Sunday, June 28, 2009

Life at Camp

I don't have long. I need to get to bed soon. I have enjoyed my day off, but my 6:15 AM wake-up is easier to accept when I get to bed nice and early. I'm working on a maintenance crew at Pilgrim Pines Conference Center. I've never been more over qualified for a job. But I appreciate the opportunity to work with my hands and see projects to completion. I'm on a staff of about 30. Only one other person on staff is older than me, many of the others are still in high school, and my staff coordinators are younger than me. It's kind of weird. I live with two other guys on the maintenance crew in a cramped room above the dinning hall. It constantly smells like B.O. and I don't have much private space. Did I mention that my phone doesn't really get reception? If it sounds like I'm complaining, I'm really not... I like it here. It's been a fantastic experience so far. I've enjoyed getting to know everyone and it's an experience I won't soon forget. For the time being, I love the lack of responsibility. I like that my food is prepared for me and that I know that I can always jump in the lake after a day of intense manual labor. Carol is here, too. That's a bonus. I don't drive nearly as often and my schedule is predetermined. Well, that's all for now... A more constructive post about life at camp should be soon to follow.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dear Joe & Amy

Your wedding was great. It was more than great. Many couples would covet a ceremony such as yours. I felt like I was surrounded by something mighty. Maybe it was the sound of the organ that accompanied your special day? (The organist told me that it's the largest pipe organ west of the Mississippi with nearly 7,000 pipes). I know it was more than that, though.

Thank you for allowing me to read scripture in your wedding. What a gift. The text you had me share was most appropriate. Reading it in the context of your wedding gave me new insight into what it means for human beings to find a unique partnership in one another.

As the pastor remarked, you have indeed done well in choosing each other. And now you have entered into a covenant relationship that God promises to bless and strengthen. Your marriage will forever be a means of grace.

Enjoy Chelan!


Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Passing of the Board

Moving to Chicago means that I won't be needing a surf board. So, I was happy to see Doyle the 8ft funshape go to an up-and-coming surfer. Morgan has already been surfing for about a year, so I expect to see her rippin it up in a pro comp some day.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Strange Connection to a Strange Kid

Jake's sister, Leah, shared this video with me last night. It's definitely one of the funnier things I've seen in a while. But more than being a hilarious video, I think I like it because I too was a strange kid growing up (some would say still). Enjoy!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The City

I'm in Seattle for my sister's graduation, but much of me is still on east coast time. I'm having a hard time sleeping in past 6 AM. I'm staying at Jake's house for the week, and with time to spare yesterday morning, I wandered down to Market street in Ballard. Having lived in rural New Hampshire for these past two years, I can't tell you how refreshing it is to again be in an urban area where walking to the grocery store or your local coffee shop is possible. However, as I walked I came across a women who was just waking up from a night spent on the sidewalk. Bam! The reality of human need comes immediately into focus.

Seattle, like nearly every metropolitan area, is home to all kinds of problems: homelessness, poverty, violence, and under-resourced schools, to name only a few. These are real and painful issues. Seeing that woman on the street made me think Now this is where I need to be to do real ministry. Look at the needs of the city. This is where it's at. Although it's true the city has a way of making certain issues in-your-face, it's a mistake to overlook the human needs that exist in rural and suburban communities.

Homelessness, poverty, violence, and under-resourced schools exist in all areas. However, the greatest issue poisoning the non-urban areas of our country is the endeavor to create safe, comfortable, insulated communities and neighborhoods that have little consideration for the plight of others. To paraphrase something I heard not too long ago: indifference toward injustice is worse than the injustice itself.

And so here is where I'm personally at with all of this: If you want to make a difference in the cities and in the concentrated places of human need, work to bring people out of their self-indulgence and apathy who live outside of these areas. Bring you and yourself out of your selfish desire for safety and comfort. The Gospel of Jesus wants you to get outside of yourself and live for the healing of others. Help people to see that we are marked by Christ when we reach out to the stranger. Create a one-world way of thinking--a kingdom of God way of thinking and living that transcends regional boundaries, race, gender, religion and socioeconomic categories.

Give a city a fish, feed the city for a day. Teach the world to give the city a fish, feed the city for a year... This makes sense in my head.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The New GPS

As a parting gift, some of the youth group students and their families pitched in to buy me a GPS. They knew I wanted one, and since I'm moving to the mid-west in a couple months, it's probably one the more thoughtful and practical gifts I have ever received. For kicks I followed the GPS's directions into work this morning. To my surprise, the GPS found a quicker rout than I normally travel. It would have been nice to have discovered this short cut twenty-two months ago. Oh well...

A Day to Remember

Sunday was my last official day on staff at Rye Congregational Church. After two years, it was time to say goodbye. I received some very kind words and some incredible gifts from everyone. When it came time for me to share my reflection, I was feeling so overwhelmed that I just couldn't get through it. After trying to regain composure a number of times, I left the last paragraph unsaid. However, I think my tears made up for what I couldn't say out loud. Below is my reflection in its entirety:

In May of 2007 I came to Rye Congregational Church for the very first time. Despite what people tried to tell me about New Englanders, I found you all to be a warm and welcoming bunch.

After my visit and during my flight back to Seattle, I was reading a book by Henri Nouwen about Christian leadership. Because of my visit to Rye, Nouwen’s words struck me with immeasurable force. He writes: “The servant-leader is the leader who is being led to unknown, undesirable, and painful places.” For me, New Hampshire was certainly unknown. Prior to my invitation to come east, I couldn’t even point at New Hampshire on a map. Rye was also undesirable. It was thousands of miles from home, and the prospect of leaving behind friends and family was certainly painful.

Although God sometimes calls us to unknown, undesirable, and painful places, I believe God is faithful to meet us in these difficult seasons of life. God has richly blessed me in these two years. God has used all of you to bless me with the gift of community and friendship--with the gifts of your love and affirmation. Thank you for becoming my second family. Thank you for being my second home.

There is not sufficient time to recognize each individual that has contributed to my personal growth and development as a pastor, but I do want to say that I am especially thankful for Pastors John and Chris and their guidance and mentorship over these two years. Together you have given me the opportunity to exercise my gifts for pastoral ministry, and have allowed me to greater discern God’s calling upon my life. I am indebted to you both for the investment you have made in my life.

In the beginning of this journey, I felt the sting of the unknown, undesirable, and painful places that Nouwen wrote about. But now, at the end of this journey, I have a great joy for knowing all of you and for being known. Now, Rye, New Hampshire is a desirable place--a place that I have come to love and appreciate. And whatever pain there was in the beginning has given way to lasting friendships and unforgettable memories. I thank God for all of you.