Friday, October 31, 2008


These recent few days just seem to be filled with exhaustion.

My Dear Wife is exhausted from having spent a lot of time with a growing baby, and trying to work on a DMIN project, not just the writing, and reading, but the classroom teaching experience as well.

I am tired from the CEF 2008 conference, and I am now cleaning the house preparing for an international guest UM preacher we will house for another week. 

Things don't slow down much, but at least we keep finding a way to make our way through.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Albuquerque, NM

I arrived yesterday for the CEF/PFC 2008 Conference in Albuquerque, NM.

We are staying at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Albuquerque, using the Convention Center, and even housing at the Doubletree.

Last night was a pleasant surprise as several folks had recommended that I go to the Sandia Peak Tramway, and see Albuquerque that way while I was here. Since I had many responsibilities for the Conference I was unsure if I would be able to do so. However, last night for dinner we made our way up the tramway and ate at High Finance, the restaurant on the top of the Sandia Peak. Good food, great view and wonderful conversation.

Today, it is back to the grind figuring out workshop locations, and any other last minute details in my workbook, and trying to get the full scope of the conference together. Fun stuff. Then it is off to the races this afternoon as our first volley of folks arrives for a Certification Class.


Sunday, October 19, 2008


I was offered a reminder of the desire for each clergy person to provide Goals for ministry. In the ongoing assessment and planning for Ojai UMC these are the goals I have prepared and been working from since July.

My goal for the remainder of this appointment year is to continue to develop the Vision of Ojai UMC with the input of the congregation. I hope that all of this will be bathed in prayer by the members of our congregation, which I will continue to pursue in public and private conversations.
The steps in this process are:
1) Visit with the members of the Congregation to surface their hopes and dreams, as well as the sustaining nature of Ojai UMC. (July-January)
2) Develop an asset awareness of the Congregation through Spiritual Gifts Inventories, and listing of tangible assets of the church - buildings, money, etc. (October - January)
3) Partner the assets of the church with the needs of the community, and the general hopes of the members for an idea of where we would like to go. (October-January)
4) A series of community roundtable discussions of these, and the current outcomes and realities of Ojai UMC (this may be small 8-10 people dinners, gatherings, or meetings) (January-February)
5) The forming of a coherent and cohesive vision for Ojai UMC. (February-April)

There is a final phase to this process, and I do not know how far we will get with this process before the year is up. The conclusion to this process is to evaluate the Vision, and the desired outcomes that we need to see happening to achieve the vision, leading to the Mission Statement, which will include any real change that must occur within the congregation and beyond for the Vision to be met. (April-June ++)

There are some additional goals related to my work at Ojai UMC, though not directly related to the Visioning process.
A) Complete the improvements to the parsonage.
B) Installation of improvements at Ojai UMC/Noahs Ark Preschool, along with preschool director Amber Christensen to maintain accreditation.
C) Celebration of Ojai UMC 50th Anniversary, and creation of ongoing "living memorials" as appropriate and desired - including but not limited to: Historical Wall, Memorial Garden, Memorial Wall.
D) Completion of IRS welfare and church exemptions, and recovery of back taxes.
E) Review of Membership Rolls
F) Continuing Education in Camp and Retreat Ministry and Christian Education, especially as related to Certification for these areas.
G) Exceptional Charge Conference and development of all viable church committees through training and education.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Legend of the Hokey Pokey

The Legend of the Hokey Pokey

I received a pin a while ago that read, “What if the Hokey Pokey is what it is all about?” After some research I have come to find out…the Hokey Pokey really is what it is all about. To the best of my knowledge, here is why… Some of you may have seen “Monty Python’s Life of Brian”. In it is a scene where Jesus is giving the Sermon on the Mount, and there are some folks at the back of the throng who mishear Jesus’ statement “Blessed are the Peacemakers.” They render it, “Blessed are the cheese makers”. The Hokey Pokey is one similar mishearing from the beginning of the Latin Mass. The Latin Mass for The Lord’s Supper begins with the words “Hoc Est Corpus Meum” – (English) “Here is my Body”. 
The Priests were facing the altar rather than the congregation when speaking the words of institution and so it was very possible for the person in the middle of the sanctuary and the middle of the row to mishear such a thing as Hocus Pocus (where we get the magic term). Add in the mystery of Transsubstantiation whereby the elements become the literal body and blood of Jesus Christ and having a little fun with this rendition you can see how such a song and its various motions came to be. 

You put your right leg in… ritual begins by approaching the altar correctly with the right leg leading 
You put your left leg in… the left leg then follows 
You put your right hand in… the right hand goes over the bread and blesses it by waving it around 
You put your left hand in… the left hand goes over the wine and blesses it by shaking it over the element 
You put your head in… the priest then bows the head in prayer 
(You put your right/left hip in…) – this one seems to have been added later as different body parts were represented 
You put your whole self in… This is where we are invited to come forward to participate in the ritual of Communion/Eucharist/The Lord’s Supper 
You do the Hokey Pokey and you turn yourself around… The blessing of the elements by waving the hands over the Bread and Wine followed by the priest turning back around the congregation for the presentation and the eating from the Cup and Plate symbolized here. 
That’s what it’s all about. – A celebration of fun and mystery and a way of remembering the motions for blessing and receiving communion Hokey Pokey (while bowing and waving your arms) – This final act of the participants in the song reminds us of the kneeling to receive the elements all the while raising our hands above our heads open for the priest to place the bread in our hands, and then for us to take from the cup the common juice of the vine.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Stewardship and Spiritual Gifts

Dear Blog Friends,

I am in the midst of two major projects. I suspect many of you are drawing near to Stewardship Campaigns as well. I am also doing a campaign for Spiritual Gifts Assessment.

I hope some of you have letters that you have sent your congregation to involve them in both of these. Could you share them in direct email? 

When I changed appointments I lost several of these documents I have generated previously, and would like to get some pieces put together for these upcoming campaigns. Anything you have to share would be much appreciated.

Thank you,

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Quote of the Day

This from a friend on a chatboard for Wheel of Time

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher
a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts,
build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders,
cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure,
program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.
Specialization is for insects."  -- Lazarus Long

I think I have done all but butcher the hog, and set a bone. I might be stretching it though on fighting efficiently, and I hope to die gallantly (that is to say "I should be able to die gallantly"). I think I could set the bone, but maybe not well. I expect I would have better luck butchering the hog.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

More Willimon Founders Day Notes

Bishop Willimon

Mark 12:13-17

“The Greatest Challenge in Being a Christian Preacher”

-Whose picture is on the Denarius? Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.

The Bible is a violent book. -> As pastors we want to be peacemakers (with the text and with the congregations); mostly by making nice, rather than getting in a dealing with the muck.

What belongs to God: “The Earth is the Lord’s and the Fullness thereof.”

Jesus goes on the attack with his first sermon.

Can we be with the true & living God without trouble?

This (preaching) is perilous, risky and dangerous work.

Sabbath kept the Jews and Israel intact. It is very important to identity. Jesus is repeatedly a Sabbath breaker.

Dissonance is key to preaching; To live with dissonance and bring it forward.

Bonhoeffer: “The purpose of preaching is to allow the risen Christ to walk among the people.” And run, and dance, and more.

As preachers of the text, look for the trouble. The trouble is what is interesting.

Jesus says, “Give to Caesar everything God doesn’t give a damn about.”

It is so typical of Jesus to give an answer without giving an answer at all.

Jesus gives answers that cause us to question the current climate. ->The more you know Jesus, the less you know him, and the more you need to go back and re-examine all that you thought you knew.

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Few Notes (And Thoughts)

Today I am out at Claremont School of Theology for Founders' Day. I took some notes during Bishop Willimon's opening address.

Bishop Will Willimon – Founders Day 2008, Claremont School of Theology

Around 1951 the transition in language and vocation from Preacher to Pastor became more prevalent.

This transition meant that ministry was transformed from prophetic preaching to therapeutic caregiving. Ministers became administrators rather than homileticians.

To be a preacher is to be called to love God more than our congregations.

Culture today says we (ministers) have no greater purpose than our congregations.

And yet, we are supposed to be willing to risk everything for the joyful subservience to the Word.

We are called to interject Jesus into the conversation; to talk as God talks.

The Gospel is NOT pragmatic and utilitarian.

We are trying to teach people to describe their life and world in a very different language than the world around them (kind of like being a High School French Teacher)

Today’ challenge is to present Christ in a culture of Godliness, versus the challenge of the 50s and 60s secularism.

Preaching resurrection in an age of immortality juxtaposes the dichotomy of incarnational theology and spiritualism.

The line between Pastor/Enabler/Caregiver has been increasingly blurred (Easum). Whereas, it ought to be that the pastor is a TRANSFORMATIVE leader, based on DISCIPLESHIP. Pastors have gotten better at avoiding controversy than creating and dealing with controversy.

The demand on the minister that should be paid forward to the congregation, from God, is “Get out of yourself!!”

Calcedonian Theology proclaims that God wants to reclaim the world for Himself. Are we preaching this message? If we hold onto the church mentality “We did our work; God had better show up this time,” we will always fail. It should be, “God made the ‘to do’ list, and it is our responsibility to take up the jobs to get the work done.”

As pastors we should bend ourselves to God’s dilemma. Worship the Trinity who speaks and discusses, rather than shape ourselves to the conversations the world wants to have.

Wesley railed against the preacher who panders to the tastes of the congregation.

Christianity is supposed to be Culturally Dissonant, not culturally relevant.

We’ve lost the skills as pastors to know evil, and to point it out.

Are we challenging our congregations with our sermons? (Bishop Wilimon is waiting for a letter from a congregation displeased with the poor preaching, because that is the primary concern, rather than the usual complaints about the pastor who didn’t give “appropriate” pastoral care to a congregation member.)

He has been asked if his preachers have an opinion? Are they willing to take a stand about what the rest of us are dealing with, on TV, in our world, in our community.

Paul Borden, “Any pastor who is overworked is incompetent” – we have taken on too much of the baptized church’s responsibility.

Neibuhr has noted that the current purpose of ordained ministry seems more about rushing to and fro to meet the needs of the cultural definition of ministry, than ministers defining the vocation for the culture.

Preaching says “God means for you (the congregation) to understand the Word.”

We must, therefore, do more than glean, we must dig, till, weed, harvest, and lie fallow the Word among the congregation each week. We must adhere to the challenge to give up what we know to those who do not, and teach God’s stories rather than telling our own.

This is contrary to the authorities of today, and we must remember that Jesus mocked the authority, wasn’t about the nationality or the religion of faith, but about transformed moments, and people.