The Pondering Pastor

These "Ponderings" originally appeared as articles in our church newsletter or bulletin or just as the musings of one bald pastor. I place them here to encourage you, my fellow blogite and maybe to help us all in our pondering.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Vacation's Over!

SURE. I REALIZE IT’S NOT “OFFICIALLY” OVER UNTIL LABOR DAY. But, for all intents and purposes summer vacation is over…and I for one am ready. Now, don’t get me wrong I had great summer. One of the best Vacation Bible Schools ever! Two weeks of helping out at Redwood Christian Park with their children’s program. Two week’s in Africa. Visits from family and friends. Watching my kids learn new skills and experience new growth. BBQ’s and sunshine. Yes, this summer was great, but now I am looking forward to the rest that schedule brings.

Earlier bed-times, school schedules, weekly church programs, oh yeah, and soccer. Yep, I am looking forward to sliding back into the old comfortable clothes of fall. I guess that adage that we are all creatures of habit is true. And it is really not a bad description, that is unless the habits are bad ones.

One thing I try to do at this time of the year is to enter into some renewed habits (good ones). It may mean getting back into the habit of prayer, or of journaling. It may mean getting back into the habit of exercise and eating right. It may mean getting back into the habit of time around the table with family and friends. This time of the year, maybe more than any other, affords me the time to stop, reassess, reschedule and in the process be renewed. In many ways, we usher in not the end of the year, but its beginning.

As we say “good-bye” to the lazy-hazy-crazy-days of summer join me in saying “hello” to a glorious season of harvest. A time of new rich colors, a time of warmth, a time of festive renewal. A time where the hearths of our homes and hearts can be opened to the fire of God’s Spirit.

Come, and be renewed.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Living to Scrimmage

THE BOYS ON MY U-8 SOCCER TEAM LIVE to scrimmage. From the time they get to practice they are constantly asking me, “Hey coach, are we going to scrimmage today?” They tolerate stretching, they work hard at passing and dribbling, and practicing shots-on-goal, but they live to scrimmage against each other.

Scrimmaging is an important part of learning the game. It’s the closet thing we do to playing a real game, but without the other aspects of the practice all a scrimmage becomes is an opportunity to kick the ball around and instill improper soccer techniques. The learning and practicing of basic skills is crucial to a productive scrimmage and ultimately to a successful game.

Often, as followers of Jesus, we are like my soccer team. We want to scrimmage, or better yet, just play the game. But, in order for us to play the game well it is vital that we learn and practice the skills that we will need in the course of the real game.

One of those much needed skills is that of prayer. If we have not made a habit of the practice of prayer during the “everydayness” of our lives, then when we find ourselves in the midst of the heat of life , we will not have developed the skills needed to grant us success. Prayer, like the skills of soccer, needs to be practiced over and over again, so that when we find ourselves in the need of prayer, it will come as naturally as a push pass to our teammate.

Play on! Opps, I mean “pray-on!”

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Village Life

LIFE IN BILAMPERGA IS NOT ALWAYS IDYLLIC, but the three days Linda and I spent there with our daughter Krista gave us a sense that village life has its benefits and blessings. After three days in the capital city of Ouagadougou, with its noise, heat, trash and crush of people and vehicles, our time in the village was a breath of fresh air in more ways than one.

The rhythm of life brought peace to your heart. The people were warm and friendly, the pace slow (I am sure the heat had something to do with that), life was gauged by the rising and setting of the sun, and everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, knew their place in village life. When the rain fell, life became quiet, except for the echoes of raindrops upon tin roofs, but when the sun once again broke through it was time for all to return to the fields to plant their millet or corn. All understood the rhythms and their place, and thus life worked well in the village of Bilamperga.

Another thing that grabbed me, was that even though Krista had been a part of the village family for a year, they still desired to be a service to her. The children were always ready to pump the well for her water, and to carry it to her home. Whenever she had a need, the people, her family, where quick to come to her aid, in fact, they would get quite upset if they were not asked to help. These people truly care for her, and as a far-away parent, that gives me a sense of peace.

I believe the local church can learn much from the people of Bilamperga. We can learn better to live within the rhythms of life around us, to “go with the flow” as it were. We can learn the importance of everyone having a job to do. We can learn the importance of carrying one another’s water, of always looking for place to serve, not for what we gain, but always for what we can give.

What’s your place in the Village?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A Common Meal

GET ANY NUMBER OF PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS (pcv’s) TOGETHER and the topic will quickly move to where they all went to dinner last, or where they were planning on eating next. I have come to the conclusion that if you need to find out where, or where not, to eat in a given country talk to a PCV’er. When these folks meet, they eat. It almost became quite humorous to me to listen to their conversations, it seemed that all they did was go out to eat together…they lived for meal time.

As I gave this some thought, and as I enjoyed some meal times with them (where they would talk about previous and upcoming meal times) I realized why these meals gained such a great priority in their lives.

The reality is that each of these PCV’s spend the majority of their time away from English speaking, western-mindset people, and when they have the opportunity to come together it is a time for celebration, for catching up, for enjoying a sense of family which finds its best expression in the family dinner table, even if that table was outside at Paradisio. My new PC friends reminded me that true community comes from sharing that which is in common…theirs was a true communion meal.

At these gatherings is shared a common story lived out through a variety of daily experience. It is a meal that allows them to look back and to look forward (often to the next meal). During these meals their hearts and stories are intertwined and new strength and hope is renewed as they prepare to return to their often solitary lives of service. Thus, these meals were of incredible importance to their ongoing lives. These meals were not something that could be easily done without.

Not unlike the Communion Meal we celebrate today!