Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Practice What You Preach

Sunday's sermon was on hospitality. We spent some time in Matthew 25 - the judgment passage, wherein the nations are divided into sheep and goats based on how they treated their fellow man. "I was hungry, and you fed me; thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was in prison and you visited me; I was a stranger and you invited me in" and so on.

(Side note: is it sacrilegious that I think the Keith Green version is better than the original?)

Hospitality, as defined in the sermon, is simply creating a space into which broken people can enter and find healing; a place wherein lost people can come home, lonely people can find friendship, people hungry and thirsty can find their souls (and stomachs) filled. It is an invitation to share a moment and space together. Hospitality can be inviting someone over for dinner; it can also be sitting with a person at the bus stop and giving a piece of your life to them. And this is our calling: as Christ has invited us to join him in friendship, as the Lord creates green pastures in which he invites us to lie down, as God has become our safe harbor in the storm, so are we called to create safe, warm, inviting, comfortable spaces into which others can come and receive healing and solace in their weary lives.

That was the gyst of it anyway.

And then we finished; the kids headed downstairs for Sunday School, the adults adjourned to the fellowship hall for cake and cheese and coffee and a discussion about creating inviting, comfortable spaces.

An hour later, Mike walked in. We didn't see him at first, but Duncan happened to be walking through the foyer and saw draped over the couch there. It was obvious Mike wasn't doing well. Incoherant would be a good word. He was looking for his grandmother, Delores, or his aunt or sister. But he didn't know their names. They supposedly taught Sunday School at our church, but none of us knew them. He didn't know his phone number. He was pretty wet and disheveled. And as much as we tried to figure out who he belonged to, he couldn't really tell us. But still, we sat with him for a bit. He didn't smell like he'd been drinking, which is (unfortunately) always the first suspicion out here on the KP. So we assumed it was medical, and wouldn't you know it. . .Sean was still around. Sean who works with the fire department, who's used to situations like this. So he came and joined the conversation. About the time Mike mentioned he's diabetic, and hadn't taken his medication in 4 days, we decided it was time to call the paramedics.

Eventually he decided he didn't like all the attention, so he wandered to the cemetary next door. I followed him up there, where he lay down and began weeping next to his dad's grave. And he showed me his grandmother's grave (the same grandmother he'd come to the church hoping to find. . .). And there he lay, sobbing in the wet grass under a steady drizzle. And there I sat with him until the medic units showed up. Thankfully, the knew Mike. He's a regular, you might say. They got him into the ambulance and took care of him. Many of our children had come out to see the fire truck, and they prayed for Mike as he was loaded in.

"I was a stranger, and you invited me in." Maybe today, Jesus might add "I was messed up, and you got me medical help." Or "I was incoherant and raving and soaking wet, and you let me sit on your couch and showed me love." All I know is, the message of the sermon was put to the test, and it was an honor for me to see some good people live it out, just because that's who they are.

Well, what the hey. If you've still got 8 minutes, here's Keith.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Get in the Bunker, Honey

Texas in the World Series? Oregon ranked #1 in the country?

Surely the apocalypse is upon us.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Dear John letter

Sorry, but it's time to say goodbye.

I'd let you down easy by saying "It's not you, it's just me," but that would be a lie. It is you.

The thing that bugged me most was your two-faced nature. We'd be in town and you'd behave just fine; but we'd head home and you'd go quiet. There was no communication. No connection, as they say. You'd sit there, keeping to yourself, of no use to me. I'd want to talk, to find out what was going on, but you cut yourself off. And I can't live with that.

I know, it wasn't really your fault. It's more the way you're wired. It's not as if you didn't try. I saw you attempting to reach out from time to time, searching for some sort of signal, some sort of connection. But you just didn't have it in you.

I wish I was more patient, but in the end, I think I deserve better. I need more than you can give. So thanks for the memories, T-Mobile. You made for some good times, you gave me some good memories. But I'm going off with a new cell phone now, one that actually has some connections out here on the Key Peninsula. Let me know if you ever grow up; maybe we can be friends someday in the future.

a not-quite-satisfied customer

Monday, October 18, 2010

We have seen the enemy, and the enemy is. . .California

From the State of Washington Voter's Pamphlet:

Initiative 1053: . . .but at least we are doing better than other states. The two-thirds majority is a disaster in California, creating gridlock and making it impossible to balance their budget. . .California is a mess because of the two-thirds requirement. . .The two-thirds requirement is causing havoc in California.
Initiative 1100: Under this scheme hard liquor outlets will explode from 315 to 3,300, three times more per person than California.

Initiative 1105: I-1105 allows hard liquor stores to explode from 315 to more than 3,300; three times more per person than California.

I remember a number of times during the years I lived in Oregon where this tactic was used. Pick the issue; the only argument against needed to be "Well that's how they do it in California" and the conversation stopped. Somehow California became the official bogeyman against which all northwest ideas are measured. And the mantra becomes "whatever they do, we need to do the opposite."

I'm not making any political recommendations on the above initiatives, so don't read anything into this. I just hope we don't go down that road of measuring our ideas not by their own merit, but instead by "at least we're not like California."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Quick Update

I had my second eye-cutting-up yesterday morning. If you're following the story, the graft from the transplant I had 2 years ago settled a little off-kilter, so a few months ago the Dr. carved it up, hoping it would flatten itself out. But that didn't work, so he wanted to try it a second time before attempting anything more drastic.

Thankfully, this time around was a lot less painful. It took all of 5 minutes, where last time took half-an-hour. There was some pain, but I was able to take some Advil and sleep most of it off. Today it feels a little raw, but much better.

The doctor was hopeful this time around will do the trick. If so, 4 more weeks and I get set up with contacts and can see again. If not, we go back in for surgery, probably after the first of the year. You can guess which way I'm praying.

It was nice to have a day off today, though. Pretty much resting, but watching the rescue in Chile, too. It's like Christmas over and over again. This world needed some good news.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

It's this guy's day today

Kirk pointed out on Facebook that today is Leif Eriksson Day. Which gives me an excuse to share this picture of Leif, taken by Karina, during our stay in Iceland last spring.

Friday, October 08, 2010

We're in the news again? Why am I scared?

No, I don't mean our church. I mean Lakebay, the area where I live. It's gotten to the point that every time I hear that we're in the press, I automatically assume it's not good.

A couple years ago we made the Seattle news when the local food bank was robbed. I even got some airtime on a news broadcast on that one.

Then there was the time our local fire commissioner beat another fire commissioner over the head with a coffee mug. That one made news all over the country.

Last month we had the infamous vandalism case at the Longbranch Improvement Club and the Longbranch Community Church.

And now it's all about the "Wild-West-Style shootout" following a botched home invasion robbery last night. We've got all the big-time news crews over here now. Seattle must think we're really uncivilized.

If you look at this article in the Seattle Times, the bright red dot on the google map is actually sitting on top of my house. Which wasn't the crime scene, so don't worry about us.

For the record, I think Lakebay is a wonderful place to live. It's got its share of cranks and ne-er-do-wells, but it certainly deserves some better press for the sense of community, for the beauty of the area, for the local events and the people who work together to make this a fine place to live.

It's not a war zone out here, really. It just plays one on television.

Friday, October 01, 2010

You know what's not fun?

Opening up the local paper and finding a letter to the editor attacking your friends, your church, and you. Accusations that publicly excoriate you and those you love. Being on the receiving end of self-righteous condemnation, being held up as a misfit pastor and heretic. Having to sit back while another's anger and fear cause him to lash out and warn the community of a danger in their midst.

I get it, really. Whenever you take a stand, you open yourself up for criticism. It's the price we pay for leadership, for attempting to speak to the public good. Having been around fundamentalists for a large portion of my life, I also understand their need for 'defending the faith' against any and all who appear 'weak on the fundamentals.' Still, there's nothing like having somebody misunderstand your point, misread your intention, assume all sorts of untrue things, and then put it all in print for the world to see.

If only this gentleman would have called and asked to talk it over. If only he had spent a few minutes on our website. If only he had asked around, to find out what we really teach and believe. But, no. "Fight or Flight" kicked in, and the "fight" option was chosen. And that's sad, really.

The toughest shots to take are always the ones from inside one's own camp.

Still, the Lord is our defender, and ours is the high road to take.

Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and my Lord. Vindicate me in your righteousness, Lord my God; do not let them gloat over me. - Psalm 35