Showing posts from March, 2012

Holy Week Blogging

This Sunday is Palm Sunday. Holy Week is upon us.

I feel like blogging the week this year. I plan to put up a new blog post every day of Holy Week. I might write a few lines or many paragraphs, I might just post a quote or picture or video.

But I think I'd like to do something on this blog every day during this time when we who struggle to live continually as disciples especially pay attention to the life of Jesus and what God is doing through these final tragic stories. I'd like to contribute to my own journey through this week and hopefully the journeys of others by taking on this discipline.

So beginning Sunday, that's what you have to look forward to around here.

May your journey through this next week be blessed.

Vintage CC: A Panicky Summer

From July 2010. This was part of a series I wrote detailing some especially memorable summers, and I singled out the summer of 2003 for my experiences in Clinical Pastoral Education. I often think about my time as a chaplain, and I don't rule out the possibility of pursuing chaplaincy at some point in the future. This was a time packed with incredible ministry experiences, and there's something about the hospital atmosphere that makes me feel comfortable, my aversion to needles and blood notwithstanding. I plan to write some fresh thoughts about this soon, but for now, enjoy revisiting this post.

By the summer of 2003, I'd been living in St. Louis for two years and had completed two out of three years of seminary. By this point, I'd come to love and appreciate life in the big city with its vast array of entertainment options and diversity of cultures.

St. Louis summers are some of the most hot and sticky that I can remember. Ohio has some hot, dry days, but they alwa…

Pop Culture Roundup

I've been reading The Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross. I've heard of and admired and used the phrase and concept, but had never read the actual work on which it is based. When it is referenced, it tends to be painted as this time of despair and doubt, which is a big part of it, but the bigger purpose of it, John writes, is a purging of sin and reliance on easy and over-exuberant religious practice. Through the experience of a Dark Night, we do indeed face a time of deep questioning, but it serves a purpose and is something to be embraced and faithfully worked through.

We took Coffeeson to see The Lorax. I was a little skeptical, because movies based on Dr. Seuss have widely diverted from the books in the past and truly just haven't been all that good. This, however, was something else. We meet a boy named Ted, who lives in a city called Thneedville: a plastic, fake version of the world with no real trees. He goes in search of a real tree and meets the Once-l…

No Perfect Time

This past week, one of the meditations that I was invited to observe as part of my spiritual direction was to get up sometime in the middle of the night and spend an hour imagining being with Jesus in his prison cell. This is more or less what that experience was like.

At first, it is as if I am looking in at the scene from afar. I am hesitant to enter fully, wanting instead to get my bearings, to see the room before being in it. And this is what I see: a bare dirt floor, grimy walls that I'm hesitant to lean up against, and a single small window high up, the moon providing the only light.

He is the only prisoner being kept here. He seems unaware of the slime of the wall, sitting and resting his back against it. He has bushy hair and a beard, though his complexion is darker than most expect. He is shackled by thick black chains both on his hands and feet, as if he really has anywhere to go. His clothes are smeared with dirt and probably blood from the day's events. His look is o…

Free and Controlled

To the left are my sermon notes from March 4th. The text was from Romans 4, during which Paul used the story of Abraham to make some points about faith.

I usually have a longer outline with me in the pulpit, but for some reason leading up to that Sunday I wanted to leave that in my office and instead just take a notecard with a few scribbles along. This was a technique I learned in my freshman speech class in college: write a longer outline, but just write some keywords on a card and go. The assumption is that you know the longer outline well enough that you only need a few keywords to remind you of your next point. This is meant to translate to a more natural style of speaking that is less dependent on words on the page.

I'm my own worst critic, so I may not be the best judge of whether the actual preached thing was worth much. I remembered all my points and I made it from beginning to end, so hopefully I said something that somebody could use.

My real point in bringing this up is t…

Conference Speakin', Workshop Leadin'

I want to share something that I'm really excited about.

This summer, I'll be attending the biennial "Shepherding the Shepherd" event hosted by the UCC 2030 Clergy Network at Boston University. The purpose of this gathering is a chance for clergy in their 20s and 30s to get together, support one another, and discuss issues related to us as younger people in ministry. It's the first that I'll be making a point to attend, and am glad to be able to do it.

The theme of this year's gathering is "The Pursuit of Green Pastures." Not a whole lot of details have been released about content yet, but I do know at least two things.

First, PeaceBang of Beauty Tips for Ministers recently shared that she will be keynoting the event. I've been enjoying her blog lately as I've been striving to be more conscious about my professional attire, so I'm looking forward to that.

The second thing that I know is that there will be a workshop on longer pastora…

Pop Culture Roundup

I read Bossypants by Tina Fey this past week. Fey recounts her early life as well as the span of her career by mixing hilarious self-deprecating anecdotes and more serious lessons that she has learned, all with an easy-flowing writing style and great humor throughout. Fey particularly focuses on her experiences as a woman in comedy, which many still consider a man's world, gently exposing some prejudices and giving advice for any female readers looking to break into the business, as well as her discoveries as a mother. I could easily hear her voice as I read, which somehow added to the book's whimsy.

The series finale of NY Ink aired the other week. Ami has decided that he can't handle being in New York all year long without being with his family, so he offers a partnership with one of his other workers in order to spend six months out of the year in Miami. In the meantime, Jessica finally finds the apprenticeship that she's been searching for. Megan also decides to lea…

Tips for Pronouncing a Tornado God's Judgment

1. Right from the get-go, assume that it is in fact God's judgment.

Don't take into account the fact that tornadoes are much more likely in certain parts of the country, particularly the Plains and the Midwest, due to the typical weather patterns in those regions. In fact, leave meteorology and any other science completely out of the discussion. When bad things happen, clearly it is because God is angry at you (or maybe at someone else, but more on that later).

2. Cite Biblical examples to prove your point.

Don't overthink this one. If, as in this case, the disaster involved tornadoes, just look up references to violent wind...or even just wind. That'll be enough. The fact that some or all of these passages are in regards to specific contextual moments that prophets and others were addressing is irrelevant, because even if the cited text includes descriptions of God's judgment on Ephraim, Egypt, or Nineveh, clearly that passage still applies even in the absence of vio…

My Prayer Partner

This is Nermal.

Every evening, I go upstairs to read and pray through my Ignatian Exercises, and he either follows me into the room or is already there waiting for me.

He rubs against me, purring like a motorboat. When it becomes clear to him that I'm not going to scratch or pet him too much, he lays on top of my materials. Sometimes he falls asleep. At other times he just watches me. He can be very patient most nights, seemingly content to just lay against my leg and to be present.

Earlier in my spiritual direction time, I saw this as a nuisance. Now if he misses a night, I miss him. He helps bring a calming and even playful effect to my prayer time.

I'm glad to have such a loving and loyal prayer partner.