Sunday, September 28, 2008

a rich, full and exhausting week

This has been a rich, full and exhausting week, filled with many good and at even exceptional moments, and yet exhausting nonetheless. It began with a very busy Sunday (September 21), which included the morning services, focused on the theme of passionate worship, and continued with the welcoming service for our new bishop. Monday was a day packed with administrative tasks, as I would be away from Charlotte on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Early Tuesday morning I flew to Dallas to participate in a gathering of pastors around the planning for the next Lausanne Conference, which will take place in Capetown in 2010. Lausanne is an initiative that focuses on global evangelization, "the whole gospel for the whole world". The primary purpose of this gathering was to allow North American pastors to hear from Christian voices from the majority world. There were about one hundred of us, and some of the best known congregations across the U.S. were represented. I sat at a discussion table with Andy Crouch, the author of an excellent book that I had actually been reading on the plane, and in preparation for this Sunday's service. The book is entitled Culture Making, and it makes a simple and yet profound point: Christians (evangelical, but also mainline) are usually better at critical reflection on the culture than constructive engagement with the culture. The gathering seemed to be a hybrid of evangelical and mainline, and I hope the United Methodist Church can somehow be present with what is happening there.

I flew home at the end of Wednesday, on a crowded plane from Dallas to Charlotte. You imagine how much fun that was for yours truly, almost 6'6''!

Thursday morning---back in the office, getting ready for Sunday, touching bases with staff, returning phone calls, and email messages. It happened to be the day that two very high need men came by to see me, neither a member of the church, one sent to us by a pastor friend in another state. We have shower facilities, so he was able to get clean. The other, who may have a mental issue--I am hoping that he does not read blogs--gave me a two page, single spaced essay on the state of American moral and political life. He is homeless, I think and sometimes joins in our services and meals (while we do house the homeless, I do not think he participates in this in a structural way).

By now, Charlotte has a gasoline crisis...long lines at the pumps, many stations without gas. My wife and I were now headed to Atlanta, where I would tape two sermons the next day with Day One/Protestant Hour. We found gas and drove down I-85, spending the night in Commerce, Ga, near Athens; the next morning we drove into Atlanta, where the taping happened. I enjoy working with Peter Wallace, who is the host. Then a small group of us had lunch the next day at a hotel across from the Fox Theater on Peachtree Street. The Fox Theater brought back memories: as a college student I saw Gregg Allman in concert there, and also Dan Fogelberg.

Pam and I then drove farther down I-85 to Montgomery, for Family Weekend at Huntingdon College. Our daughter Abby is a student there; our "adopted" son from Haiti, Jacques, is also there. We saw our close friends, the Wests, watched the presidential debate, woke up the next morning and took our daughter shopping, then went to a tailgate party before the Huntingdon football game. We watched the game from the President's Box there (our friend Cam serves in this role and has given superb leadership these past few years in bringing Huntingdon closer to its identity as a college of the church). Afterward, my wife gave a presentation to a small group about the School of Mercy, which we are seeking to reestablish in northern Haiti. Then we drove home, back up I-85, six and a half hours.

My sermon this morning would be on the gospel lection. I have been preaching for approximately twenty-five years, but had never worked with this particular passage (a man has two sons and asks them to work in the vineyard; one says no, but later works anyway; one says yes, but does not follow through). I tried to relate all of this to Andy Crouch's book on "culture making" and to the week's overwhelming sense of economic angst---at times we are simply called to go out each day and labor in our particular vineyard.

This morning I arose early, drove to the church (most gas stations are still without fuel), and preached twice. In between I talked to a group of eighteen first graders about the liturgical year (!). After the services Pam and I walked from the church to a nearby restaurant and ended up having lunch, to our happy surprise, with a retired pastor and his wife who worship in our church.

Then home, and a nap, and a Panthers victory, and exercise.

In the morning it begins again.


Blogger the reverend mommy said...

I preached on being out of gas -- seemed to work. You are lucky you made it to the big ATL and back.

You are preaching on Day One!?!? Too cool!

7:25 AM  

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