Carpé This

A few observations.

Observation one: I fly fish for trout. In doing so, I have noticed more and more fisherman (mostly novices) using the Latin names for the insects upon which the trout are feeding. Instead of saying “They’re feeding on little yellow bugs,” they will utter, “Looks like a #16 Ephemerella dorothea.” Now since fly fisherpeople tend to be somewhat purist and elitist, I have come to expect a certain level of snobbery. But this one is making my waders chafe.

Observation two: I am a pastor. I have noticed more and more pastors (mostly novices) using the Latin names for the Sundays of the church year. Instead of saying “Today is the second Sunday of Easter,” they will pontificate “This is Quasimodo Geniti.” I still remember a good bit of Latin. But I remember more literature. And I remember Quasimodo. He was a hunchback. I don’t care to think about his geniti.

Observation three: Most trout in Minnesota streams, like most Lutherans in Minnesota pews, don’t speak Latin.

Reputo super is.

April 20, 2009 at 1:53 pm 3 comments

Easter Eggs

easter_eggsWith the rise of the virtual generation, the term “Easter egg” has taken on new meaning. A virtual Easter egg is an intentional hidden message, in-joke or feature in an object such as a movie, book, CD, DVD, computer program, web page or video game. If you use a Windows operating system, you can see an example of this by opening your Solitaire game and hitting the alt, shift and number 2 keys at the same time.

For a whole host of other examples, see this

We can trace “Easter Eggs” in computer games back to the 1970’s. But I think the idea goes back much farther than that. I believe the Easter Story itself contains hidden Easter eggs.

I think the folded cloth was one—I am not talking about something so trite as the current spam email going around. But I do believe there is a hidden message for those willing to step into the empty tomb and examine it. It certainly had some effect on John.

I believe the falling-down-dead guards are another. I am not sure of the full meaning, but in that scene we have a Guy who is supposed to be dead up walking around and two guys who are supposed to be alive acting like they are dead.

I believe the determined women are another. We have 3 women heading out to anoint the dead body of Jesus. On the way, the remember the big rock and know they will not be able to move it. And they keep going. If this had been 3 men, they would have headed back to town, found a group of the strongest men they could find (in the absence of a good 4 wheel drive Dodge) and then headed to tomb with pulleys and pry bars. But the women just kept going. What is hidden in that fact?

I know there are others—the sign over Jesus’ head, the wine-soaked sponge, the gambled clothes, and others.

Maybe I will have a different kind of Easter Egg hunt this year.

April 7, 2009 at 2:10 pm 2 comments

I Concur

tradition1

March 30, 2009 at 3:55 pm 6 comments

Hope (It’s not New)

I was reading over at Porpoise Diving Life (picking up where purpose-driven peters out), this article about “Faith To confront unprecedented economic times.”

The author quotes Brian McLaren (someone I rarely quote, much less applaud) as saying “Faith involves admitting with humility and boldness that we need to change, to go against the flow, to be different, to face and shine the light on our cherished illusions and prejudices, and to discover new truths that can be liberating even though they may be difficult for the ego, painful to the pride.”

The only improvement I see in the above quote is that the word “new” before “truths” needs to be omitted.

The Bible, I believe, portrays faith, hope and love as the primaries of the Christian faith. Just as all colors are unique combinations of the three primary colors (red, blue, yellow–if you are speaking of pigments) and all shapes are unique combinations of the three primary shapes (line, triangle circle), Christians are all combinations of the three primaries of Christianity–faith, hope and love.

Defining the place of love is fairly easy because Jesus defines it for us–we are known by love. When we stray from this and seek to be known by doctrine, dogma, liturgy, tradition, morality, even faith, etc., we have pitted ourselves against Jesus and cease to be who He has called us to be.

Defining the place of faith is also fairly easy because the Bible has clearly defined it for us in a number of places–we are saved by faith and live by faith.  We are not known by it, but we live by it.

Hope is not so clearly defined. But I believe we are called to be a voice of hope. This not “new.” It is ageless. I am struggling to resist the urge to quote Dickens, mainly because every pastor before me has already done it, but it truly is “the best of times and worst of times” to be the church. Yes, the economy sucks (I know that isn’t biblical terminology, but neither is “shut up.” If you feel the need to comment on my language, “shut up”). We don’t live by and we aren’t known by the economy. However we can be a voice of hope, even if and especially when the economy sucks (see above).

The church being the voice of hope is not a “new truth” that needs to be discovered. It, just like being known by love and living by faith, is an old truth that needs to be reclaimed.

I hope.

March 26, 2009 at 2:46 am 1 comment

Can You Hear God Giggle?

jesuslaughingI was searching through some files and came across something I wrote about 4 years ago (in my pre-billablog days). I got a kick out of reading it again and decided it was blog worthy.

Can You Hear God Giggle?

I live in a multi-cultural neighborhood. I am the pastor of a predominantly white church in that neighborhood. So I am always talking about reaching out to our community and making our church look more like our community.

This Sunday I preached on a scripture from Isaiah where God said, “My house shall be called a house a prayer for all nations.” I hit hard on the “all nations” part, and talked about the challenges we face dealing with our own prejudice. I urged the congregation to rethink our attitudes toward people who are different than us.

I preached this message 5 times to 5 different groups of people and filed the sermom away.
And then God sent me an angel named Dale.

I looked out my office window this morning and saw this large, long haired, Native American coming up the church walk. I figured he wanted money. I was wrong. I also figured he was drunk. I was wrong. I also figured I would send him away in less than 5 minutes. I was wrong again. (As you can see, I was really doing a great job of practicing what I preach). Anyway, I took this great Christian attitude and went to meet him at the door.

I said, “Hi, can I help you?” He said, “My name is Dale. I saw your sign and I was wondering if I could talk to you about the Bible.” (And I thought, “and then ask you for money”). I knew that my wife had taken my last 10 bucks out of my wallet this morning, so I didn’t have anything to lose, so I said, “Sure, come on up.”
We went into my office and sat down and he spent the next 90 minutes humbling me and blessing me.
Remember I had just preached a sermon about being welcoming to people who are different? 5 times? Well Dale’s was definitely different. His story is this. He got out of prison Sunday. He was in there for murder two and drug trafficking. He was originally from a reservation in northern Minnesota. His wife was also in prison. His kids were in foster homes. His story is one of abuse and abandonment and getting into drugs and crime at an early age. I listened as he told his story.

He went on to tell me that 9 months ago, he started reading the Bible in prison. Then he started believing it. Then he found a couple of Christians in prison who could tell him more about it.

Then he got to the part about what he wanted from me. (I was still expecting a request for money). He asked for a Bible. He said he had the one from the prison library while he was in prison, but now that he was out, he didn’t have one. I glanced around my office. From where I was sitting, I could see eleven Bibles. Publishers often send them to me. So now I only have 10.

Then he said there was one other thing. I thought, “Here it comes. How much?” He said, “I don’t know anybody I can talk to about the Bible. I had those two guys in prison and they could help me. But now I am looking for a group of people I can talk to about the Bible and who can help me stay straight.” I thought to myself, “I have just the group he is looking for. I have a group of men who meet in my office every Tuesday morning at 6:30 for just this purpose and if I invite him to this group, it is going to go over like a pregnant woman at a pole vault.” So yeah, I invited him. He was thrilled.

Then I brought up the subject that he never did. I said, “Do you have any money?” He had less than a dollar in change. I knew there was some petty cash in the safe that I could pay back later, so I offered him money. He refused, saying “God will take care of me.” I said, “What are you going to eat?” He told me he was going to the food shelf. I explained to him how the food shelf worked–that he had to be able to prove residence in order to get food. He said, “God will take care of me.” I had a whole new outlook on things by this point, so I said, “Yes, He will, and He is going to do it through me.” So we went and got in my car and he got groceries. Before we parted, I got a big, long bear hug from a big, hairy, unwashed Indian.

And I know that in heaven God was saying, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”

And He was laughing at me.

March 19, 2009 at 6:19 pm 3 comments

(WOT) Way Off Topic Entry: The Rising Popularity of NASCAR

nascar2I am wandering far afield today. It must be all the green around me. But here are some way-off-topic thoughts concerning the Rising Popularity of NASCAR.

I’m not talking about that tired old argument about why someone would watch cars drive in circles. The same type of logic could be applied to why would someone watch 2 women spend hours hitting a fuzzy ball back and forth over a net or why why would someone watch a couple of men with 16 pound balls and wrist thingies use those balls and wrist thingies to try to knock down ten motionless pins while swilling Miller. If you put it on TV, someone will watch it. That goes without saying.

What I want to try to figure out is the growing popularity of NASCAR. What was once a redneck sport followed almost exclusively by men with beer guts, pickups, and rebel flags whose wives had jeans two sizes too small and tweety bird tatoos on their breasts, and who could kick their husbands’ butts, is now mainstream–or at least almost mainstream.

People with several initials after their names and all their teeth are now watching NASCAR. People who have never even considered “just putting a pinch between their cheek and gum” now have leather Dale Jr. jackets. It is unprecedented.

I have a few theories I would like to investigate with the great minds of those who you who are enlightened enough to read my daily wisdom

Theory 1) The rising popularity of NASCAR has less do with NASCAR itself than with the rising popularity of redneckism. People want to be rednecks, or at least associated wth rednecks, but they want to be able to do it without giving up dental hygiene. NASCAR is an easy solution.

Theory 2) God is so pleased that they got rid of cigarette sponsorships, that He blessed them with wide-spread popularity and success.

Theory 3) A few years ago, evolution came to a grinding halt and began reversing itself.

Let’s get to work on this one, folks.

March 17, 2009 at 7:40 pm 3 comments

Arrogance is a Child of Ignorance.

I’ll stop short of saying it is an “illegitimate” child. It is most likely quite legitimate.

But why do Americans assume that the best thing we can do for the immigrants who come to our country is Americanize them? Instead of looking at their culture and seeing what we can learn, we immediately assume our way is the best way and force it upon others.

One case in point: We say time is important. It is rude to be late. Many other cultures, including one I am intimately involved with, say time is unlimited. It is rude to start before everyone is there.  Our culture says time is more important than people. Other cultures say people are more important than time.

People are more important. I like that. I am not talking about a People First Language, that my respected friend so rightly mocks. That’s too easy. Like much of well-intentioned political correctness, real improvement goes much deeper. I am talking about a people first approach to life–the kind Jesus had. It puts people above rules, dogma, tradition and culture.

I am sure the Pharisees would hate me for this. But I am in good company.

March 16, 2009 at 1:42 am Leave a comment

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