1.29.2004

My friend Kenny says I'm due for a post. So here it is.

Last Saturday I was coming back from a meeting in Detroit. It was cold and snowy. I just wanted to get home. On Friday, just as I was leaving town for the meeting, I bought a pair of cool, but inexpensive sunglasses. I noticed, half way to Toledo, a scratch on the lens, right in my line of vision.

So now it's Saturday afternoon and I'm wearing these sunglasses on I90 and becoming more and more frustrated with this scratch. This is complicated by the fact that I hate to return things or complain in any way. I'm just not that confrontational a person and will usually opt for living with something rather than changing or exchanging it. I'm not proud of this, but it's important for the story.

About one hour outside of Cleveland I make the decision that I will swing by the drugstore and exchange the glasses on the way home. It will just take a minute, I tell myself. I also call my house to see how everyone is doing and to let them know I'll be home soon. When I do, I find out that my wife and daughter are sledding on a hill nearby church. I know I need to swing by the church on my way home, so I think it would be great to catch them in time to sled with them a bit.

But those darn glasses are nagging me. If I stop to exchange them, I may miss the opportunity to go sledding with my daughter who is always begging us to take her. I make the decision that these are only glasses and they can wait, knowing full well that I will likely never return them if I don't on that afternoon. I will have to just live with the scratch. I make the decision to forego the exchange and hit the sledding hill instead. I feel really good about this decision to spend time with my daughter instead of worrying about a scratch on a ten dollar pair of sunglasses.

By the time get to the church, however, I have find out that they have just finished sledding and gone home. I have missed them by only a few minutes.

Doesn't matter. It was still the right decision.

1.16.2004

I finished the sermon today. It flowed nicely and only took a few hours. Sometimes that happens. Sometimes not. Some days it's like slicing a hot knife through butter; other days it's like having a baby -- lots of pushing, sweating, grunting and hard work; and time (I get this second-hand from my wife, of course).

I do better with a good cup of coffee. I do know that. Words and metaphors live in the caffeine, I think. Or, perhaps, caffeine unlocks the storehouse where the words and metaphors live. I don't know. All I know is that it was more like a knife than a baby today. Thank God.

Of course, there is a tremendous gap between the writing and the preaching; and yet a potentially larger gap between the preaching and the hearing, let alone the doing of what is preached. Sweet agony. Joy. Privilege. Pain. Frustration. All in one. But, I wouldn't change it for the world, today at least.

1.14.2004

I sat down to watch a video during lunch today. It was a video made and sent to me by a friend and was of a reunion that took place among friends over the Christmas holiday.

It was the first time all of us, friends since college days, had been together in ten years. There we were, with all of our spouses and children to boot. We were a house-full.

As I watched this video I was, quite frankly, overwhelmed with joy. I am so thankful for each of these people and their families. I am thankful for the time we spent together and for all the times we spend together. When we come together, it is truly the communion of saints; the presence of God is tangible. And all our singing, laughing and corny jokes are almost sacramental. God's grace is in them. These people know the experience of community. I know community when I am with them and when I see them again on video.

I pastor a church and my leaders and I are always asking the question, "How can we build a truly Christian community?" I don't know the answer to that question, yet. But I do know that whatever it is, it's present when the gang affectionately known as "the boys" gets together. "The boys," of course, no longer applies. Or, rather, it has become a gender-neutral term. All of us, male and female, adult and child, are a part of this community. All of us have experienced it. There is no Greek or Jew, no male or female. Christ is all and is in all.