worship and the new year….

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If I am at a place in life, some new plateau or plain of growth, it is one of yearning for some added completeness. I want to know more and teach more and experience a focus as never before. We worshipped with the University Christian Church on Christmas Eve morning, and I was affected.

This church is a “high church.” I was prepared for it by months of attending the liturgies at St. Martins in the Fields, and was open to the overt language of and search for holiness and mystery. I look forward to the Sunday evening worship times and experiencing both a taste of traditional and contemporary worship. Both have a place in the Kingdom and both have a place in my own heart.

The choir sang some of Handel’s Messiah during the offering and I was appropriately reminded that Handel wrote it for worship. In fact, I remarked to Teresa at lunch that it was surprising how the act of offering was made to be worship that morning by the words, the song and the timing.

Isaac went to “childrens’ worship” at one point and I was thrilled by the elements I saw. He was welcomed by a “Granny,” and several other children who were ready to worship. Their time together was focused on the Advent… they experienced liturgy, art and worship. So different than a headlong rush into loud, fast-paced “play-worship.” And I don’t mean “play-worship” in a negative sense, I just don’t have the words to grab hold of the though right now, but you probably know what I mean… celebratory, fast-paced, loud, distracting yet focusing, and all that.

Anyway, we will have some adjusting as a family to this new church family. I only pray that it is all to God’s glory.

Peace, Todd

I took a job…

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Well, I accepted a job offer this week from the University Christian Church next to TCU in Ft. Worth, Texas. It’s an interim position split 30hrs a week with the Sr. High and 10hrs a week with College. Should be fun… it’s officially a six month position, but there’s some possibility that it could go longer. Here’s their website… http://www.universitychristianchurch.org/ And yes, I have a route that will allow me to ride my scooter to work! SWEET!

I’m also helping facilitate the Ft. Worth Emergent Cohort this year! I’ve set up a blog site for that at http://emergentftworth.blogspot.com

Peace, Ya’ll

Almost a month since posting…

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I’m sorry. It’s almost been a month since I posted on either stream I’ve been talking about… those were finding a job and my spiritual journey. John the Baptist over here has been busting my chops about it.

On the job front: lots happening actually. I have been part-time at Starbucks for a month and really enjoy it! It’s pays the old el squato, but I get to drink a lot of coffee. I mean, like I’m twitchy while typing this. Otherwise I have been doing interviews with two churches fairly seriously about their positions. One is a small-town 35 member church and the other is a citified 5,000 member church. I might know where I’ll be going next by this time next week.

Both churches are First Christian (Disciples of Christ) Churches. You can find out more about the group at their national website, www.disciples.org. I’ll keep you posted! (with posts)

Peace, ya’ll!

My Spiritual Journey… My First Steps.

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So, I “grew up in the church.” Isn’t that a great turn of phrase? “In THE Church.” I use it now and have heard many people from different denominational backgrounds use it as well. Today I mean it in the sense of the the church universal, but I was raised with the meaning being a distinction between our church and all the other false churches. Wow… I managed to go off on a tangent in the first paragraph!
Here’s how stupid or whatever I was… I remember a defining moment in the 5th grade at Sunday School when I entered an argument about whether or not there were animals in heaven, i.e. whether or not animals have souls. By the way, I am not even giving an opinion on the question right now, just recalling a historical event. Basically, I was arguing that animals do have immortal souls and were in heaven… I said it was obvious because of all the animals in the Bible stories. You see, I thought that all those great stories of old had happened in heaven. I had no real connection to this stuff being historical or tangibly connected to life. I like to think in light of my very slow beginnings I might have sped up a bit by now.

I was baptized at the ripe old age of 10 (5th grade year) because my pal Chuckie was baptized. You have already gotten a picture of my wizened understanding of God’s will and works at that age. The thing I remember of that evening, past the act of being immersed, is that my friends all asked if the water was heated. It wasn’t.

I was loved at that church. There were several adults who took interest in me and were very special in my life as mentors and teachers. I hope that my inability to learn and process doesn’t lead you to doubting their ability and sincerity in trying to help me. I will never forget Ms. Willamina, and I am way too young to know how to spell that name correctly! She was one of those great big old Ladies of Color that everyone should know growing up. She hugged me every Sunday and brought me gifts from her trips home to see family in West Virginia. She also knew how to wear those hats, as only such ladies could know. I hope that thirty some-odd years later my memories of her come close to the mark. I do know this… even if the physical image of her in my mind has subtly changed over the years, she left a indelible mark of peace and love upon me that shines crisp and clear through all the years. In that, she was Christ to me, and ever will be.

My Spiritual Journey… Where I Started.

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Growing up as a boy in Texas half my family (Dad’s) was Baptist, and the over half (Mom’s) were members of the Churches of Christ. Since Dad “converted” to marry mom, I was raised in the Church of Christ. This movement began in the States just a couple of hundred years ago or so and is referred to as the American Restoration Movement. That movement has birthed three distinct denominations in our country, the Churches of Christ, the Independent Christian Churches and the First Christian Churches (known as Disciples of Christ). I have attended and/or ministered in all three branches. The movement’s goal was to “restore” First Century Christianity by better understanding and applying the Bible, thus undoing the 2000 years of “broken” Christianity to date. I was taught as a child, both implicitly and explicitly, that the church had “fallen away” and ceased to exist in any true form shortly after Christ and then was just restored back in our own country. When pressed, my teachers allowed the possibility, and some the probability, that there were always, in all times, people reading the Bible and practicing their faith just we were doing now… they just never seemed to make the news. That was where I started.

For many of you who have traveled a similar road, you’ll know instinctively both the extreme legalism of such a beginning, and yet also the undeniable sincerity of those teaching me. We were the “true children” of enlightenment, basing all our faith on the correct view and interpretation of scripture. No mystery here, folks, we figured it out. Thank you very much, all done. Here are the five steps of salvation and here are the five acts of worship. Here’s the only proper name for a church, and here’s the proper eschatology. Now, go have some fun.

But fun was more than a little elusive. I was a debater in high school and began to see some serious problems with our rational, analytical approach. We completed disregarded the accepted rules of logic and constructed a bent hermeneutic, very much our own. All the while very sincerely believing that we had St. Paul and even the Lord Jesus himself snuggly in our pocket. I asked questions and was shouted down. I challenged the “logic” and was warned of damnation. But where do you go? Here are so many people that I love so much. Here is where my journey began.

Maybe it’s as simple as a spiritual inertia… maybe it’s not. Whatever it is, I stayed on with the Churches of Christ for a very long time. I stayed on as a missionary and as a youth minister. I stayed on through contention and trial, most probably self-inflicted. I stayed on as an outsider/insider. But my journey never stopped, and today I am the outsider/outsider. I am not among the Churches of Christ, nor any denominational affiliation. I suppose on the best days I am in what you would call the “Non-Denominational” church movement that has taken root in our country out of the newer evangelicalism. On the worst days, I might just be rogue. On whatever day it is, I just pray that God holds onto me, and I can only trust the grip of God far more than I trust my own.

Instant Activist… flex your influence…

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Here’s a project for you! Years ago I made an autism awareness poster that was printed and circulated all over the State of Alabama. It doesn’t sell anything, and it doesn’t glorify anyone… it just asks parents, gandparents or concerned friends to act on their concerns. The CDC is saying that these days something like 1 in every 150 births in our country will result in an autistic spectrum disorder. I reformatted this image as a 4×6 photo so you can print it at CVS or Walmart, or wherever, and then tack it up at your local Starbucks or grocery store. These flew off the bulletin boards in Montgomery because people have concerns, but they’re not sure what a first step might be… print five or six and tack them up together in a stack and see how long they last… we can actually do something to help children we will never meet.

Oh, and yes, that is a shot of our Josiah! If you can’t easily grab this image from the page then just email me at reserve7@gmail.com and I’ll send you a high res copy!

A Tribute to Steve Irwin…

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I woke up this morning to the news… the Crocodile Hunter has been killed. I don’t know about you, but as for me and my house, we truly loved Steve. We’ve owned the movies, we’ve watched the shows, and one of my boys has had a Croc Hunter birthday party. He always made me think of the many years ago when Jaime and I ran around Kenya in clothes just like that! Little khaki shorts and shirts that we bought from our good friend, Mr. Oni Mullah! But, we never looked that sporty!

I was thinking jealously this morning of Steve and conversely the weiner TV crew my gen grew up with: Mr. Rogers? Captain Kangeroo? Henrietta Hippo? Sigmund the Sea Monster? H.R. PUFFINSTUFF!!! It just seems that my kids have been blessed by being weaned on someone so refreshingly happy and, yes I’ll say it, real. I was thinking it’s kinda interesting that Captain Kangeroo didn’t care all that much about animals, but then the Crocodile Hunter didn’t really “hunt” crocs either.

Yep, I believe that Steve was real. He was really engaged and really in love with his family and his career and his zoo. You wouldn’t love having your own zoo! Come on! I recall watching cable in our college yearss, maybe around 1994, and seeing Steve for the first time. He thinks he spots a snake or a lizard or somthing, so he leaps from his still rolling truck, stumbles into a sprint, tries unsuccesfully to leap the great Dingo fence, and comes up with nothing but dust… nothing but dust and a huge grin.

Steve will always be real… we have lived among giants.

Getting Started Again

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I’m not really sure how many times I’ve started a blog, just to delete the sucker and pretend to have never heard of the stuff. I’ve done the stupid personality tests, ranted about giving blood and recycling…

Well, right now I have no rants. I might start with a couple book reviews and just talk about some ideas that are kicking around in my mind. Peace.