Thursday, December 25, 2008


Merry Christmas everyone! I am sure you have an email box full of "Merry Christmas" wishes. I just checked my cell phone and I have several "Merry Christmas" text messages waiting to either be answered or just experienced as a nice greeting on my white Christmas.

Last night, the folks in our church fellowship got to experience a first-of-its-kind worship service. We had a joint worship service with the Asian American Ecumenical Church. I was surprised to learn that this was a first for us--something I didn't know until Dion mentioned it in the service. After the service, Dion said that his congregation has worshiped with us on a few occasions but this was the first bona fide joint worship service.

In case you missed it, our congregations' choirs joined together and Dion and I tag-teamed in preaching. Then, we sang lots of Christmas carols and ended the service with a Candlelight service singing Silent Night. And the sanctuary was packed! We had chairs in the Social Hall (which is connected to the sanctuary separated by sliding doors that were opened up for the occasion). We had so many people, it was standing room only. Or at least, it looked that way. ;)

Dion and I had planned the preaching service so that we'd tagteam the sermon, each taking turns preaching on a shared theme: how to interpret the themes of Christmas (the themes of Advent too) into our current ecomonic and social unrests. We also spoke about bringing the Christmas spirit throughout the year thereby making Christmas a year-long experience.

The wonderful worship service reminded me how much I enjoy this season. And, to be honest, I am a bit tired of hearing all the bad things about this season. Sure, its a season of commercialization and overspending--but don't we hear that every year? This year I did my best not to mention it--both because no one has any money (which made it easier) and because it's a tired mantra. Instead I hope we can focus on the things about Christmas we enjoy--because it is something we truly all experience, in one form or another. Garrison Keillor said it best when likening Christmas to a thunderstorm:

"A lovely thing about Christmas is that it's compulsory, like a thunderstorm, and we all go through it together."

Having this shared experience is good because it teaches others the lessons we learn while we're enjoying it. Rather than focus on the negatives of Christmas (which in turn get retaught, re-experienced, and regurgitated season after season), I think it's better to focus on the good of the season and being mindful of the traditions we celebrate, create, and pass along to our children, partners, families, and families of choice.

And so I wish you a Merry Christmas and hope that all your traditions are bringing you closer to one another and closer to God. Fortunately, when we're being drawn to one another in love, we're also being drawn to God (I love how God made love to be the transcendant magnate that benefits the Kingdom while benefiting those who employ it with one another). May your season be blessed. And may you experience all the joys and fun of this season.

I'll see you all next week. Tomorrow I am leaving to Oklahoma for 4 days of my own familial traditions.

h/t to The Bilerico Project for the Keillor quote.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Catching Up

Today is an unusual day in my pastoring in that I am caught up with many things. With Sunday's Scripture and Carol service prepared and the Christmas Eve service nearly planned (but need more information from others before I can finish it up), I have an afternoon to get caught up with other things.

For the last couple of hours, I have been online getting caught up with my blog readings. As many of you know, I read a lot and much of what I read is online. I read a cornucopia of blogs ranging from LGBT issues to church growth, evangelism, and various theologies. I also read friend's blogs, organizational ones, and even a few decorating ones.

Today I watched a video about the impact of evangelicalism in America and how BIG it really is. I knew it was big, by the way, but the video I watched was simply amazing. There are six parts to the video and are worth watching in their entirety.

I also watched a YouTube video from Penn (of Penn and Teller) talk about how he was approached by someone prosyltizing to him (and Penn is a notorious atheist). Penn's reaction to this someone is heart-felt and good to watch.

I read a whole lot about Obama's selecting Rick Warren to lead his inauguration prayer. Many folks are furious about the selection but Pastor Dan sums it up well (although he uses a horrible cuss word in doing so). Maybe it won't bother you...maybe my Oklahoma sensibilities are just too sensitive.

And now, I just read an interesting post from Chuck Warnock about 5 Lessons I Did Not Learn in Seminary which hit home.

I'll be doing more surfing throughout the afternoon. Now I need to finish reading a couple of books for school. Presently I am reading Leading Congregational Change: A Practical Guide for the Transformational Journey, by Jim Herrington, Mike Bonem, and James Furr and The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating the Missional Church, by Alan Hirsch.