Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pastor's Corner May 2010

May 2010
Can we talk? Come a little closer. This is important.

I'm tired.

It could be the 60-80 hour work weeks I've had. It could be the running from one end of town to the other making visitation calls, getting to know the congregation, meeting the community at large, helping organize large events, like the Passover Seder, and the Military Appreciation luncheon. It could be the post-Easter collapse most folks feel (hey, it even shows up in church attendance, often recognized as the lowest week of the year right after Easter). It could be the wrestling with the work that needs to be done around the church, and trying to troubleshoot and problem solve, for roof repairs, plumbing issues, inter-office dynamics, and church politics, locally, regionally and nationally.

I'm worn out just talking about all that.

Much of what has happened this year has been good. It was about this time last year that Anna and I started getting things together to make a move to Santa Maria. We were house shopping, visiting with our churches, establishing basic connections, and packing up from Ojai. We have been blessed in our time here, as the people of this community have helped us to get settled, loved us, and cared for us, and our daughter, Sophia.

But, in the midst of all this good stuff, and trying to pray through the troubles, as well as address the issues that need correction, I forgot something very important. And I fell into sin. A common sin no less. I stopped taking Sabbath.

There was so much to do, so many people to meet and, and, and...Now I am really tired!

I forgot that even God took a break. "And on the seventh day God rested".

I need to take my day off. I need your help in doing so. I try to schedule Fridays for my day off. I need that time to recover inside of me. I probably need to think seriously about taking data fasts on Fridays - no email, no phone, no computer (which means no writing there either). I know Sophia, for one, would be thrilled with this scheme, as it means I would pay more attention to her. The truth is I would then have more energy to pay attention to you as well.

So what happens if there is a major emergency on a Friday, and the people of the church need to reach me. Well, we will have to work out a plan for that. I can tell you we have two exceptional Lay Leaders, Brad Jones and Kathy Sue Phillips, who can probably help lead the way. Our church Administrative Assistant, Alesia Yglesias, is trained in disaster management, and will be plenty capable of getting things accomplished. We have very capable chairs of Trustees, Finance and Staff Parish Relations - Carl Phillips, Don Davis and Dick Parry, who are all quite knowledgeable to ease us through the immediate crisis. So that's the "what ifs?"

The truth is, you need Sabbath rest too. Many of you may need to step back and see what a day of just settling in, and letting God speak through the day to you would look like. You may need to set those other "pressing" projects aside, and allow for family and rest to re-assert themselves in your life. There is a tradition in the South of "porch sitting". The general idea is to grab a glass of sweet tea, and go find a nice rocking chair on your front porch, and just rock. Be at peace with yourself, with God and with the world that surrounds you. For one day, let the world show you its pace, and stop trying to chase a pace of your own.

You see, God created the Sabbath for man, not man for the Sabbath. In other words, you need to rest too. It wasn't an extra day to cram some more in, as so many of us have lived it to be.

May God bless you in your Sabbath taking.


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Wednesday, April 21, 2010


The other day I read a tweet about how the Tea Party was rallying once again.

This time the rally was for something. The rally for support was not quite so surprising, as much of the Tea Party rhetoric has been supportive of big business, and large corporations, as well as the local proprietor with the idea that the business ought to have the right to decide how their money gets spent, and not the government.

What surprised me was something else. There was something different about the rally this time. The Tea Party was rallying in support of Government. No, it wasn't for someone who espoused their ideals.

This time the rally was for the NASA programs, and space exploration, and military defense spending.

Someone had called out the Tea Party folks for hypocrisy. Wasn't this just pandering to Big Government, the very thing the Tea Party had seemed to decry from the outset?

The response was what really got my attention. It was contained in a 140 character tweet. Support for NASA was not hypocritical, because people create governments to defend the people, not provide health care.

And something in my brain took a screeching halt. Because I remember that one of the other primary platforms of the Tea Party is that this is a Judeo-Christian nation, founded upon Christian values. And things didn't line up right for me.

I remember reading through that entire Old Testament, and then the New Testament. I have even read it a few times, and gone back to check facts along the way. I have checked this time, and I still can't find what needs to be there for this reasoning to succeed.

God's nation of Israel was not founded with a standing army, but they were commissioned with a standing order to Love Neighbor as Self. Something doesn't connect right and tight when this rhetoric of the Bible is ignored to then justify another message.

If the language of an army set forth by God, to defend Israel is there, without the additional items of caring for one another - even by lesser means of health care than we have now, then please point me in that direction. I want to understand, but moreover I want to follow God's lead.

In the meantime, Government has its place, and it is to defend us, from those who would seek to harm us, internal and external enemies, and to care for the weakest among us, by health care, social service programs, and reminding us that we are all needed to sustain a great nation.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Discerning Myself

Maybe the title ought to be "Resolving Myself". I am trying to resolve the focus, so that I can discern my motivations and actions more clearly.

Yesterday provided another bit of a breakthrough. I had to apologize for something I discovered was simply an empty threat. For several years I have threatened to run off into the desert and find some monastery where I could simply be, not do anything but read and sleep and eat. I threatened to make it a life choice.

While discussing Matthew 18, and the value of being in groups of two or three in accordance with one another that Christ might be in our midst, we started telling stories of being alone. From there I recalled a time when I had stayed in my 3 bedroom apartment during Spring Break one year, while the other three guys all left. I became amazingly lonely after only a few hours. I tried to fill it with movies, reading, and even going out for food.

My loneliness went deeper. Doing the work of self-discovery last week, and finding that my primary blocker to achieving those things I want most is to be indispensable. The root of that was the understanding that I need other people, and therefore want other people to need me.

So, from here I will have to work on being with others, and not needing them, nor being needed, for I suspect that when that is done poorly it becomes co-dependence and no-one wants me to be there co-dependent, nor do I want to become co-dependent. The real trick is to keep from overly asserting independence that is unnecessary or hurtful.


Friday, April 02, 2010

Bible Use

Unashamedly stolen from an email making the rounds. -Peace, David

"We are what we repeatedly do, excellence then is not an act, but a habit." -Aristotle

This will definitely make one think! VS

Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?

What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?

What if we flipped through it several times a day?

What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?

What if we used it to receive messages from the text?

What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it?

What if we gave it to Kids as gifts?

What if we used it when we traveled?

What if we used it in case of emergency?

This is something to make you go....hmm...where is my Bible?

Oh, and one more thing.

Unlike our cell phone, we don't have to worry about our Bible being
disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill.

Makes you stop and think 'where are my priorities? And no dropped calls!

When Jesus died on the cross, he was thinking of you!