Showing posts from August, 2008

The Bird's Nest

Today I preached in this sanctuary for the first time. The pulpit is high and I stand on a small stepstool to make sure I don’t look like a Kindergartner stuck in the limbs of a giant tree. I know that I am fairly new to the craft of preaching, but I would guess that the nerves stick around in new spaces throughout a preacher’s life.

Each time I meet a new congregation, I am humbled by the mystery that precedes me. What have they already heard? What do they need to hear again? What hurts them? What lifts them up? What wounds to they have that I could worsen with salt? Who will hear law and who will hear gospel? The view changes with each bird’s nest and layout. The sound changes depending on how far my voice is from the ceiling. The people change, needing to hear different things on different days.

My palms were sweaty as the adrenaline rushed through me before preaching. There is something in that anxiety that taunts me each time, tempting me to believe that I am truly…

The Center for Changing Lives

Park Avenue and 24th Street is bustling with construction and vision as the project nears completion.The old Lutheran Social Services (LSS) building is gone, but not the mission and community presence it has provided for the neighborhood for 50 years.I was able to explore the building on a hard-hat tour yesterday and learned more about the plans for this dream that is about to come true.
Here’s what I learned about the Center for Changing Lives:
Affordable Housing for 48 families.More than 1,000 families applied for housing here, which proves that the need is great.These units are not labeled transitional, giving the families stability and the freedom to decide how long they want to call the Center for Changing Lives home.Important Services that will assist families and members of the community to feel cared for and surrounded by support and information for their families.These services include employment, housing, counseling, financial, pregnancy, refugee, yout…

Church Mice

I am meeting the tender souls and strong hands that love this church. By church I mean the Body of Christ, living through ministries and the Word alive in our speech and action, and I also mean the building. When you have been the hands and feet of Christ together with others for so long, the house itself becomes dear and meaningful. This church is beloved by many.

One of these servants encouraged me to follow him around the building today. It is a maze of mystery and beauty that stands tall in Tangletown, hiding history behind old doors and holding children in learning and laughter each day.

You can learn a lot about a congregation by following in the footsteps of a faithful member. He taught me about light switches and back stairways, boiler rooms and classrooms. The stories flowed as we wandered and I soaked them in, hoping that someday they would feel like my own precious history. This congregation has been the Body of Christ for nearly 125 years and the building has been sta…

Holy Communion

I come from an over the top family. While we are culturally Lutheran with Nordic emotions, dinners together are usually loud and chaotic. We usually serve food by lining everything up in bowls and on platters across the counter and fill our plates in a first-come-first-serve order. Condiments pour out of the fridge and on to the table. Dozens of almost empty salad dressing bottles and types of steak sauce litter are passed from end to end after we sing grace and finish with a single, booming clap in unison. Perhaps there is some Italian blood in there we have yet to discover.

The Matriarchs in this madness are my mother and her twin sister. If you set them loose on remote beach, they will use small talk to find someone we're distantly related to before dinner. It is in this environment I've grown, knowing third and fourth cousins and reconnecting with people five times removed from me.

Last week I had dinner with the twins and somewhat distant cousins that connect me to C…

A Thin Line

I've been thinking about self-care lately. In seminary we are reminded again and again that spiritual leaders have a reputation for giving too much of themselves without replenishing, reflecting, or resting. Clergy are sometimes stereotyped as out of shape and out of touch with their own emotional and mental health.

Internship was a great opportunity to draw the line concerning "me time" before launching into the world of full-time ministry. It's difficult to set aside time to take care of yourself when there's always more to do. People pat pastors on the back when they're always available and serving, but giving in overdrive fails to set an example for parishioners fighting the temptation to work 50+ hours/week at their own jobs. (It also means there's probably a lack of lay leadership, pastoral trust, and delegation, but that's another entry!)

Technology also makes communication instantaneous, which causes people to expect more from each other.…