Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Christmas to New Year Blackout is Over

I've left the land of dial-up. It was nice to have a blogiday . . . especially when my classmate, Bryan Bucher, started talking smack in his blog. It was good that I didn't know what he was up to while I was hanging out in Big 10 land. I'll respond to Buckeye Bryan Bucher tomorrow. The Buchers and the Wymers appear to be the only Beesonites back on campus tonight and I'm enjoying the peace.

Since I'm a lover, not a fighter, I will share a few pictures of the great time we had with our Indiana family last week. For those of you who don't know my family, this might be a bit boring, but I'm constantly aware of the fact that you've only to click yourself into another, more exciting, reality.

We all had a good week. The only Wymer sibling missing was my sister, Georgia (along with her family). New Mexico is just too far away for Christmas. While in Indiana I got very little school work done. I ate too much. I played with kids. I sponged off of family. And, really, isn't that what the holidays are all about?

By the way, we were without Cindy for much of the week because she was able to hop a flight from Indy to New Jersey to visit her grandfather. All went well in Jersey and we're glad she had the opportunity to be with him. She flew back into Indy today and then we hopped in the van--stuffed it full of Christmas leavin's--and drove back here to Wilmore.

Happy New Year!

Here is Uncle Aaron with Olivia and Gideon.Ethan shows us the "Flying Squirrel." The kid comes closer to flying than any kid I've ever seen.
His brother, Marcus, launches like a rocket.
My nephew, Austin, shows some appreciation for Effie the Dog.Sister Amy and her daughter, Allison, pose with Meg.

Claire and Marie provide comic relief.

Anna, Cindy, Cora, Connie (sister), Meg and Gideon.
The whole crew at the kids' table.
Dad and Wendy, Anna, Cora, Meghan, and Cindy.
Grandpa Mason was doing well.

Cora was a wild child.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Gators: A Decade Under the Influence

The family and I are going Hoosier today. We'll be up in Indiana for a week. I won't have great Internet access so there won't be much news on this blog.

I leave you with this:

Sadly, most of the people I know don't want to see this video. But now that Christmas is over it's time to prepare for another National Championship football game on January 8.

Interestingly, if you watch this video you will notice that Gators owe Ohio State a big "Thank you" for our championship in 1996. I had totally forgotten.

So, thanks, Ohio State . . . I'm sorry . . .Thanks, THE Ohio State (I've never seen a group of people so jazzed about definite articles. But it's their school; they get to name it. Who am I to question their peculiarities? I'm only AN alumnus of THE University of Florida.)

Christmas Weekend/Day

On Saturday morning the family and I traveled to Johnson City. We spent the night at the Marr's house (which, by the way, is where I watched the Gators play basketball a fine game of basketball). Sunday morning in Johnson City was beautiful.

The chilly December air created all sorts of Appalachian mists as a backdrop for Cindy and me.
And for Anna, with North Johnson City behind her.
It was great to see our friends at Grandview. Meredith and Robin sang with the praise team.Dirk, the musical chemist (in a good way, not like rock stars!), was willing to be seen with me. I had hoped to have more pictures, but I gave the camera to someone in my family and she got so busy saying hello to folks that we're left with just these two photos. That's what happens when you're having fun seeing people you miss.
After church we made a bee-line for Wilmore. There we a quiet, family Christmas Eve. The Beeson housing area was a ghost town. Talk about your silent nights! It was all very peaceful as I raided Jim and Terri's house, stole their presents from under their tree, and brought them into our house.
Cindy's weeks of preparation pay off.
We opened all of our presents and then we just relaxed, played some games, and ate.Oh . . . and (blog-nerd that I am) I took a little time to blog.
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Preparing to Pray

No pictures today. I'm just getting ready to preach the Dec.24 sermon at Grandview. As I type this post I'm sitting at Panera enjoying my cup of coffee and my preparation time. I'm also discovering how much I miss the weekly routine of preparing the pastoral prayer--that's right, the pastoral prayer (it surprises me too).

Pastoral prayers have gone out of fashion--especially long ones like mine. I still like them, though. I like how counter-cultural they are (even counter-church-culture). I know that some people drift away. That's okay. At least they don't have to worry that I'll see them drifting.

I like that every week it reminds me that Jesus calls us to pray for our enemies. When your Aunt Lu is your biggest enemy (I don't have an Aunt Lu) it isn't too hard. When an army of terrorists is your enemy, Christ's call gets much trickier. When your enemy is a culture that calls you to be superficial and spendy, praying for your enemy becomes even trickier by its subtlety.

I like the pastoral prayer because I use it to sum up my sermon. If I can't work my sermon into the pastoral prayer I start to worry that it's too shallow. If I can't pray it to God, how can I preach it to people?

I like the pastoral prayer because I get away with big chunks of silence. I know of absolutely know other time when people gather together with regularity and practice anything like silence. When I first started trying silence in the pastoral prayer I lasted about four or five seconds, and then I lost my nerve. Then Fred Norris and Susan Higgins said things like, "I'm just getting started with the silence and then you start talking again." They were right. Once the high school boys told me I needed to shoot for two minutes. I did it. Two minutes is a long, long, time when you are standing in front of people leading a prayer.

So, in about an hour and a half I will be leading a pastoral prayer for the first time in six months. I'm glad I miss it.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Missional Church

Today I'm asking those of you who are connected with Grandview (past and present) to consider posting a response in the "comment" portion of this entry of my blog. I know that some of you just don't like to do it. Feel free to send it to my private email.

Your help will be appreciated because I'm brainstorming in anticipation of our Elders' retreat in January. The more raw data we have, the better.I've always liked Grandview's vision statement. I respect the massive amount of energy that it must have taken to get together a vision statement for a crew like us; however, if I could unilaterally change anything in the statement it would be:
  1. The verb "extending" is a bit too ambitious for human effort. Extending the kingdom is, essentially, the work of the Holy Spirit and remains a mystery to the church. I would be pleased to consider changing the wording to "Inviting all people into the kingdom of God."
  2. Also, if we tinkered with the order of the five elements (which I've done in the above picture) we could begin to view the statement as a process of disciple-making. A person would enter the kingdom of God (whether or not they enter Grandview) at the reaching out level and then progress through the various elements with the goal of whole-life worship as a life of praise to God.
Those are some of the things I'll be working with when I get cracking on my dissertation. The dissertation itself will focus on finding identifiable strategies for reaching out in relationships.

Things I won't be addressing? I won't be looking for ways to determine God's favorite hymn, chorus, instrument, or worship style. I won't be looking for ways to make Grandview a bigger church. And I won't be looking for which style of toupee I should wear to bring more visitors to Grandview (I've been saving for the Black Mohawk Model #2333a).

I want to be a part of leading the church toward being more intentional about making relationships that matter (with Christians and nonChristians). Deep relationships are built on important, not superficial issues. The best question being asked by the books we're reading for our leadership classes is the one brought to the table by the missional church project. It's the question I would love to hear more about from people who call the Tri-Cities home:

What is God doing to transform Johnson City? How can we (the church) join in that work?

You don't need to answer right away. Instead, drive around, talk to people (yes, even strangers), keep your eyes open, pray about it, ask for the gift of discernment. Then let me know what you believe God is doing. If you believe the Holy Spirit is at work in Johnson City, then this is a question worth pursuing.

The work doesn't have to be an explicitly religious activity (in fact, it's probably better if it's not). One task I want to tackle when I return is as simple as calling the city leaders to require a sidewalk along South Roan leading to the Food City. I don't know how many times I've seen the elderly trying to navigate that street in their battery-powered wheelchairs, or women pushing strollers in the street while cars speed past. I've been meaning to do something about this for over a year . . . hold me accountable, please.

When we answer the above question--with the intention of asking God to use us to grow the kingdom of God--we are coming very near the purpose of the church.

So . . . how about it? I would love to sample from your wisdom.

PS: Because I'm writing this too close to Christmas, you'll see this question posted again!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Birthday to Anna!

We had a birthday party on a quiet and rainy Wilmore day. Eleven years ago today our Anna was born. Anna's friends from school came over and a good time was had by all. The video is about two minutes long.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Christmas Break Video

Nobody had to go to school today. We celebrated by making this video for you.

Christmas Shopping? Just Get-R-Done

The girls and I went shopping for Christmas presents for Cindy today. We wound up at a place called the "Peddler's Mall." It's a hodge-podge of items and yet we began to notice a theme. We decided to take pictures of all of the Confederate Flag stuff. Unbelievable. Leather jackets...Comforters. . .

Tacky T-Shirts . . .
Here's your sign. . .
Leather "wrap hats" for bikers. . .
Flags (of course!). . .
And my personal favorite, statues of deers and bears with the Confederate flags draped across their backs, Confederate soldier hats, guns, and whiskey jugs.We went to Starbucks too, but we couldn't find a single "Confederate Blend Beans" or "Stars and Bars Coffee Mug."

School is out . . . even for Dr. Brad!

Anna carries presents for her teachers to the bus stop for the last day of school before the Christmas break.
Cora is ready for it the break.
Hannah and her dad.Hannah, Cora, and Maggie await the bus.
Even Pierson looks happy.But the big news of the day is that Brad and Elizabeth stopped by for a visit. Brad was a member of the youth group at First Christian Church, Melbourne, Florida when I was a youth minister there. When I arrived in Melbourne I was the age he is now . . . and he was the age Meghan is now.

Brad and Elizabeth (I got to be a part of their wedding) are in the process of moving from Chicago, where he became a doctor of Chiropractic, to Florida. They graced us with a visit.
To honor Elizabeth, we talked Asbury into naming a building after her (if you come to visit us we will do the same for you . . . if your name is McPheeter, Beeson, Stanger, Estes, Physical Plant, or Administration).Brad and I posed with the statue of Francis "Clint Eastwood" Asbury.

They were tired from three days of packing and moving, but we kept them up by talking their ears off and by playing "Apples to Apples." When it was time for bed we kicked them out of our house and into the Martins' apartment (they weren't home so we jimmied the door open, don't tell Jim or Terri).
It did me good to see the Farneys. If you're on the Spacecoast of Florida and in need of some Chiropractic attention, go see him. He'll make you smile, I promise. Elizabeth will be looking for a good job when they arrive. She has a Human Resources background and has been working for a college in Chicago.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Timid Internist (and other thoughts)

A couple of thoughts are lingering with me after having visited home this past weekend.

On Sunday morning I sat down with the college-age class for a few minutes. The Milliganders have gone home for the season, I was getting the chance to sit down with our home grown talent. Heather Hoover put me on the spot (in a good way) by asking me if I wanted to talk about the things I'm learning this year. To my surprise I really did want to talk about it, even though I was pulling my report from that hazy, half-formed part, place that I've been storing the accumulated thoughts and impressions from this year. So here are some blog thoughts:

  1. The world continues to change. This is nothing new, of course. If you're around any academic setting for long (Christian or otherwise) you will quickly tire of the term "Post-Modern." While some view Post-Modernism as a new system of thinking, I subscribe to the "there is nothing new under the sun" theory. It has been around for a long time, though with different emphases. Basically, people are moving beyond a belief that science and the senses are the most reliable sources of knowledge. This opens up all sorts of possibilities for belief in almost anything.
  2. Engaging Post-Moderns will require that we take risks because there is no one way to approach so many different beliefs. We can be sure we won't always be "doing it right." We will make mistakes. If the church (including Grandview) waits to get out into this new world and share Christ until we are certain we have all of our words and methods correct, then we will never speak a word to anyone. I think Jesus said something about burying gifts in order to protect them. If we really believe in the grace of God, then we need to do all that we can to invite others into the kingdom of God. If we don't get everything right, we have to rely on God'sl have grace--which we proclaim. If we are silent, our silence and inactivity offends God more than our mistakes. It is encumbant upon us to take educated stabs at doing the right thing.
  3. When we were discussing these things in the college class, Randy Hoover mentioned how important it is for a doctor to take risks. He described a brilliant intern who knows everything a doctor needs to know, except how to take the risk. I suspect there is no such thing as certainty for doctors. Every diagnosis and prescription carries a level of guess and a level of risk.
  4. And so we have to ask ourselves what we're willing to risk in order to invite others into the Kingdom of God, to invite others into the sphere of God's activity on earth. Will we risk being embarrassed? Will we risk investing our time and energy into the lives of others, fostering authentic relationships with people who are lonely? I can talk this way all day and the talk will sound good...and yet, when we actually spend the time with real people we find that it can be a difficult task. Lonely people are often people who struggle with painful issues. Are we willing to risk being there, with others, in the pain of their addictions, grief, and rejection? Because that's where Christ finds us, lives with us, dies with us, and leads us into resurrection.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Home for the Weekend

This past weekend Meghan, Anna, and I made the trip back to Johnson City. The occasion? Rich Measner asked me to be a part of his marriage ceremony to his new bride, Malinda. The weather (as most you already know) was great.

We made it to town just in time for the staff Christmas Lunch which was held in Jonesborough at the Main Street Cafe'. Below you will see two pictures of Main Street Jonesborough:President Andrew Jackson once stayed in the hotel that you see on the left side of the street. Jonesborough is known for being the oldest city in Tennessee, the home of the nation's first abolitionist newspaper, and the home for the annual International Storytelling Festival.Most of the crew was able to make it, though we were missing some. I had forgotten how good the food was at the Main Street Cafe'.David and Donna Roberts were there. David has been filling the pulpit on about half of the Sundays. Not only that, he also catches some of the minister/preaching details that fell through the cracks I left in the plan. Donna is patiently waiting for David to retire. . . and I hear she dances a wicked DDR (Dance Dance Revolution video game).The Sweet Shop is the ice cream shop across the street from Central Christian Church. CCC is where I was the youth minister from '92-'95 while I attended Emmanuel.Here is good 'ol Central Christian Church and their wayward youth minister of old.Back at Grandview, in my office, I prepared for the Measner wedding. I have no pictures of the wedding because I was busy during it. I thought it might be bad form to whip out my camera and start snapping pictures during the vows--that might be carrying the whole blogging thing a bit too far.

I awoke to this scene on Sunday morning. This is the view outside of John and Yvonne Marr's house (they were my gracious hosts this weekend). A fellow could get spoiled waking up to scenery like this.Josh was the drummer for the first service. I'm so proud of Josh . . . he's a loyal member of the Grandview Gator Club.So is his brother, Richard.
Isaac "Gentle Ben" Schade rehearses the band.Bob gives Dirk pointers on how to play guitar and smile at the same time.

Big Bob was in the Christmas spirit as well.
I was really glad to get to hear our guest preacher, Danny Johnson. Danny is the minister of Thankful Baptist Church in Johnson City. I got to know him in 1994 when we traveled together to and through the Middle East. Danny's a fantastic preacher and just an all-around fine man. My appreciation goes out to Thankful Baptist for loaning him to us for a day. In the trade, they received Dr. Norris for their pulpit . . . this fact made me wish I could be in two places at once.
Let the gathered worship begin!

The Middle School Sunday School class was almost all smiles.
I got the chance to chat with the college class, which is led by the Hoovers. I don't often get the chance to be out of the sanctuary/foyer on Sunday morning, so this was a treat.
And then I caught the last part of the second service.After church I saw the "Tony and Becca" branch of the Marr family at Fuddrucker's.

Anna, Meghan, and I had lunch with the Millers and the Baders.
This allowed Anna to have a little more time with Cassady.
Then it was back to the Marr's house to change, gather gear and go. I also got to take a nice picture of the photogenic Jocelyn. After that, we made a bee line back to Wilmore. It was great to see as many people as I did.