Thursday, June 19, 2008

Moving, Part 2

With the rare exception, churches do not know how to throw things away. Of course, I don’t yet know anything about Calvary in this regard; this is just my experience to date (stirred by my current context of packing). For the most part, we are hoarders; we pack things away in our attics, basements, garages, and closets in the delusion that, “We might need this someday.”
Take for example, the slow cooker I personally threw away earlier this year. A remarkable woman in the church had managed to put together a church clean-up day without causing a church-split, so I used the opportunity to get rid of the slow cooker that had been staring at me for about four years. Another pillar of the church tried to stop me, but I would have none of it. Its time had come.
For years this cooker had sat useless in the corner of the kitchen, seemingly begging me to put it out of its misery. The cooker had long ago lost its power cord and I was done looking at it: without a power source, it was more of a planter than a cooker. There are spiritual analogies in that alone, but my point is that we kept this useless cooker in the ridiculous hope that the cord would one day be found or – even more unlikely – somehow replaced.
Now as silly as our hoarding behavior may be, there are good reasons for why the church should be reluctant to simply throw stuff away. First of all, in some ways the church is where we keep our faith. Sure, when we’re doing it right, our faith is something we take with us at all times and everywhere we go. But where do we go when we don’t have a faith of our own or our faith becomes misplaced or our faith becomes too heavy for us to carry on our own? We go to church. The church is where we keep the symbols of our faith, it is where we are reminded of the saving work of God on our behalf, and it’s where we keep the people we’ve entrusted to hold on to our faith “just in case.”
But even more than that, in the end the church is really about people. Following Christ’s example, we are infinitely more interested in saving people than slow cookers; but you can see how the saving of a slow cooker has parallels to the saving of people. Christ had no intention of letting any person “just get thrown away.” When someone begins to seem less than useful, how ridiculous would it be if we put them on the curb? No, at best we hold out hope that they can and will be restored to usefulness or at least we appreciate what they have done for the Kingdom and let them have a rest.
Which brings me back to the slow cooker that I threw away because it had no purpose because it had no cord; the slow cooker I was asked specifically not to throw away because of the vain and misplaced hope that the cord could be found or replaced. Well of course I found that stupid cord a couple of weeks later. I found that stupid cord and I have vowed to keep with me always as a continual reminder. I keep it, not as a lesson on how I shouldn’t throw things away, but as a lesson on why the church should throw things (and never people) away only reluctantly. As annoying as I may personally find our senseless hoarding to be, it does say some wonderful things about us.
May our gracious Savior renew in us that blessed hoarding spirit for the people of this world.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Of course Sherry and I are currently getting ready to move. We’re packing up boxes and deciding what needs to be handy, what needs to stay in boxes for a while, and what we’d rather just throw away. There are a lot of metaphors that go along with moving, some are church related and some are simply personal. In short, you will likely hear from me on this subject again.
By the way, if you happen to be one of those kindhearted souls who are interested in helping us unload the truck, pay no attention to all the booze boxes. Liquor stores are a great place to get moving boxes. Although I’m no teetotaler, I did not empty any of those boxes… I just filled them with our stuff.
In the first few years of our marriage, we moved about once a year. There were a variety of reasons for it, but the end result was that we didn’t accumulate much stuff. If it didn’t fit into a mid-sized U-Haul truck or if our friends, who were willing to work for pizza and beer, considered it too heavy to lift, we’d get rid of it.
There isn’t much I miss about those days – broke and semi-transient – but I do appreciate the process. I believe it’s good for us to look at the stuff that we’ve collected over the years and ask the hard questions about their usefulness. Please note that I’m not talking about disregarding old things or sentimental things for the sake of the process. I confess that I get a charge out of throwing things out, but I long ago learned to give that process its due time.
But on the other hand, there is something healthy in picking up all of your stuff and moving it somewhere else. It forces us to ask more than “Do I need this?” It forces us to ask, “Do I need this enough to carry it with me wherever I go?” It compels us to evaluate all of our baggage (metaphorical and otherwise) as to its usefulness and its weight.
Between the time of Moses and David the Ark of the Covenant lived in a tent. It was thought that this was where the earthly presence of God could be found… and it was in a tent: portable, temporary, and comparatively light. A tent; not a very noble place to keep God, but God never complained. God didn’t seem to mind at all. In fact, I think God may have preferred it that way!
You see, our God is always on the move. God cannot be kept in a box any more than God can be kept in our sanctuaries. My hope for us as the people of God is that we learn to travel light. We don’t have to have worship in a tent, but I hope that it can be a time of repacking our faith in a way that taken on the move with God.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Get to know me!

As of the morning of Sunday, June 1, I am the newly elected pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church in beautiful Bayfield, Colorado. But chances are, if you’re reading this, you already knew that. If you’ve found your way to this blog, there is a good chance that you’ve met me or at least read my profile on the church’s website. My hope for this blog is that it be a place to get to know me in a different way than simply through the facts of my life. My hope for this is that we will be able to have ongoing conversations about who we are as Christ’s Body here in this place. I want this to be a place where I can share my thoughts and hopes for this congregation and this community and you can enrich those musings as we seek God’s will together.
I have set this up so that anyone can comment on anything I write. All I ask is that you refrain from commenting anonymously; I don’t believe that our conversations are as valuable if we don’t know who we’re talking to.
As we begin this journey together, I know that God has amazing things in store for us. I am looking forward to sharing this journey with you and I thank you in advance for your contributions.