Monday, August 30, 2010

Scary Words

"Until death do you part."

I have to admit, those are kind of scary words. It's kind of like when someone looks you in the eye and says: Do you really, really mean it. "Until death" is, of course, the signature ending of a traditional wedding vow. But have you ever stopped and wondered why until death? Why forever?

I want to suggest that Christian Marriage is a life-long covenant because it is intended to reflect the enduring love that God has for God's children. God will not grow tired of us. God will not give up on trying to love us. God's love is always enduring. And so it is that Christian marriage serves as a mirror image of this always loving God. Through vows of covenant and commitment, the Christian marriage witnesses to to the One who will not leave us nor forsake us.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Marriage and the Importance of Ritual and Symbol

In 1967 the Beatles first proclaimed all you need is love. These words have since then been sung probably a hundred-thousand times over. In their simplicity, these five words capture deep truth. Much wrong and evil in the world could be alleviated if only we could muster a little more love for one another. Although there is truth behind all you need is love, I want to suggest that it's inevitably not enough - that we need more than just love. Love doesn't always stand on its own two feet. Human love is fragile and is too often overcome by things like pride, lack of empathy, and hatred.

The human determination to love needs help along the way. This, I believe, is where ritual and symbol become invaluable. Ritual gives rhythm to our lives that are sometimes overly directed by feeling and emotion. Ritual helps us to love when we don't feel like loving the other. Ritual is that thing you do when you don't feel like doing it. Likewise, symbols help us to remember our commitments of love despite how little we feel. For example, a wedding band serves as a physical reminder that one is bound to a life-long covenant of love to his or her spouse. The ring is an outward confession of what is sometimes difficult to uphold internally. Ritual and symbol stand out-side one's self, reminding us and holding us accountable to the faithful commitments that partners have made with one another.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Affirmation of Community

One of the defining characteristics that makes a Christian Marriage unique from all other relationships is the prominent role of the community. There is no getting around this. A Christian Marriage involves much more than the declaration of love between two people. Those family and friends that gather to witness the exchanging of vows are not mere passive bystanders; rather, they are active participants in the covenant being created.

In the picture above Carol and I are sort of awkwardly looking in the direction of our friends and family. The picture was taken during the Affirmation of Community (otherwise known as Congregational Blessing). Here, the congregation has an opportunity to make a communal covenant with the couple. It's essentially a vow that the community makes with the soon to be husband and wife. Here are the words addressed to the congregation:

"The new relationship between Ric and Carol has created many changes as each of them takes on the concerns, involvements, and family of the other. They are both excited in the broadening of their lives, and at the same time, they have realized it requires adjustments and accommodations in their other relationship and interests. Will you as their families and friends now support them in their new commitment and relationship? Will you give help, guidance, and encouragement as you are able? Will you respect their independence, honor their decisions, forgive their failures, and rejoice in their successes? Will you love them as your son and daughter, as your brother and sister, and as your friends? If so, respond together: 'We Will.'"

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Big Day

Much has happened since I last posted. For starters, the lovely miss Bommhardt and I were wedded on July 18th. The weather was perfect, the venue breathtaking, and Carol was even more breathtakingly beautiful. To top it all off, many of my closest friends and family were there to witness and celebrate along with us. Basically, it was the best day of my life!

This post begins the first of several reflections having to do with my wedding day and marriage in general. I need space to unpack some important things that I have experienced, or thought more deeply about in the last month. I'll also be posting some more pictures which may or may not have already been seen on Facebook. In the mean time, enjoy just a few of my favorite pictures taken from the big day.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

That's It! This Blog is Now Private!

Dear blogosphere,

Lately I've been getting a lot of "spam" in my comments sections (either that or I have an incredible Japanese (Chinese?) readership). So, I've decided to take drastic measures and make this blog private.

If you're reading this, it's probably because I invited you. Don't feel like you have to be a faithful reader. I invited you because I was mostly sure you wouldn't clog up my comments section with Asian characters.


Ric Wild

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Where is Your Mission Field?

One of my roommates got married last weekend. As we exited the church building, on our way to the reception site, Carol spotted this sign above the front doors. I just had to take a picture.

It might become cliche if every church had this kind of charge for its dismissing congregants, but what a great reminder that the moment we step outside the church building, we are once again called to witness to Jesus in the world.

I liken this to every time a University of Notre Dame football player leaves the locker room and runs out onto the field.

Lastly, I leave you with a quote from a book called A Dresser of Sycamore Trees:

"Much of the true 'work of the church' takes place outside of the church building, at the job site, in the legislature, and not least of all in the household."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Riding In Style

I asked our friend Jim if he knew any one in New Hampshire's Monadnock region that owned an antique car that would be willing to dive us between the location of our wedding ceremony and the reception site. I received an email from Jim stating that he had found the car for us. Needless to say, I'm tickled about this 1950's era Mercedes-Benz.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

I Wish I Was This Good

On May 4th, I have to deliver a second sermon for my Introduction to Preaching class. Because of this class, this semester has me thinking a lot about preaching and public speaking in general, listening to a lot of sermons and giving one of my own so far. I thought I was a pretty good public speaker until I watched this video of a "kid" lecturer. Take the time to watch her presentation, it's pretty insightful and her poise is pretty amazing.

Monday, March 22, 2010

17,582 out of 25,561 Ain't Bad

On Sunday I ran in my first road race, the Shamrock Shuffle. It's the world's largest 8k. I might have finished a half hour behind the race winner, but it was still a blast.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Doing Business Locally

My mechanic waved to me.

Yeah, that's right. While on my way to work yesterday, my mechanic recognized me/my car and gave me a friendly salute. And I was thrilled! Why? Because I see it as the fruit of shopping/doing business locally. In today's day and age, I know how old fashion this must seem. How 20th Century of me, right? In a globalized world where one can receive costumer service support from India, roses from Africa, and fresh peaches in the month of March from Puru, why insist on doing business around the corner and just down the street? Several reasons come to mind:

1. When goods and services are consumed locally there is less environmental impact. Did you know that on average our food travels some 1,500 miles before it finally arrives on our dinner plate? That's a lot of gas being burned to transport our food. Apples from New Zealand? That's half way around the world!

2. Shopping/doing business locally strengthens communities. There's a we're-in-this-together mentality that's created when you buy locally. The flower growers in Africa don't know me and I don't know them. I can't really take pride in the product that I'm buying and there's little appreciation for patronage when you know you'll never meet your customers. It's a anonymous exchange.

3. Doing business locally creates the possibility for relationship. My auto insurance agent has an office across the street. I know her and she knows me because we sat down and discussed my policy together. Bam! Relationship. I even got a free coffee mug and road atlas out of it. And now that I've brought my car into the shop a couple times, now I have a relationship with my mechanic. Sure, I could get an oil change for less if I went to the Jiffy Lube in Lincolnwood or Evanston. But I don't live in either of those two communities, I live in Albany Park.

The price of doing business locally might cost a little bit more and will definitely limit your selection of available goods and services, but I think it's a noble cause worth embracing.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Can Your Shoes Do This?

Well, it's a new semester and suddenly my schedule and priorities have shifted to accommodate the new classes. Of course, life feels busy, but I'm more committed than ever to take care of my body. It's not a new year resolution; just want to be more intentional about increasing my physical wellness. After reading Born to Run (amazing book!) over the break, I am more inspired to run than ever before. I'm in the process of training for my first race ever: Chicago's Shamrock Shuffle. For the race, I've decided to get out of my bulky trail running shoes, and into something that will allow my feet to "feel" the road beneath me. That's why I decided to go with the ultra-lightweight, extremely flexible Nike Free. It's supposed to mimic running barefoot in grass. So far so good.

In addition to running, I'm playing lots more basketball and I've started doing pilates. For me, pilates is a hellish 40 minutes twice a week, but I feel so good afterwards that I can deal. I just have to remember to check my pride at the door. It should help a lot with flexibility and my core strength. I just thought of this, but the exercises I do in pilates class have me balled up like the picture of the shoes. Be well.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cracker Barrel Let-Down

On our way back from Michigan (hanging out with Jake and Emilie for the New Year), Carol and me stopped at a Cracker Barrel. Having never eaten at a Cracker Barrel before, I was somewhat excited to see what all the fuss was about. Here are some observations from my one (and only?) visit to Cracker Barrel:

1. It's a gift shop that happens to be a restaurant.
2. There's hardly anything on the menu that doesn't have meat.
3. All the food is roughly the same color: tan.
4. I didn't see any seating by fireside, as is advertised.

Needless to say, I wasn't impressed with my Cracker Barrel experience. I'll be okay if I never return. Any Carcker Barrel fans out there that want to defend the establishment?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Albany Park Neighborhood

North Park University and the Seminary that shares the same campus, is just north of the Albany Park boundary line. But my apartment is technically in Albany Park, which lands me in one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the entire country. This morning I traveled south along Kedzie Avenue to run some errands. Every time I walk down this street I'm reminded how diverse the area is, and how much I am in the minority as a white person. I feel like I engage in a cross-cultural experience every time I walk to the bank, make a $2.95 falafel sandwich run, or get my hair cut by Shami, who immigrated to this country from Iran some 30 years ago (52.1% of Albany Park residents were born outside of the U.S. That's a lot!). And whites alone make up only about a quarter of the neighborhood's population. There are no trendy coffee shops, clothing boutiques, or hair salons in Albany Park (as far as I know!). But what you will find is just about every ethnicity represented and cruise to match. More than anything, what I've noticed is that Albany Park is a place where people actually live and raise families. It's not one of those trendy Chicago neighborhoods.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Just a Thought...

In addition to working at Trader Joe's, I babysit for a family with two children. Johanna is 4 (we're also birthday twins!) and Louie is 8. I enjoy doing it and I love the relationship Carol and I have with the family. The family is Jewish, and Lauren the mother, seems always willing to talk about her family's faith tradition and its customs. She also asks me about things related to seminary and serving a church. The overlap between our two Abrahamic faiths has been amazing to explore. Recently, Carol and I served with Lauren and Louie at a soup kitchen sponsored by their synagogue. And it got me thinking... A work of service is an incredible way of bringing people together, especially if people are divided along religious lines. What a great way to foster friendship and charitable dialogue to further deeper understanding and empathy. What if this same tactic was used to unite people of differing political allegiances? What if the U.S. Senate built a house for Habitat for Humanity or something before trying to vote on an important piece of legislation? Would this help to make things less divisive? Just something I've been thinking about. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Best Christmas Gift Ever!

This Christmas I received many generous, thoughtful gifts. However, one gift in particular stands out among the rest...


If you're still wondering what on earth Smittens are click HERE