Ep 001 Pastor Ponderings: GO

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A little conversation about what it means to go and make disciples when we lead with authentic relationships.  

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Beloved Community

Last week I had the chance to lead a conversation for the online campus of my church with some amazing educators.  We were doing it as a part of a special worship experience about living our faith in the ordinary time of life.  We have been going throughout the summer hearing from people who live their faith out in amazing ways.  

In essence, it is the spirit of living into the small things of the Mother Teresa quote, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”  

These educators represent the heart of most teachers, but they are an undervalued/heard voice.  They are amazing people who will tell you to talk to those responsible for the education of the students.  They want to be on the learning team so that each child can find success with as mean cheerleaders surrounding them as possible.  

But just sharing this link is not the reason for the post….

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Ordinary Time: Real

This past weekend we took a look at the lectionary readings and connected them to the word “Real” as prescribed in Erik Willits’ book Common Time.

2 Samuel 11:26-12:13; Psalm 51:1-12; Ephesians 4:1-16; John 6:24-35

The readings start off with 2 readings centering around David’s taking of a woman named Bathsheba.  After realizing that she was pregnant while her husband Uriah was off to war David tried to scheme and think about how he could make it look like Uriah’s child and when all else failed he had the man killed on the battle field.

Oh did I mention that we also had a baptism this weekend?

So there is that where we have scripture about the fallout after a rape and murder, and then we have to talk about how we might come to the waters of baptism.

My church is all about being real.  Our mission is that we are “Real people living Real lives encountering a Real and life-changing faith in Jesus Christ.”  The hope is also that we are able to be real and honest with one another.  We try to reach out to those who have been hurt or alienated by the church and in doing so we strive to be authentic and open.  You don’t have to wear a mask at FaithPoint, and even if you do, there are people that will love you when you decide to take it off weather that be on Sunday morning, in a life group or serving in another ministry, or even in a pastoral care exchange on Facebook Messenger.

We often get off track however or imagine a different reality than the one we live.  Think about someone trying on VR goggles for the first time.  There are times when reality meets your virtual construction of reality and you will trip over a chair or couch in the throws of battling aliens or pretending that you are base jumping.

Before there was VR and AR (augmented reality) there was our imagination.  You have seen AR in action while people try to catch invisible Pokemon on the streets of your neighborhood. Imaginatoin is still around, but you have to look a little harder to find it at times.  We imagine what our first day of class is going to be like, weather you are a teacher or student.  We make plans for our future, or what we think others will say when we tell them big news.

Then when that virtual reality that we have constructed meets reality there are some things that change and unexpected variables crop up.  But from the lectionary readings this weekend we learned a few things about Reality.  Continue reading…

Your Prince is in Another Castle: A #bethegood tale

At the end of last week we had a conversation with our adoption agency.  One which we forgot about the day before, but our agent got swamped as well and lost track of time.  So we both forgot, which is good I guess.

The conversation was bitter sweet.  We wanted to call to check to see what we needed to do now that our dossier (fancy word for “crap ton of paperwork) was in the Hattian Government.  She assured us that there was little we could do.  In a little while we will need to make sure we are up to date with the home study paperwork, get fingerprinted again (time number 5 or so) so that all of the information while the matching process happens is current and we will not hit any snags along the way.  Perfect!

We could also continue to write and apply for grants for travel expenses and other bits along the way that add up after a while of this multiyear process.

This was great, but now time for the bitter part.  We wanted to know about our timeframe….

Well because of the recent change in the status of Haiti to a Hague Convention nation the process is both more intensive on the paperwork side as well as streamlined and hopefully smoother and faster.  But Haiti is just trying now to close out all of the pre-Hague cases it still has hanging over it from a previous era.

This means that what we thought would be a total of 2 years for the process from beginning with the start of the official application process will not be much longer.  As in the typical case is taking about 2.5 years from the point we are now until our son would be at home with us.   Which would make the whole process- from start to finish 4 years. (We are 1 year in.)

This was not the timeline that had been communicated to us throughout the process.  We were clear in asking questions about timeline.  If there is one thing a 2 pastor household knows from countless hospital visits, working through social services and court cases with people, it is that we always ask about the timeline.  So when she said we would essentially be starting the 2+ year time clock over again it was like a punch in the gut.

This sucks…. It is this strange kind of grief.  It is not like when we had a miscarriage and there was a physical loss, but rather it feels like a loss of something that we never had in the first place.  And it is not really loss just postponement.  Words don’t really do it justice, but at the same time I want to write a post about how deflated it makes us, weird right?  Katie is more articulate than I am about this new timeline.  The best way that I can put it into visuals is the first time you play Mario and realize that your princess is in another castle.  It takes the wind out of your sail- but you know that you have to soldier on.

But here is the crazy part.  We know we are not in this alone.  Katie and I were talking about how there were a hand full of people every day at the week of middle school camp that we do who were wearing our “Be the Good” shirt.  From capers, to staff and our volunteers every day we were reminded of the community who is in this journey with us.

It has been a blessing that we know that there are people around the world on this journey with us.  We know that our shirts and message have been skydiving in California, to numerous orioles baseball games, made their way to other continents and started us some really life giving conversations. I see facebook posts with #bethegood and one of our shirts, our churches leaders wear them and when I go to film people to talk about how God is moving in their lives they are wearing them.  It is amazing.  We have been in the newspaper and you have opened up your businesses to us to sell the shirts and tell our story.

We know your heart breaks along side of ours with this new timeline.  But it is our call and we will soldier on to the next level to bring our son home.  Thank you so much for being a community that is more loving than we could have imagined and a wider reach than we would have dreamed.

While our prince might be in another castle (for now) we continue to work on bringing him home strengthen by the stores you share with us about how one little shirt is making a difference.

Blessings

VBS Connections

This past week was FaithPoint’s Vacation Bible School (VBS). It was a week filled with surf themed fun.  We talked, showed and sent home God’s love to the kids,”surfers” who were entrusted into our care.  We gad great teachers, “lifeguards” and directors that made this week really special.

The thing that got me was the connections that were made.  We partnered with 2 other churches in order to offer something better and more sustainable than we could do alone.  We have partnered with these congregations in the past, and the ministry partnerships like this just make sense.  We are all working toward the same goal, and we are three vital congregations that each have something unique to offer our community.

We also had amazing connection within our campers/surfers.  Each of our groups looked like a divers little school.  It was really neat to truly see the diversity of our community reflected in the groups as they connected and went throughout the day.  This was a little glimpse of the Kingdom.  Really cool!

Finally, there was a powerful connectional system at work in our mission project for the week.  We spent the weeks before VBS collecting school supplies.  At our mission station, we told the kids about the devastating flooding in West Virginia and the need for school supplies and that these kids who lost much would need things for school very soon.

One of FaithPoint’s members made fabric bags that we would then be able to place items in for the school supply kits as outlined by the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).  Beautiful! (more info here about UMCOR and the school kits https://www.umcor.org/UMCOR/Relief-Supplies/Relief-Supply-Kits/School)

The kids had a great time learning and filling dozens of bags for this project.  However, when it was all said and done getting the bags to those in need in WV hit some bumps.  Collection and distribution centers seemed to be in short supply in our area.  There or some possible leads that migth get the kits to the affected area at some point, but no firm promises were made.

Enter Carlee! Woot!

Carlee is one of my former youth, amazingly faithful, a stand our journalist and FaithPoint Online community members.

At the wedding of a good friend of ours, we were talked about when she had to go back home to Charleston, WV. She said she was planning on going back Sunday afternoon. Perfect.  I asked if she would be our transporter of bags.  Absolutely!!! She said.

Not only is Carlee going to take the school kits into the heart of those hit hard by the flooding, but she has a school picked out.  Elkview Middle School.

Here is an article from Carlee’s paper about the devastation the floods did to a nearby high school: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/news-education/20160715/hoover-damages-equal-70-percent-of-wv-schools-value

Some of our #surfshack surfers praying over our mission project school supplies

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The picture above is Jillian and some of our VBS students praying over the bags during worship as they were getting ready to make their journey to the Elkview Middle School.

What a cool connectional system and a reminder of the power of people coming together in the name of God and making our community better.

Please continue to keep our students, churches and those impacted by the floods in your prayers.  Think about how you might help and respond to being the good in your community.

 

Just moments ago I received a message from Carlee that the supplies were delivered.  Mission Accomplished.  Way to go team.  Lets keep up the great work.

Ordinary Time: Fear

 

At the beginning of the week and throughout the weeks leading up to the topic of Fear I thought I had a plan.  I thought I had a good idea about what to talk about, but then news broke early in the week about two police officer involved shootings of men of color.  Then many officers were killed in Dallas during a rally with others injured.

Needless to say, there were some plans that were changed as the stories developed.  With each story my heart broke, and I asked over and over again the question “Who am I to have a voice on this?” “Who am I to deliver some insight to my faith community about situations that I have so little experience.”

I am just ordinary, me.  Maybe that is the point that through this ordinary time we are able to see that in the ordinary we are able to find a voice and action to make an impact in combatting the things our world would have us fear.  It is not hard to find the brokenness, but joy and empowerment is something different.

My hope, at the end of the day, was to encourage us to name God for God and then realize our (each of us) role in pushing out the fear around us with the love that comes with knowing our gracious God.

Continue reading…

Ordinary Time: Virtue

This past weekend was all about virtue.  Not a word that we use too much today, but one that is critically important.  Our Lectionary readings for the day were:

  • 2 Samuel 6:1-5; (the ark is brought into Jerusalem)
  • Psalm 24; the glory of God (connect to the ark and exalting God)
  • Ephesians 1:3-14;’believer’s blessing Ephesians 1:14 (CEB)14 The Holy Spirit is the down payment on our inheritance, which is applied toward our redemption as God’s own people, resulting in the honor of God’s glory.
  • Mark 6:14-29 death of John the Baptist

N.T. Wright says virtue is a revolutionary idea that we need to embrace in his book “After You Believe” (you can pick up a copy on Amazon here.  You will not be disappointed)

Here is a word about what virtue is from Wright’s book:

Virtue, in this strict sense, is what happens when someone has made a thousand small choices, requiring effort and concentration, to do something which is good and right but which doesn’t “come naturally”— and then, on the thousand and first time, when it really matters, they find that they do what’s required “automatically,” as we say. On that thousand and first occasion, it does indeed look as if it “just happens” but reflection tells us that it doesn’t “just happen” as easily as that.

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