Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thoughts on change

with all the changes in the world going on, this may be a good time for me to reflect on some of them.

44 - wow. what can i say. this is obviously the biggest change that everyone is talking about right now. i have to say that the first time i had ever heard of Barack Obama was not during the campaign, but when he spoke at a renewal put on by sojourners, a progressive christian magazine whose editor is Jim Wallis (someone who i hugely admire). Mr. Obama's speech, which was published on sojourner's website at the time (don't know if it is still there) was about the meshing of faith and politics, and it was given at a time when "faith" and "politics" in the same sentence was code for "conservative, white evangelical christian." the political right still had a tight grip on the conversation, but their death grip was loosening. but this speech that Obama gave almost brought tears to my eyes because i felt he was saying things i had been thinking for some time, but also saying things that needed to be said. you could say i was smitten. when i was a community organizer a year or so later, some of us were in dc to visit our senator, Claire mccaskill. we were in the office building (heart, i think it was) waiting for someone in our party to go to the bathroom and senator Obama got off the elevator. some of the guys in our group jumped up to shake his hand. i wish i had, but i usually would have viewed that as brown-nosing. principles-be-damned, i wish i had done it. then about 8 months later he announced his candidacy on a very cold morning. i wanted to hear his speech, and again i was impressed. this guy gets it, and now he is our president! what a change from someone who drove our country into the ground to someone who will start the healing process. this will take many years and maybe several more administrations, but i think we are headed in the right direction. i know he is not our savior (Jesus has dibs on that title and role), but i think Obama will be a great leader.

the church is changing also. in my last post i wrote about minister's school at tan-tar-a. lots of posts in the blogosphere have been discussing this event and i have had some conversation with some of my colleagues about the event and the emerging church that we talked about there at the school. the emergent movement is difficult to describe, but basically it is an organic way to do church that honors the traditions that have worked, returned to talking about theology in a very serious way, and works to include everyone. at least that is the idea. i find aspects of the movement promising for the united Methodist church, which is in need of another big renewal. i see the way the church is weighted down with bueacracy and i am convinced that John Wesley would be rolling in his grave. but as i posted on a couple people's blogs, i wouldn't still be trying to get into this system if i didn't think the church was still capable of discerning and doing God's will in the world and in the community. so i will be learning more about what the movement has to offer and see what i can do to integrate it into the church i am serving.

i am constantly changing too. i feel that my preaching style is still evolving and improving, and my leadership and pastoral skills will be changing and improving as i settle into my new appointment. I'll keep y'all posted on how that all goes.

in Christ's love

rev rob

Thursday, January 15, 2009

relfections on minister's school and emergant chruch

i just returned from the missouri united methodist church's minister's school in tan-tar-a, a resort on "the lake" in missouri. the main focus of the few days we were there was how to use technology and learnings from "the emergant church movement" in our own churches. well, setting up this blog is step one of this engagement. ok, actually it is step two, because step one was me starting to read about the emergent chruch movement with a couple of books. first i read "the great emergence: how the chruch is changing and why" by phylis tickle. great book. i actually used some of the material in my sermon last sunday. the second book i started reading (i still have a bit to go) is "the new christians: dispatches from the emergent village" or somthing like that. the author is tony jones, and he was one of the main featured guests. i think he was also the one that pushed most people's buttons. this morning there was a "conversaton" between him and the bishop that really should have been moderated because it wasn't the most respectfull conversation (that goes for both parties). it wasn't jerry fallwell ugly, but i was kinda dissappointed.

aside from that, the minister's school was really well worth while. i have left it with more questions than answers for my ministry. the main question is "ok, now what?" the big problem with the emergent church movement is that there isn't really an owner's manuel. there is not a set of directions. that is one of the beauties of the movement, but also a frustration of a somewhat liniar thinker like i am. i can see that there are things tony said and is in his book that i actually already use, but how to work some of these ideas into such a complex structure such as the united methodist church is going to take frying some synapses on my part.

anywho, i hope that if you have taken the time to read this and that you were there you will comment on my reflections and keep this dialogue going.

btw, i will be heading out to colorado tomorrow to see my grandfather, possibly for the last time. not sure what kind of shape he is in. he turns 93 today. happy bday papa. i love you.

in christ's love


Welcome to my blog

Hey there. this is my first attempt at a blog, and my laptop battery is about to run out. I have a lot on my mind, so i will make sure that i get them on here.

in christ's love,

rev. rob