Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Good Thing It Isn't Called Lent Sanity

I mentioned Lent Madness in a post last year.  It’s back again just over halfway through the first round (the Round of 32).  I was really excited about Lent Madness coming back, and I decided that, since I was going to be following Lent Madness from the beginning, I’d fill out a bracket and select (hopefully) the winner.  I even bought a couple of the poster sized brackets (one for my office, another for YODAH) so that I could keep track of who is still on track to winning the Golden Halo.  So far, things don’t look good for my predictions.  Here’s the bracket as it stands currently (click to make it bigger):

Already, two of the saints I had in the Faithful 4 (Absalom Jones and John the Baptist) have been eliminated.  Perhaps my method of “I know that person” and “I like that person’s name better” isn’t a good way to select tournament winners.  Maybe I should have done a bit more research into why these holy men and women are considered so, well, holy.  That’s the beauty of Lent Madness, though.  While I may have made a mess with my bracket selections, I still have the opportunity to humbly* learn how much these holy people from our past help us to be holy people today.  I hope you’ll take the chance to learn as well.

*I may still be a bit bitter about J-Bap losing to Lucy

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Another Lent, Another Blog

I know what many of you are thinking.  “Isn’t a bit late to start your ‘Lenten’ blog?”  Yes, it’s true.  I haven’t posted anything for almost the entire first week of Lent, but that was intentional.  I decided that I wanted my Lenten discipline this year to be more sustainable.  As I mentioned last year, I am not a big fan of writing.  If I’m going to make blogging a regular and sustainable part of my life outside of Lent, I need to find a way that works better for me during Lent.

When I first started this blog, my goal was to blog every day (except Sundays) in hopes that I would be in the habit of blogging by the time Lent was over.  Because I’d been blogging almost every day for a month and a half, I should have been able to keep up the habit.  Instead, I found that I got so tired of writing by the end of Lent that, when Easter came, not only did I rejoice in the resurrection of our savior, I rejoiced because I no longer “had” to come up with something to write.  This year, I've decided that I am going to make it my Lenten discipline to post to this blog a minimum of once a week, with Tuesday being my set day to post.  Here we are at the first Tuesday in Lent, and a post is up.  Go me!

I hope you’ll join me this Lent (and hopefully at regular intervals afterward) as I continue on a path toward a deeper relationship with God.  There’s no telling what will happen in this journey.  Maybe I’ll help others on their own spiritual journey.  Maybe I’ll provide a good jumping off point for a discussion to be had in the comments section or in people’s lives outside of this blog.  Maybe I’ll add little more than a few extra kilobytes of data to the web.  Whatever the outcome, I’m excited about the trip.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Results Are In

I have seen an overwhelming number of status updates pleading for hate-filled messages to stop but only a few negative posts along the lines of those that people are pleading against.  There are a few possibilities to explain this phenomenon.

Option 1) I've done a terrible job in diversifying my friends and have surrounded myself with people who think exactly as I do.  I say terrible because this allows no room for growth.
Option 2) Facebook has implemented a new hate-blocking app on my news feed preventing me from seeing any more than a few negative updates about the election (going either way).
Option 3) I have an internal filter that prevents me from being able to recognize that I am reading more than a few hate-filled/negative updates about the election (going either way).
Option 4) I have a very diverse group if friends on Facebook, but the vast majority of them are capable of engaging in mature discussions wherein they disagree with the opinions of at least one person.

Whatever the reason (I'm really hoping it's option 4), thanks to everyone who has been willing and able to carry themselves with a level of maturity that makes me proud that you consider me a friend.  To the people who supported Barack Obama and have expressed happiness in the perceived future of our country without insulting those who voted for other candidates, to the people who supported Mitt Romney yet are willing to move forward in the hope that Americans will still find a way to work together regardless of who our elected officials happen to be, to everyone who is responding to the results of yesterday's election in a mature way, thank you.

Thank you for filling my news feed on Facebook with messages of encouragement for our future.  Thank you for calling for an end to the hate-slinging that has caused so much divisiveness and prevents us from working toward a better tomorrow.  Thank you for standing on principles of love, hope, and justice instead of hatred, conceit, and bitterness.  Thank you for proving that we can disagree with each other without also hating each other.

Above all else, I give thanks to God through whom all this is possible.  I pray that all those who have not been able to handle last night's win/loss with grace may come to know your grace in all things.  May you bring us all together so that we can go about the work of your kingdom.  Amen.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sermons Online

So, project management is not one of my strong suits.  Unfortunately for me, project management is a large part of what I (need to) do.  I am happy to say, however, that a number of projects that I have been working on are completed.  There are still a lot of projects that need to be done/started, but I have chosen to highlight the finished projects today.

First, I have gotten myself back in to blogging.  We'll see how long this lasts, but I'm hoping to update this blog at least a couple times a month, if not more frequently.

Those of you who know my church or have spent time talking to me about St. Andrew's know that a large part of our ministry is a food pantry that is open twice a month and serves approximately 200 families.  What you may not know is that, in order to keep track of everyone we serve, we need to use a program that requires internet access.  There are no ethernet ports in our parish hall (where the food pantry is held), and the wireless internet signal wouldn't make it that far.  This turned out to be a rather simple project.  I just needed to take the time to pick up a wireless extender from Best Buy and get it set up.  Now, we no longer need to run 50 feet of ethernet cable from our church offices into the parish hall.

Finally, we have started recording my sermons and posting them on the church website.  This project turned out to be slightly more difficult than I had anticipated.  We have a really old sound system at the church, and I couldn't get the sound to go through the attached tape deck.  Eventually, I found a headphone jack on a part of the system that, until now, was connected but not being used.  Sparing you the boring details, my sermons are now being posted on our church website.  If you'd like to check them out, head on over to St. Andrew's website and click on the date under Weekly Sermons.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Week Comes to an Close

Today is the last day of Holy Week.  The business of Holy Week is coming to a close as preparations are being made for the Easter Vigil early tomorrow morning as well as the big Easter breakfast.  It's amazing just how busy it can be on the Sabbath day.  Even though I know I "should be" resting today, I find myself tweaking my sermon, running through tomorrow's services in my head, and making sure that everything is "ready" for tomorrow.

The Sabbath is supposed to be a day of rest.  Today, especially, should be thought of as a day of rest.  On Holy Saturday, we remember that Jesus rested in the tomb on the Sabbath before the resurrection.  If you can, I encourage you to ignore the example I've set today and find some time for rest.  There will be plenty of time for busyness later.  For now, enjoy as much time off from anything you'd consider work as you can.  Let's use this time of rest as a way to prepare for the joy that is to come in the Easter celebration.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday Returns

Another year, another Good Friday.  Once again, we come to the day we remember, as we have since the fourth century (when the Church first officially recognized this day), the day Christ was crucified.  Seventeen centuries later, we are still using today as a day of remembrance.  In a world where technology is drastically shortening the life span of traditions, how amazing is it that some traditions still hold strong?  Just twenty years ago, I wouldn't even have had access to the technology to post this blog, and many of you wouldn't have access to the technology to allow you to read it even if I could get it out there.  I'm not sure I would have had much to say twenty years ago, but you get the idea. 

Technology is constantly advancing, and we end up constantly changing the way we do things in order to keep up with the latest trends.  Once we finally catch up, we find the world has moved on yet again, and what once was popular is now just a thing of the past.  To have a tradition that has endured through centuries and centuries is something we should hold dear.

This Friday, as we sit at the foot of the cross and remember the sacrifice that was made for us, let us not forget that we should sometimes be making sacrifices for others.  Some things we should hold onto, but we should be willing to let some things go.  Take some time and think about what it is that you can let go.  Maybe it's a grudge you've held for years.  Perhaps things always need to work the way you think they should.  Whatever it is, find something you're holding on to, and let it go.  Jesus was willing to give his life so that we could live.  What are you willing to give up?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Missed Another One!

Well, yesterday's lack of a post officially has me missing more posts this Lent than I did last year.  Holy Week is much busier as the only priest in a church than when you're an assistant in a larger church.  Even though we have less services, I am solely responsible for every service we have.  On the plus side, a priest friend of mine told me that, if I could survive my first Holy Week with a church, I could survive anything the church threw at me.

One of the things that's been "thrown" at me this year is the expansion of our food pantry.  As an Eagle Scout project, a young man has decided to expand our food pantry so that it is more efficient and can serve more people.  All of this sounds wonderful.  The downside is that the construction work will make our parish hall, for all intents and purposes, unusable for a week.  Because of this, he has decided that his spring break is the best time to work on this so that the work can be consolidated (time wise) as much as possible.  I'm sure most of you have picked up on this already, but for those of you that haven't, his spring break happens to be this week.  That's right, there's a huge construction project going on in the church during Holy Week.

At first, I had my concerns about the timing of this.  I already knew my plate would be full during Holy Week.  Why add something else?  The more I thought about it, though, the more I came to like the idea of this happening during Holy Week.  From a practical standpoint, the construction would probably take much longer if it couldn't be done this week.  We'd effectively be out of a parish hall (and with it, unable to host many of the ministries we have here) for weeks.  From a theological standpoint, I see the construction project as a sort of parallel to the theme of Holy Week.  We go from a joyous Palm Sunday to an almost immediate downward spiral (the events leading up to and including the crucifixion/the "death" of our food pantry and parish hall).  Yet, on Easter Sunday, we will be able to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and (God willing) our food pantry.

Today (Maundy Thursday), we are called to remember that Jesus taught us to be servants.  I give thanks that, through the Eagle Scout project going on this Holy Week, St. Andrew's will be able to be a servant to even more people than before.