Called to Include

The smell of Central American coffee was rich in the air.  The roar of the blenders making smoothies filled the small coffee shop.  High school students were slowly gathering in for their Thursday night ritual of coffee, cookies, smoothies, and Jesus.  Andrew had been working as the youth minister at a small mainline Protestant church for a number of years.  This small group of high school students had just started meeting at a local coffee shop recently.  The owners of the shop had graciously allowed Andrew’s students to meet in the back of the coffee shop where sofas had been set up.

The high school students were scattered on the sofas, some were on the floor, and others had pulled chairs over.  Then, Mike walked in.  Mike was a freshman in high school.  Middle school had not been good to him.  He had been picked on, teased, bullied, beat up, face stuffed in lockers.  You name it, it most likely happened to Mike.  Mike was a tall and skinny guy, but he walked slummed over as if an old man beaten down by age.  He found a space on one of the sofas, and slouched down into the sofa with his long legs extending higher into the air than his head.

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Jesus Said: Follow Me

“Jesus called out to them, ‘Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people'” (Matthew 4:19).

Jesus SaidRemember playing the game “Follow the Leader” when you were a kid? I used to work in an after school children’s ministry setting. At the end of the day, before the parents had arrive and when there just was not enough time to do another activity, we would play Follow the Leader.

I would be the leader to start off, and we would go up and down halls; circle tables and chairs; tumble over couches. It was fun! And it usually always lasted the right amount of time.  Continue reading

Preparing for a New Year

We made it! Today is the start of a new year.

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We made it through the season of Advent; a season of preparation. We got through Christmas Day with all the unwrapping and the visits with family. And for Megan and I, we got through all the worship services. Continue reading

A Garfield Christmas Special (1987)

A Garfield Christmas Special (1987)

It starts off like so many other animated specials with a focus on getting, getting, getting. But as the story unfolds and Jon takes Garfield and Odie with him to the farm, we learn that the greedy, fat cat, has a big heart. 

Garfield Christmas

Anyone who grew up in the 1980’s is familiar with Garfield. From the newspaper comic strip to the TV show, Garfield is the talking cat whose mouth never moved who made us laugh. The 1987 Christmas special may not be the classic that A Charlie Brown Christmas is, but it still delivers on the Gospel. Continue reading

Sunday Reads: 12/14/14

 

elf-on-the-shelf-Well_readHere are five blog posts I found over the last week or so that I thought were worth sharing and pondering on. They appear in no particular order. Happy pondering.

Invite More to the Table by Making Room: Rev. Amy Aspey writes about the ministry of the deacon as sacramental, and the importance of the role of the deacon in extending the Table to create a church that is more welcoming to all.

Dear Christians, May I Share My Heart?: Marketta, who blogs at Simply Faithful, shares a heartfelt plea with her brothers and sisters in the faith regarding the current trend of disagreement and unrest.

“X” in “Xmas” Doesn’t Take the “Christ” out of “Christmas”: In this post Daven Hiskey shares about the symbol “X” (a Greek letter) and its connection to our faith in Christ. Turns out, that “X” might not be marking out Christ like so many have thought.

The Power to Reshape Brokenness: Dori Baker writes on the Fund for Theological Education’s (FTE) blog about Reggie Williams’ book Bonhoeffer’s Black Jesus: Harlem Renaissance Theology and an Ethic of Resistance. In light of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, this post offers a lot for us to ponder regarding race in America.

Touchdowns for Jesus and Domestic Violence in Big-Time Sports: Rachel Mastin blogs about Marcia W. Mount Shoop’s book Touchdowns for Jesus and Other Signs of Apocalypse: Lifting the Veil on Big-Time Sports. Rachel approaches this book as a seminary-educated church work and sports fan. She highlights many of Mount Shoop’s points in her book about current trends in sport systems and challenges readers to consider these theologically.

 

Call Me Claus (2001)

Call Me Claus (2001)

Finding the Christmas Spirit

Call Me Claus

Call Me Claus is a simple made-for-cable-TV movie starring Whoopi Goldberg and Nigel Hawthorne. Goldberg is Lucy Collins who is a successful TV producer for a shopping network. Lucy is searching for the perfect Santa Claus to bump up the ratings.

Nigel Hawthorne is Santa Claus (Nick). He is forced to search for a Santa Claus replacement. It turns out that every 200 years there is a new Santa Claus, and according to the Elf Board, the current Santa has to find a replacement. Hawthorne’s Nick has exhausted his list of potential new Santas. If he doesn’t find a new Santa by midnight on Christmas Eve, the world will come to an end. (Did I mention this was a made-for-cable-TV movie?) Continue reading

Why ‘Rent’ Still Matters

Since the early 1990’s the musical Rent has inspired and motivated people to see the world around them as they never have before; to see themselves in others.

Empty Rent

A few months ago, one of the local high schools performed the rock musical Rent. Megan and I attended the show as a number of students in the musical were in my youth group.  They had the audience sit on the stage, to be up close and personal; to be a part of the experience; to live in the story with the actors. It was so well received and popular that the school opened up the balcony at a reduced price to accommodate all the interest.

During the intermission, I overheard two women talking. One of them was expressing amazement that these high school students in 2014 had put together this 1996 Broadway musical about a time and issue that seemed to be so distant from high school students today. I thought to myself, this is what should be happening. Great art – in whatever form it takes – sparks conversation. Continue reading