Thursday, March 31, 2005

Another Night of Connection Over

Another day of Connection is almost complete. I am dddddrrrained. Our evening service tonight was great. Dayton Edmonds spoke and he did a fabulous job. Of course the worship space looked terrific (why wouldn't it since the worship team, myself included, are complete worship geeks).

Gavin has done a terrific job with the WORSHIP FEAST ROOM, which is an interactive contemplative prayer room.

Stephen Lee is our music leader for the week and he is amazing, too. He has written songs for the Youth Ministry Spirituality Project.

Like I posted earlier, this morning we dealt with the theme of "Beloved", picking up on the baptism of Jesus story.

This evening our theme was "What do these stones mean?" Dayton Edmonds, a native american pastor, talked about the need for us to pass the stories of our faith on to youth- "my story, your story, God's story, Creation's story = OUR STORY. It was wonderful.

I'll share some more tonight.


CONNECTION '05: Going Great!!

It's day two of Connection '05, a United Methodist Conference for youth pastors. This year, it's being held in grand ole' Nashvegas, TN at West End UMC. I'm having a terrific time. It's been great seeing old friends and meeting new ones.

The thing that I'm enjoying the most is worship- morning and evening. Maybe its because have been working on the core team to plan the worship gatherings. Our team has been soooo creative and have worked really hard over the last several months.

Last night we kicked things off with a semi-traditional African American Service (pics coming soon). Today I led the group in morning prayer and Rev. Michael E. Williams talked about being "Beloved" and we closed with a re-affirmation of baptism.

Tonight's worship is being led by Dayton Edmonds, a native american pastor from the Washington area. I'm really looking forward to it. Our worship team is having a blast setting up the worship areas. I'll share pics as soon as I get them.


Thursday, March 24, 2005

Thoughts on War From a Methodist

This is the first of hopefully a few rambling on war as it relates to the world and the Church. What has sparked this rambling? Maybe it's the fact that we have entered into year 3 of the War with Iraq/The War on Terrorism, maybe it's the fact that I consider myself an adherent to Non-Violence but wonder how one can adhere to that way of life and live in the 21st century, maybe it's that I led a Prayers for Peace Candlelight Vigil on Sunday evening and the Tennessan (our local newspaper) quoted it as a Protest Event (that bothers me but I'm not sure why). All this is moving around in my head right now. So I'll write about these issues a little at a time and hopefully through process- both mine along with your contributing thoughts we might come to some "idea" of how the Church ought to respond to violence and war.

"We deplore war and urge the peaceful settlement of all disputes among nations. From the beginning, the Christian conscience has struggled with the harsh realities of violence and war, for these evils clearly frustrate God's loving purposes for humankind." -The United Methodist Social Principles

My tradition does say that we deplore war and urge the peaceful settlement of all disputes among nations. I agree with this statement. And I believe that war is wrong and immoral. I also know that I have Christian friends, methodist in fact, who also deplore war and urge the peaceful settlement of all disputes among nations- BUT they also think that war is inevitable and sometimes the only way to settle world conflicts and injustice.

So the question I am dealing with- what makes my IDEA that war is incompatible under any circumstance with Christianity valid?

Ok, many will disagree with me on this because I know that this will not fit the conservative or liberal side of politics northe conservative/liberal church agenda either.

I believe first and foremost that the role of the Church is: to BE the Church. For me, this means that we are to be THE COMMUNITY that lives out "God's loving purposes for humankind." We are to be that body of people who incarnate God's hopes for all creation. Does this mean that war happens? Yes, because the world doesn't understand what it means to live under "God's rule". The world takes matters into it's own hands, but the Church can live a different way- with hope that God will work things out in God's way.

I know there are some folks who believe that involvement in war for a "good cause" is one way God works things out- that those troops fighting for a good cause are instruments of God's justice in the world. I think that is a very naive way of viewing God and war- it's a Crusader/Constintinian mentality. War is between nations; it's never really good versus evil; there are always multiple motives behind war. Let's be realistic.

But if the Church concerns itself with BEING the Church, then our role in the world is simply to be an example of how one can get along with others in the midst of conflict (wow, did you hear that Liberal and Conservative Methodist Friends?). Also, if the Church concerns itself with BEING the Church and we as Christians are trying to live out God's "telos"/purpose/end for the world where peace is part of the framework, then it might just mean that Christians might want to question whether or not military service is moral.

These are my thoughts for now. More to come.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Prayers For Peace Vigil Very Peaceful Indeed

Well, the Prayers for Peace Candlelight Vigil went really well. In fact, we had a really nice turnout, a diverse group of folks from the neighborhood, church community, youth and adults.

Apparently word got out about the gathering because a few people who had been at a protest to bring our troops home from iraq, came directly from there to the vigil. The vigil also got a little attention in the Sunday morning Tennessean Newspaper .
The gathering was contemplative in nature, with very simple chant songs, prayers read by youth, myself- sporting my brown monastic style alb- read from the prophet Micah lectio style, periods of silence, prayer stations, and the ending with "Give Peace", a beautiful song from the Taize' tradition.

To see more photos from the vigil click here.

I'll have more to say on Christianity, culture and violence in days to come. As I approach next week, I'm getting really busy so I won't be able to blog as much.

But for now, as we go to Golgotha tomorrow, and wait in silence for Resurrection...

"Give peace to every heart, give peace to every heart
Give peace; Lord, give peace Lord."

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Candlelight Vigil For Peace

We are coming upon the two year anniversay of the US/Iraqi War. Since March 19, 2003, more than 1,400 U.S. soldiers have been killed, as well as tens of thousands of Iraqis.

This Sunday night, March 20, I and my youth group will be hosting a Candlelight Prayer Vigil for Peace, (in the tradition of Taize') at Blakemore United Methodist Church. It will start at 6:30pm.

We'd love for anyone in the area to come and share in this prayer for our leaders, troops, victims, enemies, and world- prayer through chant, artistic prayer expression, and silence.

for directions, call 615-297-6519

Monday, March 14, 2005


A brother came to see a certain hermit and, as he was leaving, he said,"Forgive me abba for preventing you from keeping your rule." The hermit replied, "My rule is to welcome you with hospitality and to send you away inpeace."

As I’ve grown older in my youth ministry I’ve shifted some of my thoughts about why I do what I do. Providing young people a place where they are accepted and can feel a sense of “holy rest” in the presence of loving adults and other young people seems to be a strong motivation. In this fast paced, over-committed society we all need places of “Holy Rest”- a place to simply sit in the presence of God.
I recently spent an entire day with 17 of my church’s 6th grade confirmation class. One of the exercises was to sit in silence listening for God’s voice, and to listen for God’s words to each of us through reading scripture meditatively. It was amazing when this rambunctious group settled in and became very receptive to God’s quiet spirit. Many came to me later and said the experience was cool and really peaceful. My rule was to welcome them with hospitality and send them away with a word from God and in peace.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

STANLEY J. GRENZ 1950-2005

I was helping with our confirmation class all day today, but Gavin called me to let me know that Stanley passed away today. I am really saddened by this, even more than I thought I'd be. His books- especially Beyond Foundationalism has had a real impact on my theology, and last year when he spoke at Emergent I had the luxury of picking him at the airport and act as his Nashville contact and friend.

Gavin and I treated him to local food, talked theology, family and life. In those few days I really got to know someone that I look up to. I'm sad he's gone and my prayers are with his family.


Friday, March 11, 2005


So yesterday I went to Cokesbury bookstore looking for Small Group Leadership as Spiritual Direction by Heather Webb, which I bought. When I walked in I saw my good friend Eric Coomer standing in line with a book.

I went up to him and he had MY BOOK!! I didn't think it was supposed to be out for another month, but apparently it's in stores early. So apparently Eric may be the FIRST PERSON to buy the book. THANKS ERIC!!!! I hope its both helpful prayerful.

Wow I should give you some kind of prize. I could give you my 3 year old son to entertain you for a day. You can start the morning playing with Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles. Then it's Dora the Explorer Chicken Noodle Soup for lunch. After lunch you can cuddle up and nap together (he always naps at 1pm), then it's playtime with his star wars action figures. After that I'm sure he'd love to sit and watch Blues Clues or Code Name Kids Next Door. Just let me know.

So, I'm really excited to see the book in a bookstore and I hope it does well.

shalom all,

I AM (DR.) EVIL :)

So it seems that I indeed have the mark of the beast. I now understand why I people say I'm eeveel.

Are you evil? Check this out and see.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Wow, I'm stressed

Wow, this has been a super duper crazy hectic week. Sorry I haven't posted lately. Connection is taking up too much time, there's extra studying that I'm fitting in for no apparent reason except that I'm a real dork like that, youth group stuff, family, blah blah blah.

Keep me prayers for this week to come to an end.

"Gracious God, lay your hands upon me this day."


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Welcoming the "Stranger"

In benedictine thought- a monk is to view his brother as none other than Christ. In this way of thought the monks treat one another in total love and service. But the monks don't stop there. Any stranger that comes into their midst is to also be treated as Christ. Wow, how different our lives would be if we viewed others with that kind of radical "hospitality".

Ruban Garcia is someone who shows that kind of hospitality. He's the director of Annunciation House in El Paso , a ministry and home for illigal immigrants who come from Mexico to the U.S. to find work.

According to Garcia "As we reflected on scripture," he recalls, "we realized that the God we believe in is one who first and foremost identifies with people who are oppressed, people who are enslaved, the stranger in our midst, the poor. We realized what we needed to do was place ourselves among the poor in our own area."

Annunication House in a sense is a missional/emergent church- reaching out to people whom God has called beloved but will have a difficult time finding a community of acceptance in the U.S. Annunciation House also opperates within the benedictine tradition of a community who all share in responsibility. Staffer Megan Hope says,

"You don't know from one day to the next if you'll be helping somebody get medical assistance or get hooked up with a lawyer, or if you'll be running some errand, or talking to the Mexican consulate, or unclogging a toilet."

I'm not writing this to stir up a political debate but to point out in a real way the radical nature of the Christian Practice of Hospitality.

I think Ruban Garcia sums it up nicely:

"Like our guests, all of us are on our own solitary journeys, with moments of doubt and loneliness and isolation and frustration, and with an incredible need for faith and hope."


"For God there is no such thing as an illegal human being."

So is there anyone who, when coming into our midst, is "out of bounds" when it comes to grace?

So is there anyone who, when coming into our midst, is not the face of Christ staring at us wondering how we'll respond?

Read about Annunciation House in Sojourner Magazine by clicking here

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


We Wesleyans love the phrase- "how is it with your soul?". In his article, "How is it with your soul" Keith Matthews writes about the Renovare community started by Quaker author Richard Foster. For those of us in the Wesleyan tradition, where living out our faith is done through participating in specific Christian practices (Wesley called this the Means Of Grace), Renovare is a great resource for the emerging methodist church.

In his article, Matthews states, "Perpetual spiritual infancy does not please God nor does it honor Christ," says Richard Foster, founder of the spiritual formation movement Renovaré. "The fact is," continues theologian and Renovaré team member Dallas Willard, "our existing churches and denominations do not have active, well-designed, intently pursued plans to accomplish discipleship in their members..." to read the rest of the article click here