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Showing posts from December, 2007

My Five Favorite Posts of 2007

Sorry for the lack of blogging this week. I've been enjoying time in Central New York with my family, and also have managed to get sick, which I imagine is a common happening for pastors post-Christmas and post-Easter. Nothing serious, but I'm feeling pretty overtired and uninspired when it comes to being productive and reflective!

Onward... Every year, methobloggers are asked (first by Gavin, now for the methoblog itself) to come up with a Top 5 posts list for the previous year. I have to admit, after looking over a year of my posts, I was pretty unimpressed with my entries for the year! But here's what I have (in chronological order):

1) The Family Tree - Last year, Jay at Only Wonder wrote about a new site for 'social networking' genealogy: Geni.com. I checked out the site and rekindled my interest in genealogy, a passion shared by my cousins, my late aunt, and my late grandmother. I've since re-fallen in love with genealogy, and have made lots of cool discove…

Blue Christmas

For the past several years, I've been leading Blue Christmas services in my congregation, and this year, it's a first for Franklin Lakes UMC. A Blue Christmas or Longest Night service is a service to give a space for those who are grieving or mourning at Christmas, or for people who are just feeling overwhelmed and uncelebratory in general. There can be many reasons why we don't feel all the joy of the season we want to feel or think we should feel, and sometimes we need a place to come and put those feelings out in the open, at least a little bit.

It's easy to feel a little blue at Christmas, and this is particularly challenging if you are a church leader. (Or, as my friend's brother (a youth pastor) recently called it, "The Holiday Provider.") One of my pastor-friends writes about just wishing Christmas was over, and knowing she has to act differently.

For me, the hardest part my family celebration is dealing with changing traditions. I remind myself all…

Review: Reinventing Sunday by Brad Berglund

I recently finished reading Reinventing Sunday: Breakthrough Ideas for Transforming Worship, a short book by Brad Berglund. I picked it up while I was still in Oneida, particularly with our then-running second evening service, looking for different ideas/directions for worship.

Berglaund's book has a simple structure - he goes section by section through a standard order of worship, spends a few pages reflecting theologically on the meaning/nature of that part of the service, and then gives several practical suggestions for this part of the worship service.

I didn't find this book very compelling, although it is a brief read with some good ideas and might work better simply as a resource book than a book you'd read cover to cover.


Some highlights:
St. Francis of Assisi's lesser known prayer, "Lord, who are you and who am I?"

"Jesus is simply turning the Sabbath from law into gift . . . The message of [ancient Israel] is clear - stop working or die. It is also …

from Quick Hits: Cake or Death?

My brother Tim, a very sporadic blogger, has a nice new post up, in which he asks:

"How do I get myself to recognize the difference between being socially introverted and shy, and too timid to do the good in this world that I'm capable of doing?"

He articulates here something I struggle with frequently. I really believe that being a disciple involves being in relationship with others (that whole "love thy neighbor" thing). But I am, as Tim describes, extremely "introverted and shy." I find it a real struggle to reach out to others and take the initiative, and it takes me a long time to become really close to someone. But I often worry that my shyness gets in the way of me doing what I need to be doing.

What do you think?

Nephew Cuteness Update

The latest cuteness from my 6-month old nephew, Sam:




What a doll he is! Sam makes everyone feel like a million bucks, because he's such a happy baby, and his face lights up for any new visitor, which is a great mood-booster. He always acts like he's just been waiting to see you! (Which, in my case of course, he has - who isn't waiting for a visit from Aunt Beth?)

Things I Keep Meaning to Do

Franklin Lakes, the community where I serve, is a small and affluent city in Northern New Jersey. In 2005, the average income in Franklin Lakes was just above $144,000, and houses on average valued at $1.1 million.

About 7 miles from Franklin Lakes is the city of Paterson. Average income: under $35,000. Percentage of residents living in poverty: 24.1

Over half of Franklin Lakes residents have at least a Bachelor's Degree. 8% of Paterson residents have one.

90% of FL residents are white. 50% of Paterson residents are Latino, followed by 30% black.

Today, I traveled to Paterson for the first time to visit CUMAC-ECHO (Center of United Methodist Aid to the Community Ecumenically Concerned Helping Others). FLUMC is a frequent supporter of this social justice agency in Paterson. As a congregation, we collect food year-round for CUMAC's food pantry, and particularly we do so at Thanksgiving. We put together backpacks for school children over the summer for CUMAC. We just finished our Chr…

Living with an Actor

I've mentioned before that my youngest brother, Todd, is an actor. Living with him can be - trying. I tease him all the time that his career is "pretending" for a living. Right now he has set up a mini-photo studio in the basement to work on his headshots. I constantly have to run lines with him for his auditions, and he's currently doing very loud vocal warm-ups for today's audition. We just had a conversation that went like this:

Me: "Actors. Can't live with 'em...."

Todd: "And they won't move out of your house."

Exactly.

Review: The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter by Peter Singer and Jim Mason

I just finished reading The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter, a new (2006) book by Peter Singer and Jim Mason (published also as The Way We Eat), which I picked up after my brother recommended it last year.

The Ethics of What We Eat follows three couples as they make choices about what to eat: Jake and Lee, who eat "the standard American diet," Jim and Mary Ann, who are what the authors describe as "conscientious omnivores," and JoAnn and Joe, vegans. The authors visit the homes of these three families, go food shopping with them, ask them about the food choices they have made, and the reasoning behind the food choices, and then try to track down the 'story' of the food purchased - where did it come from? How was it made?

The book is really excellent on many levels. First of all, the style of the book, following the three families, makes for a very personal, readable, 'real' book. The book is about 300 pages long, but I read it more …

Advent

Advent is here. In Northern New Jersey, Advent came in with some cold and yucky weather. I was impressed that we had a good number of people in worship despite the weather. I suspected attendance to be a bit more sparse!

We had an eventful day - the boiler basically stopped working leaving one section of the building (including sanctuary) cold - but it lasted long enough to get the room warmed up first. Our music director was out of town, and we have a midi with our organ, so he usually records the music in advance, but the midi wasn't working, so all the music was pre-recorded onto our keyboard. Still sounded pretty good though!

We're focusing on a theme this year of "Come, Prince of Peace," using the song from The Faith We Sing, "Come Now O Prince of Peace," (#2232) each week with our Advent lighting. The sub-themes are: Advent 1 - Calm and Chaos, Advent 2 - Comfort and Challenge, Advent 3 - Garden and Desert, Advent 4, Now and Not Yet, Christmas Eve - Chil…