Monthly Archives: April 2014

Lessons from kite flying

English: Multicolored nylon lattice delta kite...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A simple discipline of flying a kite teaches me much about leading the church.

Wait for the wind.

Sure I can get a kite to fly by running and pulling its string. But without a little outside help I’ll run out of steam and give up.

Sure I can worship God by myself. But without a little outside help I’ll run out of steam and give up.

Let out some string.

If I hold my kite close, it won’t crash. But if I let out some string a fortunate gust might lift it above the turbulence near the ground to where it can soar.

I can design a theologically informed and adequate worship service. But if I let others, even those without a seminary degree, help with the planning, a fortunate idea might lift it from adequate to superb.

Hold fast to make it soar.

A steady breeze will pull a kite down range slowly lifting it as it goes. But holding the string taut while the breeze is strong will tip it upward rising it to new heights and the string will sing.

An exciting production will pull a congregation along slowly lifting it as it goes. But holding fast to Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, the solid foundation of our faith, will tip the congregation upward focused on raising songs to God.

Let out more string.

When the wind eases, give the string some slack so the kite can flatten on the air and float down range. Then when the wind stiffens hold fast to soar again.

Allow volunteers to rest from time to time, so they can recognize soaring when the spirit moves them.

Let others hold the string.

Sure I can fly a kite by myself, especially here in wind-swept Indiana. But teaching someone to judge the wind and rise the kite to new heights is an added thrill.

When volunteers take leadership of an event, I get cheer their successes.


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After Easter

Easter Surprise 2007
(Photo credit: otzberg)

Most of the Easter lilies have been taken home. The chocolate bunnies, marshmallow peeps, and candy eggs if not already eaten are not likely to last the week. The bright white tapestries and table runners  will stay up until Pentecost, nearly seven weeks from now, but after a flash to red, even they will also quietly return to the green of ordinary time. It is almost as if Easter had not happened.

The Apostle John records that after Easter the disciples returned to what they had done before Jesus had called them from fishing beside Galilee (see John 21:1-3). If was almost as if Jesus’ birth, ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection had not happened.

Most of the year I wonder how to design worship to invite people to take a deep breath of the Holy Spirit that will sustain them for nearly 7 days until we meet for again. For Easter, I wonder what difference the resurrection makes the next 364 days.

A short answer: Wow! Everything he told us is true! Jesus really IS God’s Son.

The long answer: Today I get to participate in the Kingdom of Heaven: making disciples, baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything Christ commanded us (see Matthew 28:19-20). The resurrection opens believers to risk physical life to love our neighbors.

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Trust and Ministry

Being able to trust those around you can affect what you can accomplish and how well.

The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is providing several examples of trust and mistrust: Incomplete radar data, blurred satellite images, technologies used to detect pings, … When countries don’t or can’t trust their neighbors, they could have reasons to fear that releasing this data could be quickly reverse engineered to discern military capabilities: ease of flying under or over radar sensors, ability to detect troop movements, ability to detect submarines, …

At the other extreme many people have cooperated to develop a new technique for analyzing radio transmissions to satellites and discern the airplane’s direction as well as its range, guiding search crews to a useful locations to begin searching for wreckage.

On the night before he was crucified Jesus set the example for trusting those one’s neighbors. As the meal began he washed his disciples feet. When people routinely walked dusty roads in sandals beside animals, washing someone’s feet was humiliating. To wash the feet of people you trust is amazing, to wash the feet of someone who was plotting to kill you would be foolish, crazy, idiotic! Yet Judas was among the disciples when he washed their feet (see John 13) and Jesus knew who would betray him.

As the Good News of Jesus Christ spreads in the world, may we learn to trust one another, even our enemies, so we might minister effectively with one another.

Temple Keeping

For most of my life I have had a twinge in my big toe. Most days it feels no worse that a few grains of sand in one’s shoe, an annoyance I can easily ignore. But occasionally, especially if I have not made time to exercise or if I have gained a little weight, the pain becomes annoying, demanding my attention, adversely affecting everything else I might do, including prayer.

Muscles connecting the upper extremity to the spineI’ve been told that the twinge in my toe results from a spur on my spine that presses on a nerve at about where my belt encircles my waist. Thus if I eat too much, my pants get tighter and press that nerve against that spur, and the small twinge in my toe demands my attention.

On the other hand doing a few exercises several times a week strengthens my back, protecting that nerve. Similarly, eating sensibly reduces stresses on my spine.

The human body is an amazing machine with highly connected parts. So that the health of one part of the body affects the entire body and even our souls. For when our bodies are our of tune, the physical discord affects our ability to think and to pray. When my toe hurts, and usually my back at the same time, creative reflection becomes difficult at best.

Thus the first step to loving God and connecting with the Holy Spirit is to take care of the amazing body that God has given you.

You surely know that your body is a temple where the Holy Spirit lives.
The Spirit is in you and is a gift from God.
You are no longer your own. God paid a great price for you.
So use your body to honor God.
— 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (CEV)

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Reading Scripture a Third Way

The Gutenberg BibleFor most of my life I read Scripture like a text-book, seeking what information it could tell me about God and God’s relationship with creation. I learned stories of encounters by prophets and apostles, by sinners and saints. Even today, when I study a passage to prepare before writing a sermon, I delve into the details and nuances of each passage. I look at word usage including the meanings of named characters and consider why the Church has preserved particular details for two thousand years.

English: Reading the Bible.And as I reread familiar stories again and again I notice how familiar passage that I can almost recite word for word tell about me. Thus the Bible becomes a book that reads me. I wonder how am I like this character, or need to hear that counsel. Each time I open the Bible it shows parallels with my life and demonstrates why it remains near the top of best seller lists.

Saint Peter's hands with Bible and key.
Saint Peter’s hands with Bible and key. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sometimes when listening to a very familiar passage, especially one I have heard several times in close succession, I get caught up by the flow and sound of the words. My mind wanders to think of other things. Only by considering this third way of reading Scripture do I understand that the Church chose passages for their usefulness as liturgy in worship. This third way helps me appreciate why people who suffer from memory losses and other cognitive impairments can recite familiar passages along with me as I read them. In this third way of reading there is no longer a need to ask what did the author intend or how might it affect me. Instead Scripture reading becomes a key that opens my mind to God with us. God with us though ages past. God with me this day. God opening a way to a glorious future.

Your word is a lamp that gives light wherever I walk.
— Psalm 119:105 (CEV)¬†



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