Prayers for L

I have been blessed in so many ways. There are so many people in my life who have no reason to be there except that God saw fit to pour upon me yet another blessing. Yes, I know how narcissistic that sounds, but I am unwilling to chalk all these wonderful people up to coincidence and I can only hope that I can be of some blessing in return.

One of these blessings I shall refer to as E. E is an incredible inspiration to our faith community. If the tiles on the roof of your church slide back and a bed is lowerd into the midst of the worship service and upon this bed is a paralytic, I can assure you that E will be hoisting at least one of the ropes. His heart is for the dirty, the worn, the thrown-away.

E came across a man — let’s call him L — who is familiar with people catching a glimpse of him and then quickly averting their gaze. E averted nothing. E engaged. E got to know L. He began bringing L to church. E lives accross the street from the church, but regularly drove to the other side of town to pick up L in front of the house where L lives in the shed behind, to give him a ride to church. One Sunday E brought L back to his house for a change of clothes. L was refusing to come along because his were dirty. With a fresh shirt L joined E that morning.

E is a Nuclear Physicist — seriously. He was finishing up some graduate work at the local university when we got to know him. With his graduate studies behind him, E took a job in Washington, DC in nonproliferation. E packed his belongings and set out for Washington several weeks ago. Before leaving, E made it a point to gather several of us together to talk with L and arrange transportation for him. We learned that my son and I have breakfast at the IHOP located just a half a block from L’s shed. I told L that my son and I would enjoy his company for breakfast anytime and to consider it my treat since it would be so nice to have someone else to talk to so I wouldn’t have to listen to my son talk about the Yankees all through breakfast.

Today was the third week in a row with no sign of L. Another couple also came by to give L a ride and even went knocking on the sheds in the neighborhood and calling out L’s name. No response. We have asked E for ideas on how to reconnect with L. We have prayed individually and as a community for L and for the opportunity to again serve him. I now ask you also to pray for L — for forgiveness if we spoke out of anything but love, for an opportunity to reconnect with L and for wisdom to meet L where he is and place no condition upon him to receive our love as a community. May L experience God through and among us.

Out and About

We have a tradition in our community of believers. On the second Sunday of July we do not have worship at our church but rather the community is expected to worship in another church in the area. Some go out individually while some go in small groups. We are encouraged to worship in a church that may be a bit out of our comfort zone or perhaps just a church that we always ‘wondered’ about.

Last year a few of us attended Vintage 21. This is an ACTS 29 church and is a must attend for anyone who fears — or contends — that emergent churches are somehow relinquishing any claim to solid, conservative, evengelical theology. The message was clear and undiluted… and the music was top-notch.

The one hitch in the giddy-up I experienced during my visit to Vintage 21 was their approach to communion. Row by row, individuals went to the back and through a short hallway. From a bowl on a small table, each individual took a piece of bread and dipped it in a bowl of juice next to the bread. Having supped, each individual made their individual way back to their individual seat. I thought to my individual self, “that sucked.” I have grown to so much appreciate communion as a, well… as a communal engagement. There are hugs, smiles and more hugs. Afterall, the community just took part in a wonderful reenactment of community.

Well, this year my son and I decided to attend a worship service with the Saint Sharbel Mission. This is a Maronite (Lebanese Catholic) church. St. Sharbel is a small church community. There were maybe forty or fifty in the pews including children. In many ways it was a typical Catholic service. There was a good deal of ritual and a liberal dose of incense, for which I have yet to develope a nose. There was singing; no instruments, but much singing. Some was in English and some in Aramaic. These people can sing. The message concerned the violence and oppression back home and relating it to the persecution of their patron saint who was martyred. The message was a brief fifteen minutes or so.

The most powerful experience for me… well, there was actually two. Hearing the Lord’s Prayer in the original tongue was incredibly moving. I am still surprised how moving that was. The second is the children. The biggest, darkest brown eyes. These are the eyes Jesus looked into in Matthew 19:13. There was no effort to send the children to nursery or children’s church. Nope, they were there, right where Jesus wanted them. As I think about it, there was a third powerful experience. I had never been a part of ‘passing the peace’. How they passed the peace began with the Priest. With his hands in the typical praying pose — palms together and fingers extended outward — he said a short blessing and approached the ‘deputy’ Priest. The main Priest opened his fingers just enough in order to clasp the similarly posed hands of the second Priest for a few moments saying a few words of greeting. The second Priest then repeated this with someone in the front row who in turn repeated it with their neighbor. This quickly spread around the room. Passing the peace — cool!

While I am not a stiff ritualistic type person, my experience this past Sunday was a powerful one. I am without a doubt, as I looked around at the faces of my brothers and sisters in that room, that there too was Jesus.

L’Ultimo Re

It all begins with very hot water; the steamier the better. Then somewhere between rinse and repeat I begin to wake up. Sleep slides away with the suds down my shoulders and into the drain. My day is beginning. I squeeze a dollup of conditioner into my palm and I take a deep breath. I begin applying the pearlescent lotion to my scalp when the urge becomes almost uncontrollable. With my lungs full of warm, moist air I let go of a magnificent solo. A powerful vocal wonder that the hearers of which will likely be unable to forget for quite some time. Oh, to my ears it is so sweet… have a listen


click to play

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OK, so I’m not fooling you. I mean, who has a piano in their shower anyway, right? …did I mention my family is amazingly tollerant of my ways?

Andrea Bocelli – L’Ultimo Re (The Ultimate/Last King) from the CD Cieli di Toscana

One Great Peace

Noticed over at inward/outward:

By Etty Hillesum

I want to be sent to every one of the camps that lie scattered all over Europe, I want to be at every front, I don’t ever want to be what they call ‘safe’, I want to be there, I want to fraternize with all my so-called enemies, I want to understand what is happening and share my knowledge with as many as I can possibly reach.

I would wish my life to turn into one great prayer. One great peace.

Source: An Interrupted Life: the Journal of a Young Jewish Woman, 1941-1943

Playwrites Unite…

…the dyslexic playwrites among us can go ahead and untie.

I never envisioned myself ever attempting to write a play of any significance. But now I must say that the urge is now there and in no small part due to a cool tool. Check out Celtx.

Celtx is the first end to end solution for the pre-production of media. It has all of the tools you need in one modern, Internet friendly software application. Celtx operates offline or online, providing the best of both worlds.

Celtx reminds me of a programming IDE. It performs many of the rudimentary task and formatting automagically. I could try and describe the tool further but the flash tutorials are likely more helpful.

I Dig…

Pastor Burt saw it fit to tag me with one of the latest memes making it’s way around blogland. Since, as PB points out, I havn’t posted for several days, I figured I’d give this one a go. The point to this one is to list five things I dig about Jesus. Ya know, I was around the first time that to ‘dig’ something had nothing to do with a spade or dirt. If ‘dig’ can make a come back then ‘groovy’ can hardly be far behind…

OK, here is the official bit:

Those tagged will share 5 Things They Dig About Jesus.
Those tagged will tag 5 people.
Those tagged will leave a link to their meme in the comments section of this post so everyone can keep track of what’s being posted.

Here are my five things that I “dig” about Jesus:

  1. Where I long for retribution, Jesus turns the other cheek.
  2. Where I desire comfort, Jesus walks with the dirty and hungry.
  3. Where I find fault, Jesus sees a brother.
  4. Where I judge, Jesus weeps.
  5. Where I stumble, Jesus encourages.

So, if you’ve reached this far in the post and are hesitantly scrolling down to see if you’ve been tagged, then consider yourself so tug. I look forward to your groovy list 😉