Monday, September 12, 2011

The Night Before

Well the To Do List is pretty much done.  Trying to get the car packed tonight because I have a planned departure time of 5 am.  I want to be relaxing in my hotel room in Sterling, Colorado well before sunset.  These are my sister's boxes I am taking to her.  I want to put them in the car but I hate to disturb Tommy.

These are all the cards I got yesterday.  Some even had cash and checks in them.   Back in my traveling days I used to print out labels and then take them to slap on postcards.  This time I had the secretary print out labels and I am going to use postcards as thank you notes on my trip.  Clever, eh?

I have my IPod loaded with Lady Gaga, Brandi Carlile, Paul Simon and lectures on "Turning Points in American History" from the Learning Company.  Got a couple of bottles of Samual Adams for the evenings and even a bottle opener.  I even threw my skates in the trunk.  You never know!

The plan is drive about 12 hours to Sterling, Colorado tomorrow.  That is BEFORE the moutains so I will be fresh to tackle them.  Second night is at Kanab, Utah.  The next day I'm going to take a tour of the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, which will give me a later start, but then it's only about 7 hours to Granada Hills, CA.  And it just so happens that right in the middle of my drive is Las Vegas!

My sister will be coming back with me and we are going to come back by way of the Grand Canyon.  But before that we have to go through my mom's things.  I guess she was something of a hoarder.  My sister called me to day she found 43 pairs of pants.  Most them blue.  Okay.  THAT is going to be interesting.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wonderful Day

Celebrated my 25th Anniversary of Ordination today.  It was just wonderful.  It was a beautiful service.  We had the best organist.  A member of the congregation played the trumpet.  The bishop talked about what has happened in the last 25 years, talking about how terrorist acts have become more and more a part of our reality, how children who have grown up in the last 25 years have known nothing but a world with this reality.  But he also talked about hope and grace and the wonderful gift of the church.  Oh yea he said some nice things about me too.  He made me cry.  Damn I knew I should not have put on mascara for this!

The pastor who was the senior pastor at my first call came.  Now I had been a pastor for  one year as an interim while waiting for a call.  Then I get called to be the Associate pastor.  He was kind of (okay more than kind of) a control freak.  It was um, difficult let us say.  But it was only for a couple of years.  He preached at my wedding.  His son (who died of ALS a few years ago) was my son's godfather.  He stayed in my life long after our working relationship.  He was a much better friend than a "boss".  I love him dearly.  He and his wife came.  A classmate of mine from PLTS (both of us ended up in Wisconsin) came.  My son got up and went to church.  They had balloons.  One former congregation (that pretty much let about 3 people run me out) sent flowers.    It was everything you could want.   I love the church.  I will remember this day on those days when I forget how much I love the church.

This is my favorite picture from the day.  This is what it is all about.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

What I'm Doing on 9/11

Having a party.  This year is my 25th anniversary of my ordination.  The actually date is July 6, 1986.  September 11 is the earliest my bishop had free.  And I wanted the bishop so September 11 it was.    After what I've been through this year I'm just so damned grateful I'm still a pastor.  

 This is what I wrote in my pastor's letter in this month's newsletter:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
          I am so looking forward to the celebration on September 11 of my anniversary of ordination.

I hope this doesn’t seem egotistical because what I am looking forward to is not a celebration of ME but a celebration of the church, the ministry of the whole church and how grateful and happy I am to be a part of it.
          I really wanted our Synod Bishop Steven Ullestad to preach.  Not because he’s so wonderful (although I actually think he is) but to include the wider church in this celebration, to emphasize this is about what a gift the church is to us.  It just so happened that he was not available to come until September 11.  I understand the tragedy of  September 11, 2001 is imbedded profoundly in this nation’s memory, especially this being the 10th anniversary.  It gave me pause to wonder it was inappropriate to have a celebration on this day.
I know something about grief.    I  know that even in grief , celebration is essential.  Even in grief, you must be open to finding joy or you will sink in despair.   The last 25 years have not been a cake walk.  I served in some very difficult situations.  I have stood and prayed over the graves of babies, children and teenagers.  I have seen people in the church do truly evil things in the name of “being Christian”
But I have seen people rise above the evil and pettiness and selfishness that surround us and shine with the love of Christ so brightly that it hurts my eyes just to think of it.  I have been forgiven and I have forgiven.  I have been upheld and sustained by the prayers and faith of the church when I was too sad, too tired, too overwhelmed to lean upon my own faith.
There will always be sorrow, tragedy, unkindness and hate, not only in the world but in the church until Our Lord returns.  Until then, we live with chaff.  And too often we ARE the chaff.  But there will always be love and there will always be forgiveness and there always be grace.  And until the Lord returns and it is no longer needed, we will always have the Church.  And that is what I hope you will come and celebrate with me on Sunday, September 11.
“And be of good courage, for God has called you,
and your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Friday, September 9, 2011

I found another Cooking Pastor

She's had beautiful photos of the process of cooking.  Check out Sarah at The Strength of Faith.

I'm leaving on a road trip to California in a few days.  My plan is blog every night.  Ha ha ha.  That depends on how good my internet connection is and how tired I am after 11-12 hour drive.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

What the Church Can Learn from Gordon Ramsay

Gordon Ramsay is the guy that screams and humiliates wanna-be chefs who take it for a chance to work for him (and take even more of it I suppose) on "Hell's Kitchens" and tells people their food is crap and they have their heads up the wrong part of their body before saving their failing restaurants on Kitchen Nightmares.  What on earth can the church learn from him you may wonder.

I've been watching back to back episodes of Kitchen Nightmares, where failing restuarant owners ask him to come and turn their business around.   They always think they have wonderful food and are always shocked when he tells them their food is crap.   He always asks them "What is wrong with the restaurant?" and the answer is always  "We don't have enough people"   The look on his face when they tell him that is really worth watching it over and over even though it's always the same story.

So when you ask a congregation what do they need to do to improve, what do they always say- "We need more young people!"  What's wrong with the church?  Not enough young people!

If you push it and ask "Well why aren't their more young people?", the answer is "they are too busy, their priorities are screwed up, they were not brought up right"... blah blah blah.  There is nothing wrong with the food we are serving, it's just that the people don't appreciate it....

Just saying...