Friday, December 29, 2006

Dungeons & Dragons

Despite myself, I am beginning to become excited. A couple of our Junior High students have exibited an interest in D&D. In fact, one of them has approached me and asked me to run a campaign. Suddenly, I feel like Wil Wheaton sharing his love of "geeky" things with his step-kids.
I truly love telling stories and playing games, and D&D is such a wonderful way of doing that. It's the most cooperative passtime I've ever been a part of, and that's one of the things I love most about it. It's not an "I win, you loose, ha ha ha" kind of game at all. So I hope this works out, and that I'll have a chance to collaborate on a great story with some of our youth, soon!

Be good to each other,
Rev Josh

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Miracle of the Christmas Mic

A Charlie Brown Christmas has been striking a chord with all kinds of people from the religious to the not so religious (and even geeks to some extent!) since the mid sixties. So it should come as no surprise that (a) I posted Linus' famous speach just before Christmas. (Incidentally, check out what Linus does when he gets to the spot about "Fear not!" I believe that's the only time you'll see Linus do that on film!) and (b) That I thought to myself, "that'll preach" and decided to use it in my Christmas Eve sermon. Ah, but I was crafty! I roped in one of our Jr. High students (thank you, Kathleen!) to read the part of Linus when I got there in my sermon. I decided to give her the cordless hand mic, and have her read from her seat, so as to make it a surprise. And that's why this post is called "The Miracle of the Christmas Mic." My sermon was just that good.

Just kidding.

The miracle was this: The microphone almost didn't make it. It was to be used three times during the service. Once for the lighting of the Advent candles, once for the solo vocalist offertory, and when Kathleen was being Linus for the sermon. The deacon of the evening (Eric) went and got the mic for the Advent Candles, and noticed that the batteries were just about shot. So he turned off the mic, and didn't turn it on again until it was time for the solo, with the thought that if the mic made it throught the solo, we'd be in the clear. So he took the mic, turned it off, and put it back in its stand when the solo was done. At which point Kathleen did exactly what I told her to do. She got up, nabbed the mic, and proceeded to try to turn it on.

Now, imagine the look on Eric's face. Priceless.

So it's about time for the sermon, and I see Eric go up to Kathleen, take the mic from her, and leave. It turns out he's looking for batteries, but I don't know that yet.

Now, imagine the look on my face. Priceless.

So I buy us some time through prayer. I mean, isn't it lucky that I always pray right before I preach? So I give Eric what time I can, then, noting that he's in the pew in front of Kathleen (with no new batteries, but I don't know that yet) looking anxious, I begin to preach. When we get to Kathleen's Linus reading, I see Eric turn on the mic and hand it to her. She reads just a little bit fast, but honestly, so does Linus. She did a great job. It was fun watching people trying to figure out who was reading, and where it was coming from. I saw lots of nodding heads, agreeing with the Linus message. And she made it all the way through! And Eric takes the mic from Kathleen, and goes to turn it off.

But he doesn't have to.

Because the batteries have given out.

Kathleen literally finished her reading in the nick of time. She finished just before the mic.

And that is the miracle of the Christmas Mic.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I Can't Say It Any Better

I never noticed this before, but pay close attention to Linus and his security blanket...

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Who is Ministering to Who, Here?

Pastor Ed told me this story about one of our fellow clergyfolk. Apparently it was the middle of Advent, as it is now. (I like to imagine that maybe he had performed a funeral or two already that week, as I'm doing now.) In any case, it was the middle of Advent, and this pastor went to visit an elderly shut-in member of his congregation. And so he entered her house, which was quite warm, and sat down in a confortable chair to visit with her.

And then, quite suddenly, he realized that she was grasping his shoulder and asking him if he was okay.

He had fallen asleep.

When he explained that he had drifted off, she responded, ever so kindly, "You must be very tired."

Isn't that just about the sweetest thing you've ever heard?

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Friday, December 08, 2006

Abolitionist? Today? Really?

Yes, really. It's not something we think about a lot as U.S. citizens, since slavery is not legal here. We think of it as a thing of the past. I thank one of our youth for reminding me that it is not. You'll notice that I've linked Elizabeth's blog in my link list, please go check it out. But before you do that, look at this video she e-mailed to me. It's heartbreaking...

But that's why you have to see it.

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Every Time It Rains, It Rains Pennies from Heaven

Thanks to Jenny for finding this on the Mental Floss site this morning. As I was eating my breakfast, I looked up and she had this image up on our computer.

"What is that?" I ask. (To me it looks like somebody drove a tractor trailer truck into the ocean.)

"Apparently a cargo container fell off a ship and washed up on the Outer Banks of NC a few days ago. It must have broken open, because bags and bags of Doritos washed up too! And they were all still in their bags, so the chips were still good!"

Mmmm, nothing like the taste of free ocean Doritos!

Shooby Dooby

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

Friday, December 01, 2006

More, more, more!

I ran across this today, and I simply must share it. Robert Needlman, M.D. gives us some advice on how to avoid Christmas becoming only about the presents.

Pay close attention to the developmental psychology, it's telling.

He writes:

Here in the world's richest country, we often confuse material things for love. "I give him everything," a frustrated mother complains, "New shoes, videogames, his own TV. You'd think he'd at least show me respect!"

Of course, love and consumer goods are related. Most parents work hard to earn money. They want their children to have more than they did. They sacrifice so that their children can have better lives.

The problem is, most children don't connect the things parents buy with the labor that pays for them. Children have more, but our culture -- and television in particular -- teaches them that more is never enough. Having more does not guarantee that a child feels loved.

From a parent's point of view, this all may seem like plain ingratitude. But normal developmental forces are at work. Young children see their parents as all-powerful. If parents fail to provide what they want, it must be a matter of choice. It's normal for children, even well into school-age, to not be able to take another person's point of view. For example, they may resent their parent for working long hours, and not realize that the parent would also rather have more time at home.

As hard as these issues are all year round, they're even harder during the holidays. For many children, Christmas is all about the presents. Even in devout families, it's easy for the religious meaning to be lost amid the tinsel and wrapping paper. At the same time, the holidays heighten needs for connection and belonging which cannot be filled by more and bigger presents.

Instead, we have to find other ways to express love and create memories. Reading or telling stories together, making music, playing games, are all ways for families to spend time without spending money. Traditions like midnight services, caroling, favorite poems, even snowball fights, all serve the same purpose. Most important, as parents, we have to learn to hold back some energy from our exhausting jobs and all-consuming careers. When we're present for our children we ourselves become the presents we want to give.

To read see the original article, click here

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day, and tonight I'll be doing my part in the annual World AIDS Day service. (7pm at United Methodist) But maybe that doesn't help you (or impress you much) out there in cyber-space, so here are some links to some on-line resources:

Ecumenical Advocacy Allience

The Balm In Gilead, Inc.


Personally, I will always remember a sign held by a demonstrator outside of General Synod in Kansas City, oh, a few years ago. I talk about that experience here. Anyway, Synod was being picketed by Fred Phelps' ravaging horde--er... I mean his church. Several signs caught my attention, some so badly graphic that I won't describe them here. But I will tell you about this one. It said that AIDS was a plague sent by God to destroy the fags.

I beg to disagree, on every aspect of that thought.

First, AIDS can be caught by anyone, gender and orientation have nothing to do with it. Not one thing. It can be spread through sexual contact and blood, and there are many, many ways that can happen.

Second, I don't believe that gay men and lesbians warrent such vehement hatred to begin with. Of course, Jesus told us not to judge each other at all, and I'm obviously having my own problems not judging people like Fred Phelps and his ravaging horde--er... church. So maybe I'll just let this point drop for the moment.

Third, I don't believe that God sent AIDS to punish or destroy anyone. Not the queer community, not druggies, not even Fred Phelps' ravaging horde--er... church.

Here's the bottom line. There needs to be more education and less stigma attached to HIV/AIDS.

Don't you think?

Be good to each other,
Rev. Josh