Monday, May 29, 2006


Memorial weekends are interesting!

Our church holds a family camp on the Oregon coast during Memorial weekend. About 60 to 80 percent of the congregation is gone on Memorial Sunday. And it is on that day that I once again pull out my "preacher hat" and bring the message.

Of course, our praise and worship team is also gone. And our sound and video technicians are gone. The entire "flavor" of the service changes on Memorial Sunday. Instead of the wonderful blend of contemporary and traditional music, we pull out our hymn books and sing the so-called "old hymns" (a phrase I don't like, since these songs are just as relevant and moving today). Instead of the fantastically talented praise team and their guitars, drums, electric keyboards, and perfectly blended voices, we have the pianist and organist. And instead of a well planned, cohesive, theme-related structure, we have our handful of congregants and first time visitors yell out the number of their favorite hymns. It's all very casual, very simple, and very blessed. It's a reminder of a time when we didn't have power point song lyrics, electronic music, and wireless microphone headsets.

Before he left for the coast, our music director reminded me of the song, "The Heart of Worship." He was trying to encourage me that all the "stuff" isn't what worship is about. It's really all about Jesus!

I knew least on an intellectual level.

If there were any awkward moments, it was in trying to plug in the little portable tape recorder. At first, I had to move the pulpit to the side of the stage closest to the plug in. But there was no power. Then somebody pointed out that there was a free extension cord plugged into the power strip behind where the praise band usually stands. I hopped up on the stage, grabbed the cord, plugged the tape player in, power! It was then that somebody said they thought they had re-wired the stage so that the power was now centrally controlled from the sound closet (the keys of which were with the sound tech...on the Oregon coast!). Somebody then suggested another plug in on the other side of the stage. I hopped back on the stage, unplugged the extension cord, went to the other side (almost tangling my legs in the wouldn't that have been a fun picture to have me crashing into the front pew!). I plugged it in and....success! Power flowed to the tape recorder and I was set for the message: an exposition of 2 Timothy 3:13-17, including an analysis and refutation of The DaVinci Code. And just as quickly as it began, it was over.

As I put the portable tape recorder back in the media center and made sure all the doors were locked, I thought back again to the heart of worship. We didn't have the "stuff", but everyone had a Bible. We didn't have a full praise band, but we had musical instruments and our voices. We didn't have power point graphics, but I had printed outline for everyone. And afterwards, a couple of folks asked for copies of the tape to share with unbelieving spouses and skeptical co-workers.

Next week, I'm back with the kids of Celebration. Everything will be back to whatever passes for "normal" here. And I will speak with the song leader about what I learned about the "heart of worship."

And next time, can I have an extension cord and live power source?

Thursday, May 18, 2006


My morning is fairly routine.

Not boring, but...well, routine. While there are challenges aplenty throughout the whole day, my morning is pretty much scheduled until lunch.

So imagine my surprise when I arrived in the back parking lot at 6:15 a.m. to find this:

The back lawn of our church borders another property with a lawn, creating an area we refer to as the "park". There are massive, old growth trees in the park. Last night, one of the massive branches decided it had had enough and came crashing down on the fence by the parking lot!As the above pic and the next show, the branch is about the size of a tree itself. During the summer, cars have been known to park against the fence to take advantage of the shade. Good thing this happened in the middle of the night!

Well, we've always wanted to branch out and mend fences with our neighbors. This was the perfect opportunity.

By days' end, the branch had been removed from the tree, leaving behind a bent fence as silent testimony of the awesome power of nature in its full, unrestrained....oh, never was a cool start to another routine day!