Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Prayerful Community at #CP15MN, or, Some Combination of Those Words

Last weekend, on Saturday-Sunday February 21-22, a group of 14 twenty- and thirty-somethings gathered for a retreat called Common Place. It happened at the ECMN Retreat Center on the campus of Shattuck-St. Mary's school in Faribault, Minnesota. Amanda and I were two of those 14 and, after this weekend, I would not hesitate to call any of the other attendees friends.

Thank you, ECMN for the uploading of the pictures!

The theme of the Common Place retreat was "Stories and Silence." There were five stories and five accompanying silences that happened, and I was asked to provide one of the stories. Initially I was told that my topic was "Prayer/Community." That seemed very broad and I felt totally unqualified to talk about community, but as I thought through it, a couple of stories came to mind, so I thought maybe it wouldn't be that bad. However, when I arrived at the retreat, the schedule said that my topic was "Prayer in Community." Then, shortly afterward, it was said as "Prayer and Community." Personally, I'm a bit of a grammar nerd so the conflict between preposition and conjunction was really messing with me. Before it finally came time for me to share my story, we settled the issue by calling the topic "Prayer-in-slash-and-slash-slash-Community." So I guess we just made it work.

[Before I go any farther, a statement of full disclosure: This post is a compilation of my notes and some responses from a Twitter poll that I took in preparing for my story. It's not the exact product that I presented at the retreat, but I hope that you find it worth the read here on my blog.]

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Stumbling into Lent, or, Welcome to the Desert

So I am totally unprepared for Lent this year.

Shrove Tuesday (or Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, depending on your tradition) totally snuck up on me. I mean, it's been on the calendar for a couple weeks and I knew that I was going to help out making pancakes at church. But the day that it actually happened, I hadn't made any time to prepare myself for this celebration or the season that was to follow it.

What would I do without imgflip?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same, or, Leaving Epiphany and Lent to Come

I'm being a total geek right now... I'm looking back on the Revised Common Lectionary readings for this past Sunday while also preparing for tomorrow. Epiphany has had a fascinating theme this year, although I'm not sure whether it's been obvious (I'll admit that my geeky perspective may put me in a different place than everyone else).

The theme has been change. Jesus is changing everything around during the season after Epiphany this year. And Lord knows that if you change a couple things around on church people, everyone gets grumpy. But nonetheless, Jesus does it. And he, himself, is changed as well; the reading for this coming Sunday is the Transfiguration of Jesus.

This is a picture of an icon of the Transfiguration that I keep by my desk.
It was written by one Fr. Giuliani.

It's really fascinating for me, since we read about Jesus' Transfiguration every year (Matthew in year A, Mark in year B, and Luke in year C) on the Last Sunday after Epiphany, just before we go into Lent on Ash Wednesday. And my fascination grows deeper when I realize that Ash Wednesday keeps this theme of change, except that it could be said more accurately as repentanceRepentance comes from the Latin word that means "to turn," so we are still talking about a change here.

If you'll humor me, I'd like you to come with me, just for a little while, as I go down this rabbit hole of geekiness...

Saturday, February 7, 2015

What Is a Congregation? Or, Let Me Show You Some Shapes

Many thanks to my wonderful wife for making this for me on Canva!

This week I want to participate in the first round of a three-part BLOGFORCE Challenge from the Acts 8 Moment (click on the banner to learn more about the challenge and the organization). But the first thing I want to describe is how the prompt is phrased. The prompt said "What is the mission of the congregation? How should it be structured to serve its mission?" And so what I need to do is describe how I do not consider myself any kind of expert on how to structure a congregation... I don't think I have the gifts of management to determine how to position a group of people like that. Or at least I don't feel I have the gifts to describe it as an action plan. What I do is describe the shape of the thing, as I see it in my head. And in that way, there are two images that I want to describe.