I want to breathe
you in I'm not talking about
perfume or even the sweet odour
of your skin but of the
air itself I want to share
your air inhaling what you
exhale I'd like to be that
close two of us breathing
each other as one as that
They have glass balconies people can walk on. 103 stories up., originally uploaded by RandallFriesen.
But this was as close as I was willing to get.
On my way to Chicago.
Little bit of work, a couple good workshops, connect with people, a mexican meal with the Canadians, and maybe a little bit of Jazz.
That should take up my week.
There is a big Moms Of Preschoolers gathering here today too.
So Micah to the rescue.
That stuff was hard packed.
Local town ministerial meeting to start planning Easter services.
Lunch with a parishioner.
Make sure drains are working on the house and church to keep melting ice away. Failed the one corner of the church.
Type and print youth page for bulletin.
Gather what other announcements I had for the bulletin.
Attend to getting Preteen gathering going.
Enjoyed three long conversations with people.
Wrote three letters.
Took time to pray for some people who have asked for it. (Prayer, not "it")
Dealt with 64 emails, but the day is young. (Yesterday was 70 but Monday was only 30)
Present and hanging out with the youth. Ate supper with them and gave leadership to the evening.
That takes me to 7:18 pm. Still four hours to go.
That's one of the things that I love about this work is that every day is different, for the most part.
Stay tuned to find out; "Will he find a teacher to take his Junior High class Sunday morning??"
Is it all really worth it?
The travel and relationships with world leaders?
The nice clothes and fancy hotels?
The conversations with people who are only seen on the 6 O'Clock news.
The pressure to change the direction of human civilization, to improve peace in a region or give new chances to people on the other side of the world.
Is it worth it to be lied to by dictators, or to have to threaten a nation with violence? Then go home at night and eat popcorn and watch a movie?
Is it really worth all the pushing and struggle to get to the place where you are the international goto person for America?
Is it worth it, being the 67th United States Secretary of State?
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then I'm not sure it is.
Work can provide for us the treats of life, and thanks to electricity, we can now continue to work late into the night. Every day.
But a good life is impossible, without the other, without the unwork.
A balanced life requires work and rest.
Take time to rest this weekend.
I want you to have a good life.
Ok, ok I am booked for Chicago.
Heading to a gathering of church worker types for the ECC.
I promise to only do half of the things I'm being asked to do.
I want to get to a couple of great sounding workshops, (Does anybody still use that word?)
And maybe if motivated, get to the Loop and take in some jazz.
Oddly there will be people at the end of emails who will be very excited that I am coming, at least one of whom will know it's an answer to prayer. I am not exactly the life of the party you know.
Of all the cool images I've captured of Chicago, the one above is my favourite because it evokes in me feelings of when I was a kid taking the bus to downtown Saskatoon with it's tall buildings and many cars. I took it from a speeding "L" train on the Brown Line heading downtown, one January night.
Well last night I happened to walk past the window and I saw a martian landscape out there in the dark. The whole field was littered with snowballs.
And each lump of snow has a trail behind it where it looks like it came in for a landing from some interstellar journey.
I'm told it was the warm temperatures and the high wind last evening. The wind conspired to create a field full of snow balls.
Snowball fight anyone?
There are six books out there somewhere that I ordered from amazon.ca and they are suppose to be on their way here with UPS but the UPS guy, Kevin, has not found his way to The Field yet. Thankfully one of the books I ordered came via the good old fashioned postal system.
100 Days on Holy Island seems to be about a writer who plunked himself down on Lindisfarne Island, otherwise known as Holy Island, for 100 days in the winter of 2000.
The writing is a bit jagged but he writes mostly about what life is like for an outsider moving there. It's a good travelogue so far, and the tension between the "God Squad" on the island and the "Regular Islanders" is an interesting mix of characters.
I'm just a few pages in but I'm enjoying it a good deal. And so far it seems like the religious types have been treating Peter Mortimer well.
Bring on the rest of the book.
I mean, lets face it, I'm tired and nearly out of gas and the people around me are feeling that too and not in such great places either.
Midwinter meetings might just be too much for a time such as this.
Might be better to stay home and hide out for a week.
"...the secret of the easy yoke involves living as Jesus did in the entirety of his life—adopting his overall lifestyle. Following ‘in his steps’ cannot be equated with behaving as he did ‘on the spot’. To live as Christ lived is to live as he did all his life...The secret of the easy yoke, then, is to learn from Christ how to live our total lives, how to invest all our time and energies of mind and body as he did."
Dallas Willard in "The Spirit of the Disciplines"
I was with some people at a meeting yesterday and we were talking about how more and more is expected of us as churches by our government. There are so many rules to follow and accounting practices to implement, it's really becoming a challenge to find a local person who is up to the huge challenge of being a treasurer, just in terms of knowing the legal requirements for a church.
As I've said before when a leadership structure or a helping organization grows from becoming a help to becoming a hindrance or worse yet, if it becomes a ruling power in our lives that we defer to and follow at the cost of our following after God, then it's time to reevaluate it's relevance and help to us.
Why do we defer to the government and it's involvement in our affairs? Well aside from helping with good practices etc. the only real reason we jump through their hoops is so that we may maintain our charity, tax free, receipt issuing, status. That's it really. We do it so that we can give people receipts when they give us donations. Yes there may be other smaller reasons like maintaining our corporate status or so we don't have to pay taxes, but I think that the real reason is because we think people won't give money to the church and ministry if we can't give them a tax deductible receipt at the end of the day.
This has so many implications that I'm not even going to explore today, about discipleship and authority and faith and being a good steward and obeying governments.
I think it's good to keep these things in mind. We all have our lines in the sand that indicate how far we are willing to go with language or behaviour or alcohol or even grace. Lines that we say we won't move, but often we do move them back an inch or more and adjust our expectations accordingly.
In terms of discipleship and government involvement in church life, we have had lines there too. Over the years as the political power of the church has been in decline, we've seen a increase in the power of the government in how it regulates church life. This shift isn't necessarily a bad thing because personally I'm not comfortable with the church in a nation wielding a great deal of political power. No, I'm more concerned with who we are as Christ followers. What should happen is that we should be moved to reflect about what kind of disciples we are, as we journey towards Christ.
This isn't a call to anarchy or to not pay our taxes, even Jesus paid his taxes. It is a call to review our discipleship practices. Who do we follow? Why? Why do we give money to the church, or to God? How much energy, effort, time and money do we give to follow the requirements of organizations inside or outside the church, and are those expectations all right? Do they encouraging us to be more like Christ, or do they enable us to be weaker, shallower disciples of Christ?
Perhaps as the western church becomes more marginalized and politically powerless, we will see more forms of simple church rise up, who give because God asks them to and because there are great needs in the world. Simple churches that need not run their lives by the requirements of external organizations, or internal documents created a hundred years ago. Simple churches run by the claims of the gospel and a transparency in servant leaders.
To simplistic? (pun intended) In some ways yes, but I think that the desire to simplify church life is real, especially among these new generations. It gives me great hope for the future of the church.
A future with more eating together, and less meetings. That sounds like Jesus.
I started to count the different committees and boards I'm involved with in the local church here. Those I try to meet with or lead or answer to or those I do work for. I counted, gulp, eleven local leadership groups I am a part of. Eleven committees or boards here in my local church.
One or two are occasional meetings and one is a yearly meeting and work, but most of them have been busy meeting lately and a couple of them have been meeting a couple or three times a month.
Probably two are due to our staff shortage, and a couple are because we are in a season of transition. But even I'm a bit caught off guard by that revelation. Especially since meetings don't energize me that much. One on ones energize me a good deal more and make me feel like I'm contributing more to peoples lives and relationships with God.
It actually helps me feel better about my tiredness and life right now to realize that this us happening. I expect that number to drop as the future becomes clearer and as we look at bringing on extra staff. But for now it is just the row that I hoe.
When the day comes that I am no longer a pastor, I think that I will never miss a board or committee meeting ever again.
Course I've been wrong before.
Tomorrow mornings meeting starts at nine. Best find some sleep.
Night from the field.
Just a notice to all that the leadership of Malmo has decided that with the weather forecast for tonight and tomorrow morning we thought it might be the better part of wisdom to cancel worship for tomorrow morning.
We will also suspend planned prayer week activities until the following week.
Stay home, sleep in, or do something fun with your family, and we'll meet together next Sunday morning at 11 am instead.
Blessings and stay safe,
Things are starting to look up.
inability to obtain sufficient sleep, esp. when chronic; difficulty in falling or staying asleep; sleeplessness.
I used to think that this insomnia that some older people suffered with could be a great thing because it would allow you the chance to accomplish so much more while you were awake in the night. I am now ready to renounce that childish opinion.
Last night I started bed preparations so that I would be in bed and have no excuses by shortly after eleven pm. By eleven thirty my lights were off and I was looking for sleep. Sometime after that Lauralea put her scrabble game away and within minutes was gone off to sleep. I stubbornly stayed in my fetal position looking for sleep.
Somewhere after 12:30 am I did drift off to sleep and I know I did because right about 1:30 I awoke with a jump and reached over and set my morning alarm clock that I had forgotten to set and lay back to rejoin herself who was back from her washroom break and already fast asleep. Except that I couldn't sleep, again.
So I got up and wandered the house, finally settling on the couch and with The Andy Griffith show on the TV, I did a bunch of catch up work on our holiday pictures on Flickr. That was a bit after 2am. Then came three am, and four, and by nearly five am I felt tired enough to give sleep a chance, so off I went. Then there was good sleep, and I ended up sleeping in.
I remember when we were younger and had young kids, it was a great difficulty to even stay up till midnight. In those years I never saw what one am looked like, ever. Now I can't remember the last time I was able to fall into a good sleep before 1 or 1:30 am.
I realize it's probably a part of my sleep training and my sleep history, but it isn't fun being up all night, especially when there are appointments and meetings scheduled for the next day and you need to be in good, non-yawning shape. I need to find some other options for helping to fall asleep because it's true that you just get more and more frustrated the longer and harder you try to find it.
Maybe reading? Perhaps some meditation prayer, or maybe things will improve when Lauralea is healthy and not coughing etc. etc.
I just have to get this figured out, and soon. These kinds of nights are just crazy for a 47 year old. Still twenty some years of work before I can retire and stay up all night and sleep all day.
I think that is ok, considering my need to press on into the work. There just seem to be so many details to care for in the church this new year. I don't think I remember being so busy in previous years. Most of that is just with organizing and planning and asking people and calling and arranging, let alone my email backlog.
So I'm glad for the silence for now, it helps get things done.
There are still hurting people here too, and they are priority for us, at least as much as we can help them. Some hurts are beyond the reach of help, so you just sit with them in silence and pray lots underneath the silence. In fact often in those times words are like a harsh slap anyway, so you sit with them literally or figuratively, you just share the space.
And now since Lauralea has just rang me... rung me? ringed me? to get home for supper, I'm going home.
Oh, and Go Canada Go.
It's snowing a good deal here today and so we expected less than usual for worship, but in spite of the snow, many showed up. Today there was a real sense of The Holy present. It's hard to define, but the songs and words and communion were significant in ways they aren't always. It was a good time, in spite of the difficult behind the scenes work of the previous week.
Feels like God is going to give us opportunities this year to grow deeper together and deeper with him. I'm looking forward to that process for us, though it won't be easy I suspect.
2011 begins, the kids are heading to their respective towns and a baby grandchild is on the way.
Looks to be a full year around the field.