Monthly Archives: July 2011

Photo of the Week – coffee time

At the tail end of a campus ministers' conference I had a chance to visit some friends who just moved and to preach in their new congregations. On Sunday morning my friends told me they haven't come across their coffee grinders yet in the unpacking. So I decided to use their mortar and pestle instead in order for us to enjoy some morning coffee.

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Photo of the Week – Bono and U2

Courtney and I discussed a way to have more of a consistent presence with this blog. We decided that we could start a weekly photo capturing something of our lives – whether an event or nature or outing – from the week.

What better way to start than with Bono from U2?

A few weeks ago we planned for me to fly into Philly on the 14th to meet up with Court's family at their reunion in NJ. On a whim last Saturday (the 9th) we looked for U2 tour dates this summer, and we found that they would be in Philly on the 14th! Court has never seen them, neither has her brother whose birthday is the 14th. So we bought the three cheapest tickets available just to have the experience.

We walked around the parking lot people-watching all of the tailgaters, and as I looked to my right I saw Bono lining up for a photo with some folks. Court, her brother, and I could not believe it. So instead of approaching and asking for our photo, too, we had a discussion about whether or not it was really Bono. By the time we decided it really was Bono he had gone back to the tour bus on a dozen yards away.

Oh, the show was awesome!

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Ebenezer

I am writing this blog from Grove City College in Pennsylvania where I am attending the Western PA “Cooperative School of Christian Mission” sponsored by the United Methodist Women of WPA.

It started raining as I walked across the campus, which reminded me a cross between Seattle Pacific and Duke with the architecture, the stone work, and the foliage. I ducked into the Student Union Building and explored that a bit, and I came across a room on the second floor that overlooked most of the campus. I watched as the rain washed over a boulder in the middle of campus. This stone had some significance because it was marked with a plaque and benches and landscaping surrounded it. I thought, “Now I wonder how many people would know the story of that stone if it had no plaque and no benches. If no one or nothing helped people to remember why it held significance than – for most – it would be just another large stone.” I started thinking about “Ebenezer” – Hebrew for stone of remembrance – a stone used as a symbol to mark something significant.

Remembering done well is not merely idealizing the past for it helps to reconstitute the significant event or moments in a way that moves them from a past experience and grows them into a living part of the past. This re-membering done well serves as a basis for tradition. When it is not done well it can verge on the edge of sentimentality and mundane routine. Re-membering well helps people to find their significance in something other than their current circumstances. Re-membering well reminds people that their lives are located within a narrative greater than their own, and their story only makes sense when located within the larger story of humanity, the world and all of creation.

The 4th of July serves as an Ebenezer of sorts for me, yet not in more ways than just the traditional sense. For many Americans, The 4th symbolizes freedom and it is remembered with hot dogs, watermelon, and fireworks. For me, though, The 4th serves as a marker of significant moments in my life and my faith journey. For example, last year we arrived in Maine on The 4th to begin this current stage of our journey. In the past 12 years The 4th has found me serving in various ministry contexts: Latvia, France, Italy, Israel, Kosovo, Branson, MO, Santa Cruz, CA, and Albania. Each of these places marks significant moments in how the faith journey and serving in ministry mesh together in the reality of life in this world.

I let The 4th pass by this year with a faint nod of acknowledgement, and maybe that is why I am writing this blog. I need to re-member the border crossing in a war zone, the dropping of watermelons from a climbing tower, the lighting of store bought fireworks in a field, and the conversations with friends across the world. I need to re-member, because it reminds me that my story only makes sense within the stories of friends, and within the larger story of God’s work in this world.

Re-membering my story, and ultimately, God’s faithful work and steadfast love in the midst my story, helps me to live with hope even though I don’t understand the frustrations and disappointments of the past few months. Re-membering well can bring perspective and open me up to receive the deep peace that God offers. Re-membering well allows opportunities for the restoration of joy.

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Traveling is a Good Excuse

It's been ages since I have written a blog or a journal entry or really anything for that matter.

I have told myself it is because of the amount of traveling I've been doing recently – the driving, the inconsistent schedules, helping the kids adjust to new surroundings, etc. I guess that is just as good as an excuse as others. When I'm not traveling I have used tooth pain and a root canal or early mornings with the kids to justify not writing.

I don't lack inspiration – I have had many a sleepless night with ideas for blogs, or funny storied of the kids, and I have seen amazing sunsets and other beauty in creation about which I couldn't wait to write. Yet when I finally pick up a pen or get to a computer the thoughts which seemed so clear earlier turn out to be a mirage – a vapor, a shimmering mist, nothing tangible to grasp.

Ceara turned two in June, and Caleb will turn one in a few weeks. (see picts below). Courtney was ordained in Raleigh, and unfortunately I didn't get any photographs of the event. I hear that summer is Maine is nice, but I won't be there much this summer to experience it. Hopefully in all of the traveling I will find a way to write again.

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