Thursday, February 23, 2006

Lots of things to talk about. In fact, so many that I'm having trouble focussing on just one. (This is a frequently problem for me.)

1. I have to go run sound for a funeral shortly. This is the 4th funeral in our church in a week. It seems like whenever we get a cold snap like the one this weekend we often lose a few people, but this is like a new record. The hard thing about performing or helping in funerals is that they (obviously) aren't the kind of thing you can schedule so you have to just drop everything and focus exclusively on them. Of course, what else can you do? These are all people that you, or someone, has known and loved and is now grieving. How can you do anything less than drop everything to mark their passage and try and to provide comfort to those mourning their loss? I sometimes wonder if those people who wonder what church staff does all week have any idea how dumb that question is? We are there. Your needs are our schedule.

2. I'm a youth director at my church and right now I seem to be caught in a feud with my high schoolers. At least, they seem to think it's a feud. I just think they are struggling with making some decsions about who they are and who they want to be and just when they think they might decide to grow up. Word must be leaking out, though. I got my first call from a concerned (but misinformed) parent. I'm glad she's taking an interest. I'm glad that the high school group cares enough to be upset at me. But I'm not foolish enough to think that the next few weeks are likely to be easy ones. Lord have mercy.

3. I've been leading an adult class on Will Wilimon's new book, Sinning Like A Christian. The book is good, but more fascinating has been to watch people's reactions to it. Everyone squirms. But some react thoughtfully, some angrily. Know these people and their histories as I do, it's really interesting to see how they react to discussions of all those inisidious sins who are always following us around and looking for an opportunity to bite us in the butt. I wonder how many of them realize how much of ourselves we reveal when we talk about what makes us uncomfortable or angry?

4. Podcasts are wonderful. I'm having a great time, but in my usually compulsive style I've managed to subscribe to many more than I can possibly listen to in a day. So, now, in addition to having the opportunity to be behind in books, magazines, newspapers, movies, music and TV, I can also be behind in my podcasts. I have some real concerns about podcasts, though. While I think it's a wonderfully democratic medium for those privileged enough to have the technology and time to produce their own opinions on the world, I am seriously concerned about how much the ability to only listen to, view or read those things and people that we already agree with contributes to the further fracturing of our society. No wonder we are losing the skill of listening to others and discussing with them. We are getting so isolated in our own little position/opinion cocoons that even encountering someone with a different viewpoint is like a splash of cold water in the face. "I had forgotten that those people even exist." How can we learn, grow, evaluate, or even just be in community with each other if we can only tolerate those who please and agree with us? I find this a very scary place to be.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I'm Back!!
OK. I'm going to try and get this puppy rolling again. I'm not sure why this is so hard for me. I think I'm trying to be too profound, like I have to come up with some deep thought that no one in the universe has ever come up with before. Yea. Fat Chance. So, I'm going to try for lighter and see what happens. That's the great thing about keeping my little personal blog a secret. Even if someone I know runs across it, they won't know it's me.

Yesterday I listened to a very interesting podcast. It's still running around in my head. It was a sermon from Charla Gwartney on the Choctaw United Methodist Church podcast from, I think, this summer called 'Are you growing grass or pulling weed?' OK, so maybe the title is a little cheesy, but you try and come up with a catchy title every week and see how you do.

Anyway, the point of the sermon was that instead of putting all our time and effort and energy into trying to something that we have absolutely no talent for (like me playing the guitar) we (and God's kingdom) would be better served if we learned to do well enough to get by in those things and put our effort into learning the do the things we do really well, the things we have talents for, the gifts God gave us and intended for us to use, excellently. Those are the talents we were given. That is the way we were created. That is the gift the world needs from us. So why do we spend all our time blowing off what we do really well so we can try and perfect abilities that for us will only be so-so skills but never the best we can do. I can learn to play a guitar well enough, and have as a matter of fact, but I'll never be able to make real music.

But I can write. I can speak. I can teach. I do these things better than most, even when I'm just phoning it in. This is where I need to focus and quit squandering the gifts I've been given. So why did it take me until I'm 50 to figure this out?

Thanks Charla.