Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Stroll- May 31, 2009

I didn't post a Sunday Stroll last week, but that doesn't mean I wasn't running- er, strolling! It's important to take time to stroll with a 22-month-old, so that you can be reminded of how thrilling it is to stand on the water-main cover, or drop gravel down the storm sewer grate, or giggle at each bit of cottonwood "fluff" that floats past on the the breeze. Every so often she would stop in her tracks and lift her face to the sky and say, "feelthewind?" or "hearthebird?". And, suddenly, I did feel the wind, or hear the bird. Miraculous!

But this weekend I was on my own to notice things. We have a woodpecker living on our block, now. I can hear it, but haven't yet seen it. I couldn't help thinking about how fast it hammers on the tree trunks, or how strong it's beak and skull must be to take that pounding. It's really one of the wonders of the universe, don't you think?

And, while we were gone, everything decided to burst into bloom. It was all out there for our enjoyment today.

If you go for a stroll, be sure to stop and feelthewind, and hearthebird. Oh, and throw some more gravel in the sewer grate for me will you?

To see what other strollers are noticing, visit The Quiet Country House.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Put Him First

Excellent points from Ray Ortlund:

"If our functional purpose in church is to connect with one another and build community, that's what we'll get -- one another. And we'll end up angry. Only Jesus gives us rest. If we will put him first and come to him first, we'll have something to give one another.

If our functional purpose in church is outreach and mercy and justice and all those good missional things, we'll end up exhausted and empty. Only Jesus gives us rest. If we will put him first and come to him first, we'll be renewed for endless mission."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Why We Sing

"And the duty of singing praises to God, seems to be appointed wholly to excite and express religious affections. No other reason can be assigned, why we should express ourselves to God in verse, rather than in prose, and do it with music, but only, that such is our nature and frame, that these things have a tendency to move our affections. "

Jonathan Edwards

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday Silliness

I know this may only appeal to ministry geeks, but it cracked me up. I'm dedicating this Saturday Silliness to my son Matt, who actually learned Koine Greek on his own in high school. Which prompted some eye rolling among his fellow youth group members, as you may well imagine.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunday Stroll- May 17, 2009

After a week of intense storms, we're having a perfect May Sunday. It's graduation weekend at the University of Illinois, as well as prom weekend for my family's high school. Those events, celebrated by several generations of my family, are forever associated with "iris time" in local gardens.

All of my irises are pass-alongs from family members. My grandmother, who was an ace gardener, made sure that when we moved to this house we would have all the beautiful flowers we wanted from her divisions. Forsythia, iris, lambs-ears, jonquils- all unnamed but much loved, have flourished in my flower beds. Now, I'm ready to share with my children as they get their own homes.

These beautiful lavender iris are from Grandma H. I've divided them and sent some on to my sisters. There are also some pale beige-y ones that you can just see in the left corner of the picture. They are not a very pretty color, I'll admit, but they have sentimental value to me, so I keep growing them. No one wants to take divisions of them, though!

These royal purple iris are from my sister's garden. She got them from a neighbor. Who needs garden stores? These are very tall and stately, and my very favorites.

Finally, there are some shorter gold and brown iris that contrast wonderfully with the purple. These are also Grandma's, and she told me they came from her mother-in-law's garden, so they are a cultivar that goes back to the late nineteenth century. It's just fun to think about the way all that gardening knowledge is passed down in the family.
To see who else is strolling, and what else is blooming, visit The Quiet Country House.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sunday Stroll-May 10, 2009

It's "almost" time in my garden. The peonies are almost blooming.

The irises are sooooo close!

The serviceberries are forming, and almost ready to be feasted on by the birds.

The climbing rose is covered with hundreds of small buds. It will be a treat to see in a week or two.

I had a wonderful Mother's day, with half my children here for lunch (Robin, Grant, and Grant's wife Traci). The other two sons live elsewhere, but we had nice visits on the phone.

To see who else is strolling on Mother's Day, pop over to The Quiet Country House.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Saturday Silliness

Yep, all creation does praise His Name!

Monday, May 4, 2009

How Can the Church Ride the Crest of the Wave?

We had a very interesting discussion in staff meeting last week about how best to communicate with the congregation. I'm sure a lot of people in the congregation have no idea how much we think about this! We've been analyzing the use of the newsletter that gets mailed monthly, how information is accessed on our website, whether folks are picking up the Weekly Happenings on Sunday mornings, etc.

As the congregation has grown, it's been an ongoing quest to find the perfect way to communicate with a congregation that ranges the full spectrum of ages. A church that has been planted in the last 30 years or so would probably have far fewer problems in this area. Such a church would have very few members that were not tech savvy enough to use online communication easily. In our case, we must respect the fact that our most elderly members are not necessarily using computers at all (although I'm actually proud of our retirees, many of whom are pretty with it when it comes to computers- after all, this community is the home of HAL!).

Here's a little example from my area of ministry. My choir consists of members ranging in age from 14 to 82. Now, the 82 year old is the retired dean of the U of I college of engineering, so he actually knows the developers of, say, Mosaic, and he's a proud technology whiz. I have several people who live in the country and are still using dial-up. I have a couple of retirees who check e-mail only occasionally- it's still not the main way they communicate. I have young 20-somethings who do everything online. Some of us are even FaceBook friends!

When I need to communicate quickly with this group (say, we're cancelling rehearsal due to snow) I use e-mail, and then also call about half of them, because I'm not sure they'll check their e-mail on time. If it's something that isn't immediate, I still send out a postcard by snail-mail. We are a classic example of the transition our whole society is in with communication.

It's even more glaringly disparate when you view the whole congregation. What about the shut-ins? What about the families from other churches who send their children to our AWANA program? If we push everything to our website, or use e-mail alerts for informing people about deaths in our church family, we are bound to miss someone. If we rely on paper, there are people who don't read those publications. And then there's cost. We're paying a web administrator, but we're also paying a lot in postage. So much to think about.

I saw this video on several ministry blogs today, and I thought it was very thought provoking in light of our staff discussions. No matter how you look at it, how we serve our people, how we reach the wider community with the unchanging Truth of the Gospel, is going to change radically in the next couple of years.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Friday, May 1, 2009


I fixed these links as of 8:30am Saturday!

Article #1:

We had the Ebertfest here in C-U last week, and the town had it's annual influx of film afficionados. The city of Urbana honored Roger Ebert by placing a plaque on the sidewalk in front of his childhood home. In response, he wrote a marvelous article about the influence Urbana, and the university, had on his life. I am shamelessly proud to post this; I agree with him wholeheartedly that there is no better place to live.

Article #2:

Not really an article, but if you have an interest in sacred music, Soli Deo Gloria"s website is an interesting place to visit. They are a group of highly competent professional musicians who promote the performance of existing sacred music, and the comissioning of new sacred music on an international level. The short video clips are quite informative about the state of contemporary sacred music (poor), and the importance of promoting sacred works as a way for people to connect with God.

Article #3:

This was an interesting post about, well, thinking.

Article # 4:

I'm not a pastor, but reading blogs by pastors and theologians is still very helpful to me in my position as Music Coordinator. It's all about working with people!

I liked this post from Indiana pastor Rob Harrison about the difference between "doing" pastoral work and "being" a pastor. What Math Class Taught Me About Pastoral Ministry