originally uploaded by DanTheCam.
This is a photo from a flickr group I belong to entitled Rusty and Crusty. It has a ton of members and even more photos in the group. I love them all because it shows off lots of issues. Like how we have filled our world up with so much crap that we don't need. Second, the crap we don't use anymore takes up a lot of space, but it can also look really cool and artsy if shown through a cool lens. But I also like the group because is sort of poses as this unifying force to me. No matter where we are, we we want to go, or where we have been, there is rusty and crusty stuff everywhere. From the streets of Bangladesh, to the cotton fields of Alabama, to the streets of LA, just to name a few of the places I've seen such cool, disposable stuff.


Skid Row

In case anyone hasn't yet seen the short films on LA's Skid Row at goodmagazine.com, then here you go. They are moving. I'll paste the first one for you right here to get your started.

I wonder why my church is not better at responding to the needs of the homeless as a unified body. One theory I have is that so many of our members are justice workers by vocation each day of the week. Large numbers of them work tirelessly in the non-profit sectors, or in public classrooms, or in a larger/foreign mission field, and even in the court rooms defending the public individuals society longs to condemn. In this way, by the time everyone gathers enough energy to begin yet another grueling week of the "Lord's work," many arrive on Sunday mornings weary and even exasperated at times. Our church feels tired to me in general these days. The energy seems more focused on surviving this transition and individuals more so on surviving their jobs. It does not leave much time or enthusiasm for small (or large) ways that we can respond to the conditions of the poor in LA or Pasadena as a group.

Personally, I wonder what my position is in all of this--this fatigue, this call to fight for justice both individually and collectively, and the issue I have with our church not serving well together. I am certainly not doing anything to rectify it or offering any solutions of group service opps. I feel this burn that we need to get our asses out there as a church, together as people of God serving Jesus and therefore blessing the world, but where to begin? It's a daunting question, especially after watching films like the ones on Skid Row. This is why I am convinced this must happen through the church, and more at hand, through our church.

This Sunday I'm leading a few elements of worship in the service and one of them is the congregational prayer--one of my favorite parts with which to help. This is going to be one of the things I pray about. That we might find ways to serve God (read: the world) as a whole body, each using our own gifts to glorify the other, and in turn, honoring God. Isn't that what it's all about. Sort of like my community question below--why are we not very good at this sometimes if it's what we are created to do?


Life is a bit off kilter these days. Tyler, Livia, and Jude are sick. Livia started it and Tyler rounded out the threesome earlier this afternoon with the sneezes, nose runs, coughing, and slight fever. I am the most worried about Jude, of course; he's the littlest. I told the pediatrician yesterday that I just need a standing appointment each week, and then I will merely cancel if I don't need to come. She laughed and simply affirmed that Jude is going to make it through these first few months soon.

I love newborn babies. I love them swaddled and clean and snuggled close. But geesh, they are so dang stressful. Who knew eating, sleeping, and pooping could be such a challenge? And such an emotional one on the moms? Sometimes I wish I could just birth out a six month old (minus the trauma of actually birthing the poundage of a six month old).

Anyway, lunching with two good friends today proved to be a nice distraction from the nasal drips though. One of the things we chatted about was the adventure it is to keep relationships alive and meaningful in ways that extend beyond the surfacey or mundane aspects of life. Be it in marriage, familial bonds, or friendship, it seems all too easy at times to slip into patterns of coping and habit rather than navigate the ups and downs of life together, on the same team, sharing evenly the emotions of a moment. Why is this? If we are creatures of community, why can dwelling in life-nourishing community be such a challenge? Oh wait!-because we are all dorks, all damaged, and all defiant (Rick Warren would be proud of that alliteration).

This comes on the heels of our community group break-up as well. The ten of us had a fabulous DTR session last week and decided that we don't want to ruin a good thing by forcing something to continue that just isn't in the cards for any of us right now. So we parted ways amiably. But what it basically seems to boil down to is that distance had crept into our community making it difficult to be regular in attendance, honest in discussion, or fruitful in encouraging one another. Within a year we were divided and motley.

Again, if community is something that my generation so desperately craves and values, we sure do suck at it sometimes. Is this because we haven't seen it modeled very well? Or are there more reasons? And keeping in tandem with a familiar reverb in my home today-Ah-choo! (Excuse our fear to be vulnerable and receive vulnerability.)



Duuring the sermon this morning at church, our good friend Joel articulated each point of transition our church is already enduring or preparing to experience in the coming months: 1) The senior Pastor, Jim resigned two years ago, 2) a volunteer pastor of several years, Bert, resigned a few months ago, 3) Our interim lead pastor, Katherine, was diagnosed with breast cancer a few weeks ago and is currently undergoing surgery recovery and pending treatments, 4) Our children's pastor, Kristina, announced that she and her husband are leaving this summer for a move back to the midwest, and 5) Our associate pastor, Jennifer, is leaving in April.

What in the world? Our congregation is a few hundred members so it will be interesting to see in the coming months how we begin to handle the changes. I am curious to see what the church will look like on the other side of this. What does God have in mind for this sundry mix of disciples?

As I see this unfolding from the pew as an attender, and as I speak more personally with Katherine and Jennifer. I am continually amazed at how God is using the oddest moments to continue nudging me forward in the direction of vocational parish work. I find this season of ecclesial change exhilerating and intriguing, certainly not stressful or overwhelming. There is so much opportunity for vision casting, for finding new ways to bless the world with fresh voices and new insights, and for ministering to one another in unique ways as we all worship through this migration to a new place together--as one big flock of wandering sheep in need of shepherd. When will it be my turn to shepherd? Not yet, God says. Oh, but when?...and where?