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Showing posts from March, 2010

20 Years of Ministry

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I never really thought ordination would mean that much to me. I delayed being ordained for several years while I finished seminary and worked in youth ministry. I thought I would always work with students (and I did for another 15 years) and that I would never really leave Glendale (which I would in 18 months). 

In 1989 I was a seminary graduate, married with two year old twin boys. That spring my pastor Jack Chisholm discovered he had cancer, a tumor in his heart the size of an orange. It rocked me. I began to think of my future in church ministry. It made me ask hard questions. What security would I leave my family? Where will I be when I'm in my 50s or 60s?

My intern, Tom, told me about a church in Moraga whose pastor was his sister's youth pastor in Danville. The position was youth and family ministry and he thought I would be a good fit. I interviewed that summer and was offered the position Labor Day 1989. We left our friends and family and moved to Moraga, a small bedroo…

The Wedding

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What a beautiful wedding weekend in Porterville from the rehearsal dinner to breakfast the next morning. I don't think I could be more proud: their choice in each other, their adventure together, their faith and friendship and love for each other.

The day was bright, the sun shining on 200 guests at Hummingbird Hollow, between Porterville and Terra Bella. About a quarter mile off the road and set in the middle of orange groves, the pole barn is the perfect rustic setting for tuxes and gowns, white lights and flowers. Sun, full moon, sunset, snow capped sierras all made it a beautiful day.
They chose the service from the Book of Common Prayer. "This is my solemn vow..." is how they ended each of their vows to each each other. The prayers, scripture readings and statements are so beautifully rich and express a heartfelt commitment to marriage.

There were two great surprises. Brendan singing "You Make Me Feel So Young" for the mother and son dance, and the choreogra…

Some things don't change, they just get better.

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Sabbatical Plans

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Our church has a generous sabbatical for pastors: three months of sabbatical and a month of vacation after seven years of service. The purpose of sabbatical is to rest (by being apart from the regular work of ministry), to be renewed (by doing something that makes your heart sing), and to reflect (by spending time listening to God and others).
My sabbatical will be from May 3 to the end of August and my theme is Pilgrimage and Practices. This year I have personally focused on spiritual practices in small groups, spiritual direction and retreats. So, rather than doing something for God on sabbatical, I want to practice being with God in places that inspire and teach us.
In addition to completing seven years of ministry at SBPC, Amy and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary in June, turning 50 this year, and celebrating 20 years of ordained ministry. Our sons are both out of college, in or headed to grad school and Connor is also getting married next week!
Amy and I will share th…

Backpacking Memories

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We hiked just a few miles from Echo Lake up to a campsite next to a smaller lake in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Amazingly, you can walk a few miles and find yourself in Desolation Wilderness.

This particular backpacking trip (our third, I think) we spent hours in our tent because of the summer rains that hit us unexpectedly. We learned the thrill of playing cards in the tent, setting up makeshift shelter with our ponchos, and listening to the lightning and to the pounding drops of rain.

Looking back almost two decades, these are the kinds of memories that shape dads and sons. A love of adventure, problem solving together, making the best of whatever situation are all aspects of life we cherish. We shared this trip with two other dads and their kids. We all were figuring it out together as we went.

And these are the kind of experiences, when strung together create a theme of our lives. They create a desire to recreate the adventure, to blaze new trails.

Last summer Brendan and Connor had thei…

Greatness Redefined, Part 2

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Yesterday we ordained Juan Daniel Espitia as a minister of word and sacrament and installed him as associate pastor of Hispanic ministries at Solana Beach Presbyterian Church. Elders and pastors laid hands on him and prayed for him as he began this new chapter of ministry. Ordinations are a great reminder to us Presbyterians that call to ministry is important and the call is to serve the church like Jesus. [It was also a great reminder that street tacos and mariachis make for a great ordination party.]

Juan Daniel was the inspiration for my message on redefining greatness as servant leadership out of Mark 10:35-44. He loves people. He loves God. He shares the love of Jesus with anyone, anywhere.

I remember a few years ago seeing him sitting on a chair talking with the woman we built a house for in Mexico. He talked to her about Jesus. How do I know? Because every conversation gets there one way or another. He's always looking for an opportunity to serve, whether it's distributin…

Greatness Redefined, Part 1

James and John came to Jesus with a request. Do whatever we ask of you. Make us your lieutenants when you come into your kingdom. Although the request made the other disciples angry and incensed, it gave Jesus the opportunity to shape our understanding of what it means to follow Jesus into greatness.

Jesus redefined greatness when he said told them, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant…” (Mark 10:44) In the Kingdom of God greatness is found by serving others. It's an upside down paradox of greatness found in giving our lives away.

I received a phone call from a woman who lives in a nearby senior community. A group from our church did some work at her home as a project for Community Serve Day. She wanted to tell me she was amazed at the people who came. It was not what they did, she said, it was who they were. She noticed the way they talked to her, the way they acted. "You should be very proud of your people... they were obviously close to heaven,"…