Monday, March 1, 2010

Pastor Joelle's Weekend Off

Okay so people want me to blog.  I'm gonna blog about my weekend off.

I went to a skating competition in Omaha, Nebraska - Winterfest.  This was the very first competition my daughter and I ever skated at back in 2002.  I was terrified and did terrible.  She finished in second place and was hooked on competing every since.  We went every year after that.   I stayed in the same hotel we stayed in.  I got through hotwire, just like  eight years ago.  Holiday Inn, 48 bucks a night.  Only now they have a water park.  But you aren't allowed to swim before a skating competition anyway.  I'm not sure but most coaches have that rule. My coach wasn't able to come but I still follow the rules.

Funny what you remember.  I remember walking through the parking lot at 5:30 am to get to Sarah's 6 am practice.  This time my practice wasn't until 7 am.    I had a good practice.  

One of the things I like about this competition is that there are usually a lot of adult skaters and there were quite a few this year but nobody at my level.  I was the only one in my two events.  But it's a good warm up for the big adult competition I'm going to in Indianapolis in two weeks. 

So I had a good practice and a good warm up and then my nerves got the best of me and did not do my freestyle as well as I would have liked.  I actually left out two jumps- half flips which are very easy jumps for me to do.   I don't know - what can I say?  I get nervous when I skate in front people and judges.

Then a couple of hours later I did an event I've never done before and will be doing in Indianapolis as well - Improv.  You get a  minute to warm up with no music, then you hear your music for the first get to hear it twice on the ice, then you get off and  you get to hear the music one more time off the ice. Then you do a program that you make up yourself with no help.   I had NO idea what to expect.  I practiced to slow pretty music, country music, fast music and dramatic music.  I was hoping for slow, pretty.  What I got was "Dancing  Cheek to Cheek"  which is kind of fast tempo but it was perfect for me.   Had a great warm up - people were clapping for me in the warm up!  Then I tried a bunny hop and went down and went down hard on my knee.  Ouch.  My knee is still black and blue and sore.  Fortunately it was toward the end of the warm up.

I felt pretty good about what I did - I did not jump, still being shaky from the fall, but I did dance moves and hammed it up with arm movements and facial expressions.   I felt really good.  Lots of people said they thought it was great.  Should have left it at that.

But no I had this bright idea since I was the only one skating to ask if I could get a judges critique after words.  Now I meant that I wanted a critique about the IMPROV and musical interpretation.   This is what I got--  I need to work on my carriage, bending my knees more, too many two foot turns - I need to turn on one foot.  And she didn't like my dress.  If I hadn't been so devastated by the criticism I would have asked "um, did you have some suggestions about the improvisation - choreography--musical interpretation?"  But I just "Thank you"   

I should have never asked for the critique.  I should have gone home feeling good about how the people in the audience liked the performance...instead the last thing I heard was how I'm still pretty much a crappy skater.  But I did learn something.  No more judges critiques.   Because I know I need to work on carriage and soft knees and yes I do know the ideal is to turn on one foot, not two.  You get nervous and you do the best you can.  I do think I will have to add some jumps next time.

Sunday I went to a ELCA church in Omaha that has right on their masthead "Progressive Christian thinking"  - can you imagine -being PROUD of being a progressive Christian and advertising it???  I had to go to that church.

So any of you ever heard of Kennon Callahan's Twelve Keys for and Effective Church?  Of all the church growth stuff that was so popular in the 90s I was pretty impressed by his stuff and I did his Twelve Keys thing in two different churches.  Well where I am going with all this is that his point is that there are some attributes of a church that will not get you any points if you have them, but they will hurt you if you DON'T have them.  Like PARKING.  Nobody says "Oh that church has plenty of parking spots I'm going back"  but if there is no parking, that's gonna hurt you.  Yea.  This church needs to read that about parking.  I could not find a place to park.  Perhaps they should save some parking spaces for visitors.  That used to be the thing to do when everyone was gung ho on church growth.   

But I was motivated.  And I thought..."wow - they must have a lot of people if there is no place to park!"  So I drove around the block a couple of times and finally parked down the street on the street and hoped it was okay and I didn't get towed.  And remember I have a bum knee by this time!

The church sanctuary must be very large and the parking lot very small because it looked pretty sparse.  And I know the worship is for the members and I guess everybody has to get up and point out the announcements that are already written in the bulletin cuz nobody reads the bulletin, except visitors who are BORED TO DEATH with your ten minutes of announcements.

But it was  very nice service, good message from the preacher.  They have communion every week so I was fed.  And I snuck in and went out, shook the pastor's hand, complimented her on her message and left and nobody ever even asked my name.  Which is okay with me but you would have thought someone might have been a little curious. 

When I used to take my kids to churches on vacation, people would be on us like white on rice.  You want those families you know.  When I go as a single women, they don't seem to be so interested.  Or it could be that it was the 90s when we visited a lot of churches as a family on vacation and the 90s it was all church grow-hospitality all the time.  I am kind of glad we've gotten over the church growth marketing craze, but you there were some very simple lessons in hospitality that we learned back then that I think we should still be practicing.  Like introducing yourself to visitors.  And making sure there is somewhere for people to park.

But it's back to the grindstone tomorrow.  I'm doing a sermon series on the Seven Deadly Temptations (which is what they were before a pope declared them sins) for Lent.  Maybe I'll post them.  

Oh and no pictures from my competition because I HATE the way I look in all my dresses and have two weeks to figure out how to solve that dilemma.


  1. I admire your participation in the skating competition (even though I'm sorry for the hurt you suffered); I can't even stand upright on skates.

    I'm sad to hear about the lack of hospitality at the congregation you visited. At the same time, I'm not surprised; in my own (also ELCA) congregation, that seems to be viewed as MY role. I wish I knew how to change that.

  2. Why do we put ourselves through the agony that is competition? At least you compete solo - I haven't for years, and am regretting it. But I know we'll be out there in May... and every possible opportunity after that!

    At some of the churches I preach in, the steward asks visitors to stand up and introduce themselves, which I would find extraordinarily difficult to do - which is worse, to be ignored, or to be singled out?

  3. Well, mixed blessing. I hope you enjoyed the other skaters at the staking event.

    Parking: I couldn't help but think back to the church where I grew up (Milwaukee). There was no parking lot. Probably still isn't a lot. I've gone on the ELCA website thing where you can look up churches and see that church is VERY small now. Back then (50's - 60's) we had 2 services in spite of a very boring pastor and no programs to speak of. We used to walk to church.

    Our church here is friendly, but we also work on it. We have greeters, for example.

    We have announcements, usually enhancing what is written. I believe, based on experience, that announcements need to be oral, written, and also in other media (these days.) Just reading what is written doesn't cut it, but just having it in the bulletin doesn't work either. Too many people don't read; too many people put their bulletin in the round folder as they leave the building. Plus, a verbal announcement can be more personal and interesting than a written announcement.

    Visitors are obvious to me in my church, and since I'm in the choir, I can see the people and check them out. I'm not sure how people can work on knowing who is new and "old" in a bigger church with several services. But perhaps people need to be encouraged to greet each other and get over any strange feelings or inhibitions they might have . We are, after all, brothers and sisters in Christ.

  4. Should have made this two different blog entries - one on skating and one on hospitality.

    I remember being asked to stand up and introduce myself as a visitor...NOT a good idea.

    I don't like a lot of announcements during the worship time. I don't like singing happy birthday to people during worship time, though I do because everybody wants it but I hate it. To me, worship is about worship, period. I don't even like people wandering around and talking about the corn crop during the sharing of the peace.

    The question is who is the worship for? Is it a time for a group of close knit people who know and love each other to get together and share the news among each other and if you are on the outside of that, too damn bad...or is it a gathering of God's people to worship, hear the word and receive the sacrament? Guess from how I phrase the question what I think?

  5. Pastor Joelle,

    You don't know me but I read your blog fairly regularly, through links I've seen on other Lutheran blogs. The comments here got me thinking - I hope you don't mind that I share my thoughts.

    I was a regular visitor at an ELCA church while I was getting a master's degree, and the clannishness of the members was probably the only reason I never joined. In two years of regular attendance, the pastor was the only person who ever learned my name. I remember standing up during the sharing of the peace, only to see everyone sitting around me run to talk to their friends, rather than shake a stranger's hand. It was very disheartening.

    I have since become a member of an ELCA church in a different city that I think generally does a good job of balancing being friendly and welcoming to newcomers with not being creepy - I've been to churches where their level of interest made me a little uncomfortable. My new church is in the South, so they hug more frequently than I'm used to, but I've learned to adjust.

    I will admit to being a little shocked at the extent to which the sharing of the peace has become a social time - at the church where I was baptized and confirmed, no one left their pew during that part of the service.

  6. Well this place wasn't that bad - people said good morning when I walked in, those around me shared the peace and were helpful when I was a little confused about which line to go to for communion. They just let me slip out without ever finding out who I was. But maybe that's okay. Maybe they give you one time to check them out without pouncing on you and if I came back they'd get a little more curious.