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.