Friday, September 29, 2006
Now, that's a privilege. But it is not the greatest privilege. Later today I will be the recipient of one of the greatest privileges I can imagine. I get to drive 5 young people to DaySpring to attend Happening #56 as participants. Words fall short of how that makes me feel. See, it was the Happening ministry in this diocese, and the people who then made it what it was, that changed my life forever. It was Happening that made me choose the less travelled path, pick self-sacrifice over self-indulgence. It was Happening, by and large, that allowed me to forgive myself (long after God had forgiven me) and open my ears to hear God's call in my life.
And this afternoon, I get to drive 5 young people to that experience. I do not know how God will touch them this weekend, only that He will do so. I do not know how Jesus will call them this weekend, only that He will do so. And I do not know how the Holy Spirit will empower them this weekend, only that it will do so. Knowing that, with them in the backseat on the way to DaySpring, will be one of the greatest privileges of my life. So, thank you.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Thus, when I returned to work this afternoon and had to plan out the evening's youth group activities, I decided to do some of the things I had wished for during the retreat. Part of that was out of my own need and I understand that, but part of it was out of a tugging I've been feeling to give the youth group a language for prayer - different ways of understanding and doing prayer. The Holy Spirit was right it turns out, as is so often the case. I knew before the meeting began that I was going to close with a healing prayer circle, but even before we got to that I started sensing the need for it. In our Bible study time, some of the youth started sharing some hard things that they needed to get off their chests. Some of them expressed a desire to say more but could not bring themselves to do it. So, when we were ready to move into our Prayer time, the soil was fertile for the Holy Spirit to plant a seed. We prayed a lot. We cried. We joined together and I think we bonded in a tighter way. I felt it was good.
Then, about 15 minutes after we closed (and 60 minutes after we were suppossed to close!) my phone rang. It was someone who drives some of the youth home afterwards and she called to say that they were just overwhelmed on the way home with the power of God that they experienced tonight. So she said to them, "It sounds like God was really watching over you tonight." And they said, "That's exactly what we read tonight in Genesis." (Genesis 28:15 - "Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.")
God works in amazing ways.
Monday, September 25, 2006
I arrived at the field. No one was there. Well, no one my age. Some high school girl's softball team was playing. I asked someone and they said try the next field over, down the street. SO, ten minutes before the first pitch I show up, get my jersey, and toss a few balls with a guy I met but promptly forgot his name. Turns out the whole team was made up of people who not only had never played together, but, by and large, had never met each other. Good times! We learned names as the innings progressed. Well, some of them.
We took the field first and had a mildly disastrous inning. The pitcher was working out how to pitch and the infield was getting acquainted with one another. We got up to bat down 5 runs.
And our bats answered. Quickly and severely. Before they got three outs on us we had driven in 7. Yours truly started off in fine fashion with an RBI triple and was greeted by high fives, cheers, and back slapping. We held the otehr team to two runs in the second inning, and then they didn't manage to score again. Our team, on the other hand, kept driving them in.
I'll just go ahead and say - we're awesome!
Final score of 19-7. I batted 2-2, with a 3B, a 2B, a walk. I know, I know - a walk in slow pitch! But hey, as the boys in LCA used to say, sometimes you gotta kiss your sister, too.
Our pitcher worked her style out and struck out several, and induced easy ground balls and fly outs the rest of the time. Our defense had some errors, but was mainly solid. I played first and did fine. Afterwards, to celebrate our victory, we all went out for some beers. And also to introduce ourselves to one another.
It was awesome, just what I needed. I'm going to say what I'm going to say next gently...and I've loved the softball teams I've played on the past seven years, both in undergrad and grad school - but it feels good to be on a solid looking team. I hope that doesn't hurt anyones feelings, cause it's not meant to. It was also just what I needed socially - lots of the players are in my age range and are cool folks. I am looking forward to next week already - we're gonna rock it!
Saturday, September 23, 2006
On to Forrest Gump. So, a couple of weeks (maybe months) ago, I signed up as a Free Agent in the Tampa Bay Club Sports softball league pool. I never really heard anything back from them, so I assumed I hadn't been picked up. Then, last Thursday, I got an email saying I'd been assigned to a Monday night team - Forrest Gump. Forst game is Monday and I am pumped. I wonder what the team will look like...
Sunday, September 17, 2006
One of the most significant benefits of this job in Tampa has nothing to do with what the church has (amply) provided. Rather, it has to do with the fact that my uncle's fishing cabin (only accessible by boat and, aside from the river community, as isolated as you could desire) is only 45 minutes away. We headed up there this weekend and had a blast. It was my first trip in over five years, but the locals remembered the boy I was at least. Cricket said, "You done grow'd up an' lost yer hair! Guess that runs in your family though." Howard, the Lord of the River, said, "Shit! Welcome back, son! Welcome back."
And, by golly, it felt fantastic to be back. The cabin is one of my absolute favorite places to be and I cannot express in words how thrilled I am to be so close. But that wasn't the biggest of surprises recently related to the cabin. I knew it would be awesome to be back and be back regularly with my Uncle. No, the biggest surprise is that my uncle said he was getting me some keys to the place and I can run on up there anytime I like. He'll teach me cabin maintenance and the river basics, but as for learning the river past the point of getting to and from the cabin, that's up to me, just like it was once up to all of them. How great is that?!!?!!Well, after quickly losing a trout on the first day of fishing (I had even reminded myself out loud just before I hooked him, 'soft mouths, Ryan, soft mouths') I found my touch again. It wasn't long before I had caught a 22" redfish (my favorite fish). Then we moved out into deeper water where I had my first taste of Spanish Mackerel fishing - a fantastic experience all around. I don't know how many we lost to their sharp teeth (we were retying hooks and leader as much as fishing), but we ended up with four keepers, all about 3 lbs. The total tally for the day was 4 Spanish, 1 Red, and 1 Trout. With that, my uncle and I ate til we were stuffed, I fed 6 people tonight til we were all stuffed, and I've got plenty of leftovers to take to the Boss Man tomorrow. Hopefully, it won't be long before we get back out there. The more I can learn, the sooner I can start heading out on my own. Fish, you've got your notice.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
At the end of the youth group meeting, we all stood and held hands to pray. Some wanted to say the Aaronic Benediction, which has been a tradition of theirs from the past. We said that. I remember my vision but I thought, I'll just freak them out if I do that. So I said, as they were gathering their things, the "Amen!" having already been declared, "Anyone who wants to stay after for extra prayer may do so." I heard over my shoulder one sibling tell another, "I'm going to stay." And like that, they headed to the other room, which I have used for one-on-one prayer or counseling. That person was the one who really needed prayer, who really needed a shoulder to cry on, who really needed someone to listen, who really needed some comfort. I hope God could use me, a broken vessel, to provide what was needed. We talked and prayed for a while.
After it was over, and everyone had gone home, I walked over to my house. I took off my collar and I sat on the couch and turned on the TV. I was emotionally spent and physically exhausted. But still, I felt guilty. I felt guilty that I didn't think or pray more for that person. That I didn't consider their pain further.
How do you, more experienced clergy, deal with this? Do you feel this guilt? Is it ok to let go of it after you have prayed with the person or should I have prayed more. I will remember them in my night prayers, but I wonder if could/should do more. Sages, come on out of the woodwork to help a neophyte.
Monday, September 11, 2006
The American news services have inundated us today with more images and stories than one person would really ever care to see. Truthfully, I didn't see any of it. I heard a little bit of it on the radio and will watch the Presidential address in a little while, but I don't need to re-live that day. I don't want to. I don't want to play or have played my heart strings.
Because the American news has done such a good job reliving the event for us, as if it were something we needed to watch over and over again, I encourage you to read just one short article from the Arab News Service, based out of Saudi Arabia, that reflects on the fifth anniversary from an Arab reporter's perspective.
Access it by clicking here.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
So then, last night at my youth group meeting, we're studying Genesis 21 and reading it aloud. One of the readers had a decidedly older translation of the text than my NRSV, and so when they got to verse 9 (which says in my NRSV, "But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, playing with her son Isaac,") she read the word, "mocking", instead of "playing". I recalled the aforementioned history of the Sunday school lesson and almost blanched. Instead, I made a mental note of the verse number and told myself to look it up in Hebrew later.
So, today I did that. The Hebrew is a pun, as it so often is. The word translated as "mocking" in the KJV and as "playing" in the NRSV is matsacheq, which generally means "playing", "sporting", or "jesting", and is a derivation of the same root word for Isaac's name - Yitschaq, which means "laughter".
So, years later, I solved the mystery. The Sunday school lesson was using a different translation, a less amicable translation. I had no doubt it said that in the resource manual, I just couldn't figure out why. Now, I know, thanks to the Youth Group kids and some Hebrew classes. Now I can laugh with the Genesis author(s).
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Voter: "Are you with the church?"
"This is your church?"
"Yes, it sure is."
"Well, we used to have voting at the old church and that was much closer to my home."
"But you have a nice facility here. It's very lovely. You're set up well in this new location."
"Yes, thank you; we like it here."
"I think there is one thing you need to do though. I think you need to change the name of the road. There is no reason a church should be on "Cain" road. He shouldn't be the prominent one. So, do you think you can work on getting the name of the road changed to "Abel Road"?"
"I'll surely bring it up. Thank you for your concern."
"Ok, thanks. Bye bye. We shouldn't remember him. Bye bye."
Consider it brought up.
Monday, September 04, 2006
my bro made the team!