Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Additional examples of the Greatness of Baseball

Three examples of why Baseball is the greatest of sports gifts...

1. Dallas Braden, perfect game.
For only the 19th time in baseball history, a perfect game was thrown. Basically, every 5 years, a perfect game is thrown...pretty unique when compared to how many games are played.

2. Jamie Moyer, Hall of Famer???.
Upon returning from the Trenton Thunder game on Friday, I turned on the TV to see that 47 year old Jamie Moyer threw a 2 hit shut out, becoming the oldest player ever to throw a shutout. He keeps on keeping on. I've said it before, it will be interesting if Jamie Moyer makes the Hall of Fame. Technically, he is below caliber, that is, he has been good for a long time, but great for only a season or two. But, 300 games is the magic number, and if he hangs on (and with the Phillies scoring 9 runs a game, why not?), he would get in. He also should be considered for being the first pitcher (besides Satchell Paige) to throw this late in life at a professional level...generations from now, when technology allows a 50 year old to be common among the players, they will look back at old Jamie Moyer.

3. Trenton Thunder moment.
A passed ball bounced off the backstop and rolled directly back to the pitcher...didn't have to move a step. How many millions of pitches have I seen in my life...and never saw that! That is what I love about baseball.

School Boards and Community Gardens

An update on my endeavors in the world of "state" as opposed to church...

My semester finished up at Kean. As always, the students were a pleasure, and I had a wonderful experience. I am looking forward to a change in the routine and the summer break. By August, I'll be excited to get back into the return of the semester.

I was elected to the Stockton Board of Education on April 20th. I ran uncontested, but every citizen is so angry with any type of authority or government spending, I am kind of suprised I was voted in at all.

It was Locke who reminded the people to overthrow the government which was not working...but calm down people...I just started :)

The first meeting of the Board was fine. Yes, we had to trim some money off of the defeated budget, but all in all, Stockton School does a fine job of spending its money, and doesn't waste it. The meeting, which beforehand I was warned could last well into the night, was done by 9:50. Not too bad. We were almost done by 8:55, but the last line on the docket always gets ya.

And in my role in rounding up volunteers for the Community Garden, we are planting summer crops this Saturday at 10am. Pretty cool!!! We already have cool crops like beets, lettuce, okra, peas and kale in the ground (and the seeds are coming up). This Saturday, we'll plant the good tasting vegetables.

I think the garden is going to be successful. I know that one of the Elementary School classes is going to help out. Some pretty neat partnerships are going to form. Gardening is one of the great gifts of life. And in this culture, people are looking for life-giving endeavors and networks to associate with. The Garden is Growing!!!

Come and Stay With Me

This sermon title, thanks to Norah Jones, was in my head all week long. The Idea of Coming (and going) and Staying was woven throughout the lectionary passages of this Sunday's worship.

Psalm 67, John 14:23-29, Acts 16:9-15

In the Psalm, the people ask God to come and stay with them: they ask for God's grace, blessing, face to shine upon them, and for salvation. The people should praise God. We are at our best when God is invited to come and stay in our lives.

In the Gospel, there is a profound image that God and his Son will come and make their home in all those who follow and obey the works of God. As will the Holy Spirit, the advocate or counselor, who will come to guide, teach and help us remember the word of God.

In the gospel, peace is also invited to come and stay with us. "My peace I leave with you, I do not give to you as the world gives". Jesus goes back to stay with his Father, so that we can go with him, and stay with God. "And we shall dwell with God."

The Acts passage also speaks of coming and staying. Paul dreams of a Man from Macedonia, who begs Paul to come and help. Paul's response to this dream is to go and stay. Upon arriving at his destination, Paul and travelers go down to the River, where people of faith without a synogogue would gather to pray. These believers come to the river to meet God.

Lydia is one of those believers. God's message comes to her heart. Lydia then extends hospitality to Paul and his group. What does she say? Come and stay with me.

Today, coming and staying together (whether we refer to our relationship with God, or to our neighborly love, or to our congregational life) is about relationship and hospitality. The relationships connected to God invite us to "come". The Hospitality that shines forth from God's invitation say to others, "Stay".

Monday, May 3, 2010

Larger Than Life

Psalm 148, Acts 11:1-18, John 13:31-35

The story of the Abora III is a story of a team looking to find and make history. A reed ship was constructed with the attempt to go against the wind and travel from North America to Europe, proving that travelers from long ago would be able to make the return trip to Europe.

It is amazing to find people willing to be adventurous, and journey toward the great and large opportunities of life. Anxiety is a threat to our creativity, closing us up and making us smaller. God wants us to look and live in this large world.

As we think about a "larger than life" life, the image of a wedding invitation comes to mind. When invited to an event, there is the invitation, the announcement of the event and the Response.

The invitation comes to us in Psalm 148. Consider all that are invited to worship God. Heavens, heights, heavenly hosts, waters, earth, sea creatures, ocean depths, lightning, hail, sun, clouds, stormy winds, mountains, hills, fruit trees, cedar trees, wild animals, small creatures, flying birds, AND kings, nations, princes, rulers, men and women, old and young.

The invitation is to the cosmos to encounter, worship and serve the Almighty One.

The event is the salvation of God. In the story of Acts, we have the story of salvation extending from just the covenant people of Israel, to the other nations (gentiles) of the world. At first, this inclusive extension is met with scepticism. But Peter convinces the early church that God is in this invitation. God has accomplished the story of salvation. God has extended the invitation to you and I. We can be part of the event, involved in the story.

With a response card, there is a chance to share whether you will or will not be able to attend. Some cards have "regrets only". The larger than life following of Christ is really about having no regrets. The response to the invitation is a life of love, for God, neighbor and ultimately, everyone. "By your love for one another, the world will know that you are my disciples".