Archive for August, 2009

Fall Season – Huddles

August 30th, 2009 No comments

This post appears, in slightly-altered form, in the September Panorama:

Here it is, almost fall again! Where did the summer go?

A highlight of the summer for me was our brief trip to the Navajo Nation in Arizona. We were privileged to visit St. Michael’s Association for Special Education and the evangelical (Protestant) church at Hunter’s Point, along with several others from our church.

This type of ministry is the essence of what Jesus meant when he told us to be his witnesses (Acts 1:8). Too often, we assume that someone else will do it for us. “The church does that,” we think. But “the church” can’t go on mission trips. The church can’t visit someone in the hospital. The church can’t tutor someone who’s trying to learn to read or to speak English. People have to do those things, and I’m so happy that people who do, call this church home.

The church, of course, has a role in carrying out the mission of Christ in this world. Sometimes, we have to partner with others in our church to achieve what Christ calls us to do. As just one example, there are homeless people in our community who could actually afford to rent an apartment–except for the startup costs (first and last month’s rent, utility hookups, etc.). Believers at Desert Hills help to address that need by giving A.R.C.H. money through their contributions to the church’s mission budget. (For another example, see the article in this issue. We support the food pantry individually by donating food, and together as a church with our contributions.)

The second thing our church does is equip the saints (you and me) for ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16). The things we do as the gathered church–our Sunday worship, fellowship activities, and education programs –all function like the “huddle” a football team goes into before each play. When we’re finished with our “huddle” we disperse, going back into the world to carry out our Commission.

With summer winding down, we will be resuming our second worship service. Last spring, our two services were practically identical; the only significant difference was that the choir sang in the first service. This fall, we’re going to be looking for ways to give each service its own flavor. The choir will participate in the first service, as before. In the second service, I’m going to begin using multimedia (i.e., a projector). I have some ideas about how that can enhance the worship experience. This will give me a “laboratory” to experiment, by projecting scriptures and prayers on the screen, referring to other scriptures, including visual aids, and so forth.

No matter which worship service you prefer, you will be able to participate in a Bible Study this fall. If you come for the first service, stay for a Bible study afterwards. Or come for a Bible study during the first service, then join us in worship afterward.

It’s always exciting in the fall as we shake off our summer doldrums and ramp up our programs. I think our “huddles” will be even more helpful to us this fall. But nobody goes to a game to watch the huddle. What really matters is what we do after the huddle. If you’ve got ideas about things we can do as a church to help one another carry out the Great Commission between Sundays, give me a call. I’d love to talk with you about them. And until next time, be a blessing!

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the pleasure of service?

August 27th, 2009 No comments

In that random way things turn up on the internet, I was directed to an article “Why won’t feminists admit the pleasure of infants?” by Katie Roiphe. Here’s the part that caught my eye:

But then part of the allure of maternity leave is precisely this: You give up everything you are and care about. The books on your shelves are not your books; the clothes hanging in the closet are not your clothes. You are the vague, slow, exhausted animal nursing its young. Anything graceful, original, sharp, intelligent about you is gone. And it is that sacrifice of self, that total denial of the outside world, that uncompromising violence done to your everyday life, that is this period’s appeal. You are transported in a way you will never be transported again; this is the vacation to end all vacations.

I don’t know how common that feeling is for mothers, but it’s interesting she sees denial of self as a “vacation to end all vacations.”

The Christian life is often expressed in terms like this. Jesus says “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:33-37). He says if he has washed our feet, we should wash one another’s feet (John 13:1-20). And the Apostle Paul describes Jesus’ whole ministry as self-emptying (Philippians 2:5-11).

Do we read those passages this way? Do we see loving service as an opportunity to be blessed? Or as weary drudgery? Perhaps we can learn something from the experience of new mothers like Katie Roiphe.

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Misson Trip

August 17th, 2009 No comments

I’m back from our mission trip! It was a short but sweet trip to the Navajo nation in Arizona. We brought a load (two vehicles and most of a U-Haul trailer) of clothing and small items. These are distributed among the community served by the church in Hunter’s Point. Here is the clothing, being unsacked so it can be distributed:

We also visited St. Michael’s school for special education school. Here is Gillis Chapela, the director, and Irene, one of the teachers:

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The future of retirement

August 3rd, 2009 No comments

A thought-provoking discussion of retirement that I came across had some amazing statistics:

Studies show that retirement is no good for you. Even if you hate the job you go to every day, sudden abrupt inactivity is a bad idea. A working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research entitled “The Effects of Retirement on Physical and Mental Health Outcomes” studied people in complete retirement over six years. It found that retirement led to a 5 to 6 percent increase in illness, a 6 to 9 percent decline in mental health, and a 5 to 16 percent increase in mobility difficulties.

It made me think of this video from Mosaic:

(If you’re curious, I was directed to the WaPo item quoted above from a different type of discussion in the Atlantic; the point there was the strain put on society when retirement ages are falling even as lifespans are increasing and birthrates falling.)

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