Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Who I Am (aka Thanksgiving with my family)

So I read this quote in response to some Biblical text and while it didn't fit the theme of where my sermon was headed that week, it just grabbed me and wouldn't let go.

"It is in the reciting of our history, salvation history, that we are reminded of who God is and who we are in response to God." ~ Adele Stiles Resmer

I agree with this author, though I couldn't have said it nearly so eloquently. This quote points to the recitation of the history of what God has done from the beginning of time, not just in our lives, but also then who we are as God's people. It happens over and over in the Bible. The Israelites lose their way in the desert and they are reminded of all God has done to and for them to that point. Every time we Christians gather in worship, we recount the story of salvation history in some shape or form--pointing to what God has done in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And in that, we learn who we are in response to God. And we can see that it's bigger than just me, or even just my immediate family, it's from the beginning of time. Profound in its own right.

So...why is this post subtitled "aka Thanksgiving with my family"? Because, I think this quote--though tweaked--is relevant. Try this out: "It is in the reciting of our history, our family history, that we are reminded of who our family is and who we our in response to our family." It is in hearing where we've come from and what we've shared and the people who came before us that reminds us who we are and continues to shape us into who we become.

We didn't tell too many family stories this Thanksgiving, but there were some told and some just remembered. We told of the time "I drown-ded" (my words) when I was about five and fell in the lake trying to help my sister. We told about the Christmas that was 60 degrees so the promised sleigh ride turned into a wagon ride at the farm of the family friends whose dog always looked both ways before crossing the street. We told about the time(s) we told my grandpa we were having chicken for Thanksgiving dinner because he didn't like turkey. And I thought of many others--the stories of my great-grandparents who came to this country in search of a better life--stories that shaped me even though I never knew them as people. These stories surround me, shape me, uplift me, remind me of who I am.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Relatively Speaking

One of the things I love about being a pastor is this...(please read sarcasm here)...two members of the same family wanting to come visit with me about things going on in their lives and how that includes having difficulty with the other said family member. I've met with one so far and have an appointment with the other later this month. The one later is a lunch date; something that we do every few months or so. We are pretty close in age, so are going out for lunch more as friends than pastor/parishioner. But I'm still the pastor and realize that this is a fine line to walk. Should be interesting...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Wedding Reflections

Before I became a pastor, I was involved in a grand total of two weddings. The very first wedding was my own. The second was my sister's; I was the matron of honor/only female wedding party member/personal attendant. Our weddings were very similar in some ways and very different in others. But both were small.

Now as a pastor, I've been involved in a number of weddings ~ from very small (the couple, their children as attendants, and immediate family) to one this weekend (7 attendants on each side, plus a flower girl and ring bearer). I do meet with couples for three sessions before the wedding--to talk about common issues that couples encounter and about the ceremony itself and often to allow me to get to know the couple. Many of these are people who are not active or involved in the church; some have parents or grandparents who are. Rarely do we have weddings for non-members, due to a policy established before I came to this congregation.

At each wedding though, I have wondered why the couple has come to the church for the wedding though. And I do ask that question in my sessions. For many, the answer is tradition or it's important to my family. Some do say that they do have a faith background and for a step such as marriage, they want to recognize God's involvement in it.

Either way, though, I find it hard to preach at weddings. I know the bride and groom aren't listening very closely...let's be honest. I don't know most of the people gathered. I can't even see them...I stand at the altar with the bride and groom facing me and I'm short, so I can't see over them and it's sometimes difficult to see around attendants. I guess I can only hope that proclaiming the good news of God touches someone each time. I just have to proclaim and let it go. Easier said than done.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Did I ever mention that I'm a "J"?

In the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator scale, I always test as a "J" ~ a judger versus a perceiver. This means I like things like order, structure, details, organization. These things are true of me. Not only do I like these things, but I do them fairly well. It makes me happier and less stressed out. So, why write about this?

Because while I love plenty of non-J's, a group of them should not be in charge of a massive gathering that requires things like: organization, details, structures, order--especially if they are asking others to be the hosts of such a gathering.

Such was the case this weekend. My congregation was asked to host a gathering for close to 200 people, which is about what our sanctuary can hold. We were gradually given bits and pieces of things we needed to know from about four different people. Even so, it was not nearly enough for me to be happy or satisfied with the process. And, I believe, it made us as a congregation look disorganized and unprepared. Which is somewhat true, but only because we were not given the information we needed. I didn't think to ask too many questions in advance...I didn't even know what questions to ask. Also, it wasn't "my" project--it was my colleagues. And while he might be more "J" than some of the planners of this event, he's not nearly as "J"-like as me and didn't get the appropriate information either.

So...the moral of this story:
I need to prepare for any event that will happen at my congregation, whether I've been the one working on the project or not. And I need to ask lots of questions!

And, for all you non-J's out there:
If you need to be in charge of a massive gathering, please ask a loving and caring "J" to help you think through all the details and organization!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Swedish Fish

Ingredients: sugar, invert sugar (what makes this different from 'regular' sugar), corn syrup (aka sugar), modified corn syrup (aka sugar), citric acid, white mineral oil, artificial flavors, red 40 and carnuba wax.

Is it really horrible that I really like these?