Saturday, January 28, 2006

I Have a Dream: Justification by Grace!

You really have to love this. Unless you're severely disturbed by it. I've seen both reactions, and can understand each.

Clearly someone went crazy with the clip art, and forgot the "King, Jr." As you can see, they even forgot the "Jr." on the sign.

This sign adorned a window at the public library in Schertz, Texas, for at least a week before MLK, Jr. Day. Apparently no one noticed.

Thanks to my friend Andy, who linked this pic (well, the Real Live Preacher blog, which had this pic) on his blog, which is awesome, by the way:

I mentioned this little sign at Pastor's Text Study this week, and one of my colleagues pointed out the irony in the middle of the room: this misunderstanding usually goes the other way. Just ask my wife.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

"Anyone" Can Comment--A Parable of Grace

An interesting thing happened today--two of them, in fact. This morning I checked my blog, and still no comments. At first I decided to feel sorry for myself. I'm pretty wedded to the idea that this ought to be a conversation, not my personal e-news column. But then I got to thinking--hey maybe my blog isn't very interesting. Or maybe people are planning to comment and just haven't done so yet. We are a people of grace, after all. I ought to be busier modeling that grace than crying over comments. So I decided to quit feeling sorry for myself, which is a good default mode, but requires some discipline.

Then I went to Covenant Group this morning (see explanation of Covenant Group in previous entry). The first person I saw was Kevin, who told me he had tried to comment on my blog, but it was making him sign in and answer a bunch of questions.

So when I got home, I checked my settings, and sure enough, in the Comments section, "only registered users" was checked. Which I suppose means that you have to register on this blog, or with Blogger, or some such, in order to make a comment.

So I've changed that, and anyone who wants to can leave a comment now. I'll still try to be more interesting--this blog perhaps notwithstanding. :)

Feel free to comment. Or not. I love you either way.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Cookie Mafia--Seeking Your Input

So at the end of our Covenant Group* meeting yesterday, we were talking about how we handle visitors at worship on Sunday morning. There are a lot of schools of thought on that. Some say that visitors should be allowed their space--greet them warmly, but don't get too close. On the other end of the spectrum are those who believe that it's important to recognize visitors in a big way--have them stand up, talk to them as much as possible, and visit them at their homes the same day they visit church. The middle way is usually to chat them up some at church and then send a card or note, thanking them for coming to worship.

Abiding Peace started a group of Visitor Care folks, who would take cookies to the homes of visitors after Sunday worship. We did it for a while, but moving out of our building kind of put an end to our Sunday afternoon evangelism, due partly to logistics (the cookies were in the freezer at church and could be baked in the oven at church--we no longer have a freezer or an oven) and partly to the fact that these sorts of programs require a high level of accountability and energy, especially for introverts, which most of us are.

So here's my question: Is the Cookie Mafia (provocative title not meant to convey any disdain) a good idea? What brought you back to church, if you are indeed at a church? Or what would bring you back if you visited a church and might be inclined to return? Would you like a visit from members of the church? The pastor? Or an email? A card? Nothing?

Please drop me a comment if you can. This is really important information for our congregation as we move forward.


*Our Covenant Group is a sextumvirate (Okay, I made up that word--not as racy as it sounds--there are six of us.) of ministers who meet every Tuesday morning at St. Paul School of Theology. The five others in our group are some of the best people I know. We hold one another accountable for being the best we can be at the various aspects of our lives--ministry, family, self care, and humor.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Dear Pat Robertson...

...please be quiet.

It seems each day that you (Pat Robertson, I mean, though I'm pretty sure he doesn't read my blog) have a terrible habit of speaking before you think. We all suffer from that disease sometimes, and I get a really bad case of it once in a while. But usually it doesn't make the papers. In fact, when I know that there is a chance that something I say will appear in print, I try to be careful.

I try to be careful because a lot of people are wondering about Christianity out there. A lot of people are wondering what is going on with those Christians, who seem to spend more time fighting with one another and condemning people we don't even know than practicing the gospel we preach.

Pat, when you say that it might be good if someone assassinated the president of Venezuela, people notice. And they get to wondering. When you talk about Ariel Sharon's stroke, and then offer a line from scripture condemning those (Sharon) who would give away God's land, people notice. And they wonder again. What is with Those Christians.

What's supposed to be with us is a word of love--love for all people, especially those in need. Ariel Sharon was in need of our prayers, and all you needed to say was "Hey, I may not agree with everything Sharon does, but I'm sure praying for him."

It really wouldn't have been so hard. Those people wondering about us would probably have thought it kind, and generous, and decent. It might have lessened the damage done by the dozens of other dumb things you've said in the past few years.

I'm sorry to be harsh, but a Christian minister whose language is the idiom of hate is a dangerous thing. I know you believe that the things you say are right, but, sorry, wrong again. Wrong, and a hazard to those of us trying our best to invite more and more of those wondering folks into our fellowship.

So please, do us all a favor and just be quiet. The contemplative life is good. Thousands of monks can't be wrong.