Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

Advent is over and the 12 Days of the Christmas Season are upon us. Special thanks go to David Roberts for preaching this Sunday. Christmas week can be hectic and it really helps to have his expertise in the pulpit (as many other attest, he's been preaching somewhere almost every Sunday lately).
This is a pic of one of the practices for the Christmas Eve service. I really enjoyed the music as we tried to blend in a little more of an Appalachian sound. I don't know how others felt about it, but I thought it was fantastic.

I need to finish the puzzle we started in Advent. If you look at it just right you see a stylized version of the nativity. Joseph stands tall behind the manger, while Mary leans toward her son. On the far right of the pic you see three figures bearing gifts. An angel stands behind Joseph. And two shepherds kneel from the left side of the picture.Another view:

We only have two services this Sunday. The Table is on furlough until next week. Bob Hall is the prayer guy for the 11am service (see prayer below). I'll pray in the 9:30 service. That prayer is after Bob's:

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
28 December 2008

He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed…. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.
Loving God, You sent us the baby Jesus, the little Christ child, so soft, so meek, so mild…the Lamb of God brought to earth as a baby. We thank You for this Advent season, the time of anticipation; it is a great tradition, and it culminates in the remembrance and celebration of this great event of God in the form of man. Thank You, Father, for the Christmas Story.
Most of us feel so good during the Christmas season. We reconnect with friends and family, we exchange gifts, we take time off from work to relax. We read beautiful scripture, listen to some of the most beautiful songs and sing some of the best carols ever written. We honor You as we honor the Christ-child. But then the Christmas season is over and Advent winds down. We put away the holiday trappings and look to a new year. We make resolutions and once again face the challenge of the gospel.
Tell us, Father, is the gospel easy or is it hard? Surely, through the blood of the lamb, You have put salvation in our grasp. You offer eternal life through Jesus Christ and we accept. Thank You for the grace that allows this simple, but meaningful exchange to occur.
Accepting You seems so easy, but living the Gospel, the gospel of the lamb led to the slaughter, the savior oppressed and afflicted for our namesake, seems so very hard; the path is sure, but it is uneven… Satan seeks to undo us at every opportunity. We often fail, but we must never give up. We fight, get beat, and strengthened by You, rise and fight again. Give us the dedication, wisdom, and endurance needed to live the life, to follow Your word, to stand up.
We can’t predict the future, Lord; we don’t know what will happen today, tomorrow or next year. What we do not doubt is Your endless love. Thank You for that love and help it engender in us the strength to commit our total lives, our complete beings, our minds, bodies, and souls to share the peace that only You can bring, to work tirelessly doing good, not for ourselves and our own recognition but to glorify You, to help others hear the good news and share in the joy known only by Your people.
Bless our enemies, Father, and let them know Your love.
In the silence, we contemplate the Christ-child, recognize Your gifts, try to fathom our responsibilities and thank You for Your constant care in good times and bad:

We remember before You those who do not find this holiday season to be a pleasant time in their lives – our brothers and sisters who are in pain, in mourning, estranged from family, separated from loved ones. Comfort them, God, and let them know the peace only You can give.
And now we pray together as Jesus taught us to pray:

Here is Aaron's prayer:

God of steadfast faithfulness, who continues to pursue, to love, and to pour out your Spirit on all flesh, accept this offering we make to you today. Our worship, our prayers, and our attendance here is a response to your grace. Your grace shines so wonderfully in the face of your Son, Jesus of Nazareth. We remember him this morning as a baby in a manger. We know he won’t stay that way. We know that we will need to grow up in our faith and our commitment, just as he modeled for us. We know that he will teach great things and inspire great sacrifice and will change the world forever.

But this morning we pause to admire the plainness and power of your plan. We admire how covert you are; how your message can be too simple for the brightest minds, too humble for the proud, too meek for the powerful, too loving for the vengeful. We admire that you included those sweet servants, Mary and Joseph. We admire that you invited the shepherds. We admire that you invite us along on this journey even though we are cracked, broken, and hurting.

Forgive us our sins, we pray. We need that forgiveness so that we can more fully participate in this project of bringing your light of righteousness and justice, grace and peace, joy and service into this world. Forgive us refusing to consider the broader implications of the message of Christmas; for forgetting that you mean to infuse all of life with your great purpose and power.

As we prepare to pack away images of the baby in the manger and store them in dark places for another year, let your message find the dark corners of our soul and take root and grow ever larger until the branches of our souls become a resting place for others.

O God, what would change in our lives if we would truly embrace the message of Jesus? We pray that you would speak to us in the silence and challenge us:


We celebrate. We rejoice. We proclaim that our God has won a great victory and that nothing is impossible for our God! Please be as present as we can stand in this service today—and enlarge our souls so that we can know you better and better.

Bless the missionaries we support. Bless all those around us who live the love of the gospel in the lives of the poor and the homeless, the rich and the powerful, and in the lives of those who suffer. Give comfort to those who grieve in this season. Give strength to the weak. Help those of us who spent too much on Christmas presents to remember the joy of simplicity and the wise stewardship of the resources you have given. Give your traveling mercies to our family members who are on their way to Pasadena. Protect those who are in harm’s way for our sake. Bless our president, the one who is leaving office and the one who is entering. Guide world leaders into the paths of righteousness, justice, and peace. And, as always, according to the example of the baby grown and hanging on a cross, bless and forgive our enemies.

We pray these things in Jesus name, even as we join our voices in the prayer he taught us:

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!

This is probably my last post before Christmas. So, Merry Christmas to my blog-family!

I took this picture this morning as I was heading into our morning prayer time. This is the upper foyer of the church and we were surrounded this morning by a grand view, indeed.
I rarely have pictures of my wife on the blog, so I wanted to include this one from Sunday night's Christmas Jazz gathering at Grandview. (thanks to Lorna for snapping the picture and sending it to me).
I also had the chance to mix with our Grandview family (again, thanks to Lorna for the pic).
The music was wonderful, as always. Garry and Carrie seem to enjoy singing as much as we enjoy listening. Joel on the keyboards is a natural jazz play and we rounded out the musicians with Jeremy (we borrowed him, but he's a not a ringer, he grew up at Grandview) and his brother Daniel. Thanks for the great music.

Not everyone wants to be on camera!

Last, but not least, this is a nice of picture of me and Anna on her birthday (this past Sunday!). She is now officially a teenager. Happy Birthday, Anna. You are a wonderful and beautiful daughter!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

Tomorrow we put the puzzle together (not that anybody is too concerned about it either way!)

This week our advent/anticipation theme will give way to full-on Christmas. Tomorrow's sermon will focus heavily on Joseph, the husband-to-be of Mary. The nature of righteousness and faith are expounded in this man's actions toward God, Mary, and Jesus.

At this point only Bob Hall has sent me his pastoral prayer for tomorrow, so I offer it to you as a way of preparation for worship. Peace!

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
21 December 2008

God of peace, You are firmly in control of our universe. You are so almighty that You need not concern Yourself with Your earthly creation, yet You trouble Yourself with the birds of the air. You are so firmly in control that You give us the freedom to turn our backs on You. You are so loving that You wait patiently for us to return to You each and every time we stray.
Forgive us.
Help us be faithful.
Help us be righteous.
Help us seek out good.
God of peace, we regularly experience problems in our walk with You. Sometimes when faced with weighty matters, we wonder what to do, just like Joseph must have done. Sometimes our problem isn’t that we don’t know what to do, but that we just don’t have the strength do it. Sometimes our problem is that we doubt You care, doubt You are involved, doubt that we matter to You…perhaps even doubt You exist.
Thank You for the gif t of doubt. Thank You also for the gift of faith because we really can’t truly have one without the other.
There are so many things, so many gods, so many ideas that we can believe in, but there is only one true God, not a distant, remote God, but THE God who so loved us that he sent his son to save us.
Help us to focus on what You would have us do. Help us seek out wisdom revealed to us through Your Holy Word. Help us seek out wisdom shared with Godly friends and family, perhaps even Godly strangers.
Give us the Faith of Joseph. Give us the strength to make the leap to faith…some call it folly while others call it a virtue…Let us call it a gift.
Bless our enemies.
In the silence, we offer our thanks, we lift up our concerns, we call You God Almighty:

We pray for those organizations in our community that address the needs of Your people. Bless Agape Women's Services, Appalachian Christian Camp, Higher Ministries, Interfaith Hospitality Network, Friends at John Sevier, the Salvation Army.
And now we pray together as Jesus taught us to pray:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Long 45 Seconds

This video shows how public speaking can go wrong. You may not have time to watch it (it's almost five minutes long), but I'll briefly comment it. The wife of Gator nemesis, and FSU football coach, Bobby Bowden was asked to present her husband with an award.

From the video she appears to be a lovely lady and faithful wife. You can also tell, from Bobby Bowden's reaction shots, that he is worried for her. It's kind of hard to watch at times. She is not practiced at public speaking and gets lost in her notes a bit (a lot).

I put it on the blog because I have felt exactly the way she feels up there. It's that moment when I realize, "Oh no ... this isn't going to work the way I had hoped." Sometimes I have dreams where I get into a spot like that and there is simply no pulling out.

I have never felt like giving Bobby Bowden a hug and telling him everything is okay ... until watching this.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

I was sent this interesting little video. I offer it to you without comment, except that it really can be awkward to visit a church the first time. This video captures that experience remarkably well:

On to the service for tomorrow ....Tomorrow is the third week of Advent. The sermon title is "The Anticipation of Lions". I have been looking at King Herod a good bit this week and his reaction to the news that a new "King of the Jews" might have arrived in Palestine. The Magi were a harbinger of good news gone bad (in Herod's hands).

The pastoral prayer returns this week, thanks to Bob Hall. He has generously allowed me to preview his 11am prayer and what I received freely I pass on to you.

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
14 December 2008

Loving God, we come before You full of anticipation…anticipation of this child, who has been born the King of the Jews. We are full of anticipation for the prince of peace whose star the wise men observed at its rising. We are full of anticipation for the Son of Man whose incarnation did not involve the subtraction of deity, but the addition of humanity. We are filled with joy as we prepare for the coming of the Christ-child, the child to whom the wise men presented their gifts.

But what can we offer You, dear God….what could we have that You would want? We obey Your Word and offer You our love, our adoration, our obedience, our service to Your people, to the least of these.

We come before You Lord, with anticipation of better lives…better lives rooted in the Good News…better lives directed toward others and not ourselves…better lives focused on the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We love You, Father.

We look ahead with anticipation to the arrival of the Baby Jesus, the little holy one, so meek and mild, so perfect in his plain settings….God incarnate, yet fully human. We adore You, Father.

We brighten up in anticipation of Your blessings, blessings not of worldly riches, but spiritual gifts…wisdom, discernment, empathy, love. We honor You, Father.

We anticipate the 2nd coming, our reuniting with You in perfection known only because of Your grace. We long to hear You breathe the words “well done, good and faithful servant”; we relish the thought of Your delighting in us and with us. We lay our lives down before You, Father.

Use us.

Use us to bless our enemies…to remove the barriers that keep them from knowing You, from experiencing Your grace.

And now, in the silence, our prayers turn to a multitude of different thoughts from sadness to joy, from conflict to peace, from trouble to calm:

We pray Your blessings on our missionaries, Your emissaries in foreign lands. Bless the Coleys, the Freelands, the Headens, the Hillmans, the Nyadors, the Veals, and the Orths. Refresh the McDades in their time with us. We also remember before You the Jacksons and the Colemans as You prepare then to follow Your call.

And now we pray together as Jesus taught us to pray:

Monday, December 08, 2008

This and That

The advent "Ancticipation" series continues. I've kind of liked these sermons. The first Sunday's sermon was "The Anticipation of Heaven," and was an attempt to look at the unfolding plan of God through the eyes of angels. Yesterday's sermon was "The Anticipation of Outsiders," and was an attempt to look at the unfolding plan of God through the eyes of people who were considered marginal by their society (Mary and the shepherds).

I also like the "blocks of wood" puzzle that will come together through out the season. The idea is to create at least a little anticipation as we await the true start of the Christmas season.If it's obvious to you what that puzzle will become, please keep it to yourself!
(Thanks to Peggy Root for the idea and to Roger Allman for making the "puzzle").

If you click on the picture below (don't bother) you will see that Bojangles Chicken is advertising gift cards for Christmas on their marque. Finally! One stop Christmas shopping. If you're on my Christmas list, get ready for a TASTY day after Christmas!

OK, so my iPhone doesn't have zoom, but if you enlarge this picture you will see the buck that's been hanging out in my back yard. Pretty cool. The top left corner of the yellow "Topper" sign points to it.

The girls discovered the joy of the Victrola this year while we decorated the Christmas tree. It was fun to listen to recordings that were over 100 years old.
OK, that' s it for now. Back to work!

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Now to the funeral I did in Indiana earlier this week...

I knew Joe because he came to work for my dad right out of high school. When Joe graduated from Ben Davis HS he was done with school forever. I don't know if he ever thought about going back, but I suspect he would have considered it a waste of time.

If Joe wanted to do something he just figured out how to do it. He was really smart in the areas that interested him. Mechanically, he figured out how to make things work.

I remember one of the jobs we worked on (for blog purposes we'll call it the DogBag Company). DogBag bought a steel tower of some kind (radio tower maybe?) to be disassembled, moved, and reassembled at DogBag, Inc. DogBag sent one of their engineers to watch the disassembling process and to mark all of the pieces in order to get it back together properly in its new place.

The engineer came up to Joe as the tower was being reconstructed and said, full of smiles and tentative hope, "You'll cover me on this right?" He meant, "I have no idea how this thing goes back together. Can you keep me from getting fired?" Joe protested in a way that meant "yes, I'll take care of it" (construction language doesn't work the same as minister language, and I'm not just talking about vulgarities).

In what was to be my last week of working in the field for Wymer Construction (the last week of summer before my senior year in college), we made it memorable. We were adding onto a church building in Mooresville, Indiana. The building was to expand in every direction. On the first day of pouring concrete we added slabs along two entire sides. That was the first "L". On the next day we poured the concrete to complete the square around the building. But disaster ensued. A heavy rain came after we had poured the second slab. Tension was high. If a long rain hits before a slab is set it can ruin everything. We sat inside the building watching the rain come down.

"Ok, guys," came Joe's words of instruction, "might as well get an early lunch, 'cause once this rain stops we're gonna be busy."

We made a break for the trucks. I ran through the rain as fast as I could, with my eyes almost closed and my shoulders hunched. I ran across the hardened pour from yesterday. Then, as I ran, I felt something different beneath my feet and I heard Joe and my Dad and my Uncle Phil yelling, "HEY, HEY, HEY, HEY!!!!!" (their voices were sharp, filled with complete indignation and scorn).

I stopped. I looked down. My feet were sunk in the fresh pour, making a very bad situation even worse. In my hurry I had misjudged where yesterday's slab stopped and today's slab started. The horror of that moment! I could only console myself with the thought that nobody at the University of Florida would know about this.

On a job site, though, everybody does something bone-headed sooner or later. That same week Joe had his own special moment. He had rigged a safety handle on the trial machine (it's like a big gas powered fan blade that smooths concrete ... it has a long handle that the operator holds with both hands). As he worked the slab he bumped a floor bolt and lost control of the handle. Because he had rigged the safety, though, it didn't shut down. The handle start spinning like the Tazmanian Devil on the old cartoons. The thing was unstoppable. It boogered the concrete floor as it waddled and spun it's way off the slab and into the surrounding yard. Someone had the bright idea to lasso it with a garden hose. The handle just ripped the garden hose apart. Someone tried holding a 2x4 at an angle but it splintered the board and knocked it out of his hands.

Suddenly my feet in the concrete faded from the foreground of gaffs. Phew!

As a supervisor Joe could get under your skin. That made him like all of my other supervisors when I was growing up. They yelled a lot: Joe, my dad, my uncle, and Scott (Scott's yelling was a little different because there was an ironic twist to his yelling and it somehow ended with a laugh). Tony was the only supervisor that didn't yell at me (thanks, Tony!).

Joe's yelling wasn't personal. It was always focused on getting the job done. It was interesting to me that when he would--off the job-- help me with something, the dynamic was completely different. The same guy who would yell and fuss on the job would come over to my house and help me with a monumental task (for free, on his day off) and never utter a harsh word. He would just smile, laugh, and lead the way. Work was work. Helping a friend was a different matter completely.

I have a great picture of him somewhere. I'll post when I get the chance.

Joe, you will be missed.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

One Thanksgiving and a Funeral

Thanksgiving week has come and gone. It was a disjointed holiday at our house. Cindy remained in JC with her grandfather while the rest of us went to Indy for the big family gathering. My sister (who I hadn't seen in over two years) and her family flew in from ALBQ, NM and we all gathered at my brother's house.

The family time was tremendous. You can see the gathering of cousins here. They all seemed to have a good time. I didn't take pictures, instead I stole these from my sister's facebook page.
Here you see my Dad, Wendy (his wife), and all of the cousins gathered in one spot. The only person missing last week was Cindy.

Here I am with my big sis. She was a senior in high school when I was a freshman (my brother, Eric, was a sophomore that year). Georgia and I looked more alike. One of her friends knew Eric, but didn't know me. One day that friend approached Georgia and said, "There is a freshman who looks just like you." "I know," Georgia said, "that's my brother." "No," the friend replied, "I know your brother and it isn't him."

In order to avoid anymore confusion I shaved my head and grew facial hair.In the midst of all the Thanksgiving celebration, though, we lost a family friend. He was in ICU when I arrived in Indy. He died later that night. He's worthy of his own post, but I'll need to give it more time than I can right now. After getting back to JC on Friday night, I spent Saturday preparing for Sunday and for the funeral that I would drive back to Indiana to lead.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Enough, Already. Tomorrow's Offering

Tomorrow is the end of the "Enough" series. The sermon is almost ready ... in an ironic twist, I haven't had enough time to get it done this week. I have found, though, that when time is short the sermon still comes together. This phenomenon is odd enough that it makes me suspect I unintentionally drag the process during normal weeks. The only thing that keeps me from accepting that thought is that sometimes I get the sermon wrapped up earlier in the week only to get surprised with a funeral or something later in the week. I'll just call getting any sermon done a gift of grace and go from there.

Tomorrow's sermon opens with another trip down memory lane. I'm getting more sentimental as I get older--or maybe there are just more people to miss. I'll plan to mention some encounters I had with Dr. Bob Fife back when he was still with us. What a fine man he was.

He and Cookie Helsabeck had a club called the "Humility Club." They were too proud to let anybody else join it. Since Cookie wouldn't let me into the club after Dr. Fife died I used to tell her that once she was gone I was going to start one without her. She told me--emphatically--that I wasn't allowed do that.

On the personal news front, the Wymers have a new member of the family in the house. Arriving earlier tonight was Ray, Cindy's grandfather from New Jersey. He seems to be doing well and we're looking forward to having him living with us. I was able to get his room ready, mostly, before he arrived. I had to remove some cabinets, get a hospital style bed, do a little priming (it needs paint now), rearrange the basement, etc, etc....

We're glad the girls get to have their great grandfather around. He's always been very gracious to us. If you see him at church tomorrow, please welcome him to Tennessee!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Last Two4Two for 2008

This is it. Fall 08 Two 4 Two is a wrap. It was the best Two 4 Two to date. Special thanks to Sam for putting the slideshows together, Matt for the videos, the youth for being leaders, the adults/parents who volunteered their time, Dana and Ryan for leading, and (of course) our honorary Dinner Deans/Rendezvous hosts, the McDades.
Thanks to the kitchen crew for their weekly work and devotion.Enjoy the scenes from the night. I'll label the pictures with first names:
Bethany plays carpet ball with intensity.

Cassady and Meghan (they look like they could be sisters)

Anna enjoying the craft time.

Left to right: Drew, Jordhan, Jared.

Norrah, Kavita, and Emily.



Sam's slideshow, the one that we didn't get to watch (Sorry, Sam!). The computer crashed just as I started it up. I tested the dang thing three times during the day and it was fine. Then, under pressure, the computer folded like a cheap lawn chair.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

I didn't get any electronic copies of last week's prayer and I don't have any for tomorrow yet. Sorry. It's just harder to coordinate these sorts of things these days. Blog ranks lower than other things!

However, I will write briefly about tomorrow's sermon. I will be preaching on the story of Ruth and Boaz; more specifically on Boaz' practice of leaving grain for gleaning in his fields. I noticed something in the story this week that I've never noticed, so that's exciting. Sermon prep is always more fun when things surprise me.

The goal of the sermon will be for people to consider arranging their lives with margins in them, with time for building up others in fellowship for the sake of the kingdom of God.

I was glad to find Hoy Taylor standing beside me while I was preparing the sermon (metaphorically speaking, of course). Hoy was a friend of my dad's who lived on our street. He was Camel smoking, denim wearing, coffee drinking, metal welding, "Son of a Buck" (as he used to say). He was a quite a character and I look forward to remembering him in the sermon tomorrow.

We are getting ready for the advent season at Grandview. You will begin seeing the below picture. Ever since Matt Buckner gave me his old copy of Photoshop and taught me how to use it I have discovered my true calling. I love working on these little pictures!

For the four weeks leading up to Christmas we will focus on anticipation: the anticipation of heaven, of the poor, of the wealthy, and of Mary and Joseph as they awaited the flowering of the story of salvation in Jesus of Nazareth.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Original King

I don't know if you've ever seen the Steve Harvey Show or the Original Kings of Comedy Tour (it's better on television than on rental), but Steve Harvey has reconnected with his Christian roots. This is actually a pretty powerful little video clip:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Two 4 Two: Only One More Week After This

The Bader Ballet Girls led us in worship last night. Their dance was beautifully done. Meaningful. Sweet. They were wonderful.This is one of the things we want to accomplish with Two 4 Two. I wish I had a video for you. Alas, I do not.
Jared at Rendezvous

Dylan and Carter cheese with Erin.
Fillipe andMax at Rendezvous.

Sam made a video, but for some reason I haven't been able to get it to load. Maybe I will try again later.

Only one more Two4Two. It's been a really good 10 weeks and I'm taking suggestions for themes for the Spring Session (sign up now!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Midweek Blog Fodder

I saw this sign in the bathroom of a nursing home when I visiting the good residents. If you read it closely you find the flaw. I'm sorry it isn't a clearer picture.
Also, the sign maker at the local Kroger apparently doesn't pay attention to how gross some common words sound when paired together.

"Excuse me, sir, but do you serve Chicken Blowout Cacciatore?"

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Two 4 Two

Just for you, Laroc, here is the next installment of the blog. Fortunately we have the weekly Two 4 Two post to push the Georgia Fan off the top of the blog.

Last night's Two 4 Two went well and had a brief cameo appearance by Dr. Joe (thanks, Matt, for bringing him back for a night).

Here is Erin, sharing about forgiveness.

Here is youth minister extraordinaire, Ryan, taking a moment to cheese for the camera.
The table families were supposed to dress alike this week. The Tom and Willy took care of their table by making wreaths. Their table looked great.

The creator of the slide show, Sam V, doubles as a table parent and youth sponsor and ... and ... and it's folks like Sam who make Grandview's ministry to youth what it is.
And here is Sam's slide show for week. Another excellent job.

Monday, November 03, 2008

They Put The "UG" in Ugly.

I haven't mentioned football in a few weeks. After the University of Georgia's in-your-face celebration in last year's game I wanted the Gators to win like never before.

The Gators rose to the occasion. It was fun to watch. In honor of the 59*-10 beating, I will post this picture. I'm sorry in advance for the damage this picture does to your soul.
*That should be 49 ... by next Saturday it will 109 in my mind. Sorry about the fact-error!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

I hope you had a good week. Tomorrow Nathan McDade will be preaching, continuing the "Enough" theme from this past Sunday. This will be the first Sunday I've stepped out of the pulpit since we went to three services. I'm confident everybody has their jobs covered. Tomorrow's prayer people are Bill Greer (9:30), Bob Hall (11am), and Theresa Garbe (Table). Thanks!

Here is Bob Hall's prayer. Hope to see you tomorrow (don't forget the time change!):

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
2 November 2008

We come before You, Father, praising Your name and worshipping You with all our hearts. We love You, Lord. You are our rock, You are our redeemer, You are our Father, Mother, Creator. Regardless of how we act, regardless of what we say, regardless of how inadequate our efforts, You never forsake us. When our lives are good, You are present, when our lives are bad, You are there. You are our God and we are Your people.
We know all good things come from You. We know You will always provide. We know that. Still, we want so badly to feel in control of our lives and our world. When we see a problem, when we see an issue, we have to fix it…right away. We don’t trust You.
Time; we don’t have enough. We want more. We cram as many things into it as we can. One more thing, we just have one more thing to do. There’s so much to do. We fill our days, we labor…hard. Labor is good, but labor that betrays a lack of trust in Your ability to provide is simply a waste of time.
Give us the wisdom of balance. Assist us as we strive to be obedient to You, to trust in Your awesome power.
Help us make time, O Lord, time for You. Time for the things You love. Time for raising up our Christian families, time for serving the poor and downtrodden, time for prayer.
We are here today and gone tomorrow, but Your kingdom defies time…Your kingdom lasts forever.
Help us take time with our enemies. Bless them, Father and help us turn them into friends.
In the silence, Lord, hear our prayers of thanksgiving for the faithful in our past, those who have positively shaped our lives:

We pray for those who dedicate themselves to others. We ask Your blessings on emergency responders, home healthcare givers, medical professionals, educators. Bless our missionaries and those who serve in the military. Bless all those who put others first, especially in Your name.
And now we pray together as Jesus taught us to pray:

Friday, October 31, 2008

Two 4 Two

Haven't been in a blogging mood lately.
Two 4 Two rolls along. Here is last week's slideshow. Sam did an excellent job, don't you think?

Autumn has been beautiful.
When I drive through tunnels of brightly colored leaves
back lit by the sun's weakening hold on humidity and heat
I wish I could keep the visual
I cannot
Behind the beauty I see
wintry skeletons stripped bare and turned brown
and waiting ... waiting... waiting so long ... for Spring to redress

Thursday, October 23, 2008

This week's Two 4 Two Video

Sam took the week off. So this one is from me. Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Schades of Glory

Well, as a mid-week bonus for those of you who take the time to check on this blog, I offer you this video of our one, and only, Isaac Schade. He continues to travel with the ministry/worship group "Believe."

We continue to pray that he will come back to school. As the video suggests, it may be too late. Please, people, get on your knees. Help our poor Isaac. I've always considered N'Synch a slippery slope. I'm afraid that next week he'll be wearing a raspberry beret' and singing about purple rain.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tomorrow's Offering

Tomorrow is Commitment Sunday and I will be preaching from Philippians. It will be a busy day for a couple of reasons. Morning services, the funeral for Earl Stuckenbruck in the afternoon, followed by the church picnic.

I have two of tomorrow's pastoral prayers and will post them both (as per requests). I hope to see you tomorrow:

Prayers of the Church for Grandview
19 October 2008

9:30 Service: Bill Greer

Our most gracious and loving God,

We come again into your presence, bringing with us our weaknesses and our imperfections. Yet you welcome us with open arms. For your abundant grace and endless love we are grateful and so we worship you today with joy and thanksgiving.

We continue to thank you for the blessings of life – so many of which we too often take for granted. For the breathtaking colors of this season, for the rich blessings of family and friends, and for the belonging and purpose that we find at Grandview, we thank you. We are grateful, too, that we have the amazing privilege and awesome responsibility of serving you. We pray that our efforts, small though they may be relative to the needs of the world, in some way serve to honor you.

Father, we thank you for the healing of mind, body, and spirit that you unceasingly provide. We stand amazed at your power. We bring our prayers to you this day for those in need of healing and for those in need of your presence in their lives. Help us to be your hands and feet as we seek ways to serve those around us who are in need of you and your grace. May our service and our love extend to those who are different from us, including our enemies.

In the silence, we lift up the names of those who are in special need of your grace:


Lord, you have blessed us with an abundance that we often fail to appreciate or comprehend. Help us to recognize the responsibility that each of us have to be good stewards of those things which you have given us. May we seek ways to use our talents and our time to honor you in all things and in all facets of our lives.

May we also seek ways to use our treasure for purposes that bring glory to you. By giving financially to Grandview, we are able, by your grace, to support a remarkable ministerial staff and gather together inside a comfortable building. But we’re also supporting other ministries beyond our walls, some who are scattered throughout this city and some who are scattered across the globe. We pray for the many ministries we support. And we pray for the work of other congregations in Johnson City, throughout the United States, and around the world, that collectively we might carry out the great commission of spreading the gospel to all people far better than any of us could do alone.

And so, we ask for your guidance and your blessing as we commit our resources to your work. May our collective financial support be sufficient to enable our ministry to grow without bounds.

Together, we join our voices together asking that your will be done, as Jesus asked of you when he taught us to pray, saying:

Our Father, who art in heaven…

11am Service: Bob Hall (the younger)

God of peace, you shower your blessings down on us. You are all mighty, all powerful, all knowing, all seeing. You know our minds, You know our hearts, yet You love us anyway.
You are our God and we praise Your name.
Lord, we come before you, all prisoners of one sort or another. Alone we cannot break free of our bonds, of our shackles, of our desires, of our sin. In good times and bad, seasons of plenty and shades of want, our only proper place for trust lies in You. Through the presence of Your Spirit, through the majesty of the Christ, You make us strong. And the strength You give us, in Jesus name, allows us to do all things.
Father, true contentment is not a human achievement. It is a divine gift. Bless us with us with this most cherished of gifts…contentment without complacency; contentment knowing we are doing Your will brought about in serving You by serving Your kingdom, serving others, giving sacrificially of ourselves. Help us be content with what we have and what we don’t have. Help us live true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing and commendable lives. Allow Your contentment to free us from earthly shackles of greed and hubris, of selfish desire. Liberate us to give with abandon, a level of contentment only found from being a member of your family. Engender in us a sense of joy, that we need to give so much that we look for every opportunity to do so, knowing it is pleasing to you and nourishes the soul, mind, body.
Bless our enemies, Father. Give us the grace to give them our blessings, too.
We raise up to Your our brother in Jesus Christ, Earl Stuckenbruck. A more utterly decent, humble loving servant, full of Christ-like grace never walked this earth. Gather him up in your arms and give him his rest.
And now in the silence, Father, hear our prayers…of want, of plenty, of emptiness, of joy:

Bless your Church, Holy God. Bless it with Christian servants around the world...from mountains of China to the deserts of Iraq to the shores of Africa to the rain forests of South America to the streets of Europe and here at home. Bless the churches in East Tennessee. And Bless Grandview Christian Church. We are Your children and You are our God.
And now we pray together as Jesus taught us to pray:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debt as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Two 4 Two

I have neglected to post last week's slide show! Here it is. Thanks, Sam, for putting it together.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Art of Worshiping God

My highest goal in worship planning is that our worship at Grandview proclaim God's greatness ... while reflecting our gifts from God. This goal can be difficult road to travel, causing disappointment on many sides. Some folks prefer worship to reflect the gifts and tastes of previous generations, without taking our own gifts into account. Other folks prefer the "new" church, which winds up being a somewhat generic, church-in-a-box, nothing-but-beat, just-do-what-the-cool-church-does model that ignores as much of the past as possible.

Lost in the discussion, from my standpoint anyway, is that worship is an offering of ourselves. Ourselves. Not just yourself. Not just myself. Not just the selves of those who have come before, though we walk on their shoulders (not stand, not sit).

My goal is to avoid cookie-cutter worship, be it ancient or post-modern. Those categories aren't theologically wrong, especially if we're doing our best. I want to avoid cookie-cutter worship because it is like ordering gift cake from a catalog. It may be a very good cake, but if you have the talent to bake one for your friends or family then homemade is a greater gift.

All of that is backdrop for why I'm excited about Tom Root's pending contribution to Grandview's worship. Benefactors (thanks, benefactors!) at Grandview have given money to begin a series of paintings to be placed in the Grandview Room during worship services there. The series hasn't been named yet, but will focus on the church being the church. I'm hoping for a minimum of three paintings, but I'd prefer five (it will all depend on money and gifts, of course).

When we began discussing the paintings I told Tom that I wanted them to reflect Appalachia, Grandview, and his gifts as an artist. I didn't want him simply to reproduce another artist's work. I wanted it to be uniquely "us."

I love where he has begun taking the project. He decided he wanted to draw from the well of the 19th century French artist, Puvis de Chavannes. 19th Century France and Appalachia. That's art moving forward without forgetting the past. That's fusion, baby!

The first painting (the only one we have the money for at this time) is an experience of prayer. Below is an early sketch of the direction Tom is heading. When I saw this I immediately thought of Jesus in agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. For me, any way, the woman praying suggests the church taking its place alongside Jesus in that role (if you click on the picture it should get bigger).
The following sketch (and I'm not sure sketch is the right word) is Tom's preliminary work on baptism; a work that recalls crossing the Jordan as well as the Red Sea. The figures on our right are burdened travelers, preparing to cross the river. Other figures are in the light and the water both.
The sketch on worship reflects the ancient practice of singing and making music before the Lord, but with instruments that suggest Appalachia.
I like this art because it is good and because it comes from "us." That's why I like our communion table, designed for this space by our own Garry Smith, crafted by our own Roger Allman. It captures the lines of the sanctuary and it suggests (for me, any way) the manger.
Garry and Roger are responsible for the pulpit and lecturn as well.
Not everybody notices or appreciates such things, least of all visitors. We walk a fine line there. Our worship isn't for the visitors, it's for God. Hopefully we can get people to worship with us long enough to focus on God, not our worship style. Often they don't.

Betty Taber designed and crafted the stained glass windows in the sanctuary.
It's hard for me to imagine our worship space without these touches of "love offerings".
Betty didn't just do windows all by herself. She also led (and is leading) the youth in crafting stained glass windows for the youth area. She is sharing her gifts with God and with others. Below is one of the stained glass windows the youth made under her direction.
Use your gifts for God today. If you can create beautiful things, do that. It's one of the highest functions of being human ... and of worshiping God.