Monday, December 12, 2011

The Decorated Pastor... like a gingerbread house

Unfortunately I forgot my recorder yesterday so I did not get my sermon recorded, but something else happened.  The leader of the youth group asked if I would come to the meeting since it would be my last opportunity.  I agreed and then she told me to wear something I wouldn't mind getting messy.  I was thinking paint, maybe a pie in the face.  Nope. 

I have heard of people who were decorated.  People of distinction in various arenas.  Now I can say that I too have been decorated.  The youth group decorated me like a big gingerbread house.  As a farewell, I am pretty sure it will be one of, if not the most memorable farewell.  The youth had a blast.  I am sure they will remember it for much of their lives.  After all, it isn't every night when they get to cover their pastor's face in icing. (NOTE: in the event that you think this might be something you'd like to do, a word of caution... After a few minutes, my eyes were starting to be irritated by the icing.  A little burn was developing.  Buy a cheap pair of swim goggles and decorate around/over them.)

Here are a couple of videos that were taken.  In the first one, the youth were trying to erect the gingerbread house on my face. In the second, they had given up and just went to smearing my face and hair with icing and candy decoration.

After I went and cleaned up from this, they also sat down with me to give me a book of photos and comments.  In the end, I cried. A wonderful evening with them.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Smashing Ice with Rob Bell

Back on Nov. 25, I saw Rob Bell in Pittsburgh for his "Fit to Smash Ice" Tour.  I had seen some of his stuff online and on DVD.  I had never read any of his books, although Love Wins is sitting on my shelf in my reading queue.  I went partly to experience him live and continue to feel out what his draw is.  I wanted to see what his delivery was like and what sort of people came out to see him.  I am not a fan per se, but I do think he gets some things brilliantly right even though he gets some things just as wrong.  And here he was in Pittsburgh on the night after Thanksgiving when I would be at my parents' house just north of Pittsburgh.  My wife and I could attend and we would have free babysitting.  So we went.

The crowd was small compared to the hall we were in.  The Carnegie Library Music Hall in Munhall, PA is a medium-size hall, but the crowd only filled about half of the lower level.  Mostly everyone was young and white, although a few older couples were there... older even than my wife and I. It seemed like a church group was in attendance since one couple (coincidentally the only African-American couple, I think) walked in close to the beginning and half of the people in front of us all waved and greeted them.  A group of four young folk in the row in front of me had note paper out.  One young man had even separated his paper into three areas: inspire, offend, confuse.  The young woman next to him just wrote almost constantly during the time.

Monday, December 05, 2011

2nd Sunday of Advent -- Good Beginnings

Mark 1:1-8
We read the beginning of Mark's gospel as he sets the stage for the story of Jesus, who is himself the good news. 

An excerpt:

This story is meant from its outset to pull its readers and listeners into it… The story is clearly bigger than itself.  We might mistake the opening verse as nothing more than an introductory verse if we translate it as “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”  We are so familiar with “gospel” as a literary genre, we might forget that at its heart the word means “good news.”  And we need to get rid of the “about Jesus Christ.”  Those six Greek words require some interpretation… but to pull us into the story, the good news can’t just be “about” Jesus the Messiah.  And one way to interpret and translate those words is to read it “The good news who IS Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”  The good news is precisely Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God is on the scene.  

Read it here

Or listen to it. 


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Thursday, December 01, 2011

1st Sunday of Advent -- Apocalypse and Revelation

Mark 13: 24-37
Advent is a season to ponder Christ's return in glory.  No longer hidden, Christ's glory will be revealed for all to see.

Unfortunately I had no manuscript for this sermon.  I just went off of some notes, so here it is to listen to.



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Scooby-Doo, Monsters and Real Life

A friend of  mine, Ralph Hanson, shared a link on Facebook to an incredibly interesting column over at the Comics Alliance.  In the column, Chris Sims answers questions weekly.  Last Friday he was asked, "Q: On Scooby-Doo, do you prefer the monsters to be real or people in costumes? -- @heythisisbrian"

 Chris' answer is fascinatingly brilliant.  In short, he says that the monsters on Scooby-Doo must be people masquerading as monsters because the world is full of bad people who lie to kids using superstition to scare them.  Scooby Doo teaches them that the best thing to do in the face of fear from superstition is to think.