Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Preparing for a Holiday

We are going on Holiday... this was a term I first came across when I lived in Europe. The diverse community of expats and residents in that country always referred to time away as "going on holiday."

In the US - we call it vacation. It does have a very different tone: vacation- to vacate a place - or to go on holiday- to go to holy days- to find holiness.

As I prepare to vacate this town and this work (which, never really is vacated) for a week - the days leading up to the holiday are pressured. It is almost as if the world is telling me that I cannot leave, I can't vacate. There is too much to do. To many fires to put out. To much brokenness to help mend. Too many problems to solve.

And I grow weary. Because now, I can't vacate. These things will come with me. They will be in my computer, in my calendar, in my ever-list making head...

How then, do we not attempt to vacate, but instead honor the holy days ahead?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Guard the Mondays!

It really is amazing how quickly a day off can be taken away.

Now, for pastors, notable exceptions may be funerals and emergencies that involve hospital visits, family care and general loving care in the name of our God.

But it all starts when a meeting is scheduled for a day-off night- in this case, a Monday, and then it is easy to be coerced into more...

Well, Pastor, since you'll be there for x meeting (did I say I was going to be there? I must have) the can we meet about y as well, it will only take 20 minutes or so. And since you will be there for x and y we should meet about z. (How long is z?) well, we just need to meet for a bit about z.

Sigh. Getting cornered after worship on Sundays, when I'm flying high on coffee looking forward only to a nap... I'll agree to anything to get out of the church door I guess.

It is, indeed, a slippery slope. Now it's off to church for the evening! Yipee!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Friday Five: Meetings, Meetings

In honor of a couple of marathon meetings Reverend mother attended this week:

1. What's your view of meetings? Choose one or more, or make up your own:
a) When they're good, they're good. I love the feeling of people working well together on a common goal.
b) I don't seek them out, but I recognize them as a necessary part of life.
c) The only good meeting is a canceled meeting.

I'd have to go with a). And I might clarify: when they are run well, facilitated well, and there is a spirit of hope and mission. Since I am not a particularly creative individual, I am happy to put energy and hope into process: administration can be a great gift!

2. Do you like some amount of community building or conversation, or are you all business?

If we are only all business, then nothing to do with community and conversation will ever be developed. I had a new member of our staff relate a comment she made to her spouse: "we don't get anything done at staff meetings! I mean we pray, we check in, we read devotions and go through the calendar, but there are no lists to check off!"

3. How do you feel about leading meetings? Share any particular strengths or weaknesses you have in this area.

To be honest, I'd rather lead a meeting, if for no other reason then the fact that I know how. Meetings need to be facilitated well with a clear leader who keeps us on task, respects every person and the time that is given to the meeting. Time for discussions and airing of grievances is better after the meeting perhaps one to one.

4. Have you ever participated in a virtual meeting? (conference call, IM, chat, etc.) What do you think of this format?

Not as big of a fan. Soooo much can be learned from facial expressions and body language. So much- it's almost as important as the topic itself.

5. Share a story of a memorable meeting you attended.

Are you ready? Drum roll please: The council meeting that was under an hour.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Holy Ground: 6 years of Ministry

It's hard to believe that we have been revenging for 6 years now.

So much has happened since then. The day the attack happened, I had just started seminary. Strange to think that my entire training and ministry has taken place during a time of war.

As I read, studied, communed, learned, preached, and witnessed it was always in a context of a war; of a time of revenge; in a time of getting back at the bad guys... whoever they may be, because they seem to change often based on whether or not they have what we want.

So after 6 years of a weight that has overtly and silently sat on my and the whole world's shoulders, I can't help but wonder:

What is it like to preach the gospel in a time of peace?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The simple life

I've always found it interesting the number of books that are written about people's adventures to quaint, country lifestyles and simple basics. I came across the latest of these in a magazine, where an author decided to learn about raising goats by traveling across 43 states.

I may be way off but it seems to me that the only way to really learn about raising goats is to sell your city cabin, move to the country, buy a farm and some goats.
Subletting your condo, and traveling with the book advance isn't quite the same thing.

There are many folks that try this- whether they sample different religions, try to eat local food for 2 summer months or sample country living by leasing a fully renovated farm house with no plumbing problems or mice infestations.

A recent report tells us that now over half of the US population is no longer rural. And it seems that some kind of romanticism has popped up about the good life in small farms. But it is simply another form of tourism.

If life in rural areas was really encouraged to continue, the Farm bill wouldn't be helping corporate agribusinesses, but family farming practices and health agriculture practices.

People would know that canning vegetables is a full time and tricky business- and in February, your are either out of dill beans or really, really sick of them.

An author would learn that raising stubborn goats for milk is a dirty, messy, financially strapped, and sometimes very lonely job.

How can we simplify our lives if we can't give things up?