Monday, March 27, 2006

Gman again

yeah, he's got another list thing that struck me:

The Power of Four

Four jobs I've have had in my life:

1, Dishwasher
2. Bell Hop
3. Radio DJ
4. Muffin Baker

Four movies I would watch (and have watched) over and over:

1. The Big Chill
2. Casablanca
3. STar Wars
4. Raiders of the Lost Ark

Four places I have lived:

1. Gibsonia, PA
2. Jamestown, NY
3. Edinboro, PA
4. California, PA

Four TV shows I love to watch:

1. C.S.I.
2. West Wing
3. This Old House
4. Two and a Half Men

Four places I have been on vacation:

1. Lake Tahoe, CA
2. Williamsburg VA
3. Gettsyburg, PA
4. Toronto, Ontario

Four websites I visit daily:

4. I went back and looked and there AREN'T four sites I visit every day.

Four of my favorite foods:

1. Italian
2. Chinese
3. Sandwiches
4. Chocolate

Four places I would rather be right now:

1. At home
2. With my wife, wherever
3. Pittsburgh, PA
4. Puerto Rico


And a little child...

Well I'm exhausted!

Three events in two days, two of them an hour and a half drive away on consecutive days. Saw the installation of our new cathedral dean and spoke with her briefly. Seems very nice and the congregation seems excited about having her as their spiritual leader. Then back home for an ice skating party on my Lutheran schedule (fairly successful I think). Then up bright and early for a presentation at a church in Buffalo, which also went very well. But a lot of driving (300-400 miles). I didn't wake up this morning till after 9!

But what really jumped out at me was the sermon yesterday. Deacon Edith Patterson preached on the feeding of the multitude and did what every preacher hopes they can do. She brought something to my attention that I had never noticed before. I doubt what I noted was on her radar as she prepared to preach (the whole sermon was very nice) but something struck me about that well known story that I had never thought about.

There's some discussion about what really happened at the time of this miracle. Out of all those thousands was there in fact only one person who had brought ANY food for the day? To many that seems unlikely and the miracle they believe was one where greedy folks who had in fact brought food, but had kept it to themselves the first time they were asked, eventually shared so that everyone ate. The traditional view is that the miracle was simply taking little and creating more.

But that's not the point of what struck me. Out of all that crowd of thousands, all those adults, only one person offered up what they had. It was a boy, a youth, a child. No matter how you choose to interpret the miracle think about this - one young person had that little bit of something (remember the "loaves" mentioned were probably the size of dinner rolls and the fish the size of sardines. Thanks Deacon Edith!)that was justifiably his. And he handed it over when the master asked. The adults were either too dumb to be prepared or too greedy to share.

I'm always looking for stories of young people in the scriptures. I've read this story probably 500 times in my life. Never saw that young man standing there.

And a child shall lead them.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A Collect for Young Christians

(which could be used as a specific commissioning)

All-holy God, source of every blessing: We thank you for the mystery of transformation in body, mind and spirit that brings children to adulthood. We rejoice with you in the energy, imagination and truth-seeking that young people bring to your Church, challenging us all to grow into the full stature of Christ. Bless our youth [or, N. {and N…}] with courage and persistence as they offer their unique gifts in your service, and assist us who support them in the discernment of your will, that your Body may reflect the fullness of Incarnation to your honor and glory; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and guide. Amen.

My thanks to the Rev. Susan Anslow Williams for this.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Gman's questions

Every week my friend Gman offers a set of questions for youth ministers. You can check his blog through the link on the right. I've looked at the questions for a while now and this week I'll take them on.

Gs Q 4 YM

"The Lord is nigh unto all that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth." Psalm 145:18

1. What is on your "To Read" list? Oh Lordy where to begin? I have a stack of 11 books sitting here in my office that I'd like to read (and another stack of about 6 that are being considered, though not very hard) Plus I'd love to read something just for enjoyment and escapism. I'm currently reading "A Prayer for Owen Meany" which I've never read before.

2. Who is your favorite Cartoon character? Gotta be Calvin and Hobbes. Yes, I know that's TWO characters but they're inseperable. Close behind them is Opus.

3. What was the last thing you watched on TV? My lady wife starts her day with re-runs so I watch some with her. It's Buffy, then The Practice and if we are slow in the morning Spin City. Last night I watched a tape of the Formula One race in Malaysia, The West Wing and Crossing Jordan

4. What was something you got rejected about? The last role I auditioned for at the local community theater.

5. What is something you got accepted for? This job, for which I was largely unqualified.

6. What is something you are afraid of? Heights.

7. What is the hardest thing you have had to do this week? Travel a lot. I'm tired and just want to stay at home.

A. Prayer: Please be with my family as we continue to make our way through so many changes this year. That includes my wife, my daughter and my brothers.

B. Praise: Thank you for the special time my lady wife and I got to spend with each other over the weekend. You know how much better that made me feel!

C. Other: Help me get through all this buget paperwork that has suddenly decided to be a pain in my life again.

Copyright 2006. Gerrard R. Fess. Free to pass onto all those March Madness Fans.

I'm not a March Madness fan but I think Gerrard will give me a pass.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Oh and a momentous event

I almost forgot.

A momentous occasion took place at the airport. There is a little girl that I first met when her age was still computed in days or weeks I think. And since that day she has never had the time of day for me. Once she learned to speak her favorite words for me were "Stop!" and "No". The stop command was hysterical because she would put out her hand in the classic position, look me straight in the eye and say it very seriously. Other folks, even other males would get a hug or say hello, but never me. She'd take one look at me and say "No!". Never hysterical or fear reaction, just did not want me in her life.

Which made me kinda sad. Cause she a cute little tyke and I like her family a whole lot.

Well last night she said Hi, gave me a hug and even teased me a little. Not a Stop or No to be heard.

Almost made waiting in baggage claim feel good.

Thank you Willow.


And Back from Atlanta

Hmmm, had virtually no travel "adventures" this time. Felt kinda strange. Delta did annoy me a little though. I've gotten used to "jetway checking" my carry on bag. You get a neat little tag, they pick up your bag just before you get on and bring it back to the jetway at the other end. It allows me to avoid the baggage claim.

But not (apparently) on Delta. They will give you a tag BUT you then have to chase it down in the baggage area. Which was especially annoying since Buffalo was fogged in and outbound flights were being cancelled right and left. So all that baggage had to be sent back down for pick up. Plus to be honest the Delta employees in the terminal were rather abrupt. It wasn't that they were rude, it was more that you were keeping them from doing something "useful/important" Not the flight crew however. They were very nice. But Delta is NOT my carrier of choice at the moment.

The young people were fabulous! What a great group from Hawaii to the Dominican Republic. Articulate, intelligent and a lot of fun to hang out with. General Convention is a LOT of work for everyone. It helps when you have folks around you that you trust and enjoy. I think I'm going to enjoy this immensely. Then I'm going to be exhausted!

Well lots still to do.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Report from Atlanta

I'm in Atlanta for the weekend, working with an amazing group of young people. They are the General Convention Official Youth Presence. Two young people from each of the provinces chosen to bring the voice of young people to the highest councils of our church. I had the chance to work with a similar group of young people three years ago and the experience was just astounding. They were articulate voices for their age group and had a true effect on the conversations last time. As I get to know them better I'll share some of my thoughts with you.

I did have a truly wonderful experience when I arrived. At the Atlanta airport while I was waiting for some of the young people to arrive I sat in the large central waiting area. The Atlanta area has several military bases so you see a lot of military personnel in uniform in the airport. But four times a military unit would file through, some 50-100 men and women. When the units moved through everyone in the waiting area would begin to applaud. About 2/3s of us would also stand. The applause would continue until the last member of the unit passed through. I found myself moved deeply by the display. First because I'm the son of a Navy officer. He was on active duty the day I was born. The loneliness and pain of a military family, left behind while their loved one(s) are in harm's way have a special place in my heart.
The other reason is that I'm old enough to (just) remember the pain faced by the veterans returning from Viet Nam. What was done to the members of our armed forces at that time was a terrible, un-American act. It strikes to the very heart of the relationship between the nation and the military. And it's something that must never happen again.
What ever your opinion about the war may be we need to separate the policy from the troops. Those are citizen soldiers. Quite simply "they" are "us".
I was proud to applaud those soldiers. And I pray that every single one of them comes home to family and friends safely.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

And quickly...

I have a new column to share with you as soon as I can get back to the computer on which I wrote it! It was created during my "exile" period and I forgot to copy it and bring it home. So probably next week.

In the meantime I'm off to Atlanta to work with the GCOYP. That's the General Convention Official Youth Presence, a group of young people chosen to bring a voice for their age group to Convention. They are given seat and voice so they can address the issues facing the church. I did this 3 years ago and it was an amazing experience with an incredible group of youth. My primary function (beyond serving as a stellar example of what NOT to do!) is teaching them how to deal with the media. Since I worked in radio for 19.5 years including stints as news person and talk show host and morning personality (can you imagine waking up to me?). So I get to tell them how to "deal" with the media. What are the secrets:
Never lie to them.
Give short answers.
Offering them food never hurts.
Ok the first two are serious the third only sorta. Most media folk aren't making the big bucks. It never hurts to have a media event and have some decent food just "lying around". Yes, it really can be that easy. Of course if you violate the first two rules the third one won't help. We can be swayed but not bought by food.

Looking forward to some warmer weather, looks like low 70s. Fun fun fun!

Friday, March 03, 2006

A New link

I've added a couple new links to other blogs along the side here.

The first is the new blog by Ryan Nielsen. Ryan is the long time web master of the Pastor2Youth Here. I've had a link to that site from my own website for several years now. Great resources, so I recommend you cruise on by if you haven't already.

As for the blog - check out the February 15 entry especially. Ryan's just getting started but I believe he'll be a worthy addition to your regular blog surfing.

The second is the blog of Mark Ostreicher, known affectionately to all and sundry as Marko. He's the current boss man at Youth Specialties but that's not why I've added him. He's smart, he's dedicated and he has a great sense of humor. Plus the only important thing - he's worth reading.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

An Arrogant Christianity

I was walking through a parking lot the other day when a bumper sticker caught my eye. For reasons I can't explain I've been a bumper sticker fan most of my life. This despite the fact that I don't like having them on my own car. The only one I've had read "If you love Jesus, TITHE, anyone can honk".


This one made me equal parts angry and sad. It read:

Try Jesus, if you don't like Him you can always go back to Satan

I literally stopped and went back to make sure I had read it right. My first impulse as a person of faith was to scrape the bumper sticker off or disfigure it so that no one else would have to look at it. Then I was overwhelmed at the sadness that some person thought this was a form of evangelization. That it represents the Gospel or God.

It is the overwhelming arrogance of the statement. The underlying message is "I'm going to Heaven and you're going to Hell. Nyah!" I'm always appalled at folks who seem to revel in pointing out who's "going to Hell". It's arrogant to think we know or have any business making such judgements. For that matter it's arrogant to automatically assume that any of us are going to Heaven. Yes I believe in the grace of a forgiving God. But grace by definition is something unearned and therefore we have no right to declare ourselves saved. That we have hope of salvation, yes. That we should start getting fitted for our halos? Arrogance.

Even beyond that how can any of us so blithely just dismiss one of God's children this way? The only responsible reaction to a person who chooses to turn away should be mourning tempered by a determination to work harder to assist in revealing God to them.

If we believe that we are judged by how we live our lives, how we represent a life in faith in this world, by the fruits of our faith how can we not be outraged at the sentiment of this bumper sticker?

This is not what we are called to be or do or say.