Sunday, February 18, 2007

A week well lived...

What a good day I’ve had! I preached, and well, I think. I was pretty pleased with what I had to say, generally, although I always think I can do better. I always know I can do better.
I ad-libbed, a little, about Daytona and Dale Earnhardt. It’s been six years since Dale died, and NASCAR still remembers. It’s funny what we want to remember…the Intimidator earns more space in people’s lives (from coffee cups to in memoriam decals to t-shirts) than our faith does, sometimes. I don’t mean at all to say that I think we should all have Christian decals on our cars and wear t-shirts with Christian slogans on them (is that a contradiction in terms?). I mean that in the same way someone decides to put on a t-shirt that advertises anything, we should think about what it means to put on Christ.
We watched “Facing the Giants” with the youth group tonight. One of our counselors had the vision to buy the group licensing rights, so we are able to show the movie to groups for the next year. Some other churches in the area also have done this, but we had some young people with us tonight that had seen the movie on Friday at another church. It was such a great story…overwhelming, though. I usually count on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” for what we call the weekly “cathart”. No, cathart is not a word, at least not that I know of. It’s how Ben and I talk about those events in our lives that help us to bleed off a little emotional pressure.
So on Sunday nights, we have a little weekly ritual. We watch “Extreme Makeover” together and usually get pretty wrapped up the story of whatever family’s getting a new home. By the time the family gets to see their new house, we are so invested in it with them that we are crying, just a little…leaking, I call it. When it’s been a particularly stressful or emotional week, there’re a few more tears. Really bad weeks or lots of stress (in any direction, good or bad) can result in what we call a real cathart: ugly tears, swollen eyes, serious snoring that night from the resulting congestion, and a major release from whatever tension we’ve accumulated.
“Facing the Giants” gave me a little catharsis tonight, but gave some others quite a bit. I don’t think there was an adult in the room who was dry-eyed, and I know I saw some pretty blotchy teen-aged faces. There were lots of audible sniffles.
Now, I have cried at some movies, the occasional Hallmark commercial, and near ‘bout any minimal provocation for years. I used to cry when I was angry and then somewhere along the way I turned sentimental. I can cry at a song that moves me (and still don’t understand which ones and why) and even sometimes praying will make me a little misty. So call me a softy.
In new worship service news, we had a good practice tonight. This week I’ve come to understand a lot more about the group dynamics we have, and I’m going to be working more closely with our keyboard player to determine what kinds of things we can learn quickly to develop our repertoire. I can’t do that; some of the music we’ve looked at is very syncopated and difficult, but it’s easy for me because I’ve just memorized it from singing along with a CD. I don’t know the difference, but I think she can help me put some stuff together. I’ve also ordered some new compilation CDs that I think will give us a little something to work with.
I’m really grateful to be where I am. I was so hesitant to choose this experience (being an associate) and I’ve just felt from the beginning that here is a place I can work, and thrive, and grow, and help others grow. I was so afraid that I’d be working with some authoritarian senior pastor and I’d really be struggling with someone else’s expectations of me, but that hasn’t proven to be the case at all. I couldn’t ask for anyone better to work with than Eric; he’s been extremely gracious in letting me lead in some areas, and in treating our senior pastor/associate pastor relationship as a partnership and not a hierarchy. I feared I’d feel constrained, stifled, and scrutinized by a senior pastor. Instead I feel like my experiences and skills and gifts matter where I am now, and I am in a position to use them in new and more satisfying ways here. I know most of that has to do with being in a larger church, with more resources than those I have served in the past. And a lot of it has to do with not being the only pastor…I can compartmentalize a bit more, and really focus on what I’m working on, and know that I am not the only one on whom the responsibility for being the pastor rests…I’m part of a team, and we do really good work together.

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