lady of Ghisallo. Being brave adventurers we hiked a short distance into the woods and saw the sign.
Upon closer inspection we saw the following prayer...
As we bike through the city streets, the highways and mountain trails
Protect us Lord from
spills and crashes
trucks and cars whose drivers do not recognize our right to use the roads
dogs who like to bite our shapely legs
potholes, cracks and sharp objects that flatten our tires
thieves and bikenappers who lust after our bikes
the rains and thunders
and all kind of nasty accidents.
Give us the energy and strength
to wake up in the morning and go for a bike ride
to keep us from bonking
to ride up the hills and mountains
to reach our destination.
Grant us the courage
to descend rapidly down the hills
to ride through the rain
to join and finish races even if we know we will never win.
May we experience the joy and the ecstasy
as we are moved by the beauty of nature
as the sun and the wind caress our face
as we feel one with the bike and the road and forget about the time
as we get in touch with the child within us
as we enjoy each others' company
as we feel we could bike forever.
May we continue biking even as we grow old and up to the day we die.
And may you allow us to continue biking in heaven, forever and ever.
The Patron Saint of Cyclists is Ghisallo. Legend has it that he was traveling in the Italian hillside when he was attacked by highway bandits. Spotting a image of the Virgin Mary in a roadside shrine, he broke away from his attackers and ran to it. There he took refuge, pled for protection - and was miraculously saved from the robbers.
I am not a bike rider, but I was impressed that a prayer path would be dedicated to cycling.
Walking back toward the monastery, for a brief moment, I thought about taking up cycling. If I do, I know the prayer I will pray before getting behind the handle bars.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
742 miles. Two border crossings. Lots of speed traps. And gas over $4 a gallon.
What could be better than a road trip from Boston to Flint? It sounds like a long trip and it is, but it was a great time to ride along the interstate system of the northeast United States.
The weather was perfect. The traffic was minimal and ideas for future projects and blogs flowed into my mind like a rushing torrent. I dont know if it was because I inside the Camry capsule or if it was because I was enjoying solitude.
It has caused me to ponder.
How often do I pause to allow creative thoughts to invade my mind? Or am I just satisfied to keep on thinking the same thoughts?
The daily grind mitigates against opportunities for creativity. The reason is simple. We often spend our energies surviving rather than seeking new ways of looking at life. How sad to continue to live our lives mired in mediocrity when we could experience excellence fostered by creativity.
So yesterday as I was riding along the interstate, ideas came to me that otherwise would have been blocked by telephone calls, email, and busy-ness.
Today I am looking forward to seeing what will unfold in my life. Yesterday was a great respite for me. I pray that my writing, communicating, and thinking reflects the full effects of yesterdays road trip.
The apostle Paul wrote provocative words that are ringing in my ears this morning.
"Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don't be impressed with yourself. Don't compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life." Galatians 6:4
Gotta run....creativity is calling
Monday, May 26, 2008
It is a bright sunny day in Boston. I woke early this morning and made a pilgrimage to one of my favorite spots. You guessed it. Starbucks.
I was ready for the day.
I entered the caffeine cathedral. In front was the newstand with the Boston Globe beckoning to me.
Yielding to the temptation, I purchased a cup and a newspaper. Two of my favorite things.
I have decided that when I retire I will imbibe on coffee and crossword puzzles. Both nurture my soul.
There is something satisfying about completing the newspaper as you take the last sip of coffee.
I am ready for the day. Aaahhhh! Ready....what a great word.
It made me think about the words of Jesus in the book of Matthew.
"You've been given insight into God's kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn't been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That's why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight."
Are you ready for the day?
Saturday, May 24, 2008
On Friday I had the privilege of visiting the Shrine of St. Anthony in Ellicott City, Maryland. Located in the rollling hills, it is a secluded monastery housing friars in the Franciscan tradition.
Standing in the shadowy hallways and walking quietly through the buildings it was a moment of tranquility unparalleled in our culture.
Carol, an administrative assistant, walked us through the buildings and shared the story of the construction of the monastery. She told the story of how the friars had come to the area and established the ministry of prayer and healing. St. Francis of Assisi's influence continues through the ministry of the the Franciscans.
The highlight of the visit was walking into the chapel and seeing the Stations of the Cross on perimeter walls. I was reminded of the word, "pilgrimage."
In the chapel there is a Relic of St. Anthony of Padua. It is a certified relic (a fragment of the bodily remains of the saint.) It was removed from the tomb of St. Anthony in 1995 and given to the Shrine of St. Anthony by the Paduan Friars in 1998.
The reliquary (which holds the relic) in the form of a bust of St. Anthony was designed in Padua, Italy especially for the Shrine.
St. Anthony was renowned for his intercessory power and being a source of comfort for those who have experienced loss in their lives...healing.
Standing in the chapel I was struck by not only the beauty of the structure but the solemnity of the moment.
I plan to return to spend time there in the future. Something in the "moments of solitude" called to me in familiar ways, ways that make me long for more moments like that.
Pulling out of the driveway and heading for Boston, I looked back to see the monastery fading in the distance. Even though the building was fading from view, the memory was solidified in my mind. It was a holy moment for which I am grateful.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I was watching television the other morning and was astounded to learn that Mrs. Duggar who is already a mother to 17 children is expecting baby number 18.
My wife and I are proud parents of 2 children. Now, if you are keeping score at home that means we have 15 less than Mr. & Mrs. Duggar.
In a show of solidarity we have decided to adopt. So I went down to see my friend Anthony who has a barnful of babies waiting to be adopted.
Stuffing 15 baby chicks into the trunk of my Tracer, I headed for home to introduce the girls to their new mom. My wife was impressed that our adoption did not obligate her in any way. As a matter of fact she was pleased to know that I would be responsible for feeding and watering the chickens.
So somewere in mid to late August we will be the proud recipients of fresh brown farm eggs. The projection is that we will receive about 12-18 eggs daily.
I am already thinking about omelets, hard boiled eggs, eggs benedict, and egg souffles. Not bad results for adopting 15 little chickens.
I love to walk out to the coop and check on the girls. They seem to like me already and associate me with food and water. They appear to be appreciative of the attention that I lavish on them.
They make a mess.
They dig, scratch and peck.
These are not bad things when I think that I will enjoy "liquid chicken" in a pan after a long days work.
Join me in welcoming the newest members of our family!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
It was a blur as we sped past the small building alongside the highway.
What caught my eye was a small sign. I had seen signs like this one many times before but never on a building like this.
Open to the Public.
Concertina Razor Wire atop a 8 foot chain link fence does not scream, "hey! come on in, you are welcome here.
It made me think.
How many times do we say our lives, communities and churches are Open to the Public and yet we have razor wire barriers erected that speak otherwise.
Mother Teresa was once asked by an interviewer: "What's the biggest problem in the world today?" Without hesitating she replied, "The biggest problem in the world today is that we draw the circle of our family too small. We need to draw it larger every day."
Back to the sign along the road. I was so struck by the irony of the sign that I did not really pay attention to the kind of business attached to the Open to the Public sign. I know that it was a fireworks company of some sort, but I sure didn't feel like getting any closer.
Open to the Public.
I want my life to reflect that sentiment.
I want the church I attend to be Open to the Public
I want my community to be Open.
It starts with me and then leads to the community.
Is your life Open to the Public or is there concertina razor wire atop an eight foot chain link fence?
Just a thought....
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Embedded in a Creative Resources file in my laptop there are words of a man who was invited to address the National Prayer Breakfast, in February of 2006.
He was an unlikely person to stand before those gathered on that morning.
After a few opening remarks he came to the following words...
"Thus sayeth the Lord: 'Bring the homeless poor into the house, when you see the naked, cover him, then your light will break out like the dawn and your recovery will speedily spring forth, then your Lord will be your rear guard." The Jewish scripture says that. Isaiah 58 again.
That is a powerful incentive: 'The Lord will watch your back.'
Sounds like a good deal to me, right now.
A number of years ago, I met a wise man who changed my life. In countless ways, large and small, I was always seeking the Lord's blessing. I was saying, you know, I have a new song, look after it… I have a family, please look after them… I have this crazy idea…
And this wise man said: stop.
He said, stop asking God to bless what you're doing.
Get involved in what God is doing—because it's already blessed.
Well, God, as I said, is with the poor. That, I believe, is what God is doing.
And that is what He's calling us to do.
The person who spoke these words in front of Washington's rich, priviliged and powerful was Bono of U2 fame.
From the time I heard his words until now, I have been prompted to seek God who is always up to something in His world.
I spent today in downtown Flint at the East Side Mission. What a place! What a time! God is at work in that place!
There was something natural about being in His place and enjoying the whisper of His voice. I was in the "deep end" of the pool and enjoying it.
P.S. I looked for Bono today, but I didn't see him.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Today I had the privilege of thinking out loud about transformational change with the congregation I serve. It was interesting to think about living life in the deep end of the pool. We looked at Jesus' words to his first followers when He told them, "put out into the deep water."
"Deep calls to deep" The Psalmist understood the depths of God's love and mercy.
Eugene Peterson translating the same section of scripture of Psalms 42
When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you,
From Jordan depths to Hermon heights, including Mount Mizar.
Chaos calls to chaos, to the tune of whitewater rapids.
Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers crash and crush me.
Then God promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night!
My life is God's prayer. Psalms 42:6-8
At the close of the worship experience, I shared the following prayer from St. Francis Drake.
Disturb us Lord when We are too well pleased with ourselves
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to shore.
Shallow water is quite different from deep water. Sailing close to the shore is not near as exciting as being in deep water.
I closed the morning with a challenge. After speaking about the "Deep End," I removed one letter from the word "Deep" and created a new word, De pEnd....Depend.
Here is my thinking, "when you're in the Deep End, you need to Depend.
In another George Costanza moment..."That's all I got!"
Friday, May 16, 2008
Yesterday I did a funeral for a man who was a lifelong adventurer. He lived several lifetimes of experiences in 88 years. Some of the stories were unbelievable and could easily make an "Indiana Jones" type of movie.
It made me think.
He lived every one of his 88 years. He squeezed every ounce of life out of each moment.
There is an old African proverb that seems fitting...."The death of an old person is like the loss of a library." Yesterday we lost a huge library.
I recently ran across the following....it is an example of what it means to live life to the fullest.
Life is not a journey to the grave
with the intention of arriving safely
in a pretty and well preserved body,
but rather to skid in broadside
thoroughly used up,
totally worn out,
and loudly proclaiming
What a ride!
What are you waiting for? Quit putting off those things that you are planning on doing "some day." Start doing them today!
Who wants to end up in a casket looking "pretty and well preserved?"
Life! What a ride! Enjoy every trip, every journey and every excursion!
As for me and my house, we are going to "enjoy the ride!"
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
I love stories from the Old Testament. They seem surreal at times, disturbing at others, and downright confusing. That's why I like them. They don't easily resolve and sometimes leave me wondering if these are about the same God who pursues me.
Here's a great example.
The setting is a war ballad. It is a poetic description of the battle between the Israelites under Deborah and Barak and the enemies under Sisera. Stick with me.
The Lord goes forth to war and yet He is forsaken by Israel. The problem is that the people were living in the "me generation," they had short memories, and kept a long list of grievances. Some things never change.
In a moment of transformation, the people turn their hearts toward God.
Now here is where it gets interesting. Judges chapter 5 records a variety of responses to God's clarion call to faithfulness.
The Tribe of Reuben when faced with the challenge to move forward, "stayed by their fires." This is the crowd that enjoys the "safety and security" of the moment.
The Tribe of Dan when faced with the challenge to move forward, "stayed by their ships." This is the crowd that enjoys the "security of the familiar."
The Tribe of Asher when faced with the challenge to move forward, "stayed in the coves." I love this tribe...they at least got in the boats, but they didn't venture out to far.
The Tribe of Zebulon when faced with the challenge to move forward, "risked their very lives." That's my kind of crowd. "Forget the fire, forget the coves, we are going out into the deep water."
Whoa....wait a minute, somebody could get hurt, or drown, or fall overboard, or get wet, or catch a cold, or put an eye out, or be lost. Nobody said that deep water, deep change, and deep transformation is comfortable or easy.
What kind of person are you?
Are you a "stay by the fire" person?
Are you a "stay by the ships" person?
Are you a "stay in the coves" person?
Are you a "risk your very life" person?
The One who I follow met a group of net-menders and inquired about their fishing successes. They said, "we fished all night and didn't catch anything." He said, "put out into the deep water." Luke 5:4
Do you want to go deeper in the journey with the One who calls you? It will never happen in shallow pools of mediocrity. It will never occur while you are standing in a wading pool of excuses and rationalizations. It will unlikely take place as long as you are willing to offer anemic reasons for the situation you find yourself in.
Go ahead....jump in the deep end of His grace. He'll catch you and teach you to swim in the wellsprings of His mercy.
Monday, May 12, 2008
I am a big fan of Annie Dillard. She loved nature and wrote about it with a simplicity that St. Francis of Assisi would have been proud of.
If you are ever looking for a good read, here are a few suggestions that will leave you wanting more of her writings.
Pilgrim at Tinker Creek published in 1974 when she was 28 years old.
Holy the Firm...an insightful analyses of pain and suffering, written in 1977.
Teaching a Stone to Talk...a persistent quest for the quietness of God's voice. 1982.
Skimming through her writings I ran across an interesting concept. It intrigued me when I read it and the more I think about it the more it makes me wonder why it has my attention.
She had a cabin at Tinker Creek where in "Walden Pond" fashion she watched God's creation. She called it her "anchorhold." That's the word that has my attention.
I did a little further reading and discovered that she was alluding to a concept derived from the Greek word anachoreo, meaning to, "withdraw to a place apart."
Hermits in the Middle Ages often would "anachoreo" to spend time with God. These hermits were called anchorites.
They would inhabit lean-tos attached to the walls of the nearest cathedral. These shacks had one window through which the hermit could look at the world while still attached to the walls of the church.
There it is. That's the image that I am thinking about.
I want to be in a place where I am anchored to the Church (universal, rather than denominational) with a window through which I can view the culture that I live and breathe in.
Annie Dillard saw her cabin on Pilgrim Creek as an anchorhold.
I don't have a cabin on a creek. I don't have a lean to attached to the church I attend.
But I do want to be connected to His Church looking out the window on the world He created. Seems so simple, yet it is easy to get so attached to the church that we fail to look out the window and see our culture. It is even tempting to be so immersed in the culture that we fail to see our need for His Church.
It's a tension that we are called to live with. Sometimes it's easy and sometimes it isn't...
What do you think?
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Today is Mother's Day!
Our family celebrated it with worshipping together, flowers, and dinner together at the local steak house....It was a great day.
My children have a great mom who has modeled love, concern, compassion, care and a thousand other traits. She's a wonderful person who I love with all my heart.
But at the end of this day, I want to pay tribute to my mother.
Here are the top eleven things that are worth tribute.
1. She was a great cheerleader....she said things like, "you can do it, I know you can"
2. She was a great reader....she read to us each night...I remember Pilgrims Progress and a thousand other books
3. She loves doing crossword puzzles...I inherited my love of words from her
4. She was a great cook....Still is!
5. She was a concerned mother....lots of attention to details... Drs. appointments, meetings, sports practices, and youth group events
6. She was a great driver....until I turned 16.
7. She was a disciplinarian....I am thankful for that now that I am a grown up
8. She gave selflessly...even when I didn't realize it at the time.
9. She loved her family...Still does!
10. She loved her church...Still does!
11. She loved God....Still does!
There are lots more reasons to pay tribute, but that will have to wait until next year.
So Mom, I salute you. I love you. Thanks for being a great mom.
Friday, May 9, 2008
I am inquisitive about change....why some people are comfortable with it and others fear it.
In researching it further I ran across the Innovation Adoption Curve. Sounds pretty technical, and it is, but it is also very enlightening at many different levels.
It is also known by some other names...Multi-Step Flow Theory or Diffusion of Innovations Theory. I know what you are thinking...."you need to get out more often." And I probably do!
Here it is in a nutshell...There are five different categories of people
Innovators....these are brave people who are initiating the change.
Early Adopters...these are respectable people who influence others opinions...they try out new ideas but in a careful way.
Early Majority...these are thoughtful people who are careful but change more quickly than the average person.
Late Majority...these are skeptical people who will adopt new ideas only when the majority is already using them.
Laggards...these are traditional people who love to stick with the "old ways" and are critical about new ideas and will only accept them if the new idea has become mainstream or even traditional.
We need em' all.
I can't imagine a world full of Innovators. There would be a parade of new ideas constantly and nobody around to implement them.
I can't imagine a world full of Laggards, although I have been in a few places where they congregated.
The research tells us that progress is made when attention is given to convincing the Innovators and the Early Adopters.
It makes me wonder how all five groups respond to words like..."See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." Isaiah 43:19
Innovators might say, "A new thing, cool! What is it and when do we start?"
Early Adopters might say, "New things are ok, but let's be careful, you never know what's ahead?"
Early Majority might say, "New things....hmmmm...think I'll wait until the price comes down."
Late Majority might say, "New things...I have heard others talking about it...what does Consumer Report say about it?"
Laggards might say, "Change? If it ain't broke, don't fix it! Now what were we talking about?"
I've got experience with all five groups, and I have the bruises and scars to prove it.
Have you had any similar experiences?
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Every once in a while, I return to a book that I have read earlier and re-read it. Usually once I read a book I seldom crack the pages again. Eugene Peterson writing in The Contemplative Pastor, has the ability to lure the one time reader back into the pages of his writings.
Tucked into one of the chapters Peterson quotes John Oman. He says there are "twin perils" that threaten our journey.
"Flurry and Worry"
I have seen both and experienced both. Oman goes on to say, "flurry dissipates energy and worry constipates it."
"Flurry" is the bane of our culture....We pride ourselves in being busy. C.S. Lewis said, "only lazy people work hard." Activity, busy-ness, and sighing alert people to the fact that we are busy. If we are busy people will think we are important.
"Worry" is a sedative our culture uses when we realize that there is very little we can do to alter circumstances we encounter.
After watching people for a long time, it seems that flurry and worry go hand in hand. Where one shows up the other is lurking in the wings.
Don't fret or worry....Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns....It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Philippians 4:6
I am learning to sit quietly and avoid the temptation to "flurry and worry." It's not easy, but it is necessary. It is not natural, but it is necessary.
God, help me to resist the temptation to get ahead of you and then wonder where you are.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
Today I was in the inner city of Flint. I made a pilgrimage downtown to look at a rickety old porch that needs to be replaced. Sure enough when I arrived I looked over the decrepit porch and agreed that it needs replacing.
As I was standing there, Eric came up to me and said, "watcha doin?"
"Lookin at the porch....it needs to be replaced."
"Yep. It does."
What he said next floored me.
"Yeah, Orville used to sleep under there before he died a couple of years ago."
Oblivious to the reality of what he said, he repeated, "Yeah, Orville used to sleep under there."
Sure enough there were some large cardboard pieces that resembled a makeshift bed. Lots of cobwebs, lots of bugs, and more cobwebs. I was looking at someones bedroom underneath a porch on Flint's East Side. Orville has gone home to heaven where the furnishings and surrounding are more comfortable. He is on heaven's front porch instead of underneath a porch in Flint.
It makes me wonder.
Recently I was reading a book entitled, The Testament of Gideon Mack and a comment brushed the cobwebs off of my psyche.
The author says, "I used to think that most people were instinctively charitable towards the less fortunate. Now I am not so sure. Perhaps charity is simply a way of putting distance between yourself and misfortune."
I think it is easy to fork over a few bucks to take care of the less fortunate. It is another thing to "get under the porch" and taste their suffering. It is easy to pray for those that are hungry just before we sit down to a banquet of choices.
Sometimes I think that we give little when He calls us to give everything.
Sometimes its uncomfortable to see suffering close up. Sometimes it is disconcerting to think that we can do very little to alter the course of life for many that are facing insurmountable odds.
Today I learned a very important lesson. Jesus said, "Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me." Matthew 25:45
God, give me another chance tomorrow...help me to keep my eyes open for the least, the lost, the last. Help me to respond in ways that are pleasing to you when you answer my prayer.
Monday, May 5, 2008
I opened tonights paper and just when you thought you had seen everything, along comes Bill Bramanti.
He is a 67 year old village administrator living in South Chicago Heights. He loves Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer. He loves it so much that he decided to have a casket constructed to look like a can of Blue Ribbon Beer.
Yep, you guessed it. He ordered the casket from Panozzo Brothers Funeral Home in Chicago Heights and had it delivered to his home.
What do you do while you wait to get inside of a casket shaped like a beer can? Where do you store a casket while you wait for your time to climb inside?
So Bill Bramanti decided to throw a party and fill the casket with ice and Pabst Blue Ribbon and invite his friends over for an evening of imbibing and stories.
Just when you thought you have heard everything.
Now, here's my question. Regardless of what you think of Bill Bramanti and a casket shaped like a beer can, the question is, "what prompted him to design and order a casket?"
It caused me to think about some people I know and what kind of casket they might design.
I have a friend who is a NASCAR fan....a casket shaped like #24?
I have a friend who loves Starbucks...a casket shaped like a coffee cup?
I have a friend who loves Walmart...a casket shaped like a shopping cart?
I have a friend who loves to preach....a casket shaped like a pulpit?
I have a friend who loves to eat at Old Country Buffet...whatever the shape it will have to be big!
And me? I love to read....maybe a casket shaped like a book. Don't get me wrong, I am not thinking about dying, but Bill Bramanti got my attention this afternoon.
It seems like "ole Bill" is spending more time thinking about dying than he is living. I want to spend more time thinking about living than dying.
Wouldn't you have loved to been the person who took Bill Bramanti's casket order? Is that strange or is it just me?
Saturday, May 3, 2008
This paragraph caught my attention in an email that I received yesterday from the Emergent Village Network. The EV seems to be going through a metamorphoses as they move from gatherings that are planned to ones that are more organic.
Here is the paragraph taken from their email....
The National EV Gathering might rise again next year as a reinvented event with new leadership and new structures -- let us know if you want to be one of the inventors. And in the mean time, do-it-yourself. Cohorts, put up wikis and find ways to be together. You don't need to have a conference with published speakers to shape and change Emergent, in fact, it is quite the opposite. Get out of your church conferences and blogs and into each other's fridges and back yards and national reserves and museums and inner-cities. Gather, mix, invent.
Now, I read their weekly emails with interest so that I can keep up with what they are thinking and doing, but this one really grabbed my interest.
Here's a few definitions to help you get the drift.
Cohorts...that's just groups of people having similar interests and experiences
Wikis...a collection of collaborative web pages in which anyone can make comments, additions or offer advice.
Emergent...it would take a collection of cohorts and many wikis to fully explain this....Suffice it to say, this is a movement of people who see the world differently and long to experience the Kingdom in ways beyond how many of us define church. It is not a generational or age issue as much as it is a mindset about what Jesus said and did.
But the thing that really grabbed me by the throat of consciousness was this phrase....Get out of your church conferences and blogs and into each other's fridges and back yards and national reserves and museums and inner-cities. Gather, mix, invent.
Allow me to reflect for a few moments....
Church conferences....Doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.
Blogs...I got one and it helps me to put things on the screen that I feel in my heart, even when I don't often have the courage to say them out loud.
Each others fridges....you gotta be in someone's home to get into their fridge. I long for relationships with people that are comfortable enough for me to get into their fridge and they wouldn't think that I am "Freddy the Freeloader."
Back yards.....well, hmmmm....that's the opposite of front yards.
National Reserves....I think this means "ivory towers" and "palaces of pomposity."
Museums...the way I understand it, these are places where you can go see relics from the past.
Inner Cities...I really feel comfortable there and feel rejuvenated when I am on the streets of inner cities.
Gather....mix....invent....Now if I have ever heard a great definition for church, there it is! What would happen if instead of saying, "I am going to church" we would say we are, "gathering....mixing....inventing?" Sounds like child's play....then the scripture that I will share tomorrow at the place of "gathering...mixing...inventing" says, "Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."
I am getting ready to gather with other pilgrims
I am going to mix with fellow travelers
I am going to invent new rhythms to keep my heart in tune with His.
Sure beats "just going to church."
What do you think?
Friday, May 2, 2008
"The water for which we thirst is God's grace, but God gives us the job of hauling it in our own buckets." Evelyn Underhill
I need lots of buckets.
Dr. David Larson, M.D. wrote, "When we walk to the edge of all the light we have and take that step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe the one of two things will happen...There will be something solid for us to stand on, or we will be taught to fly."
That assurance is developed through carrying buckets of God's grace. Our thirst for God's grace is quenched when we believe that we can "walk naked into the land of uncertainty" and know that He will be with us.
One of my favorite books is a small book that I purchased nearly twenty years ago. The title of the book is A Guide to Retreat for All God's Shepherds, by Rueben Job. I love the book for more reasons that I am able to describe.
In one of the best sections these words appear...
O God, throw me a crumb of quiet to soothe my restless wandering heart.
I am tired of seeking you.
I know that I'll find you on the day I allow myself to be found by you.
But I am not that tame yet...
God's grace is all around me...whenever I run, His grace is there. When I am distracted, His grace renews my focus. When I have questions, grace is His answer. When I am confused, grace calms my doubts. When I am confident, grace reminds me that "apart from him I can do nothing."
I am thirsty for grace...and I need a bigger bucket. How about you?
Thursday, May 1, 2008
I am not a Marshall McLuhan scholar by any stretch of the imagination. I know enought about him to realize that even though his life was filled with writing scholarly tomes and giving lectures, he approached life in a rather simple way.
My favorite McLuhan quote is "A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding."
He was educated at Cambridge, heavily influenced by another of my favorites...G.K. Chesterton, and a convert to Roman Catholicism. Writing heavily in the area of media and its influence he is credited with coining the phrase, "the medium is the message."
Perhaps that is why his quote about "point of view" is so intriguing to me.
I have seen people hold tenaciously to their "point of view" while sacrificing an inquiry into "insight and understanding." It makes me wonder if this might be the source of many conflicts in the places we work, in our relationships and in the places we worship.
How often I have seen people close their mind to any insight or new understanding because it conflicted with their "point of view."
What if our "point of view" is just that....a "point?" What if our view ought to be more comprehensive than some "point" on a line? What if our "point of view" ought to have an elasticity to it that allows new "insights and understandings?"
The apostle Paul understood this before Marsall McLuhan ever thought about it. He wrote, "Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized—whoever. I didn't take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!" I Corinthians 9:19 The Message.
What's your "point of view?"
I guess it depends on where you're standing.
What do you think?