Communion is not the same thing as harmony. This is helpful to recall during the week that leads to World Communion Sunday.
Yesterday I spent 90 minutes planning World Communion Sunday worship with the Pastor of the Spanish speaking congregation that worships on our campus and an Elder from the Indonesian speaking church that also worships on our campus. Three churches. Three languages. Organized by three people. This thing’s going to be a mess.
But it will still be communion. Christ will still be present.
One of the worst executed communion services I ever experienced was at the close of our youth work camp last summer, where there was one crusty loaf and one chalice for over 100 worshipers. It took nearly 20 minutes. Adding a second station would have cut the time in half. It was still communion.
The institution of the communion meal was no smooth production either. One guy got up and left. People were confused. Jesus was distraught. There was no moving mood music or penetrating looks from an officiant earnestly pronouncing your name as she placed a bite-sized morsel into your trembling hand.
Still: Christ. Present. Communion.
Stuff I learned on Sunday
Why get up at 5:00 when you can get up at 6:00?
Why get up at 6:00 when you can get up at 7:00?
Why get up at 7:00 when your guilty conscience can drag you from bed at 6:30?
Head colds make worship much more interesting.
If you schedule two Sunday school classes for the same time, don’t cancel one; find a way to do them both.
High school debaters sometimes get sucked into a merciless torture chamber called a “weekend tournament.” Often, they never reappear.
Sometimes the Children’s Time is an exercise in stretching a metaphor. Water=greeting people=welcome our new Nursery Director. But water also=saying goodbye to people, which=farewell to the departing Nursery Director and also=commissioning people for a work trip=Jesuslovesyouamen.
If the Children’s Music Director has the flu, the Associate Pastor may spend the second hour of worship on the floor with children tapping out a rhythm to “Happy.”
If the rhythm sticks can’t be found, that can of markers will work just fine.
The apple juice is in the nursery.
When the 9:00 youth Sunday school hour is up, sometimes the volunteer teacher stays in the youth room and talks with students–throughout the worship hour.
Two members of my church are turning some heads with this blog.
If the president of a seminary is your guest preacher, you may get to take him to lunch.
If you think you’re taking the seminary president to lunch, he may actually be taking you to lunch.
The seminary president’s spouse used to direct this really cool college for preachers at the National Cathedral that doesn’t exist anymore.
If you take the seminary president to lunch, your colleague will take him to the airport. Division of labor.
The Royals host the A’s for the AL Wildcard on Tuesday. There’s a ticket with my name on it in KC, but I can’t get there to claim it.
Sometimes, all Daughter will eat is beans.
You learn a lot less on Sunday when you’re not at youth group. Struggling to not text students.
The Homeland season 1 finale will keep you up past your bedtime.
“Who do you want your customers to become?” asks Michael Schrage in his new book, The Innovator’s Hypothesis.
Here comes that move where a churchy blogger swaps out the word “customer” in a business book for “person” in a church context.
My first thought is that the mainline expression of Christianity in North
America doesn’t have a vision for what it wants people to become. What it wants the world to become? Sure. People, though? Not so much.
Am I off here?
I have a youth ministry colleague who told me recently that there are students in her youth group who use marijuana, who have told her they use marijuana, and who are nonetheless high achieving students and respectful kids. She lives in a state that has legalized it.
During the conversation she shared a sense of angst about her students’ pot smoking. She doesn’t feel like she can condone it, but neither does she feel she needs to tell their parents and insist they stop (some of them shared that their parents know). I’m green enough to not have dealt with this, so I didn’t really know what to tell her.
So, on a scale of zero to 10, where zero is absolutely not a problem and 10 is call-in-the-feds, how big of a barrier to the aims of youth ministry is marijuana usage?
The Voice is back on, and I’m struck watching it by the choice we get to make between quality and spectacle. The Voice is about quality: celebrity coaches vying for the best singers; singers seeking coaches to make them better.
Voice producers omit the bad auditions–in fact, the show watches as if only good-to-great performers even get in front of the judges.The train wreck audition footage–a staple of American Idol–has no place, because that’s a cheap way to build an audience and contributes nothing to peoples’ lives.
I first noticed the choice being made between quality and spectacle while watching episodes of Top Chef and Hell’s Kitchen. The former is all about good chefs straining to be the best, while the latter is about a bunch of cooks being humiliated by a maniacal chef. Watching one of those shows amounts to an investment in a story about quality and the struggle to improve. Guess which one.
No matter our medium, the stories we tell can either connect people who are driven by quality and improvement, or they can provide carrion for the cultural vultures who feed on humiliation and mockery. Also, we get to choose which stories we want to consume.
I just want to be friends.
I just want to be consulted.
I just want to play meaningful games in September.
No you don’t. No you don’t. No you don’t.
If you have to qualify a desire with “just,” you’re kidding yourself. Because once you have the thing you “just” wanted, once the sparse conditions of your desire have been met, you want more. Meaningful September baseball games are hollow if you lose them, and being consulted is worthless if your ideas aren’t implemented.
Let’s be clear about what we want and aim–as far as it’s in our power–for that thing.
For the record, I want the Royals to win their division, win the American League, and then win the World Series. Anything less will be disappointing.
What I learned on Sunday
- Emptying a trash can full of diapers is well within the Associate Pastor’s job description.
- Fresh picked apples from a Northern California orchard are well within the Associate Pastor’s benefits package.
- Chocolate cake donuts in Sunday School are amazing when you thought you could skip breakfast.
- High school debate is a corrupt racket of ill-equipped judges.
- One one youth group member beats another youth group member in a debate tournament, the defeated’s sister will think it’s hilarious.
- Color guard gets no love from boosters.
- An unused gift card to P.F. Chang’s is also well within the Associate Pastor’s benefits package.
- A fourth grader with no acolyte experience will choose to don the robe and cincture, light the candles, and lead the Call to Worship with only three minutes’ advance notice.
- A four foot-tall child will always struggle to light a 10 foot-tall candle. Always.
- Daughter and her playmate dancing to the opening hymn will always choke me up.
- I gotta get the torn zipper fixed on my robe. Dry cleaners?
- What I gain in childrens’ attention by kneeling on the chancel during the Children’s Time I lose in adults’ patience because I squirm so darn much.
- The story of Jesus calming the storm is captivating to kids.
- “Creation can’t be hacked.” My colleague can P-R-E-A-C-H.
- In a town with a School of Theology, people will come to your church at least once because they saw on the church website that you went to the same seminary.
- I should flex my memory a bit harder before asking someone if they’ve been traveling over the summer, so that, when she answers, “No. I had a baby,” I don’t feel like such an inattentive oaf.
- #jessetreeselfie will totally be a thing in Advent worship. No lie.
- The spring comedy fundraiser that my friend Murphy thought up is happening. Coffee tomorrow to plan.
- Daughter only takes rice and beans in her Chipotle.
- Storing Wife’s Chipotle order in Google Keep months ago was tre smart. Burrito bowl with brown rice and black beans, fajita peppers, steak, with mild AND medium salsa. Okay, now I’ve memorized it.
- Hell’s Kitchen doesn’t bleep the “B” word, so it’s not a great viewing option with a six year-old.
- The Royals have won their final home game of the year for seven consecutive seasons.
- The Washington Post is pulling for the Royals.
- I drive past three grocery stores to shop at Trader Joe’s because it’s more fun and on Sunday afternoon I have the temperament of an eight year-old.
- Pumpkin Spice Tea is back.
- One of the checkers at Trader Joe’s is a huge Chiefs fan. Boo.
- The checkout line at the grocery store is one of the places where you might have to cover your ears if you are trying to avoid learning the score of the Broncos/Seahawks game until you have a chance to watch it on DVR later.
- The Youth Group Leader is trying to collect those named Coke bottles for every member of his wedding party. “Armen” will be his undoing.
- You can be beatified for something that happened after you died.
- Talking to the single junior high student who came to youth group about the fight he got into over the weekend is invaluable programming.
- A seventh grader has no qualms about launching a video chat on his phone in the middle of a discussion about miracles.
- Jeans with no front pockets are a thing. What next? A car with no glove box?
- When Wife completes a major home organizing project on a Sunday, I’m more likely to see it on Facebook than in person.
- Neighbors who prepare a table outside your back door and invite you to share their food on a cool Sunday evening are a gift from God.