Tuesday, August 31, 2010

the Short and Simple Truth

It's been a rough couple of weeks at Lakebay. It's tough when anybody leaves. But when 4-5 people/families all leave at the same time. . .it's difficult to keep your head up. Even when it's not really about you - people move for financial reasons, for health reasons. Still, as a pastor, you get one more of those phone calls and have to wonder what's going on.

And yet, God is good. Random words of encouragement. A wonderful lunch with another pastor in the area. A great lunch meeting with a denominational colleague, with words of hope and helpful challenge.

And then a breakfast with the core leadership of Lakebay, and a reminder of what amazing people these are. People who love the Lord, who love the church, people dealing with their own pain and struggles, trying to survive, but people who love each other and haven't given up hope.

And a larger, broader conversation with the whole church, and a reminder again of why I love this place. People who refuse to give up hope, who commit to rise to the challenge. People with a longer view of life than I possess, reminding us of God's faithfulness through hard times. People who aren't afraid to ask tough questions, to challenge, to critique, and yet do so in love and a desire to understand, not attack. It's a wonder to see God's Body living out the commands to Love One Another, to Honor Each Other, to Care for One Another.

So, yeah, it's been a rough couple weeks. I've had a few sleepless nights, I've had it out with God once or twice.

But already, tiny shoots of new growth are emerging from the ground. And I've seen clear evidence that our work will continue, that our ministry is far from over. And I've been reminded that I am in the midst of good people. Lovely people. Beautiful people. And that I am blessed.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sitting around on a Friday, Rollin' in my Sweet Baby's Arms

Only because you can never have too much of a good thing. . .

Well, you get the idea.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I'm a fan

I've been working through David Gibbons The Monkey and the Fish, which will be the topic of a future blog post. But his essential point is that the day of monolithic culture is gone. America, as with the rest of world, is becoming a mystical, magical blend of cultures - ethnic, socio-economic, generational - and the best churches (or any institutions, really) will find ways to navigate this new world, seeking out the best in cultures, learning to be fluid as change and blending becomes the norm.

It's a little tough to put words around, but, like with so many things, art proves the way.

I went with some friends and family to the Olalla blugrass festival last Saturday. Now there's culture: banjos, mandolins, western twangs, fiddles, and blueberry pie. Yum.

The final band was the Canadian group The Paperboys. Have you heard of them? Have you heard them? Count me as a fan.

No, they're not truly bluegrass. No self-respecting bluegrass band would include a drummer, a saxophonist and a trumpeter. Or an electric guitar.

But what they are is marvelous. Take some Scotch-Irish pennywhistle, throw in French-Canadian fiddle reels, add in ska brass, Mexican rhythm section, and bluegrass guitar, and you have the Paperboys. In an instant, I had Gibbons "Third Culture" defined by one band, a group that could begin with an old Irish folk tune, morph into indigenous Mexican music, and end with a fiddle dance tune. A group that could pull off a Bob Marley-John Denver mashup. A group that turned "Rollin' in My Sweet Baby's Arms" into the most rockin' dance tune ever. Really. It was a veritable mixture of all sorts of worldwide cultures, and it was one of the most enjoyable sounds I've ever heard. And the crowd agreed. This American Bluegrass crowd was on its feet, dancing and do-si-doing and clapping and shouting and generally experiencing a great time.

If you want to hear what I'm talking about, go to their music page, and listen to La Primavera. Listen how it switches back and forth from Mexican rhythm to Irish fiddle tune. In fact, listen to how the fiddle tune plays over top of the Mexican rhythm. Neither gives way to the other, both carry on simultaneously, a mashup of cultures complementing each other, each existing in its own cultural form, but both coming together to create something beautiful and unique.

I couldn't help but think this is what the kingdom of God is supposed to look like: all sorts of cultures blending together in a joyful, spontaneous celebration of creativity and community and laughter. And fun.

Go check out their website, listen to their music there. If you ever get a chance, go see them. Be amazed, and see the future coming to us now; thankfully, it seems to be in good hands.

(oh, on another note, I also became a fan of Northern Departure. A bunch of kids, but they know how to pick. Plus they hail from my old stomping grounds.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Um, ouch (part 2)

Warning kids: do not try this. At home or anywhere else.

Thursday night, the first night of our weekend camping trip. First campfire, first s'mores. The 9-year-old is excited to roast her marshmallow. Gets it flaming hot, almost dripping off the marshmallow roaster stick. Makes a quick turn to retrieve her chocolate and cracker. At the same moment I lean in to stir the fire a bit.

Molten flaming gooey sugary mass connects with my right cheek. Now I understand how napalm works. It sticks to you, burning through your skin even as you desperately try to get it off, pull it off your eyelashes, keep it from going into your eye.

Yeah. That hurt. 2nd-degree burns all-around. And all the kids staring at me, wondering why I'm shouting and flailing and generally making a scene.

Here's a picture 5 days later. The blisters have popped, thankfully. Interestingly,we had purchased freshly-made Whole Foods mallows, which are square-shaped. Which is why, if you look closely, the scar is in roughly a right-angle.

The way I figure it, at least this all made for a memorable camping trip.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Um, ouch

Took an early morning drive to Seattle yesterday to see the eye doctor. It's been 6 weeks since the stitches came out; the cornea should have settled to the point where we could (finally!) work out a prescription for a new contact lens.

But nope. Too much astigmatism left over. A "tightening" or "bunching" of the graft to one side. And you know how they release some of that tension, removing the astigmatism?

By carving into the cornea with a scalpal.

After the stitches came out, I mentioned that a great test of self-control is sitting still while a man pokes around in your eye with a small pair of scissors and tweezers. Nope. I had no idea. This was much, much worse. They put a little topical anesthetic on the cornea. Then they slice a crescent-shape slit into the cornea. And you're watching the whole thing, because it's being done to the front of your freakin' eye!

And then. . .they throw an eye patch on and say "come back in 5-6 weeks."

And then the drive home, with one eye on fire (and pouring tears) and the other eye much more sensitive to light. I had to stop and buy some sunglasses, and everybody stared at the 'weird guy with the eye patch.' Took the Bremerton ferry and lay under my sweatshirt the whole trip over. I gutted out the drive home, took a handful of aspirin, and slept the rest of the day away, dozing off and on through the Mariners' "We're idiots and we fired our coach" press conference. Tried to watch Clash of the Titans with Karina last evening, but suffered the whole way through. Each blink brought agony.

Today seems better, but that might be the Tylenol doing its thing.

I had this surgery 2 years ago October. And it was all supposed to be worked out within 6-9 months. I wasn't seeing well before, but the idea was to suffer a few months in order to see much better on the other side. Instead, two years later, we're still cutting and poking and prodding and experimenting. Yes, it's all a little frustrating at this point. Not to mention painful.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Turning Trials Into Joy

I received an email yesterday afternoon with some bad news. Longbranch Community Church, our brothers and sisters to the south, was the victim of a vicious vandalism attack Friday night. I threw on a coat and headed down to see if we could offer any assistance. It was worse than I imagined, worse than can be described. Most windows shattered, tables overturned, bookshelves thrown to the ground, fire extinguishers emptied in the office, broken glass everywhere, doors punched through, holes hammered into walls, "I Am the Devil" written in whipped cream on a table. Every room was affected. Broken glass was showered over the floors, and out into the parking lot. It was horrendous.

Lakebay had a similar experience a dozen or more years ago, a fact some of the Longbranch people remembered. We now had a story in common. Unfortunately.

But they had some people there just beginning the process of cleaning up. And I made a few phone calls, and they made some phone calls, and word got out, and a dozen of their people showed up, and 8-10 Lakebay people showed up with work gloves and willing hearts, and a local glass guy made an emergency visit, and the local diner (Lulu's Homeport) brought some soup and sandwiches. And the glass was cleared out, bookshelves were set back up, trash cans were run off to dumpsters in the area, floors were mopped and vacuumed, and I realized in the midst of it that people were having a good time. They were laughing. They were getting to know each other, and, this being a small community, everyone was figuring out all the connections they had with each other. Young people and old were on their hands and knees picking up glass shards and scrubbing tables. Men were up on ladders securing the broken windows with plywood.

Yes, more people came as they heard the news, and there were tears and cries of shock and anger. But a community developed. People gave up their Saturday evening to serve those who were in the midst of a tragedy. And before you knew it. . .we all shared dinner together in a cleaned-up fellowship hall. And prayers were said for victim and perpetrator alike. And love and service ruled the day. There weren't a group a churches gathered together; instead, the singular body of Christ showed up in sacrificial service. It was a beautiful sight to behold, and (I think even the Longbranch folks would agree) a marvelous blessing was borne out of a vicious attack.

A couple other items of interest:

- the vandals left the sanctuary untouched, which seems both a blessing and a little suspicious
- the vandals left some evidence behind. Perhaps enough to point a pretty sure finger at them.
- while we grieve for Longbranch Church, we also recognize the vandals hit the Longbranch Improvement Club first. They have their own pain and mess to deal with
- At least one Longbranch Church member pointed out to me, with a sure sense of irony, that the lectionary text for this morning from Luke 12 reads: "If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into."

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Hey Lakebay!

We're going to be singing this sometime soon in worship. Take a listen, enjoy, learn it so you can join in from the start!