We take it for granted that God is at work all around us, and even in us. Let me tell you a little story about this. You see, the random, chaotic, and uncertain world we live appears to meet us with coldness most of the time. Life is not fair. That is a fact. There are some who are disadvantaged while others have fortune smiling on them. All the while, it is not their fault for the circumstances they are born into. Indeed, we can also crash and descend with our own efforts as well. But, we can pull ourselves up and even more so we can pull up those around us. In between saving the world and just making it through the day are stories like these.
Memories flood at times when a scent arises–catching you off guard. Bacon does this for me. The sacramental experience of our dad’s Saturday breakfast event unfolds for me. With five boys eager as chicks in a nest to feed, our dad would make from scratch his waffles or pancakes, mountain-piled plates of bacon, and potatoes. At times, he even made his own recipe of brown-sugar syrup. The bacon-fat haze in the house was a welcome sight after delivering the local San Jose Mercury newspapers earlier that morning.
As a church communications director, I have learned over the years that people respond to stories better than information. As a speaker, I know this is true. In fact, the Bible is almost three-fourths narrative. Jesus used stories as his teaching, almost exclusively. Why is it then that we look at announcements as just announcements? My proposition is that announcements are invitations to join in the larger story of God’s work in our church and the world. Are we thinking too small of our announcements in worship?
There are times when we can feel invisible. People pass us by and we are but furniture–our words ambient noise masked by the busy cacophony of our own industry. In my work, I have produced, led, and created experiences for crowds of thousands. I have done this since I was young. Being in front of people would rattle me, but that feeling wore off long ago. The grandeur of even a well-produced church Easter celebration where people are in wonder can be deafened by the inoculation of years of such effort. It is not cynicism where belief sours. It is being lost. It is feeling unseen.
When I looked down at Elias, his newborn body molded to my arm, I couldn’t help but question his life. He wasn’t the story I planned for. He wasn’t what I dreamed of or even wanted. I cried and felt an overwhelming amount of guilt as these thoughts saturated my mind.
The day I found out my son had Down syndrome, was the day I became a different person. I questioned God. I was angry with God.
I want to tell you a little story about what God does when you invest in people. Truly, when we believe in someone and give them courage to take a step it seems that step leads to more than we initially imagine. My life would not be the same if it were not for my parents, mentors, friends and others who encouraged me along the way.
Last week in middle Pennsylvania, I spent a day with my nephew Kyle, a college music student. It was an honor, since its not often I get time with my family out on the other coast. Part of our day included a drive to Gettysburg, a 30 minute jaunt from where were at the time. I am a sucker for history, so this addition on the itinerary was a no-brainer. We could have watched a movie like “Hangover Part 3” but wiser thinking ruled the day. The perfect weather also proved an outside activity a logical choice. (Yes, I did see Star Trek twice on this very trip.).
One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind. – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012) Neil Armstrong’s passing surely brings up childhood memories of space shuttles launching, and astronaut heroes. In the animated Pixar movie…
Right out of high school, I was awarded a full-scholarship to an innovative and emerging music school in the Pacific Northwest. Hours of lessons, personal tutoring in music theory, and inspiration from my music teachers…
(The above picture is a favorite one of our two kids. Ethan was newborn and Emilie 4 in this photo.) This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously…