Showing posts from August, 2008

"A Shoeless Moment" - A Sermon for Coffeeson's Baptism

Exodus 3:1-15

Two birthdays celebrated, two birthdays remembered. Two birthdays very different from one another, far separated by time.

The first birthday was celebrated and remembered yesterday morning. Many gathered here to grieve the passing of one beloved by so many; who had died way too young. Members of her family repeatedly noted that Gloria was baptized close to a year ago.

September 30th would have been her first “new birthday.” It was the day she recognized and claimed for herself the presence of God in her life. Baptism is the act of marking that presence – a moment that she’d treasured and that strengthened her in her illness. It had been a moment that changed her forever.

This morning we celebrate as a church family--along with all these strange people sitting down front--another “new birthday.” But as we’ve gathered again around this font, I recall another birthday, now about 4½ months ago.

It was mid-afternoon, featuring two exhausted people who’d been up for 24 hours…

Labor Day Meme

Not enough for a Roundup, so here's the Friday Five...

1. Tell us about the worst job you ever had.That'd be my days as an "alley coordinator" at Red Lobster. An alley coordinator dresses the plates before they go out, make sure the salad-making station is stocked up, etc. The job itself wasn't horrible...I just didn't seem to click with the culture: there were understood ways of doing things that I never really picked up on until I got something wrong. I'd taken the job to relieve our very strained budget (I was a full-time student, and Coffeewife was already working 7 days a week), and it just brought more stress for me personally.

2. Tell us about the best job you ever had.I like my gig as a pastor well enough. But growing up, I'd have to say my summers at a place called Chickmaster. This is (or was...last I knew they'd been majorly cutting back) a factory that made incubators, and I worked in the plumbing department, assembling a lot of the…

The Weekend That Will Be

This weekend is going to be busy. And it will be a weekend that will bring bittersweet feelings as we move from one event to the next.

On Saturday, I will be officiating a funeral. You may or may not remember something that I wrote way back in May about a wedding that I officiated. The bride had been undergoing treatments for lung cancer, and there had been no license involved that day so that the groom wouldn't have to deal with insurance issues later on. I can remember the look on her face that day when she'd seen Coffeeson for the first time...she'd teared up, she was so overjoyed to finally meet him.

A few weeks ago, things took a turn for the worst. A hospital bed had been moved into her house, and she pretty well had been relegated to it. I visited her last week, and even though she'd been so worn out that she frequently dozed off, she'd been happy to see me. I was content to sit on a chair at the end of her bed, her dog resting its head …

Small Sips: Religion Journalism, Shiny Happy Church

Greg at The Parish has an excellent commentary on religion journalism. And he should know religion journalism, because he's a religion journalist. After analyzing the suggestion that newspapers are dying/dead, he turns his attention to the credibility of the religion page. Here are a few points that he made that I really liked (Caution for language):Most reporters don't know enough about their own religion, if they have one, to write intelligently about it. Now throw them into a story about Jainism or Wicca and watch them try to understand the vocabulary and basic concepts. People with degrees in journalism tend to know a lot about journalism, a little about their own faith, and nothing about other faiths. Think America post-9/11 when we were trying to understand Shia and Sunni and Wahhabi.

Editors don't often know what to do with religion stories because they've been given the task of assigning a reporter to explain something in 500 or 750 words, but the background …

Pop Culture Roundup

I've moved on to the second Sandman, subtitled The Doll's House. Here, Morpheus goes on a quest to retrieve escaped dreams, and there's also a subplot involving the one time he was in love. I'm remembering more as I read from the first time I went through a lot of these. These are the kind of "smart" comics that I like.

As I've mentioned, I watched Jesus Camp this past week. You can read my thoughts about that here.

I ordered WWE SummerSlam this past Sunday, and to be honest, it was a disappointment. SummerSlam used to be one of the "Big Four" pay-per-views that the WWE would hold, before they started adding more and more PPVs to keep up with WCW and before they had five hours of television to fill every week and a felt need as of late to give some PPV matches a "tune in tomorrow on RAW to see what happens!" feel to them. PPV matches are supposed to solve something most of the time. They're supposed to feel epic. A lot of the…

LeRoi Moore, RIP

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- LeRoi Moore, the versatile saxophonist whose signature staccato fused jazz and funk overtones onto the eclectic sound of the Dave Matthews Band, died Tuesday of complications from injuries he suffered in an all-terrain vehicle accident, the band said. He was 46.Moore died at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, where he was admitted with complications that arose weeks after the June 30 wreck, according to a statement on the band's Web site. It did not specify what led to his death, and nursing supervisor Galina Shinder said the hospital could not release details.On June 30, Moore crashed his ATV on his farm outside Charlottesville, Va., but was discharged and returned to his Los Angeles home to begin physical therapy. Complications forced him back to the hospital on July 17, the band said.The band went on with its show Tuesday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where lead singer Dave Matthews acknowledged Moore's death to th…

Jesus Camp

I watched Jesus Camp this past weekend, which is a documentary following three kids who attend an Evangelical Christian camp in North Dakota. It was certainly an eye-opening film, to say the least.

We spend a decent amount of time learning about the kids: one is home-schooled on creationism and is even told at one point that "science doesn't prove anything." Another goes bowling and 1) prays over her ball before she rolls it, and 2) walks up to a stranger, gives her a tract, and leaves after a mini-speech about God putting it on her heart to do so. A third tells of her love for Christian heavy metal.

While perhaps older elementary-age, all three speak with a somewhat impressive sophistication about their faith. The girl who witnesses with the tract talks in a different segment about seeing herself as a warrior for Christ, "but not in the sense of going into battle." The home-schooled boy actually preaches one evening at the camp, talking about how their ge…

Pastoral Bipolar*

A pastor friend of mine used this term the other day while we talked about the rollercoaster ride that is ministry. I found it a very helpful phrase, especially as of late.If you aren't familiar with what "pastoral bipolar" might look like, here's an example.

As a pastor, you wander into the office one morning. Perhaps on this particular day, you're carrying unresolved emotional baggage. Maybe today it has to do with last night's committee meeting that went horribly wrong. Maybe it has to do with last Sunday's sermon or worship service that felt so lifeless and flat, and maybe it was even the latest in a string of such services. Maybe it has to do with a general inability to muster up much creative energy or a sense of being overwhelmed with the tasks before you. Maybe you're wondering Where It's All Going.You carry this feeling with you through the morning: this low-energy funk of a feeling where nothing seems to be going right …

Fall Transformation Meme

Every year nowadays, I tell myself that this will be the year I finally just kick back, relax, and enjoy the summer months. And it's always around the middle of July when I say to myself, "Okay, I'm sick of this crap. Come on, September." There are many transformations that I anticipate as fall approaches, and it just so happens that it's the subject of the GalPals' Friday Five this week...

For this Friday's Five, share with us five transformations that the coming fall will bring your way.

1. In November, I'll celebrate the four-year anniversary of my call to my present church. I always consider this a big deal, and I probably anticipate it a little too much all year long leading up to it. Whenever this date rolls around, I undertake a good deal of reflection about where I've been and where I'm going, and I celebrate another full years' worth of experiences.

2. I've lived in this area of Ohio off and on for over 20 years, and I'v…

Pop Culture Roundup - The Return

Yes,'s back. We don't necessarily have a lot to catch up on, but I suppose that I have a lot more to write about if I feature more of a mishmash of books, movies, TV, music, whatever, than trying to focus on one and fouling up any enjoyment that I'd really get out of it otherwise.

I've been re-reading The Sandman comics. They've been bound in a series of ten graphic novels. When I read them before, I think I only made it through Volume 6. These comicsfollow the adventures of Morpheus, master of dreams. When we first meet him, he's been imprisoned by a secret occult society who'd actually meant to trap his sister, Death. The first volume traces his seeking his freedom, then retrieving various tools that he uses for his work. When I read them before, I also forgot about all the other comic characters who show up: so far, there's a brief nod to Batman, and a longer episode involving John Constantine (remember the movie starring Keanu Reeves?) befor…


The first ever picture of Coffeeson:

A lot of people say that he looks like his dad:

Yeah, I think I see it.

Blue and Gold

Michael Phelps is a Michigan Man. Boo yah.

Give Me a Bit

Yesterday afternoon, as I am wont to do, I sat in an empty sanctuary. There's something about an empty sanctuary fresh off a worship service that adds to the silence. It's as if something had been building up all week and finally released...and in a way, it had. This room sits empty most of the week anyway, but just a few hours removed from it being filled (or as filled as it was for us, particularly on a Sunday in August), it always seems a little more empty. Know what I mean?

So there I sat, a bottle of Mountain Dew perched on the railing, my materials finally cleared from the pulpit (I went home and came back later for them). The grass out by the cemetery was still a nice bright green, though I knew that the fall chill is beginning to make itself known. It may have looked like summer, but it's slowly beginning to feel like something different.

Coffeewife and Coffeeson were off at a bridal shower, and of all places I'd chosen this spot to spend at least part of a…

365 Albums - Admitting Defeat

This was the wrong time in my life to attempt this.

It would have been better to do it a year or two ago when I was still childless...or in about 18 years when he leaves for college.

I went into this knowing how big a commitment it would really be. Seven albums a week, digested enough to say something about them on this blog? It got to be overwhelming.

It also became a chore. Music is on my short list of things in life that I never want to become a chore.

I wanted to make it a point to experience new music, but this was a little too much.

So I'm throwing in the towel. Three or four a week is much more reasonable. But then it'd be 247 albums. Or whatever.

But 365 Albums is done. Maybe I'll bring back the Roundup. Or maybe I'll just post a brief blurb about what I'm listening to this week without being so concerned with numbers. I dunno. Give me a little bit to think about that.

It was nice while it lasted. But I can't keep up. Not with a little one in the h…


A story from Questing Parson...
The parson was changing the saying on the large reader board sign outside his church. Standing on the ladder he leaned back to ascertain if everything was centered. A voice caught his attention.“Well, goodness gracious, parson, that’s cute.”The parson turned to see Ralph. He stepped down from his ladder and greeted his visitor.“Ralph, good to see you. What’s cute?”“Your little saying there. My, my, ‘Honk Your Horn If You Appreciate Teachers.’”“Oh, I see,” said the parson. “Well, Ralph, school started yesterday. I thought a little acknowledgement of the teachers might be appropriate.”“I don’t think it’s appropriate at all, if you don’t mind me saying so, parson.”“Why would this not be appropriate, Ralph?”“Because this church paid good money for this sign and the purpose of it was to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You hardly ever put anything up there about Jesus and the marvelous love of God. You’re wasting our money.” The parson stared at Ralph a m…

Fun With Ellipses

This morning Coffeeson had the biggest, longest, most demonic poop that I've ever seen. He wasn't quite done while I changed him. He thought it was hilarious...July freaking took forever, and I'm so glad that it's August. Have I mentioned that?...The prospect of Michigan football brings a certain level of excitement and dread...Equal Exchange coffee tastes sooooo goooood...Yesterday I had to buy a light blue shirt for a family picture with the in-laws, and I'm surprised at how good it looks...

I'm re-reading the Sandman comics now. Graphic novels work really well when you have to split your time between full-time ministry and a baby...I changed the strings on my guitar the other day, and the difference is amazing...Anyone in NE Ohio want to be in a band? Nothing serious, just something to do...I recently remembered that I wanted to play at a local open mic night last summer and never did...I'm saving up for a 12-string. They sound pretty...

There have b…


I just finished the graphic novel last night. Besides the character Rorschach, I wasn't familiar with this book at all until talk of an upcoming movie was the cover story on a recent Entertainment Weekly.

The storyline, especially at the time it was written, was revolutionary. Superheroes ("masked adventurers," as they're called in the book), have been outlawed in a 1977 law after a police strike. Their only legal options are retirement or they can work for the government. Depending on how familiar one is with comic books, one may be able to spot certain archetypes in the main characters. There's the gadget-dependent Batman type (Nite Owl), the super beyond-human type (Dr. Manhattan), the sociopathic big-gun Punisher type (The Comedian), and so on.

Each of these characters are more than types, of course. In fact, a big chunk of the story is exploring how they really feel about "adventuring." Nite Owl, for instance, felt silly about dressing up …

365 Albums - Week 6

36. Common, Finding Forever - I'd never heard Common's music before this album. In fact, I'd only heard of him in passing, and my first real exposure to him at all was the movie Smokin' Aces. Of all things, his acting made me more curious about his music. I've since found out that he was also in American Gangster, but I don't recall what part he played.

Common is a rapper from Chicago, as evidenced on "Southside," which also features Kanye West. Other guest artists include Lily Allen on "Drivin' Me Wild," one of my favorite tracks on the album. I never would have thought that Lily Allen would appear on a rap album, but what do I know? It's a good song. He makes reference to his acting career on "Break My Heart:" " She said 'you know I don't be datin' rappers'/I said 'I got my SAG card, baby I'm an actor.'" I just thought that was funny.

I really enjoyed my first real dose of Commo…

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