this is no longer my blog

Thursday, March 31, 2005



so i'm not sure what to be feeling right now.

i just got back from a visit to my seminary, they had a guest lecturer who was speaking about practical theology in the life of the church, so supervising pastor and i decided to go. so i shifted my day off to wednesday instead of monday, and went up a day early to hang out and spend time with friends. as i was wandering around campus saying my hellos and whatnot, i ran into next year's intern (nyi for short). i stopped and we chatted for a bit. i told him the place is great and the house is great and supervising pastor is great (all true). he asked some questions, i answered as truthfully as i could without revealing anything that would be best for him to find out on his own. we talked about the young adult group, which he was interested in. i was glad that he seemed excited to be coming to my church. then it hit me. wait a minute... this is MY church. yeah, so i'm having feelings of possessiveness right now.

but, after spending time with my friends at seminary, and hanging out and chatting and talking to the seniors who are getting ready to go out into the great wide world of the lutheran church, to parts unknown, to be full fledged real pastors, i was excited to come back to seminary. to partake in the camaraderie and community and excitement and social atmosphere. it was hard to leave today, to come back to the place that i'm not yet ready to leave.

today at lunch i had a conversation with my pastor about this whole issue. knowing that nyi is coming really kind of puts a definite end to my time here. i can't go on pretending that there is no end, because right now there's someone waving furiously, letting me know that he's waiting for the baton to be handed off to him. and it's not good for me to pretend that i won't be leaving. being aware of the coming end and thinking of the transition and talking about the transition with other people are all healthy ways to prepare yourself and others for the unavoidable. and as much as i am excited to go back to school, i have this mental flipbook of all these people (young and old) that i'm not ready to say good bye to, yet.

it's a weird place to be. to know that the end of one adventure is coming soon and another new adventure is following closely on the first's heels. And excitedly anticipating the coming, new adventure but not quite ready to let go of the one you are currently in.

i wish there was a way i could more eloquently state it. i have this weird mishmash of feelings inside and it's hard to articulate them. but, i think what it boils down to at it's most basic is: saying goodbye sucks. adventures are fun, meeting new people is fun, but saying goodbye to the people you love and care for sucks. big time. and even though i know that i have a few great months left with these wonderful people, the big goodbye is looming at the end of the road. and i'm pretty sure it's sticking its tongue out at me.

Monday, March 28, 2005


Point 1

By calling ourselves progressive, we mean that we are Christians who…

1. Have found an approach to God through the life and teachings of Jesus;

Having found "an approach." This leaves the door open for some of the points that follow, about approaches to the Divine and truth vs. Truth, but we won't delve into that, at this point. We will just discuss Jesus. We believe, and confess, Jesus to be the incarnation of God. Jesus is Immanuel, "God among us." So it makes sense that through his teaching and example Jesus would reveal God to us.

So what do Jesus' teachings and example reveal to us about God? Well, he was friends with the common folk. His best friends were fisher men, tax collectors, lepers, demon possessed women. He called out the sins and transgressions of those in power letting them know that they weren't "all that." They weren't as good as they thought they were. And this riff-raff and these sinners that he was hanging out with were better than the chief priests and Pharisees and their associates because at least the fishermen and the tax collectors and the prostitutes and all the rest of the people hanging out at the bottom of the barrel didn't pretend to be what they weren't. They didn't ignore their own sins and condemn other people and their sinfulness.

Jesus was about widening the circle of God's mercy. He was all about telling people that there was plenty of room at God's table for everyone. It didn't matter so much who they were or what they had done; there wasn't anything that a little bit of God's grace couldn't wipe clean. He said that the meek and the poor and the persecuted and those who were mourning were blessed. He made time to bless children. He preached about good Samaritans and loving fathers who threw parties for their wayward sons. He preached about a woman who diligently searched for her lost coin and a shepherd who left 99 sheep to retrieve the one that had strayed. He taught that living water was offered even to a Samaritan woman who was "living in sin" with a man who was not her husband. He said that what we do to the "least of these" - the hungry, the naked, the imprisoned - we do to God. Jesus taught that we should be concerned about the plank sticking out of our own eye before we focus on and condemn people because of the speck they have in their eye. He said that we are to love our enemies and pray for those who would persecute us, and when they strike us on one cheek we are to turn and offer our other one. And he showed us that his love for us was so amazing and big and great that he was willing to die a horrible, gruesome, painful death so that we would not have to do so.

That's what Jesus reveals to us about God. That God is a God of love who reaches out and cares for the least and the lost and the last. That God loves us with an unconditional and unending love, and that God's deep desire is that we be united with God and with each other. It reveals that God seems more concerned with love and forgiveness than judgment and condemnation; even the worst kind of sinner can find redemption and love.

So, that's what I've got for that one. I think it seems like a pretty obvious point, I mean to call oneself a Christian I think one would need to agree with this statement. Although one could argue semantics, and replace "an approach" with "THE approach," but as I've said before that's not what this post was about. This post was about Jesus, and what approaching God through Jesus would mean for our image of the Divine.

(Point 1 taken from The 8 Points at the Center for Progressive Christianity)

Friday, March 25, 2005


blogger wisdom

I mentioned Clark in a previous post, but for those of you who do not want to scroll down or click on a link, let me remind you of him. He is recently out of high school, and I'm not sure he quite knows what to do with himself. He didn't go to college, while most of his friends have moved away, and while he still has friends that are in the local high school, it sounds like his relationships with those people are strained. The college aged population at our church is nonexistent, since there is only a community college nearby. His mother, who is active in both the worship and the youth ministry committees, and seems to be worried because he is not involved in much outside of his job on the farm, tries to pull him into different things at church, which mainly turn out to be youth oriented activities. He helped with the last youth led worship service, but I think it was weird and a bit awkward for him because he knows that the youth group is no longer his niche.
I went to Subway for lunch today, and ran into one of my favorite youth [editor's note: that would be IF we were allowed to have favorites, because everyone knows we are not.] She was just getting off of work (she could work on a weekday because they have spring break all week) and so she sat with me as I ate my sandwich. As we were talking, we got onto the subject of Clark. Supposedly he had a date lined up with a girl who is a senior in high school, and that fell through because the girl thought "it just wouldn't work out." The girl from my youth group, "Sarah", said that she felt sorry for Clark because he's so lonely because his good friends are not around. It is obvious, to most of the youth, that Clark is struggling and leaning towards not involving himself with church anymore because he feels as if he doesn't belong.
Now, I personally invited him to young adult bowling which is coming up in about a week. He said he'd "see." Clark and I get along really well. People have said we have similarities in our personalities and we're constantly joking back and forth. And I've noticed Clark has kind of gravitated towards me. After worship or at different church functions he'll always find his way over to me. And there are times he's hinted about doing something outside of church. The other night, after an activity at church, he said something along the lines of "I'm kinda hungry... I think I might go get something to eat." He said it while he was right next to me, but in a low tone and not directly facing me. Then, tonight after Good Friday services I was talking to some people (his mother and sister included) and they were trying to figure out who would be giving his sister a ride home. Clark said, "I might not be going home. I don't know what I'd be doing, but I might not be going home." Then he kind of looked around the group and then at me, then when I walked off to go do something he kind of followed behind.
Clark is one of those people at this church that have found a way into my heart. I think he is a great guy and has a lot of gifts, and it is no fun to hear that he is struggling. And I want to reach out to him. But here's where I struggle. How do I do it? I would be willing to spend time with him, to go out to eat or to a movie or just hang out and chat. But there is a fear that a portion of the congregation just sees me more as a kid than a pastor, and to hang out with Clark would just affirm that. That it would take away any remaining shred of pastoral authority I have left.
Another fear is that, if I do end up forming a stronger friendship/mentorship with Clark, what happens when I leave? There's just another relationship in Clark's life that has been severed and there he is, all alone. Again. And there's that boundary issue that the seminary tries to enforce. Once you leave an internship congregation you are basically supposed to severe all ties with the people that you have formed there, so as to not impede the formation of relationships for the next intern. So it would be frowned on for me to try to continue some sort of friendship/mentorship with Clark beyond these next five months.
So the title of this blog is "blogger wisdom" because I'm counting on the tried and true wisdom and insights of the blogging and reading community. Help me out here! Do I reach out to this obviously struggling young man? How do I do that? How do I deal with the repurcussions, or am I just blowing that whole bit out of proportion? HELP!! (funny, right now, according to the clock on my computer, the time is 9:11. That's the same number as the Emergency Helpline. Weird.)


am i progressive enough for the progressive club?

yesterday, i visited The Progressive Christian Blogger Network. It's a network of Christian bloggers who consider themselves to be progressive. I consider myself to be fairly progressive, so I thought why not submit my blog to the list? I don't know if there are any requirements that you need to fulfill on your blog to become a member, but I was looking at several of the blogs that do belong and they spend a lot of time talking about political issues and the "emergent church." I looked over past posts, and I talk about grumpy old men and roving bands of turkeys. Am I progressive enough for the progressive club?
Anyway, I was looking at the website for the Center for Progressive Christianity, and they have 8 points that define what they mean when they call themselves Progressive Christians. Adam, over at Pomomusings, has decided to blog about each point over the next few weeks. I think that sounds like a swell idea, so I thought that (when I have more time) I might begin blogging about the eight points as well (although, rest assured I will still include posts about grumpy old men, roving bands of turkeys, vocationally challenged young men, and my thoughts as my Supervising Pastor goes to seminary to meet next year's intern [I'm not sure I'm a big fan of that, at this point]) but I thought that it would be good to look at these eight points and see if I really should/do/can consider myself a "progressive Christian." But now I need to get to work.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


take that, responsibility!!!

What should I be doing right now, you ask? Getting ready for our first Maundy Thursday worship service which is at 11:00 this morning. But I wanted to feel as if my life was not being controlled by my list of everything that needs done and is happening this week, so I decided to step away from what I should be doing to take a brief moment to NOT do what I should be doing. I wanted to feel as if my life this week is mine to do with as I please. Because when I look at my calendar and see the large pile of stuff that needs done, I realize that this week that pile of stuff is my life. There is not much time for anything beyond getting ready for the events and worship services of this week, then doing the events and worship services of this week, and then recovering from the events and worship services of this week during those ever so few and brief moments when I will be able to not be doing something.
So, anyway, I think my moment of defiant irresponsibility is over. Or at least it should be over. But I wanted to share with you a comic strip I saw (and printed off) this morning. It's from the comic strip B.C. and it shows one of the cavemen looking at "Wiley's Dictionary" and the word he's looking at is "sermon." and the definition is "An inspired message directed mainly at those who are not in attendance." I thought that was appropriate, because my sermon today is sort of taking a stab at the way people who go to church believe that it is their duty to condemn other people, when really we have been commanded to love one another, regardless of how we feel about them. I mean, Jesus washed Judas' feet and Jesus knew VERY WELL that Judas was going to betray him. And those people that most need to hear that message of love and unconditional acceptance are the ones who are staying away because they're afraid of being condemned.
Anyway, gotta run. And a random aside: I'm starving.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


holy $#!+ week

so perhaps the title of this entry is teetering towards the sacrilegious side, but it's how i'm feeling right about now. Lots of stuff going on this week, lots of worship services to prepare for, lots of sermons to write, events to plan, Easter breakfasts to get ready for, a service at 6 IN THE MORNING, and today most of my day was spent on the phone, on hold, trying to set up an additional e-mail account through out internet service provider so that I could then send a group e-mail to the young adult types about our Bowl-a-rama coming up, although I couldn't put anything specific in the e-mail because the bowling alley wasn't answering the phone so that I could talk about special group rates and what not. Aargh.
But, to provide some humor, I have been able to watch a man from Animal Control try to herd the turkeys, and then lure them into his pick up truck using birdseed. It has been fun to watch, but on the other hand I have kind of grown attached to those noisy, jerkface birds. I will miss them when they are gone.
Anyway, can't promise that I'll get a whole lot of time to post in the next few days. Services on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday kind of eat up your freetime. While the high schoolers have been rubbing it in, because they get ALL WEEK and then THE FOLLOWING MONDAY off for Easter break. When I was in school, all I got was the Friday before Easter and the Monday after Easter off. It's an injustice really.

Sunday, March 20, 2005


the day, in hindsight

So there's something you need to know about my supervising pastor. He's a very fly by the seat of your pants kind of guy. He isn't the kind to put a lot of thought into doing something, he just does it as it comes.
Now, there's soemthing you need to know about me. I'm a very fly by the seat of your pants kind of guy. I don't put a lot of thought into doing something, I just do it as it comes.
When you have a worship service that, although there are many of the same elements as a usual worship service, but that requires different people to be in places that they aren't normally at during certain parts of the worship service, and you didn't take the time beforehand to go over the service and to figure out where people need to be and when, and then how they would get to where they needed to be when they needed to be there, it can get to be very stressful and kind of hectic and really confusing. Does that make sense?
So there was a lot of stuff that my pastor and I figured out mere seconds before the services started, and each service was significantly different enough that some of the things that were done for one service were totally different for the other. But things worked out well, and Supervising Pastor and I had to shuffle some things around. And thankfully (and contrary to the way it usually seems to work out) the one who ended up with more added responsibilities for the service was Supervising Pastor. Of course, a lot of that had to do with the fact that he's the only one that can preside at communion, and I was going to be in the balcony with the readers and musicians, and for me to be up front to do a lot of what I would normally do would have required me to rush out of the balcony and up to the front of the sanctuary. And doing this would have removed a singer from our already rag-tag worship band. So I managed to get him to do some of the stuff I should have done.
And, over all, most of the people enjoyed the miming. Now, I know some people have averse reactions when they hear "mime" and think of the skinny guy with the white face and striped shirt and black pants pretending to be in a box or pulling something heavy on a rope or following someone and mocking them unknowingly. But really the only thing these mimes had in common with those mimes were the white faces. And they were silent. But we read the Passion narrative from the balcony, and they silently acted out portions of it. They did a very good job. And besides the previous quote, most of the people thought they did a very good job. Even some of the other men in the Curmudgeon Cohort with "Tom" stopped and talked and complimented some of the youth. Tom just shook my hand, shook the pastor's hand, said his piece and then something along the lines of that he wants to be called the next time the youth do a service, so he knows not to come, and then walked off without shaking the hands of the youth who were lined up after pastor and me. Really, that whole scene made me angrier than when he came into my office with the list of grievances he had with me.
Then, after the service, a group of us went bowling. It was fun, although as we walked into the bowling alley (which also houses a small arcade, laser tag, and a few other things) I saw that one of the four year old boys from church was having his birthday party there. Although I wasn't invited, so I didn't go up to say hi. But I did see a lot of people that I knew bringing their children to the party, so I was friendly. As we were bowling, one of the young men was was with us, who we shall from here on out refer to as "Clark" mentioned that he was hungry. I mentioned that I was hungry. Supervising pastor's daughter (now shall be referred to as P.D.) mentioned she was hungry. I remembered Clark mentioning something yesterday, when we took some of the high schoolers for pizza, about a nearby restaurant named Bennigans. So I said that we could go to Bennigans after bowling. That got Clark excited because Bennigans is his favorite restaurant (more about Clark in a moment). So the group of us drove to Bennigans for supper, and then I got back to church in time for the senior high bible study, which was really spent walking around the church with the youth and P.D. trying to figure out the details for a lock-in that they want to throw for the 5th-7th graders (PD also happens to be the Youth Ministry Committee chairperson).
Okay, now here's the deal about Clark. He is out of high school, but not yet in college. I think he's undecided about the direction his life is going, and what he's supposed to be doing, so he's spending most of his time working on the farm with his dad. He's kind of in that limbo, where he just got done being very active in the youth group, but now he's no longer a high schooler, and he really should be included in the young adult group, but it's weird because most of the active young adults are close to 10 years his elders, and one of them is actually a high school english teacher. So he's kind of in an awkward transition period in the church right now. And I think his mom is worried about him, and wants him to get involved in things, so she pulls him into a lot of the high school activities, like Youth Sunday, especially because we have a shortage of males in the high school youth group. But I think he wants to make the transition out of the high school stuff. And I want to include him in the young adult stuff, but I know how weird it would be for both him and the english teacher, to go from a student/teacher relationship to interacting in a social context. Although, english teacher has just had a baby and will probably be out of commission for several of our next young adult activities, so I might drag Clark along to some of them. The funny thing is, Clark and I are very similar in a lot of our personality aspects, and today at the bowling alley someone asked if Clark and I were brothers. So I feel for him, and know what it is like to not have a niche to fit into. But I don't know what it must be like to feel like you don't have a niche in a community in which you have had a niche for a very, very long time.
Anyway, I think I might just be babbling at this point. I'm not entirely sure if any of what I just wrote is even blogworthy, or if it made much sense once it left my head. But it's there, and I feel that to leave without posting it would be a waste of the half an hour it took to type it out. So it's staying there.

addendum: Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that today was my LAST CONFIRMATION CLASS! The 8th graders do not have class on Easter Sunday, and then the next week they are being confirmed. I am torn on this issue.
Emotion #1: I am excited to be done. This class has proven to be one of the toughest, most negative group of young people I have ever come across. Nothing seems to be worthy of their time or effort. Even the kids who, outside of the class, seem to be above average, wonderful youth, when entering the classroom seem to have all that was at one time above average and wonderful quickly sapped out of their bodies. Then they seem to become this group of ambivalent and disagreeable little oafs. Nothing is worthy of their time. No one is good enough for them. They spend the whole class period, in which I'm trying to lead them through the lesson, complaining and changing the subject and ignoring me, and then tell people that I never try to teach them anything and that this whole class has been a waste of their time. So I am greatly excited to be done with this part of my experience as intern pastor.
Emtion #2: Complete and total frustration. This class has proven to be the toughest, most negative group of young people I have ever come across! I have NEVER EVER in my life had such a hard time connecting with youth, and I have never, ever, ever come close to EVER thinking that any youth was even close to unredeemable. But there are members of this class (Cheeseball girl not the only one, but by far the foremost) who make me question my previous thinking. And that frustrates me to death. And makes me feel defeated. And like a failure. And I don't like that. At all. So I feel as if I could have and should have done better. I feel as if I somehow failed this class, and that I gave up. And I don't like that, either.


quote of the weekend

"That is NOT what I'd call a traditional Palm Sunday service, and if I had known it was going to be like that, I wouldn't have come!"

-from, you guessed it, my good friend "Tom"

Saturday, March 19, 2005


my bed, it is a'callin'

So we had a little surprise for the people in church tonight.

You see, the fifth Sunday of a month is always scheduled to be "Youth Sunday." Sometimes that means they just help out with the service as ushers and readers and whatnot, sometimes that means they are in charge of everything and plan skits to perform, occasionally (and this is their favorite) it means they do a mime service, with music and readings. Unfortunately, there are some people who highlight these days on their calendars as days that they will be missing church. Makes me sad, and somewhat angry, but really it's their choice and if they don't get anything out of a youth service then it might be best for them to not be there.

Well, some of the people on the Youth Ministry Committee (one of whom is also conveniently on the Worship Committee) decided that for Palm/Passion Sunday that since the Gospel reading is so long, that we could involve the youth and have them mime some of the reading.

And it's not a fifth Sunday.

So the youth were in a downstairs restroom changing and putting on makeup as the people rolled in. Supervising Pastor and I were upstairs handing out palm leaves and bulletins and schmoozing. The first part of the service went like normal. Although they could see that the Gospel reading was a bit out of whack in the bulletin. I got up and preached a short sermon, which isn't too out of character, but it was much shorter than what I've been managing to work up to lately. And, as it was just supposed to serve as a bridge between the processional Gospel of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and the whole Passion narrative, I really left it kind of open ended. I think the congregation might have been confused. But then, after the passing of the peace, when I snuck out the back and went up to the balcony and Supervising Pastor began reading the Passion narrative, and then music started playing from up in the balcony, and then the youth started coming in with their faces painted white, I think the congregation knew something was up. Afterwards, they received several compliments, even though we did go over our hour time limit by *gasp* fifteen minutes!!

Then, after the service, several of the youth and two other adults and I were standing around and realized we were all hungry, so we decided to go out for pizza. So we were at the Pizza Hut and eating pizza and having a good old time. Then the bill came, and all the kids started saying "All I brought was a $20." or "All I have is a $10." So I just grabbed the bill and paid for it. To be nice. And it really wasn't all that expensive. Of course, one of the girls said, "That was nice of you, Mark. Why did you do that? Are we like your social life?" "Ouch," I thought. "That hit a bit close to home." But then I told myself that it was only one supper, and the kids deserved it for doing a good job, and if I relied on them for all of my social needs THEN it would be a problem. Then we went for ice cream afterwards. I only paid for my ice cream, though.

But now I am tired, and there is work to do tomorrow, and so I will be going to bed. My nice, warm bed is beckoning. I can hear it.

Friday, March 18, 2005


random end of the day ramblings

well... i'm not sure how much rambling there will be. As of right now I only have one thing in particular to blog about. But we'll see what I'm able to do with that before I'm finished!
We are having a Saint Patrick's Day dance party for the youth of the church tomorrow. Granted, it is not St Patrick's Day anymore, and definitely won't be at 7:00pm tomorrow evening, but due to school and schedule conflicts and the like, we figured a Friday evening would be the best time to have something for them. Although now some of them are whining because tomorrow is the "Mr. School" pageant, or something like that, which is a non-school affiliated activity (although it's held in the SCHOOL AUDITORIUM) and it's like a high school boy Miss America pageant. Although, apparently, you have to be one of the "cool kids" to be in it, and there's a bathing suit competition and a muscle competition and all that fun stuff. So some of the kids want to go there. I heard this second-hand. None of them said that to me. I would have told them what complete crap that is.
Anyway, I've already gotten off topic of what I wanted to post about. So a couple of us were going to meet over at church this evening to decorate for the dance party. I showed up to help, but really all I ended up doing was run around with one of the women's five year old son. They had one of those flimsy plastic guns that shoots the foam ball attached to a string, and then a "Bun Pincher" which was this plastic gun type thing with a long barrel and pinchers on the end. When you pulled the trigger the pinchers would pinch. So we chased each other through the church and traded off the weapons. It was fun. I wasn't much help with the decorating, although I did tape a few things. But I think I had more fun, by far.

Oh, and in other exciting news I ordered my third pair of liturgically colored shoes online today. So now I have my advent, epiphany/pentecost season, and Pentecost/Reformation Sunday shoes... Well, I'll have the Pentecost/Reformation Sunday shoes soon. For those of you non-church nerds, that means I have a pair of blue [Advent], green [epiphany/pentecost season] and red [Pentecost Sunday/Reformation Sunday] shoes. I had given up on the liturgically appropriate shoes, because it's Lent and I couldn't find a pair of purple shoes, nor do I especially WANT a pair of purple shoes. And now with Easter coming up I'm not that excited about white shoes... they just get dirty and dingy quickly. But I had a man mention that he was kind of disappointed I didn't have my sneakers on one day. And the pastor's wife noticed my green shoes today (which I wore for St Patrick's Day of course) and asked if I had shoes for every season yet. So I was inspired to get a red pair, although it will be BY FAR the shoe I wear the least. But I just couldn't NOT have a red pair of shoes.
Now I seriously need to go to bed.

Thursday, March 17, 2005


crossing over

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

After several attempts and lots of muttering, I have finally switched over to Haloscan, because I was beginning to feel unpopular with the lack of comments on my site. Of course, now that I've switched, they've been completely wiped out and so I have none. Hopefully you will all rectify that soon.

And here's a tip: If you have a blogger/blogspot blog, just click the link to let them do it automatically. Don't try to copy and paste the stuff that they have for you. It is so much easier to let them do the work for you.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005



So the way my denomination does it is that, to be ordained, you need to complete a year of internship in a congregation. So many Lutheran congregations become regular internship sites and keep getting interns year after year after year. For example, I am the fifth intern that my congregation has had. Now that being said, here is where the weirdness comes in.

I know I said that I'm ready for my internship to be done. I know I wrote a whole post about how my social life was shot to crap since I've been here. But it seems the mothership [seminary] has just officially assigned next year's interns to their internship sites. So I know who will be coming after me. And that is weird. Because it really kind of gives what I'm doing here some finality. Someone else is going to come be the intern pastor at MY internship site. To MY people. And it's not going to be MY internship site and they're not going to be MY people much longer. That's weird. And troubling. I don't like this feeling.

As much as I complain about it, I LOVE this work. I love joking around with the older gentlemen. I love getting to go to the hospital to see the newborn babies. I love hanging out with the high school youth. I love leading worship and sometimes I even love preaching! I love being invited into the precious moments of people's lives... births, deaths, baptisms, sicknesses... what other job let's you connect with people when they're at their most vulnerable in so many different aspects of their lives? And just when you feel as if you're connecting and fitting in and beginning to get past taking baby steps, they send you an e-mail to let you know who is going to be replacing you. I was excited to know who it was, to know who'd get the wonderful experience of getting to know this amazing congregation. But now that I know, I don't want to let the next person have them. I want to keep them. They're mine.

But such is relationships and such is ministry. Growing up with a Pastor for a dad, you think I'd know that nothing is permanent and just like God called you to go be with a certain community God can - and will - call you away from them to someplace else. Growing up with a Pastor for a dad you think I'd have been smart enough to high tail it the other direction, and not let this crazy notion of full time ministry even enter my thought processes. But I did, and I'm here, and I let these people get under my skin and into my heart. And now I have to start thinking about the process of letting them go.

That being said, I still have like 5 months here in this place. And 5 months is still plenty of time to have some good times and do some great ministry. And I plan to take advantage of that time. But 5 months will go quickly, if they are going to be anything like these past 7 months were. Of course, if you know me, then you know I have this complex where I need to be liked. When I was a church camp counselor I had this deep, subconcious need to be the most popular male counselor. I think it stems from being sort of an awkward, geeky adolescent. And always thinking that I was somehow lacking because I wasn't in the "cool" group. Now, being older and wiser, I know that's ridiculous and the kids in the "cool" group were probably just as awkward and unsure of themselves as I was, or perhaps even more so, they just were able to cover theirs up with good hair and designer clothes. I had crazy hair and hand-me-downs. Anyway, so it sometimes creeps in and the need to be "the favorite" resurfaces. Tonight, after I found out, I was going to the store and I found myself thinking of all the things I could do in these next 5 months so that the congregation would like me better than the incoming intern. After a couple of minutes I realized what I was doing. What difference does it matter if they like the next intern better than me? Good for him, and great for them. I'll have moved on by then. It won't make a difference. And he's so much different than me, I'm sure there are people who have connected with me better than they'll connect with him and vice versa. And that is the way that it should be.

Anyway, I need to clean some stuff up. I've let the stress of the past week catch up to me and I have this deep need to do some cleaning before I go to bed this evening. It's weird and it doesn't happen too often, so I go with it when it comes. Because otherwise, in five months they'd have to burrow through the junk to find me when it was time for me to move out. And no one wants that.

Monday, March 14, 2005


i'm a sheep

Everyone else seemed to be doing it, and I have some time to waste before the latest episode of MTV's Real World/Road Rules Challenge (hey... it's my day off... i'm allowed to watch mind rotting television shows!) so I thought I'd fill out this list:

1. If you could build a second house anywhere, where would it be?One would first need to get A house before one could even think about getting a second one. But somewhere in the Pacific Northwest sounds very appealing right now. Or in New England, because then I could see my niece more.

2. What are your favorite articles of clothing?I have a gray Navy hooded sweatshirt and a green Navy hooded sweatshirt and I love them both. So very comfy! And I have a pair of baggy jeans that I like to wear, too.

3. The last CDs you bought? BlackEyed Peas -elephunk, Indigo Girls - Retrospective, and Kent Gustavson - Light into the World

4. What time do you wake up in the morning? Usually between 7:30 and 8:00, unless it is Sunday and then closer to 6:00 or 6:30

5. What is your favorite kitchen appliance? my microwave and my crock pot

6. If you could play an instrument, what would it be? Guitar. Although I've always thought it would be cool to be able to play the piano.

7. Favorite color? ORANGE

8. Which vehicle do you prefer, sports car, motorcycle or SUV? I like the looks of some SUVs but understand they are impractical and mostly bad. I don't fit in most sports cars without having to rest my chin on my knees. And motorcycles... well, I'm too much of a weanie to pull off a motorcycle. I want a Volvo station wagon.

9. Do you believe in the afterlife? Yes?

10. Favorite Children’s Book? There's a Monster at the End of This Book; The Sweet Pickles series; Corduroy by Don Freeman; Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak; The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein; Everybody Poops by Taro Gomi; The Stinky Cheese Man by Jon Scieszka; and The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (which might just be my favoritest books of ALL TIME)

11. What is your favorite season? Spring and Summer and Fall.

12. Do you have a tattoo? Yes. And I constantly deal with the temptation for more.

13. If you could have one superpower, what would it be? There are a lot of cool super powers to choose from, although I think I'd have to go with some sort of psychic ability. Like reading minds, or telekinesis or something like that.

14. Can you juggle? No. I lack coordination and skill.

15. One person/people from your past you wish you could go back and talk to? My grandpas.

16. What is under your bed? Surprisingly, I think it is the cleanest part of my bedroom floor. There may be like a duffel bag or two stowed under there... but that might actually be about it. Well, and perhaps anything else from my bedroom floor that migrated (got kicked) underneath.

17. What is your favorite day? Well, right now it is Mondays, because that's my day off. Which I think is only fair because Monday has been the day I have loathed more than any other for most of my life.

18. Which do you prefer, sushi or hamburger? There is something about raw fish that does not sit well with me. And I have a hyperactive gag reflex, so if I started eating sushi and then thought to myself "This is raw fish" or "This feels sort of like a loogie," I would begin uncontrollably gagging and be unable to finish eating it. So I'll say hamburger. With bacon. And cheese.

19. From the people who normally read your blog, who is most likely to respond first? I refuse to answer this question. I think this is the stupidest question in any of these questionnaires. Grrr....

20. On which blog did you find this meme? I don't really remember anymore, but it seems almost every blog I read has it on there, so I thought why not be a sheep and do it, too.

21. What is your favorite flower? Daisy or lilacs

22. What is your favorite meal? Hmm... I'm a fan of food in general, but I'd say maybe fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy and warm biscuits.

[is it unsettling to anyone else that there is no 23? I checked several blogs that had also done this list, and yeah, no 23... hmmm]

24. Describe your PJs. t-shirt and shorts, or t-shirt and pajama pants.

25. What is your favorite breakfast? Eggs over easy, toast, bacon and pancakes. I'm ambivalent about the hashbrowns. If they are there, I will eat them. If not, eh... just give me more bacon.

26. Do you like your job? Yes. But ask the question again in a couple of days and the answer might change!

27. What is your dream job? Funny thing... I just posted about this the other day! I also sometimes think that being a college campus pastor/chaplain would be a wonderful job. I always used to think year-round church camp counselor would be a pretty posh job, and I think part of me might still believe that. If I ever get married and have children, I think being a stay-at-home dad might be pretty spectacular, too. Right now I'm thinking that being an associate pastor with youth ministry responsibilities sounds good, too. I dream a lot.

28. What age do you plan to retire? If I am in a job I love, I'd love to do it until I literally can't do it anymore. Although retiring and sitting on my porch, in a rocker or a porch swing, with a warm cup of coffee or a cold glass of tea, with a loyal dog by my feet, and the mountains in my view sounds pretty awesome. So, how about age 30?

29. Where did you meet your spouse/significant other? Is it just me, or is this questionnaire biased in the fact that it assumes everyone who answers has one (or both) of those? Instead of answering that question, I'm going to answer a different one. And the answer to THAT question would be: macaroni and cheese.

30. Something you would like to do that you’ve never done before. I've always wanted to go scuba diving around some great coral reef. But I'm a HORRIBLE swimmer. But maybe hiking in the Himalayas or something exotic and fun like that.

Sunday, March 13, 2005


what just happened?!?

So, I did it. I made it through the week and weekend as a solo pastor intern. There were times that were fun, there were a couple times that were a bit painful, there were a couple times I wanted to jab sharp objects into my head, and there were times that I just sat back and thought "This work is awesome."
There were, indeed, some mistakes moments of grace. Moments of nervousness causing my brain to cloud over. There were a few times I relied on other people to let me know what I was supposed to do next. There were a few times I shot pleading glances at people in the congregation, silently asking them to come up and help because the people who were signed up to help decided not to show up. But there were times when things went smoothly, where I was able to be myself, when I could crack some jokes. There were a few things that I would do differently, if I could go back and change them, but I can't. So I just have to smile, and remember to do these things differently when I get the chance to do them in the future.
And the congregation was unbelievably supportive. In fact here's the "I think I just shat my pants" moment of the weekend:
I had finished our Sunday morning early service. I was shaking hands as people exited the sanctuary when here comes "Tom." It was kind of a drive by moment, didn't last long and I didn't have much chance to react because there were people in line behind him, but on his way out Tom grabs my hand and says "You did a pretty good job." I think I just shat my pants.

Saturday, March 12, 2005


and they're off!!

The weekend has started. If I can just make it through these two days, I will be fine. I'd be a lot more at ease if I had all day today (Saturday) to get ready before the worship service at 5:30. No such luck. We have a synod-wide event that I've already signed up for and for which the church has already paid my registration fee. So I will be there from 9 until 3 today. Then I have to come back home, iron my pants, finish getting ready for worship, make sure everything is as it should be so that nothing gets forgotten or left out, then do worship. Then it's not like I even get a break Saturday evening. I have to finish the power point presentation for our contemporary service (the liturgy and songs get put up on a big screen... I don't use power point for my sermon) Saturday evening because I won't get a chance Sunday morning. But then, after two services and a confirmation class on Sunday, I will be done. And I've decided that if I make it through alive, and with my sanity, that I will treat myself to lunch somewhere. And then I'm going to go home and sleep until I need to do the senior high Bible study that evening. Then, I'm going to go home and sleep some more. And Monday is my day off, and for that I am rejoicing.
But now I need to go and finish collecting my stuff for the synodical event. I'm bringing a copy of my sermon along, hoping that I'll get some time to go over it some more.
Wish me luck!!

Friday, March 11, 2005


sharing the love

The blog world, I am finding out, is kind of small and circuituous. Lots of blog #1 links to blog#2 who links to blog#3 who links back to blog#1 type scenarios. Which I think is kind of cool.

One of the links I have in my list of blogs is to the blog of a guy named Jeshua Erickson. I ran across his blog through a random link off of someone else's blog, but after reading about him I found out he has spent time at Holden Village. So I started reading his blog, and listened to tidbits of his music. Now I'm a regular reader of his blog and I bought his CD. I recommend both. Go here to check him out.

Now, here is where it gets a bit circuituous... I followed one of the links on his blog, to check out the blog of a guy named Kent Gustavson. Kent is a fellow musician of Jeshua's, and also has spent some time at Holden. And wouldn't you know it, Kent has linked to my blog on his webpage! Weird... But, I've listened to tidbits of Kent's music, and read some of his blog now, too. In fact, I found out that Kent wrote Mountain Vespers, which is a bluegrass style vespers service that Holden Village uses often, and that I enjoyed during my short time in the village. So I recently, just yesterday in fact, ordered one of Kent's CDs and am anxiously awaiting its arrival. You can check Kent's music and blog out here.

Both Jeshua and Kent have a lot of good and interesting things to say and sing. And to share the love I am going to put Kent's blog in my blog list, so go check 'em out!!!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


just a little freaking out

So the more I think about it, the more it sinks in that MY SUPERVISING PASTOR IS GONE THIS WEEK. He won't be back until Tuesday.
Do you understand what this means?
I'm not used to making sure EVERYTHING that needs to be done for the three worship services gets done. It's usually been a joint venture. I KNOW that I'm going to miss something and there will be this LARGE, GLARING error in one of the worship services. The organ will come to a stop like a phonograph needle scratching off of a record. People will gasp. A woman in the back will let out a horrified shriek. I'll look up from whatever it is I was doing, only to realize the error. I'll fall to my knees, my face twisted into a look of horrified despair. "OH DEAR GOD!!" I'll scream. "WHY?!?!?!?!??????" Then I'll throw myself onto the ground as I'm overcome with body-wracking sobs.
Okay, so MAYBE there was some exaggeration in there... but just a little.
But seriously, I just keep thinking of all the little things, that normally we split up, or Supervising Pastor reminds me needs to get done. There is no one to remind me that they need done. Yes, they are just little things. The big things I will probably manage to remember. But these little things, when added together, BECOME big things. Big things that are harder to fix, because they're not actually big things, but a large group of little things, thus they don't have one solution, as a normal big thing would. (Did that make any sense? It's late... we'll blame it on that.)
I know - I mean like deep within my depths, right by the little room where Jesus lives, I KNOW - that things will be alright. They might be done a bit differently, but they will be alright. But that doesn't help the rest of me - that whole big nervous blob that surrounds that little bit that is deep within my depths, right by the little room where Jesus lives. The rest of me is freaking out, going through a TON of what-ifs and all those wonderful "worst case scenarios." I'd go buy that book, you know that little yellow one, but I don't know if that will be so helpful. I mean, I'm not sure if I'll have to deal with a downed power line or win a sword fight or leap from a moving car. Or even survive a poisonous snake attack (we're not that kind of Christians). So, really, the little things that might go wrong pale in comparison to some of those... So I might be freaking out and exaggerating things a bit. But I sort of feel like THIS IS MY BIG TEST. This is the litmus test to see if I have what it takes to do this, you know? It's like my Momma Bird just pushed me out of the nest, and I had better be flying because otherwise while I'm flopping along on the ground that dog will chase me and between the chomping canine jaws and the stress to my heart I will die on that front lawn, leaving that young boy to stand, sobbing and telling his mother that they NEED to bury that poor baby bird (oh wait... that's a different story ALTOGETHER...). But I think you get the picture, right?
So yeah, that would be why I'm still up at 11:41pm on Wednesday, March 9th. Because I seem to have myself worked up, and all anxious and nervous about the next few days, in which I need to a whole heckuva lot of stuff, half of which I didn't need to do about 36 hours ago.
But I suppose I should try to go to sleep. Which, in this instance, means laying in bed, staring at the ceiling and freaking out. But at least I'll be in bed, so if I start hyperventilating or something and pass out, at least I'll be in the right spot.


dream job

My dream job is open. Well, one of my many dream jobs... I seem to have quite a few. But this one might be close to the top of the list.
What is this job, you ask?
Just the Village Pastor at Holden Village.
Actually, right now, they're just looking for an interim pastor, that would serve 10-12 months. I want to write them and ask if they'd be willing to take a seminarian on internship. I could tranfer right now!
But, alas, that just will not happen, I'm afraid.
For those of you who do not know much about Holden Village, I encourage you to go to the website and check it out. It's rooted in the Lutheran Tradition, but it is an ecumenical retreat/renewal center in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a week out there this last summer, and it has kind of creeped into my veins. Much like heroin. Although I have no idea what using heroin is like.... Honestly....
But I've been figuring out the math in my head. They ask that a Village Pastor put in two, preferably three years, at the village. If I wait through the pastor that comes next, and then the pastor after that one, that gives me a year to finish up seminary and then about five years in the parish. I think I would totally be ready to go be the Village Pastor at that point.
Of course, now that I've made those plans God will screw them all up. Just because God can. And that seems to be the way that God most consistently operates in my life. I'll have things planned out. I'll feel like I actually know what's going on, where I'm headed, what my life is going to look like, and then God says, "Ummmm... Not so much." And then things get altered. Sometimes drastically. Always, at least in hindsight, for the better.

In other news, I wanted to make sure that I knew where I was driving tonight for the evening Lenten service. It's to an even more podunk town than the one I live in, or the one I preached in last time - when I was straight out of Compton. So I left work a little early and drove to the church. It's on the edge of one of those "blink and you miss it" towns. I even hate to call it a town, really. More like a small collection of houses. Then there's a curve in the road and there's the church. It took me about a half an hour to get there. And I made it there and back very easily. Of course the sun was out then. Things always look different in the dark. And I can get lost in my house if the lights are off. So we'll have to see what happens this evening.

[editor's note: Just so you know, I in NO WAY consider "podunk" to be a derogatory term. In fact, I consider myself to be "podunk" spending a LARGE part of my formative years in a township of 300 people, followed by a small town of 3,000... in fact, the largest town I lived in growing up was 13,000 people. So, while there might be some negative connotations with the word, I feel that being a podunk person from podunk towns gives me the right to use the term. Now if you live in Chicago or New York City or large cities like that, and use the term "podunk" then you're just being plain nasty.]


new discoveries

so this whole time, i've been writing my posts in the "Edit HTML" screen... completely unaware of the glory that is in the "compose" screen. I just found it today. I used to read people's blogs and think, "How did they make their font orange?" or "How did they make their font so big?" But now I know. And you can rest assured that I will definitely be aking advantage of all of these tools to make my blog that much more aesthetically pleasing.
And I'm also excited because I figured out how to exploit foreign labor cross out things in my post, too.
Anyway... I've got to go to work. I'm (unfortunately, especially considering all the great advice I received from my blog readers) skipping an area clergy meeting today so that I can finish my sermon which I need to preach at 11 am today. This week is going to prove exceptionally stressful, I'm afraid, because my Supervising Pastor is in Arkansas because his father-in-law passed away this week. So I'm flying extremely solo.
So I'm off to work.

Monday, March 07, 2005


just a little processing here

Okay. I'm a person who needs to process things externally. Most often that is done through talking with friends. But I'm home alone, and it's late and I don't really want to call someone and risk waking them up or whatnot. And besides, it's not that big of an issue. I just want to process. So, although it might sound negative (I'm not sure how it will end up sounding, I haven't started processing yet!), be reassured that it probably isn't half as bad as it may sound.

I think I'm ready to be done with my internship, even though I have about five more months. I really enjoy the working relationship I have with my Supervising Pastor. I don't think I could have expected or asked for a better one. We are very similar in a lot of respects, theologically and politically, and that is very good. I enjoy the people here, too. In fact, I think every week I appreciate something new about somebody different. I like how that happens, and how it catches me by surprise. I enjoy the work I do. When I distribute communion, and get to include people in this wonderful communal event, and when the kids come up for blessings. Especially this boy, about 7 or so, who when he comes up through the line will point to his forehead to let you know where to put your hand for the blessing. That makes me smile. Or the little girl, about 6 years old, who always tries something different to make me laugh when I give her the blessing. She used to growl at me, but now she's started bringing items up with her. This past week was a little yellow stuffed baby chicken. And she whispered "chicky!chicky!" causing the woman next to her to stifle a laugh, and got a big grin out of me. It's just things like that which make it feel like a great big family dinner AND I LOVE THAT! I even appreciate the people who don't agree with me (although I've only had one person really come at me with things he did not approve of) because they cause me to think differently and consider different viewpoints, and they don't let me hang out in my little box that I'm comfy in.
But the thing that gets to me is that it seems once I leave the walls of the church building, my life apparently ends. As soon as I'm done interacting with people at worship services and committee meetings and youth Bible studies, I'm done interacting with people period. My only social life is my work social life. And if you know me at all then you know how much I THINK THAT SUCKS! Sometimes I just wish I had someone to call up and say "I think I want pizza for supper. Want to go to Pizza Hut with me?" or "I thought about renting a movie. Want to come over and watch it with me?" or "I think I might go shoot a paintball gun, but I need someone to drive the car while I shoot at people." You know? It would just be great to have a system of support outside of the people at church where I didn't feel like I had to be "Pastor Intern Mark," and I could just be Mark and I could say things like "Shit" and "You know [random person from church] is really stupid and has a horseface" -- and I wouldn't have to worry that people would think that wasn't acceptable behavior from a pastor, or worse yet [and this is the bigger risk at my church] that the person I vent about the horse-faced parishioner to will be related to them in some way. [editor's note: at this point i should say that I do not consider anyone at church to have a horse face. It was a hypothetical example.]
As of right now, my closest friend is about a 2 hour drive away. So it takes a lot of planning and phone calling or e-mailing to set up an appointment where I can go and say "shit." And that's not always fun or even a possibility.
People in the congregation have asked me about that. They ask me what I do for fun. I tell them that I go to the local parks (they have a lot of state parks which are pretty cool) or I check out the nearby big cities sometimes. Then they let me know that they have been wondering about that, because they don't know what a young, single person would do in this town. Even people my age (most of whom in this church are married) ask me if I do much for fun, because they have no idea what that would be.
So that makes me long for seminary. For the days when I could step out of my room and be inches from my best friends. And there was always something going on at seminary. If I walked around enough, or called enough friends, eventually I'd run into someone or talk to someone who was planning on doing something or just on their way to doing something, and they'd say "why don't you come along?" and then the fun would ensue. So if I could combine the work that I'm doing with the social life that I had at seminary, I think I would pee my pants with excitement.
This even kind of makes me look back whimsically on my stint as a youth director, because I loved the youth I worked with and had a social life outside of work, although there were a lot of issues with the pastors I worked with. But I remember doing meaningful work and then being able to leave from that and hang out and talk with people who I felt I could relax and let loose around.
But then I think that once this internship ends, I'll go back to seminary and that will be a good thing. My social life will inevitably sky rocket. But that will only last for approx. 9 months. Then I get to go back out into a church where chances are I will be in a much similar situation as to the one I am in right now. That kind of worries me. Although I tell myself that there's the possibility I'll be in a bigger city or closer to friends or WHO KNOWS?!?!? maybe even married by then. But I also tell myself that, especially considering the make up of the Lutheran church, the odds are greater that I'll end up in some podunk little town, similar to or smaller than this one, with a two day drive to get to my closest friend, by myself.
Anyway, enough about that. Thanks for listening.

Sunday, March 06, 2005


something i forgot

So today as I was walking across the parking lot from my house to the church, the turkeys who were quite a ways away noticed me. So the one that seems to be the alpha male (do turkeys have alpha males? this one seems to be, so I would say they do) gobbled something and the three began trotting across the parking lot towards me. They got within about five feet and stood there staring sideways at me. I said, "I'm sorry guys. I don't have any peanuts today."
They stood there and stared sideways at me.
"I really don't have any peanuts today. I promise."
They stood there and stared sidways at me.
I went inside.
The End.


i tired

it has been a loooooooooooooooooooooong day.
I think it goes without saying, especially for regular readers of this blog, that I think Sunday mornings come much too early. Of course, you think this would then affect the time that I go to bed the previous evening. Occasionally, it does. But most often? Yeah, that would be a big no. I've never claimed to be the smartest person alive, so cut me some slack.
Anyway, so worship was at 8 this morning, and since supervising was nursing a sore throat, I was in charge of most of the worship. Except preaching. Which was fine with me. So I got to do a lot more of the liturgy than normal. Chanted a few things that are primarily ordained pastor parts of the liturgy, which was neat.
For Sunday School/confirmation today, one of the women of the congregation had said that she was going to be coming in to help the 8th graders make banners for Confirmation Sunday which would display the Bible verse that they had selected. The way she made it sound, it seemed like it would take up most of the class period. So I planned nothing for that day. So she came in with some paper and sharpie markers and all they needed to do was write their name and Bible verse on one of these pieces of paper and she would take them home and fuse them [or some such similar verb] to the fabric of their banners. Then, she was done. That took all of about 5 minutes. So I had nothing to do with the youth for the rest of the time. Luckily, this Sunday was also "Pancakes with Pastor" Sunday where the sunday schoolers (5th grade on down, of course) get to eat pancakes with supervising pastor. While I teach confirmation, that supposedly supervising pastor and I are TEAM TEACHING. Fair? I think perhaps that could be up for debate. Anyway, I went downstairs and asked the women making pancakes if there would be enough to feed the 8th graders, too. And they said sure. But today was also the day when a couple people from an area outdoor ministry were coming to talk to the Sunday School youth. So the 8th graders had to sit through a brief presentation about church camp. They weren't excited. They complained. Which seems to be their general attitude and reaction to just about everything. I think this group of youth has made me rethink youth ministry moreso than any other experience in my life. Even my previous experience with crappy pastors when I was a youth director.
Anyway, after the presentation, four girls mentioned they were thinking about going to camp. Cheeseball girl included. Although the reason that she and her little henchgirl decided to go to camp was to meet boys. But I don't believe that it is outside of the Holy Spirit's power to work through motives such as those. I'll keep my fingers crossed.
But while they were sitting through the camp presentation I got a chance to hang out with some of the younger kids. And hold a baby. So that was good.
Then, after our second worship service this morning we had a Special Congregational Meeting about refinancing mortgages and loans and whatnot. Even though it went fairly smoothly, that kind of thing is never fun.
Then I had about 50 minutes to run to the store, buy some microwave popcorn, milk duds and pop, come home and pop the popcorn and get it over to church for our Young Adult group viewing of The Luther Movie. I was planning on our base group of about 8, plus perhaps hopefully some additonal extras. But at the congregational meeting I had one couple bail because the wife is pregnant and been put on bed rest by her doctor. Then, about ten minutes before the event, another couple called and said they couldn't make it because they weren't having a "good day." I'm guessing it had something to do with their three young children. And since they are two of the bigger advocates for this young adult group, I am willing to accept that as an excuse from them. The third couple pulled in right at 2:00 which was when it was scheduled to start. And supervising pastor's daughter was there, too. So we had four of our eight, which was not bad. Although I had popped four bags of microwave popcorn. We managed to take out about two and a half. Not bad.
So after we watched and discussed, I moved to the sanctuary to help with worship planning of our youth service. Basically I sat around and distracted the youth. A job I'm very good at.
Then after that was our senior high bible study. There has been a lot of stuff going on the past couple of weeks, and the youth haven't had a real Bible study for the past several. So they were hungry for one, I think. And they kind of took control and I sat back and watched and listened. It was pretty cool.
Then I drove through Taco Bell and ordered some food. My first real food of the day. If taco bell food can be considered real.
Now I don't feel so hot.
I also bought "The Greatest Story Ever Told" on DVD and I started to watch part of it this evening before realizing I did not have the attention span for that endeavor. Although I was impressed with the caucasianness of first century middle eastern people. They are pretty danged white. I never knew. I guess you learn something new everyday.

Saturday, March 05, 2005


secret single behaviors

A good friend of mine once shared with me the term "secret single behaviors." They are those things you do when you are alone that you don't or wouldn't do in front of other people.
I have some pretty eccentric secret single behaviors.
I'd share them with you, but then they wouldn't be secret. And there is a wide variety of them, and new ones arrive everyday. So I wouldn't even know where to start.
But I will share this with you: If ANYONE from my internship parish EVER saw me doing them, they'd think "What the hell is he doing? And what the hell was that seminary thinking sending him into a church? Let us shoot him, and put him out of his misery."


my heresy, explained... or at least an attempt

I grew up believing in Heaven and Hell, God and the Devil, a constant struggle between salvation and damnation. Jesus died to free us from sin and death, but there was still the chance/option/threat of Hell looming in the background.
In college, the question came to my mind: We are created by God and loved unconditionally, so regardless of what we do or say or think... how could sending someone to Hell ever be an option for God? If I am able to love and forgive, how much moreso and much more perfectly, can God love and forgive?
Yes, my friends, I am teetering on the edge of universal salvation - That God will save EVERY PERSON.
I think it was something I have been moving towards for many years, and it doesn't help that I started reading If Grace is True by Philip Gulley and James Mulholland, and that I find myself agreeing with almost all of what they are saying.
So yeah... I think I might be becoming a heretic, because that is definitely NOT accepted doctrine in many of our churches today. We like our "country club mentality," sort of a members only approach to salvation. But I'm not sure that's the way God plays. The God revealed to us through Jesus Christ, I mean.
Because I think the ones that we reject and think aren't worthy of salvation are exactly the ones Jesus would be hanging out with and eating with if he were around today. The God revealed to us in Jesus was about breaking down the barriers we use to separate, including the outcasts, forgiving others even when it seems impossible, touching the unclean, DYING FOR THOSE WHO DIDN'T DESERVE IT.
Just something to think about/consider, I suppose.

Friday, March 04, 2005


i might be a heretic

more later.....


thoughts on peanuts and turkeys

Some of you may remember my previous attempt to feed the roving band of turkeys (or should I say roving RAFTER of turkeys?), and how they snubbed my bread. You may also remember that I vowed that was the last nice thing I would do for them.

Well, that vow has been broken.

They were milling outside of the church yesterday, cursing loudly at people that came too close to them. I went home, because I forgot to put on my watch that morning and was driving myself crazy looking at my wrist every five minutes, and while I was there I grabbed a handful of the peanuts that I bought to feed the mutant gimongous squirrels in my backyard. So I walked back to church and tossed the handful of peanuts to the turkeys. They looked at me skeptically, but they could not resist the peanuts, so when I was a safe distance away, they moved over and began checking them out. They'd pick up the peanut in their mouth, and then drop it. Pick it up and drop it. They knew the peanuts were food, and they wanted to eat this food, but it seemed as if they could not figure out how to get at them. So I watched from the window for a bit, and the pastor's wife and I then went outside to see them. The turkeys had since given up on the peanuts and were just sitting there, looking dejected, amidst the scattered peanuts. The pastor's wife suggested that if someone stepped on the peanuts then the turkeys could probably eat them. So I began picking up the peanuts and cracking open the shells and then tossing the nuts onto the ground. The turkeys were ecstatic and began eating them. Although I think they decided peanuts aren't their favorites because there were quite a few left over. But that was before the gimongous squirrels came over and got a hold of them. Now they're all gone.

But yeah, I figured that grace abounds and even though the turkeys did not eat my bread, they still deserved some benevolence and compassion.

Thursday, March 03, 2005


on discernment

You know, before I began this whole "call to ministry" process, I lived a rather full life without EVER using the word "DISCERNMENT." It just was not a part of my everyday vocabulary.
Now, however, not a day goes by where I don't use it in a conversation, read something about it, think about it, or hear someone else use it. Now, it seems, my whole life has become about discerning where God is calling me to be.
And you'd think that once you give yourself over to the whole process of discernment that it would be simple and eventually you'd figure out where you were supposed to be going, and your journey of life would be laid out before you not unlike the yellow brick road that Dorothy took to the Emerald City.

You could think that. But you'd be wrong.

I quickly discovered, about as soon as I formally began this whole discernment process, that really life is just one REALLY LONG discernment process. And if my experience so far is any indication of what the process is like in the long run, it's about like getting dressed in the dark. Grabbing something, feeling it out, figuring out what it is, and then trying it on. Sure it feels right. It fits pretty good around the waist. The length feels about right. The shirt is comfy, too. The sleeves could be a little longer, but really not that bad. Of course you have no idea what it looks like. You could have grabbed a red and green flannel shirt, a pair of purple sweatpants and some bright yellow argyle socks. But you don't know that when you're standing there in the dark. At what point does the light flip on, and you realize that you managed to find a pretty darn good outfit, and so now you're gonna go strut your stuff? Does it ever?

So you might be asking yourself, "Is Mark having a vocational crisis?" to which I'd reply, "When AREN'T I having a vocational crisis? It seems to be the level at which I most consistently operate." But I would also let you know that at this point I am neither considering quitting my internship nor dropping out of seminary, as well as not considering anything else crazy like joining the circus. My vocational crisis is not at critical mass. At this point, I am standing in the dark, thinking how my clothes seem to fit nicely, but also wondering if just because the clothes fit, does that mean I should wear them? Even though they're comfy, they might not be the best clothes for me. I mean, I'm a t-shirt, shorts and flip flops kinda guy. That outfit screams comfort to me. But that doesn't mean I want to wear them outside in this 35 degree weather, nor should I. That would be craziness.

Anyway, I suppose I'll continue DISCERNING. But for now I need to go and be about meeting committeely.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


weird turn of events

So I ended up procrastinating revising my sermon long enough that I didn't do anything with it before I left for the Chicago Bulls game, yesterday.
Unfortunately, the Bulls lost to the Houston Rockets by a score something like 87 to 117. But Yao Ming was on the Houston Rockets team, and I just couldn't NOT cheer for a 7'6" Chinese man.
But then I got back from the game and was beat (plus it was close to midnight) so I figured I wasn't in much shape to revise my sermon then, so I'd get up early the next day and work on it. So I was up by 6:30 (or a little after) and was over at church working on my sermon before anyone else was at church. I had it revised to my satisfaction by about 9:00, and then I finished up some other things I needed to have done today. So, really, I have nothing that NEEDS to be done right now. It's kind of weird.
In my sermon today, however, I had a line in it that talks about how it is Jesus who determines who gets into heaven or not, and no one else. And I purposely looked at my good friend "Tom" when I said it. Not in a accusatory glaring kind of way. Although I'm not sure he wouldn't have deserved an accusatory glare. I just didn't give him one.
In other news, I've been checking out the webpage of the local community college. I think I want to take a Spanish course there. And I am already too late to register for the spring semester, but they offer summer courses, and I'm guessing summer will be a lot more relaxed than, oh, say RIGHT NOW in the life of the church. Plus it will be getting close to my time to leave my internship, and things will be winding down on that front, and then I will be able to give a little more time to advancing my Spanish skills, which aren't too much to speak of. Although I can sing the first line to the song "De Colores," and give you some idea of what I'm singing. Oh, and "Jesus Loves Me" in Spanish, too. But they haven't put up their summer schedule yet. I guess they figure that early March is too far from the summer for people to be concerned about it. But I'll just have to remember to keep checking the webpage to see when they post a schedule... Or I could be extremely proactive (and out of character) and actually call the school to see if they have the summer schedule set up, and just not posted. That would be a novel idea.
Sometimes, after I'm done typing a blog entry, I go back to the beginning and reread what I've written and think, "Gee... that is definitely NOT what I thought I was going to write about."
Oh, here's a bit of randomness. I had this idea of collecting rocks from different camps that I visited last summer, and I stuck one in my backpack and forgot about it. Well, I used my backpack the other day, so I took the rock out and set it on top of my dresser. So this morning, I grabbed my pair of dress pants (that I also had laying on top of the dresser) and put them on, thinking the whole while they were a bit heavy. The rock had migrated to my pocket during its time on the dresser. I thought that was weird. So I took the rock out and put it back on the dresser. We'll have to see where it ends up next. If it ends up somewhere other than the top of the dresser, say under my pillow or somewhere like that, I'm totally moving to a new house.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005


And God asked, "Who shall I call to dawdle, and who will procrastinate for me?"

And I said, "Here am I, Lord! Send me.... but not right now."

Some of my best blogging comes out of the times that I should be working [editor's note: that being said, do not get your hopes up for an exceedingly high quality post. That would just be ultimately setting yourself up for disappointment]. It's not like I have anything extremely pressing. I preach at BOTH lenten services tomorrow, but it's the same sermon at both. And I've already written the sermon that I should be preaching tomorrow. The only thing is, I'm not entirely happy with that sermon. Like it's an extremely short, not well written sermon. So I really should be focusing on shaping it up, adding some bulk, making it better. But it's that whole lacking the drive to get started on it. I know that it's there, and needs to be done (or redone, I should say), but so many other things seem much more enjoyable right now.
In other news, I drove back to the nearby city in which the ordination was held, to have lunch with a former fellow seminarian, and I found a Caribou Coffee. I was very excited. I'm not sure how widespread Caribou Coffees are, but the first one I experienced was with my friends in Minnesota. So Caribou Coffee shops make me think of them. So I will probably be making frequent trips to this city to enjoy the glory that is Caribou Coffee. Have I ever told you that I am overly sentimental? Because I am.
Anyway, not only is it lunch time, but I really should focus on my sermon. Because I have a shorter work day today because I'M GOING TO A CHICAGO BULLS GAME! And I am excited about that. So I will end this random, rambling, remedial blog entry for now. God bless!!



That's a fun word. Curmudgeon. But yeah, so today is the first Tuesday of the month, so the Lutheran Men in Mission met for breakfast. I keep telling myself I need to go, but it's hard to get up that early to go sit and listen to "Tom" talk about what he doesn't like, what makes him angry, what he disagrees with... and on and on. But after church on Sunday I had another one of the men who usually comes approach me and tell me that I needed to remember breakfast on Tuesday. So, because he went out of his way to invite me, I decided I needed to go out of my way to get there. And I made it. I was there, and luckily it was the largest turnout that I've seen there. There were five older gentlemen, supervising pastor and myself. And Tom did his usual bit of complaining, but there were enough other people there to keep the conversation generally upbeat and interesting. I really appreciate the men that come to this breakfast. They are a good group of people.
In the midst of the conversation we started talking about the turkeys that hang out near the church, and how they are traffic hazards. They like to stand in the middle of the road, and no amount of traffic or honking seems to deter them. They just stand there and look at you like you're a jerk. Although when a semi was barreling down the road and showing no signs of stopping, and began honking, they quickly moved out of the way. Anyway, it seems that animal control is trying to figure out a way to relocate them to a less hazardous area. I personally don't think it sounds like that hard of a plan, so they should have done it by now. But anyway, they were talking about how in the late spring/summer of last year there were at one time nine turkeys that were hanging around (of course they were much smaller at that time), and one of the men called them a litter of turkeys, but then he knew that wasn't right. So they were trying to figure out what to call it, and there were some words tossed around like flock and gaggle, but we knew those were not right. Because a gaggle is of geese, and a flock is of seagulls with really bad haircuts that required an inordinate amount of aquanet hairspray. Someone thought a baby turkey was a pullet, but then someone said that's actually a name for a hen. So one of the the gentlemen (the man who took on my dryer... it's in a previous post) said that it was my assignment to find out why a hen is called a pullet. Anybody know?


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