Monday, January 30, 2006

And catching up to do

So many things going on...

The anniversary of the shuttle Challenger's explosion came and went last week. As someone who grew up during the true heyday of the space program it was a terrible event. I worked at a radio station and my desk was in the news room with most of the other announcers. They had the launch on the small TV that sat over the news desks and I was watching the vehicle climb. To this day I remember the last command given before the explosion "Go throttle up". I listen for it each time I watch a shuttle go up over the last 20 years. It didn't take an expert to see that something catastrophic had just taken place and I know that I cried out. The scene is still vivid in my mind. I try to remember to pray for all those who go where I would still dearly love to go. Into space.

My life as a bachelor continues. With my lady wife in the hospital following hip surgery (which went very well) and my daughter on a mission trip it's me and the two cats for just over a week. It's a great reminder of how much the rest of my family does around the house now that it all falls on me. I'm happy to report that I and the cats are surviving quite nicely thank you. Check back with me in a few days!

I know there were several other things I meant to share but they're eluding me at the moment. I did see a bumpersticker that made me both very angry and very sad simultaneously. I'll write about that soon.


Friday, January 27, 2006

A moment to breathe

I've just about run myself off my feet. So let me catch up.

First for Bill Johnson out at the Rocky Mountain News - How's Pittsburgh looking right now? It's a beautiful city this time of year.

Yeah, that was rubbing it in.

In the last week my wife has gone in for hip surgery (long story, short version is that this is a good thing) and my daughter has gone on a mission trip to Honduras. So it's me and the cats for about a week. We'll see how that goes.

Finally I continue to struggle with what this blog is supposed to be. I keep trying to seperate my private life and my faith life. Which I know is silly and just wrong. So I finally sat down and said "OK, let's stop worrying about what we're doing and figure out why"

And I think I have it. Deep in my heart of hearts I don't want people to think about me as a "minister" or "person of faith". Why? Because in my experience such people tend to be tight asses and boring and people who want to beat on you (one way or the other) with their faith. And I want no part of that image. That's exactly who I don't want to be.

Then it hit me - I am a minister and I am a person of faith and I DON'T whale on people with my faith and I don't think I'm a tight ass and I certainly try not to be boring and I hope that I've got some serious joy to share.

So that's what this is going to be about. Being me - a person of faith who's currently trying to minister to some of his fellow children of God who has the occasional drink and has been known to swear when appropriate (and yes there are perfectly appropriate times to cuss), who lives and loves and just generally enjoys the living daylights out of life as much as he can.

I'll keep talking about faith (although I will edit any sermons in the future. 15 minutes of talk is a LOT of print)and talking about the stuff that happens and what makes me craxy in this mized up world and what brings me joy.

And that other image can be sent straight to the shredder. Not wanted nor needed.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Choking Game

Okay I'm way behind on things I want to post but this is more important. If you work with youth and haven't heard about the "Choking Game" then you need to read THIS from Tom Reindl at the Faith through Jesus blog. This isn't a joke or some overblown piece of hype. It's something we need to know about and to be ready to deal with because it's 1: Very Dangerous and 2: Very Stupid.

I remember mostly girls doing this same kind of thing when I was in elementary and junior high school so it's not even new. But depriving your brain of oxygen, for ANY reason, is something that we need to stand up and fight.

Other stuff coming tomorrow, I promise.


Friday, January 20, 2006

We Three Kings

Sermon for 1 Epiphany
I talked about the three kings that morning. This is an edit of the whole sermon

Now at this time of year when we speak of gifts our thoughts tend to leap to brightly wrapped packages under the tree but those are not the gifts that have been foremost in my mind. It is the gifts that all of us have both individually and collectively and how we deal with those gifts. The Magi present an interesting example of what to do with gifts.
It is the giving of our gifts that has been central in my thinking recently. Over the next year you're going to hear a lot of discussion about community in our diocese. Community is the at the center of the sharing of gifts. It is in community that we bring together whatever we have and offer it for the common good. Gifts are large and small and the only time that gifts do not work to the good of all is when we refuse to share them. And there's the hard part – sharing. Watch any group of two year olds together and you will see the perfect example of how not to share.

As I look at the place of young people in the Body of Christ the problem I see most often has to do with the sharing of gifts. Or rather the TROUBLE with the sharing of gifts. It is a problem on both sides of the equation too, both young people and adults. How often do things NOT happen because either the young people or the adults aren't willing to give up their time, their effort, their talents to make something work. Like the Magi we need to bring our gifts, lay them down and walk away. And in doing so we will discover that we walk away richer than when we began. As a community of faith we will make not only our lives but the lives of those around us richer as well.
So what gifts do we have to offer our young people and what gifts do they have to offer us? As the older brothers and sisters in Christ we carry with us tradition and inherited wisdom from those who have gone before us. This does not make us wise necessarily but rather makes us bearers of wisdom. That wisdom is not ours in any way shape or form. Rather it is gift that we have been given responsibility. Central to that responsibility is the requirement, not the option I believe, but the REQUIREMENT to pass it along, to share it, to teach it, to live it. If that wisdom is not freely and easily accessible to our younger brothers and sisters then of what use is it to them? In fact why should they even believe that such wisdom exists? Wisdom is a road map that says this way was tried before and this is what happened and this is why. So maybe you want to try a different way or at least try a different approach. It is also a tool that grows and remains sharp only when it is used.

I also mentioned tradition. I should note that mentioning church tradition to most teen agers will get you rolled eyes and an agonized moan. The reason for this is that too often they see tradition as manacles designed to stop them from doing things rather than tools that can make their journey easier. My contention is that sharing tradition means that we understand that tradition is a way of joining a community, a community not only of those folks we see here at St. Philip's on Sundays in the 21st century but also with the people who have worshiped in this community going back to its founding. And that our traditions make us members of a community that dates back through the history of our country, leaps back across the ocean to England and from that island to the earliest Christian communities in the Holy Land.

Here's one of my favorite traditions, the Book of Common Prayer. It is a rich resource for any person's life in faith but I think it is an especially valuable tool for a young person just beginning their walk with God. I will admit that upon occasion, when the sermon has not deeply touched me, I will explore the Book of Common Prayer in my pew. I have always felt that clergy would prefer that to me nodding off and snoring. What a wondrous book this is and yet one that many of us spend all too little time with most days. If you are a young person beginning a life in faith it can be hard sometimes to figure out what you're supposed to do or say. Young people tell me all the time that they don't know what to say when they pray. I tell them not worry, just look it up. (This book is filled with prayers for every occasion plus guidelines for history and even daily study of the Bible) I did a quick scan and found prayers for the Use of Leisure Time, for an election, for families and another for our enemies, plus one specifically for young people and even one on the proper use of God's gifts. Next time a young person needs to say grace remind them that there are no less than FOUR in the prayer book.

There are also traditions of love and support and healing and understanding that can give our young people the strength to carry on in a difficult world.

We must also remember that community is a two way street. What then are the gifts that our young people bring to us? As a group what gifts can they offer their community of faith?

I believe that the most important one is making us uncomfortable. The natural questions of someone who is exploring the world are exactly what we need to keep us thinking. It is far too easy to become comfortable, to simply walk our way through without pause or consideration. And because young people are not expected to know everything they can ask questions that maybe many of the adults would like to ask but are too embarrassed to admit they don't know the answer. Their questions become a gift when we allow ourselves to be drawn back into the process of discovery. Often we will find that in doing so we too discover something that we had forgotten or had never seen before. The questions continue the growth of the wisdom that our young people will then care for, preparing to pass it along to the generations that follow them.

Another of the gifts they bring to us is impatience. An impatience with waiting, an impatience with things that don't make sense. Because that impatience forces us to reassess what we're doing and how we do it. It forces us to decide what's important and what isn't. Their foot tapping, eye rolling, big sighs "Will you please get on with it" impatience makes us trim the dead wood away from our life in community. It's easy to live with somethings that really don't work any more simply because we're comfortable with them. Our young people will look at those parts of our life together insist that something needs to be done about them. When we find ourselves fighting to preserve every last button and dust mote we need to remind ourselves that while lighting the house with candles was certainly good enough for Jesus we really do have better ways of doing that today. Everything that we hold as traditions today was once a new and exciting change. Another historical aside – when the Book of Common Prayer was first created in England it was greeted with riots in some churches.

When we add in all the individual gifts that we each bring, be it music or cleaning or organization or preaching or teaching we find that we can live in a community of faith that is so rich and diverse that we may be dazzled by the possibilities Any humble home may become the center of great richness and joy.
Unlike the Magi we will not have to travel for years to find our goal, we will not have to inquire if we've found the right house.

Here is the house that you seek. You are the Magi the wise men and wise women, the wise young people and wise children bearing with you a multitude of gifts unimagined by those Magi two thousand years ago. Gifts still offered to the King of Kings. Not on one day only but now and forever.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Some things require a response

In the past I have mentioned how impressed I've been with the people in the state of Colorado. In fact with the exception of my personal jinx at Denver's airport I've never had a bad thing to say about anyone or anything in that state.

That may have to change.

Bill Johnson is a columnist for the Rocky Mountain News. In a current column in preparation for the upcoming Steelers Broncos playoff game apparently he visited the 'Burgh (link to the column in the title). I say apparently because he refers to Pittsburgh (my home town) as " butt ugly town".

Apparently he was taken aback by the vociferous nature of Steelers fans. If you've never been around some of my homeboys it can be a little surprising. Pittsburgh is a FOOTBALL town. The Pirates? Nice. The Penguins? OK. Basketball? Well them Panthers seem to be playin some good ball. But Steeler football? You better step back and make a little room because there WILL be a demonstration. I can understand him being put off if he wasn't prepared.

I'm a little puzzled as to where he was staying since he says he was "...across the Ohio" from downtown. The Ohio flows straight away from downtown (or dahntahn as it's pronounced in my home country). If you're across a river it's either the Allegheny or the Mon.

But that to one side. "Butt Ugly"? I'm afraid I may have to set aside my preference for non-violent confrontation and ask Mr. Johnson to step outside. Quite simply Pittsburgh has one of the most beautiful skylines in the world. Several travel magazines over the last decade have agreed. Want the best view? At night, either on Mt. Washington (that would be across the Monongahela River from downtown Bill) or as you come through the Liberty Tunnels (or Tubes) from the south side of town. Check these out: 

or this:


Butt ugly? I see from his pic that Bill wears glasses (as do I). Time to either clean 'em or get them checked Billy boy.

The game this weekend should be a barn burner. Two great running teams with two great defenses. As a member of Steeler Nation I hope and believe that the Black and Gold will prevail.

And the next time Bill Johnson rolls into town I'll personally give him the grand tour and buy him a meal at Primanti's.

But only if he promises to get his eyes checked.

Peace Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

You have WHAT kind of homework?

Saw this over on Marko's blog ysmarko and just about fell out of my chair! At what point did the teacher's brain stop working?

Porn homework


Whew! That's a relief!

A liberal but not a heretic..hmmm........

You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.

Chalcedon compliant




























Are you a heretic?
created with


Saturday, January 14, 2006

Welcome from Indy!

I'm in Indianapolis for the weekend. What a time for a native Pittsburgh boy to visit this fair city! The Colts are here tonight at the same hotel as me too! I have a Steelers sweatshirt that I'm probably going to wear tomorrow. The Patriots just lost as I type this.

I'm at a national Christian Ed conference in my denomination, nice folks but about as boring as it sounds.


Monday, January 09, 2006

A neat moment

I've suddenly got lots of ideas for blog entries! But I wanted to share this real life moment with you all.

I have a former youth, now a young adult who works at a business locally that I frequent. It's allowed me to stay in touch with him (unlike most of his contemporaries) The years since he left youth group have been tough. He's had several bad relationships, one of which ended up in a beautiful little girl. The mom has sometimes made his life pretty difficult. I've heard stories that this young man has had some problems with drugs as well. His financial situation has been up and down needless to say. Through it all I've just tried to stay in touch, say hello, ask about his daughter, whatever. He's been in my heart a lot over the years, hoping that this kid (I once gave him a letter of recommendation that said if my own daughter ever brought home a young man like him I'd be quite proud. I've never felt the inclination to change that assessment even when I knew he was in some very bad places)

Well I saw him again the other day. He told me about the new house he'd just bought, the better relationship he was in, how well his daughter was doing and the decision he'd made to get the "bad people" out of his life and focus on "the good people". I felt like cheering.

I didn't have anything to do with the immediate changes in his life. I can only hope that something I helped plant years ago helped him hang on and got him headed in the right direction.

I thank God for watching over this young man and will tap me on the shoulder if the time comes when I can help him again.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

He's got a screw loose

The story link is in the title above.

Pat Robertson believes that God has been bumping off Israeli Prime Ministers. Yep, Ariel Sharon's stroke was a divine intervention.

My question? Too many to go into but the primary one is why do we pay any attention to Pat anymore?


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Italian Court to determine if Jesus Existed!

Hokey Smokes Batman!

This is a for serious case between two Italian guys. The court has tried to make it go away but failed. Click on the title for the story.

I can hardly wait to see what they decide!


Tuesday, January 03, 2006

365+ to be an Episcopalian

The link to this site is in the title above, just click and go. It's an ongoing project involving Anglicans from all over the globe.

I love my tradition. Boy did I have to think about the wording of that sentence! There's plenty I don't love about my denomination, locally, nationally and worldwide. But I can't imagine being anything OTHER than a 'Piskie. The combination of protestant and catholic, the big tent on worship and belief.

Just thought I'd share. Not everyone will agree with every idea about being an Anglican. But that's a part of being an Anglican too.