Friday, March 31, 2006

Back At Home From Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm

You meet some incredible people at Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm. At left is our youngest granddaughter, Aubrey, getting a hug from Snoopy himself on Wednesday at Knotts. She was excited beyond belief.

Our entire family is all back at home now after several wonderful days at the "happiest place on earth". We jammed three full days with nothin' but fun and even got soaked in the rain in SoCal, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise (no lines).

In the days ahead I'll blog more on the subject and throw in a few pics as well. Suffice it to say that it was simply wonderful to have our two sons, their wives, and three granddaughters all together in a place like Disneyland.

Gregg and Elaine and Doug and Jamie are still kids at heart and we really couldn't tell who was having the most fun -- the "adult" kids or the real kids. And it didn't matter. Watch for more in the days ahead.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Applecart Upset

As Christians in the affluent western world, we can’t help but be influenced by our society. As we make various attempts to try to “live like Christians”, often our efforts bear little fruit.

Even “organized” efforts like the fairly recent WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) “campaign” may point us to reflect on the problem but at the same time does little to provide insight into how Jesus (or God) would actually want us to live our lives.

Last Sunday my son Gregg (who is a Friends pastor in Oregon) gave a sermon on the topic that kind of reminded me of the old phrase “applecart upset”, though he titled it something else. Here’s a snippet of what he said:

“My (recent) life … has been one of God yanking me out of the easy path I seem to map out for my life, and sending me down a road that I was not expecting and that involves sacrifice…. The heart of following Jesus is radically different than the way most of us live our lives. Following Jesus is not something which gives us a power or a tool to having all that we ever wanted in life.”

If that’s not enough to make you click here to read his entire sermon as he delivered it, then so be it. But if not, you’ll be missing some great insight on what it means to be a follower of Christ in our “success-driven” society.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Re-Drafting My Spiritual Formation— Log #5: Finding Meaning in Worship

At church last Sunday I was once again blessed with the worship liturgy and meanings gleaned from it. The season in the church calendar now being Lent, inside the front page of the bulletin was a considerable explanation of this time of year and its related significance for us as members of Christ’s church.

During my decades in “evangelicalism” I had become used to what I now refer to as the “shotgun” approach to meaningful worship. The theme for the day or month usually reflected what the church leadership was “led to focus on” at the particular time. Not all bad, I admit. But I personally often didn’t feel “in sync”.

In the mainline church that we now are attending, the focus of worship is guided primarily by the church calendar – something with which I was relatively unfamiliar until recently. In my past church life, Lent was usually casually noted by condemnation of Fat Tuesday, the culmination of Mardi Gras in New Orleans (and elsewhere) and a reference to Ash Wednesday, Lent’s official beginning. Other than conversation now and then among friends about what we were "giving up" for Lent, we usually heard nothing about it until Holy week. And even then, there might only be a Good Friday observance of some sort just prior to Easter – which WAS, of course, rightfully emphasized.

As I have alluded to before in these posts, this new (to me) practice of allowing the church calendar and time-tested liturgies to illuminate our worship experience has provided a wonderful catharsis for my faith journey. Last Sunday was no exception.

The “Order of Worship” consists of three components. First, the Entrance Rite where “God Gathers Us”; secondly, the Service of the Word where “God Speaks to Us”; and, thirdly, the Closing Rite where “God Sends Us Out to Serve”.

In the Gathering Rite we share hymns and prayers of confession, forgiveness and self-examination. In the Service of the Word, we open our thinking to three extensive Scripture readings -- from the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Gospels -- and recite together the ancient creeds of our faith. The pastor usually follows with the sermon. In the Sending Rite, with hymns, shared prayers and the benediction, we are commissioned to daily service as followers of Christ.

Of course the Scriptures and liturgies are appropriately reflective of the liturgical season, but the consistency in the order of worship takes us through the important elements of encountering and listening to God each and every time we worship.

I find the experience uplifting, strengthening and sustaining. And for an old “evangelical” like me, very refreshing. Thanks be to God.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Granddaughters – A Wonderful Gift from God

This past weekend my wife and I were in Oregon, and we had the wonderful experience of spending some valuable time with our three granddaughters. We were primarily there to help out a bit while our daughter-in-law was at a women’s retreat at the ocean.

We thoroughly enjoyed all three of them, but this was a special time for Hayley. It was her 9th birthday on Monday. In the photo above right I caught her in the midst of blowing out her birthday candles. She got them all out with nary a problem!

Hayley is a very gifted girl. She loves and is good at a wide variety of interests, not the least of which is her computer proficiency. Got a Mac issue? Call Hayley.

Her special day wasn’t even affected much by the fact that she was feeling a bit “under the weather”. As is Hayley, in spite of how she felt, she still had fun and in the evening got to open and enjoy some presents from family.

Hayley was also recently honored by having her term project on display at her school. I may have mentioned it in a January post, but above left is the photo of her efforts which I snapped at the school.

She had carefully constructed a Motte and Bailey castle and did a marvelous job. Way to go, Hayley! Click on the castle name in the previous sentence if you are like me – wondering what a Motte and Bailey castle is.

A perfect “capper” for our long weekend was last night’s middle school band concert in which Talli (the eldest) is a member of the trumpet section. Little Aubrey ran out of steam about half way through the concert but did get to see her big sister blow her horn.

In case you hadn’t noticed, grandparents really get off on these kinds of things!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Thankful For Days Like This

Today I went to the big city – well, through it, actually. The trip began with a gorgeous ferry ride on the MV Wenatchee into Seattle. I say gorgeous because the skies were blue with wispy, white clouds, the azure water was quite calm, and the sun radiated welcome warmth, as the temperature was on the cool side.

From the Coleman dock where the auto-laden vessel touched the bank, I headed south through the cargo-ship-lined port, past Boeing field, and then onto the freeway near the Southcenter Mall. I was heading for the southern burb of Federal Way where the headquarters of the global relief organization, World Vision, is nestled in a stand of tall pines and firs – on Weyerhaeuser Way, appropriately.

My mission was to meet with a senior magazine editor who had indicated there might be some writing opportunities for one of their publications. She said that “outside writers” often provided a “fresh” perspective that was good for everyone concerned. That was music to my ears.

Of course I love to write – as witnessed by this blog. But here was a chance to use what one really enjoys doing to hopefully be a small aid in a wonderful and worthy cause.

We talked for some time about the organization and how she came to be a part of it. She’s a southern California gal who came north with World Vision when it moved to Seattle in 1995. I mentioned that my tie with World Vision was that I had personally met and spent a bit of time with its founder, Bob Pierce, back in the early 1960’s

We then chatted about her goals and aspirations for the journal. I was easily hooked as we rather quickly found resonance on an issue close to both of our hearts that fits well within the scope of her objectives.

So now I have a writing “assignment”!

Having discussed the subject on several occasions with friends and with my sons who are in ministry, my mental wheels were spinning as I drove home. I enjoyed taking the longer drive around the Sound – rather than returning on the ferry – because it gave me a few added moments to savor the experience and listen for the thoughts of God on the topic we had agreed upon.

For the next several months I’ll know exactly what to do with any “spare” time. I’ve already started an outline and put a few ideas down on paper. I’m really thankful for days like this.