Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Two Wednesday Tidbits

I've got a busy Lenten Wednesday in front of me, so two brief items for your perusal today:

  1. I was stopped at a stoplight on my way home from work yesterday afternoon, and the car in front of me had a bumper sticker that was funny enough for me to grab a pen and a piece of scratch paper (actually an unused ATM envelope) and write it down. It's a quotation attributed to General Norman Schwartzkopf: "Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion." Editor's note: this quotation in no way reflects the blog author's view of the war in Iraq, or of the nation of France, or of french fries, french toast, french salad dressing, French's mustard, Les Miserables, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Notre Dame football team (ever noticed they have a French name but are called the "Fighting Irish?" What's up with that?), shooting deer, or music involving accordions. It was just funny in and of itself, and any thoughts the reader may form concerning the author's opinion on any of the above subjects based on the quotation alone are at the reader's risk and are most likely bound to be wrong anyway. So there.

  2. A few posts ago, I promised a picture of my "Moxie shelf" at work. It currently holds 9 cans...I'm debating as to whether I should start a new shelf when can #10 comes along, or if I should just start another row on the same shelf. I'm a book connisseur, so bookshelf space is at a premium in my office. (If only that were the biggest conflict in my life...)


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

"You're A Pain in Every Day of Every Month of Every Year!"

This week's Scrubs Rant of the Week comes from the episode My Musical, which aired in January and which I blogged about here. For your reading and watching enjoyment, I'm providing both the video link and lyrics. To set the scene, the patient, Patti, is suffering from some unknown ailment that causes her to hear everything in song. They're trying to figure out what's wrong with her. Enjoy!

"The Rant Song"

Dr. Cox, I'm not crazy!

Dr. Cox:
Am I still singing?

Singing like a bird...

Dr. Cox, huge news! I pulled some strings and got the parking spot right behind yours!
Bumper buddies!

Dr. Cox:
(motioning to J.D.) Still, you're not ne-he-hearly as bad as her
Do you know how much you annoy me?
(Spoken) The answer is a lot!
Should I list the reasons why?
Well, I don't see why not.
It's your hair, your nose, your chinless face
You always need a hug
Not to mention all the manly appletinis that you chug
That you think I am your mentor just continues to perplex
And, oh my God, stop telling me when you have nerdy sex!

J.D. (spoken): Oh, by the way, last time Kim was in town, we got some appletinis and poured 'em on her good parts!

Dr. Cox:
See now, Newbie, that's the thing you do that drives me up a tree
'Cause no matter how I rant at you, you never let me be!
So I'm stuck with all your daydreaming, your wish to be my son
It makes me suicidal and I'm not the only one
No, I'm not the only one...

It all started with a penny in the door
There was a hatred I had never felt before
So now I'll make him pay, each and every day
Until that moussed-haired little!!!!

Dr. Cox:
So now that is why I call you names like Carol, Jane, and Sue
Like Moesha, Kim, and Lillian, Suzanne and Betty-Lou
See, regardless of the names I pick, my feelings are quite clear
You're a pain in every day of every month of every year!

Dr. Cox, you gotta help me, 'cause I really am distressed!
Can't you find another option, won't you run another test?

Dr. Cox:
If you want some kind of favor, really any kind of favor
Please just get me peace and quiet from this God-forsaken pest!

J.D. (spoken):I think what my bumper-buddy is trying to say...

Shut your cake-hole, Mary-Beth, or I swear to God I'll shut it soon!

Dr. Cox:
Congratulations, we'll schedule your test this afternoon!


Monday, February 26, 2007


Sometime last week (Thursday, I think), a momentous occasion occurred in the LutheranHusker house:

I drank my last can of 2001 vintage Moxie.

For the uninitiated, Moxie is a type of pop that is only available in New England. And even then, not every store has it. It comes in an orange can, but it's not an orange flavored drink. It looks like cola, but the taste is more of what you might get if you crossed Dr. Pepper and root beer. It's one of those things in life that people either love...or hate.

I love it. Love love love LOVE it.

Sweetie, not so much a fan. If you were to ask her, she'd tell you Moxie bears a very distinct resemblance in taste to Robitussin.

She's wrong, of course, but I love her anyway. If you ever talk to her, don't let her mislead you like that. She means well, she really does.

With the advent of the internet and e-commerce, Moxie has become a lot easier to come by than it once was--in theory at least. I know where I can get it, but justifying the shipping cost is quite another thing. Luckily, I have a loving grandmother who has helped me keep a necessary stockpile through Christmas and birthday presents (thanks, Grammy--I love you!) but it's still necessary to ration it very carefully.

So what's with the vintage 2001 Moxie? Well, that summer, Sweetie and I and Lil' Sis and her husband loaded up the ol' Nissan Xterra and road-tripped out to Massachusetts and Maine to visit family and reconnect with our roots. While there, we of course knew we needed to find some Moxie to bring back with us (by "we" I mean Lil' Sis and I...our poor, misguided spouses shared that whole "Moxie=Robitussin" opinion). My dad's also a Moxie fiend, and his birthday was coming up, so we figured that would be a great gift for him, too. We found some at a grocery store in the town where my grandmother lives, but not near the quantities we were looking for. So we found the store manager and asked if he could order 4 cases of it for us.

You could've knocked the guy over with a feather.

"Four cases?" Apparently nobody had ever walked in and asked for that much Moxie in the history of forever. So we explained the whole thing to him--how we were from the Midwest, but our parents had grown up in Massachusetts and had gotten us hooked on Moxie and we were back to see all the old sights and introduce our spouses to our "heritage," and if it would be possible to have 4 cases of Moxie delivered to the store in the next 5 days we'd really appreciate it because we had to drive back home and wanted to bring a bunch of it back with us.

He said, "I'm not sure how or where I'm gonna get it, but if you come back in 5 days you will have your 4 cases of Moxie."

He was true to his word. So, with 4 cases of Moxie tied very securely to the roof, we drove back to Nebraska. We spent the night an hour outside of Niagara Falls on the way back and one of the Moxie-hating spouses "accidentally" dropped a can in the motel parking lot while we were unloading stuff out of the Xterra for the night.

Suspicious, to say the least. =)

But, other than that mishap, the Moxie made it back to Nebraska safely. We gave my dad 52 cans to commemorate his 52nd birthday, and Lil' Sis and I each got to keep 22 cans (actually, thanks to the now-infamous "Niagara Falls Incident" one of us only got 21 cans).

Since then, the Moxie has been broken out in the LutheranHusker house for one of two reasons:
  • A momentous occasion (the Red Sox winning the World Series, Kiddo's birth, etc.)
  • Or if I just have a huge craving for Moxie

Starting with Kiddo's birth, every time I've had a can of Moxie to celebrate something, I've kept the can and have written the event on the can with permanent marker. I've got a little collection on a shelf at work. It may be kind of weird, but it's kind of fun, too. I'll take a picture of it sometime when I think of it and post it.

My 2001 case has lasted me almost 5 years. It has seen me through the ups and downs of life, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

It has served me well.

So the next time I break open a Moxie, it will be from a more recent time.

Vintage 2004, if I remember correctly. My former co-worker's daughter sent a 6-pack from Maine...I think it was in 2004. Maybe 2005.

Either way, the permanent marker is ready.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Gotta love Nebraska weather...

I know I posted about this before, but lest you think I exaggerate, here's the Weather Channel's forecast for the area tonight going into tomorrow...I swear...thunderstorms? With hail? Followed by significant blowing and drifting snow? Within 6 hours of each other? At least they've backed off the snowfall totals. Unless it continues into Monday...

(In case my little attempt at a screen-capture isn't readable, here's what it says about tomorrow and tomorrow night:

Tomorrow: Rain/Thunder/Wind. High 42. Precip. 80%. Windy...showers and thunderstorms in the morning, then cloudy with rain in the afternoon...perhaps a rumble of thunder as well. Storms may produce some hail. High 42F. Winds ENE at 20 to 30 mph. Chance of rain 80%. Rainfall possibly over one inch.

Tomorrow night: Snow/wind. Low 25. Precip 100%. Snow along with gusty winds at times. Significant blowing and drifting snow. Low around 25F. Winds NNW at 25 to 35 mph. Snow accumulating 2 to 4 inches.)


Yep, still an introvert...

I've placed as an INFP every single time I've taken the Myers-Briggs...and as you can see by the percentages, I ain't even close to being anything else!

Introverted (I) 60.98% Extroverted (E) 39.02%
Intuitive (N) 73.53% Sensing (S) 26.47%
Feeling (F) 70.59% Thinking (T) 29.41%
Perceiving (P) 65.71% Judging (J) 34.29%

INFP - "Questor". High capacity for caring. Emotional face to the world. High sense of honor derived from internal values. 4.4% of total population.

I think there are people who would be really surprised to see me show up as an introvert, especially those who have seen me in camp and church settings (I had a bit of a reputation in particular at camp of being loud and silly). This is something the psychologist and I talked about at my candidacy psychological evaluation...that there's no doubt I'm really an introvert, but I'm an occupational extrovert. At church I'll "work the room" during fellowship time, I'm really outgoing during choir rehearsals to get the most I can out of the choir, I was loud and goofy at camp because it helped build relationships with the kids, but it takes a lot out of me. It's not being fake...because I do enjoy the interaction...but in a way it's a mask I wear.

The best way I've heard to tell if you're an introvert or an extrovert is to ask yourself the question, "where does my energy come from? Do I 'recharge my batteries' from being around other people or being alone?"

I love people, I love being around people, I love interacting with people, but I need to be alone to recharge. My Sunday morning duties don't involve as much interaction now as they did when I was at the Lutheran Student Center, but Sweetie can attest that while I was there, by the time Sunday afternoon came around I was pretty much useless. All the faces and the hubbub of the morning just drained me.

I've heard that a pretty good percentage of church workers fall into the INFP category. Introverted, intuitive, feeling perceivers. We INFP's need to guard our alone time jealously, which isn't always easy to do in the church. But if we don't, after a while we burn out. Then we're no good to anyone.

I'd be interested in hearing about anyone's results on the little self-test that's linked up above. How do you recharge your spiritual batteries?


Thursday, February 22, 2007

Random Thoughts

  • You know you live in Nebraska when the forecast calls for the following: Thursday: mostly sunny, high of 50. Friday: chance of showers, high of 45. Saturday: 90% chance of thunderstorms, some may be severe, high of 46. Sunday: 4 to 6 freakin' inches of snow! I mean, come on, people! From sunny and gorgeous to spring-like severe weather to maybe 6 inches of snow?!?!?!?! I give up. Mother Nature, you win.

  • Last night, Kiddo was sitting with Sweetie at church for the Ash Wednesday service (I was performing my organ-ly duties in the balcony). The imposition of ashes came before the sermon--during the sermon, I came down to join them. Kiddo leaned over, pointed to his forehead, and loudly whispered, "Look, Daddy! I got that stuff on my head!"

  • Speaking of Ash Wednesday, I posted the other day about Lent, and said I'd be giving up meaningless ritual. As LutherLiz astutely pointed out, that's a difficult thing to measure, and while renewing my own worship and prayer practices are a definite discipline that I intend to continue well past Lent, I wanted to have something more tangible. Something that I could do (or not do) intentionally, and while I'm doing (or not doing) it be reminded of the reason. As I've done in Lenten seasons past, I'll be reading the book A Skeleton in God's Closet to remind me of my dependence on Christ's death and resurrection. Then it hit me last night as I was getting things set up for church.

  • I'm gonna write a liturgy.

    I don't plan on putting an Easter "due date" on its completion, especially as I've never done this before and would rather do it right than in some set time frame...but this will be something constructive (I hope!) that allows me to use my abilities while at the same time keeping my focus on the cross. And it will tie in quite nicely with my desire to eliminate meaningless ritual.

    As with the other stuff I've been posting about, I'll keep you updated. (And don't worry, Marty Haugen, Susan Briehl, David Cherwien and others I'm sure will continue to be able to sleep quite soundly, still safe in their composing prominence.) =)

  • As part of the Ash Wednesday service last night, we all received little wooden crosses with lanyards that we're supposed to carry in our pocket or wear during Lent. Kiddo got one too, and without any prompting from Daddy insisted that he was going to wear his around his neck to daycare today. I just got back from taking him over (it's great having a licensed in-home daycare just 2 doors down from your house!), and he walked inside and immediately started showing the other kids his cross. I heard him saying "this is so I remember that Jesus loves me. He loves my Mommy and Daddy too, that's why they have crosses too!"
  • If only we all could be such bold evangelists...


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Neo-Orthodox, eh?

If asked to describe myself theologically, my first answer probably wouldn't be "a Neo-Orthodox, Postmodern/Emergent Lutheran."

Only because I wouldn't have thought of those words. When reading the descriptions though, turns out this particular quiz is pretty much right-on.

(In a related note, is it right to be proud that I scored a 0% in Fundamentalism?)

By the way...I can't get the link to the quiz that's embedded in my results graph to work right. If you wanna take the quiz yourself, here's the link.

You scored as Neo orthodox. You are neo-orthodox. You reject the human-centredness and scepticism of liberal theology, but neither do you go to the other extreme and make the Bible the central issue for faith. You believe that Christ is God's most important revelation to humanity, and the Trinity is hugely important in your theology. The Bible is also important because it points us to the revelation of Christ. You are influenced by Karl Barth and P T Forsyth.

Neo orthodox




Roman Catholic


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Reformed Evangelical


Modern Liberal


Classical Liberal






Hymn of the Day

Ever heard Dave Brubeck's Take Five? You probably have, even if you don't recognize the name. Here's a clip:

Today's hymn comes from the same ouevre as Take Five. It's also in 5/4 time, and its melody and chord progression are just as catchy.

And the lyrics are awesome.

It's called Sing of the Lord's Goodness by Ernest Sands, and it's a song that was included in the ELCA's Renewing Worship materials, but didn't make the cut for final inclusion into ELW. Which is understandable, as it takes up a decent amount of page space, and with its funky feel, would probably scare a lot of music folks off. The page space was probably better used by including something else.

That being said, it's a real shame...this is a case where if you have a musician with a good sense of meter and can lead it strongly the first time, it's gonna stick with the congregation. It's just a matter of sticking your neck out and doing it the first time.

I'll soon be planning hymns for March. You can be sure this one will be included for our contemporary service, and will most likely end up as a "special music" piece at the traditional service.

Here's the lyrics (I love the Psalm 150 quote in the final verse!):

Verse 1. Sing of the Lord's goodness Father of all wisdom,
come to him and bless his name.
Mercy he has shown us, his love is forever,
faithful to the end of days.

Refrain: Come, then, all you nations,
sing of your Lord's goodness,
melodies of praise and thanks to God.
Ring out the Lord's glory,
praise him with your music,
worship him and bless his name.

Verse 2. Power he has wielded, honor is his garment
risen from the snares of death.
His word he has spoken, one bread he has broken,
new life he now gives to all.

Verse 3. Courage in our darkness, comfort in our sorrow,
Spirit of our God most high;
solace for the weary, pardon for the sinner,
splendor of the living God.

Verse 4. Praise him with your singing, praise him with the trumpet
praise God with the lute and harp;
praise him with the cymbals, praise him with your dancing,
praise God till the end of days.

Imagine along with me for a moment...would this not be an awesome Hymn of Praise in a jazz liturgy? You could even do a Kyrie beforehand using the same basic tune...turns out the phrase "Kyrie Eleison" has the same syllabic structure as the phrase "Sing of the Lord's goodness."


Monday, February 19, 2007

"Whatcha Giving Up For Lent?"

With Ash Wednesday bearing down on us (good GOD where did the first month and a half of 2007 GO?!?!?!), I've started to hear what is usually a flippant, throwaway question.

"So, whatcha giving up for Lent this year?"

Yep, McDonalds is running ads for their Filet-O-Fish, signs are popping up around town for Friday fish frys (fries? hmmm...), and New Orleans, though recovering from hurricanes and tornadoes is in its full gluttonous glory.

I urge you, even if you're from a tradition that doesn't observe the season of Lent, to lay all that other crap aside and read this post from RevScott's blog Nachfolge, which does an incredible job of bringing us back to the purpose of Lent, as well as our daily discipleship purpose as God's children.

What am I giving up for Lent this year?

Meaningless ritual.

Not ritual, mind you. Meaningless ritual. My Lenten discipline is to discover and re-discover the ways in which God is drawing me to him through word, sacrament, ritual, liturgy, tradition.

I'll let you know how the journey goes.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

One more reason I majored in English...

...and not in physics.

I can't believe I forgot to post this one in my previous post--this was my favorite!!!!

Wishing you a perpetual lack of elephants in your way,


Friday, February 16, 2007

Why I Was An English Major...

A friend emailed these student responses to test questions to me. They remind me of my own approach to math...

High School Meme

1. Who was your best friend? Had a group of best friends. Folks from choir, mostly. Jodi, Sarah, Jason, Brian, another Brian, Brianna, and Angie, among others.

2. What sports did you play? 9th grade track

3. What kind of car did you drive? 1985 Chevy Nova

4. It's Friday night, where were you? Taco Bell, Village Inn, the Old Market, or at a friend’s house watching Clue (one of the funniest movies ever!)

5. Were you a party animal? Nope - didn't even know where the parties were!

6. Were you considered a flirt? Not that I know of.

7. Ever skip school? Once that I can remember—junior year, I had a big American History test I hadn’t studied for, so I faked illness for a day and crammed.

9. Were you in any clubs? Junior ROTC for a year (to get out of P.E.), Future Teachers of America, Debate, Literary Magazine, choir, show choir, National Honor Society, Mock Trial, Quiz Bowl, Drama. (Good Lord, when did I have time to actually learn something?!?!?!?!)

10. Suspended? Nope.

11. Can you sing the fight song? (To the tune of the University of Oregon’s fight song) We’re the Thunderbirds of West High, we’re the purple gold and white, we will cheer our team to victory, we will always prove our might. Thunderbirds are proud and loyal, and we’ll always do our best, we will fight to win our battles, Thunderbirds of Bellevue West! (yelling) CHEER! CHEER! FOR BELLEVUE WEST CAUSE WE! ARE! NEBRASKA’S BEST! FIGHT! FIGHT! WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT! THUNDERBIRDS KICK SOME @$&^@$ TONIGHT! (okay, that last line’s supposed to be “Thunderbirds win this game tonight” but nobody actually said that except the cheerleaders…)

12. Who was your favorite teacher? Wow…I had some great ones. Some standouts: Mr. Reimer for choir and music theory/history. Mrs. Wolford for English. Mrs. Beckmann for English.

13. What was your favorite class? English, followed closely by show choir/choir/music theory and music history.

14. What was your school's full name? Bellevue West High School

15. School mascot? The Thunderbirds!

16. Did you go to dances? A few of ‘em.

17. If you could go back and do it over again, would you? I’d do senior year over, but that’s about it.

18. What do you remember most about graduation? Singing Irish Blessing Song with the choir.

19. Favorite memory of your Senior Year? Endlessly debating in English, working my butt off but loving every minute in music theory (and the food days), being a high tenor yet being named bass section leader in choir, singing the stupidest solo in the history of the Broadway musical as part of our production of Oklahoma: The Farmer and the Cowman Should Be Friends.

20. Were you ever posted up on the senior wall? Didn't have one.

22. Where did you go most often for lunch? Lunchroom.

23. Have you gained weight since high school? 8 whole pounds.

24. What did you do after graduation? Went to Northeast Missouri State (which has since changed its name to Truman State University) to get a B.A. in English (cue the ever-so-true Avenue Q song What Do You Do With A B.A. In English?)

25. When did you graduate? 1992

26. Where are most of your classmates? Spread out all over the country. Most of us were military brats, and there was a major restructuring the summer after graduation. They’re all over the place!

27. Did you have a high school sweetheart? Crushes, yes…sweethearts, sadly no. Didn’t go on a single date all throughout high school.

28. Have you changed since? Well, at my 10 year reunion, I was voted “Best Preserved.” (Oh dear...)

29. Have you been to your high school since you graduated? It’s been a couple of years—I try to get to the Choral Christmas Candlelight Concert most years, but didn’t make it this past December.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Church Music Wars

In my meanderings across cyberspace, I stumbled across this, which I think does a good job of identifying the deep chasm between the singers and "culture" (if that makes any sense) of praise music and hymns:

An old farmer who is a member of a traditional church decides one weekend to visit a church with a contemporary service, just to see what it's all about. He comes home and his wife asks him how it was.
"Well," says the farmer, "It was good. They did something different, however. They sang praise choruses instead of hymns."

"Praise choruses," says the wife, "What are those?"

"Oh, they're ok. They're sort of like hymns, only different," says the farmer.

"Well, what's the difference?" asks his wife.

The farmer says, "Well, it's like this - If I were to say to you: 'Martha, the cows are in the corn,' well, that would be a hymn. If, on the other hand, I were to say to you:

'Martha, Martha, Martha,
The cows,
the big cows,
the brown cows,
the black cows,
the white cows,
the black and white cows
the COWS, COWS, COWS are in the corn,
are in the corn,
are in the corn,
are in the corn,

then if I were to repeat the whole thing two or three times, well that would be a praise chorus."

The same Sunday, a farmer from the church with the praise worship service attends the traditional church. He returns home and his wife, also named Martha, asks how it was.

"Well," says the farmer, "It was good. They did something different, however. They sang hymns instead of regular songs."

"Hymns," says his wife, "What are those?"

"Oh, they're ok. They're sort of like regular songs, only different." says the young man.

"What's the difference?" asks the wife.

The farmer says, "Well, It's like this - If I were to say to you, 'Martha, the cows are in the corn,' that would be a regular song. If on the other hand, I were to say to you:

'Oh Martha, dear Martha, hear thou my cry
Inclinest thine ear to the words of my mouth.
Turn thou thy whole wonderous ear by and by
To the righteous, inimitable, glorious truth.

For the way of the animals who can explain
There in their heads is no shadow of sense.
Hearkenest they not in God's sun or his rain
Unless from the mild, tempting corn they are fenced.

Yea those cows in glad bovine, rebellious delight,
Have broke free their shackles, their warm pens eschewed.
Then goaded by minions of darkness and night
They all my mild Chilliwick sweet corn have chewed.

So look to that bright shining day by and by,
Where all foul corruptions of earth are reborn.
Where no vicious animal makes my soul cry
And I no longer see those foul cows in the corn.'

Then, if I were to do only verses one, three and four and do a key change on the last verse, well that would be a hymn."

And never the twain shall meet...

...or shall they?

I'm in an interesting position as the director of music at a church where the music for one service is very traditional, and the other is very contemporary. My church began their contemporary service a little more than 4 years ago, so it was pretty well established by the time I came on board.

For the record, I'm not a big fan of either service.

On the one hand, I think the traditional service is too full of German and Scandanavian sounding chorales, with language that's either archaic or as the LBW tended to do, so modernized it sounds cutesy and shallow, especially if you know how the original was supposed to be (see LBW #58, Lo, How a Rose Is Growing as one of the more egregious examples). In the LBW's defense, modern for modern's sake was all the rage in the 70's, and I suppose the hymnal that resulted was in many ways a product of the times.

But, as usual, I digress.

Point is, there's some incredible music and some incredible texts to be found in your run-of-the-mill traditional hymnal (i.e. LBW). But if that's all you hear, listen to, or are exposed to, you're really missing out on a lot of the breadth of very good theology and hymnody that's come along since 1978. And there's a lot of it out there.

On the other side of the coin, we have the praise service. While I commend the crafters of this service at my church for retaining the general feel of the Lutheran liturgy, when I came on board the vast majority of the music that was being sung was...well...without mincing words, a lot of it was crap. Music that a pastor friend of mine refers to as "Jesus is my boyfriend" music, or that a fellow music director refers to as "7/11" music (the same 7 words repeated 11 times). Stuff that may sound nice and may be fun to play, but is the theological equivilent of marshmallow fluff. Tastes good at first but after consuming too much I end up with a stomachache and run the risk of falling into a diabetic coma. I mean, how often do we need to tell God how great he is? Think about it. If you had a good friend whose only words to you were words of praise, after a while wouldn't you be thinking "this is nice and all, but can't we someday have a real conversation?" I don't think any part of the Trinity has self-esteem issues, maybe we oughta explore a little more deeply what it means to be the church and live out his grace in our everyday lives than spend 10 minutes singing "I Exalt Thee" over and over and over.

And over.

And over and over and over and over and over and over.

But see, the problem is that this service was very well established before I even arrived...yet I'm in charge of picking the music. There's generally 5 songs sung at this service, so what I've been doing is trying to stay close to this general formula:

  • One new (or relatively new) song that is theologically sound that I think needs to become part of the catalog.
  • One song that they've done in the past that is also theologically sound (not a ton of these right now).
  • Three "greatest praise hits" marshmallow fluff songs to keep things recognizable.

Over time, I hope to raise the numbers of category #2 and in turn lower the numbers of category #3. At the same time, I'm working on educating folks on what liturgy and music are all about in worship so that I can change the general perception that the most important thing to consider when choosing the closing song is "how fast is the tempo."

I know it ain't gonna happen overnight...but in the words of a great song, "a change is gonna come."

It really bothers me that people see hymns and a contemporary sound as mutually exclusive. Truth is, they can work together quite nicely. Sometimes when I'm between projects or just need a mental break, I'll go into the sanctuary and play a song or play around with the very nice electronic keyboard we have there. It has a lot of bells and whistles, most of which are never used, and I figure I ought to at least know what it can do, in theory at least. So I was listening to some of the drum beats it has, and found a "techno" setting. Wow--I suddenly felt like I was in a dance club on a Saturday night. On a whim, I found an electronica sound for the keyboard, and with the techno beat pounding away started playing Crown Him With Many Crowns.

That was one kicking techno song. And hey, where else are you gonna find the phrase "ineffably sublime" in a dance mix?

Not that I ever plan on doing that in worship (unless I ever decide that I want to be fired), but the point is with a little creativity it's possible to make the old new again.

The ELCA's new worship resource, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, does that with a number of hymns and in many of the new liturgies and special services it offers (no, you won't find any techno dance club music, unless you count Crown Him With Many Crowns, which is hymn #855). Recapturing the old and presenting it in new, fresh ways. But that's a subject for a different post.

For now, I'll continue to work in small ways to make our traditional service more contemporary, and our contemporary service more traditional.

I'll be starting next month by introducing our traditional worshippers to a man named Marty Haugen. I'll be sure to keep y'all updated on that.

Our contemporary worshippers have already been introduced to Marty (they've sung Now The Feast And Celebration), as well as songs like David Haas's We Are Called, Rory Cooney's Canticle of the Turning (which you can totally rock out to, btw), and Larry Olson's Kyrie Eleison. More to come there, as well.

Taking it one small step at a time.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Ten years...Sweetie's version

After reading my thoughts and remembrances of our first date (which you can find here), Sweetie started thinking about her perspective on it all. Here, in her words, are what she remembers from that day 10 years ago tonight:

Okay, so every story has two sides…here’s my version of what went down 10 years ago... =)

I loved working at church camp in 1996! “Honey” was a great Site Manager (yes, technically “my superior”…although that changed quickly when we got married! =) Just kidding!), and he and I became good friends. It was one of the best summers I can remember. I wanted to spend my summer at camp making a difference in children’s lives, just as counselors at church camp had done for me when I was younger. But the personal rewards were more than I ever expected. The kids, without knowing it, taught me so much about myself, and I made friendships with my peers that continue to be some of the strongest ever.

I went to the staff reunion that winter in hopes of reconnecting with many of my friends. It was a great time of sledding, singing, laughing and bonding. I honestly don’t remember talking to “Honey” much until that Sunday when we were all about to leave the reunion. I remember standing in the parking lot, and making plans to call each other sometime to catch up. Seemed pretty innocent to me!

I was living at my parents’ house at that time, and I remember being in my room studying (for nursing school) that next night, Monday, when I got a phone call from “Honey.” We talked for awhile and then, surprisingly, he asked me out for dinner that Friday night! Now, I KNEW that that Friday was Valentine’s Day immediately…that’s why as soon as I got off the phone I was freaking out! I couldn’t believe he had just asked me out on “The-Day-O-Love!” All hopes of any further studying that night went straight out the window…there was no way I could concentrate! I called my friend, D, and she was convinced that “Honey” had a thing for me! But I denied it every chance I got, saying, “We’re just FRIENDS!!” I kept telling myself that too…ALL week!

Finally the evening of our “friendly” date was upon us. I remember exactly what I wore…jeans, my Doc Martens, and one of my favorite fuzzy sweaters (that way I was dressy, but not TOO dressy!) “Honey” and I were meeting each other at Rock and Roll Runza downtown. I arrived at the parking garage way too early that evening!! If I showed up at the restaurant early, that would surely make me look too anxious for our “friendly” date! So I stood at the top of the parking garage for about 10 minutes before slowly making my way to the restaurant. =)

Once inside the place, I saw “Honey” right away. He was sitting at one of the bar stools by the entrance. Okay, play it cool! I was so nervous. But why?!! We were just FRIENDS! Calm down. Okay. We sat in a booth by the window. He looked so handsome…he was not the “sweaty, sunburned, over-tired but happy and high on coffee for the kids, grungy clothed, no voice left due to over-singing and yelling camp type” that I had known from the summer! (sorry, Hon! =) ) NO, this guy cleaned up well! Too bad we were only “FRIENDS”!
At some point during dinner, he handed me a card across the table. He got me a Valentine’s card???!!? I hadn’t gotten him anything!! I quickly read through it, and gave a nervous laugh and thanked him for such a nice gesture. I was so nervous about the entire thing that I didn’t really pay close attention to the words. We had a fun dinner together and the conversation flowed great.

After dinner, we walked to the movies. We saw In Love and War. Honestly, I don’t remember most of the movie after about an hour into it, when “Honey” pulled a total “guy move.” …We were sitting there watching the movie, when suddenly he leans back in his seat like he’s going to stretch his back, but his left arm “stretches” across the back of my seat!!!! Oh my gosh!!! My “FRIEND” now has his arm around me!! I guess we’re not “FRIENDS” anymore, now are we?!! :0 Okay, be calm. What should I do? I’ve gotta do something or he’s going to think I don’t care, or that I’m uncomfortable! So I take my right hand and place it on his knee (palms sweating, pulse racing)! And there, on his left knee, is where my hand is locked in pure terror for the remainder of the movie!! When the movie finishes, I unlock the death grip of my sweaty hand from his knee, and we proceed to our cars.

We were talking and having a really nice time on the walk back. I’ll never forget how he placed his hand on my back in a protective kind of way when we crossed the street at one point. When I got home that night, I actually READ that card that he had given me at the restaurant, for the very first time. It had Garfield on the front holding a candy bar. The inside of the card said, “I’ve got a CRUNCH on you!” Oh, man! I must have stayed up half the night just thinking about the entire evening!

Who would’ve thought 10 years ago that that night would’ve been the beginning of such an amazing journey for the two of us??!! I guess you never know where life’s twists and turns are going to lead you. Happy Valentines Day and “First Date Anniversary”!! Love you “Honey!”



A decade later

Rock N' Roll Runza, Lincoln (man I miss that place!)
Tonight, it will have been ten years since Sweetie's and my first date. Ten years. A decade.


We had worked at church camp together during the summer of 1996. She was a counselor, I was a Site Manager (which basically meant I was the direct supervisor of 10-15 counselors each week). I knew she was a helluva counselor, so for most of the summer I requested to have her at the site that I managed. That summer especially, good counselors that you could count on were prized treasures, and Sweetie was one of the best.

She was also pretty darn cute.

Not that I noticed, of course. I was, after all, her supervisor, and she had a boyfriend and I was engaged to someone else (long story for a different time).

So the summer flew by, we got to know each other pretty well as friends and co-workers, then the fall came and we lost touch.

In December, for a number of reasons, all of which are unimportant to this particular story, my fiancee and I broke off our engagement.

Then came an announcement that in February, there would be a 2-day reunion for camp staff from the previous summer.

Sooooo....with that scene set, I arrived the first day looking forward to reconnecting with some old friends and just getting a taste of camp life again. As an aside, in my opinion every Christian ought to work at least one summer at a church camp while in college. There's a very real sense of community and living faith that in many ways makes it a more powerful experience for staff than it even is for the campers. And it's the perfect environment to discern and connect with your personal sense of call.

So I get to the reunion, I'm enjoying hobnobbing with everyone, including Sweetie, when a friend of mine pulls me aside. Telling me about Sweetie, she asked me, "did you hear that she recently broke up with her boyfriend?"

Oh reeeeeeeeeeeeeeally? I was immediately interested.

I was also a big fat chicken. Because even though I had this information, and even though I totally wanted to ask her out, I didn't. Which was a problem, because the reunion was a Saturday to Sunday affair, and I worked as a youth director and needed to be back at my church 130 miles away for Sunday morning. I don't think I even talked to her again after I found out that she wasn't seeing anyone anymore.

So there I was on the interstate very early Sunday morning (5 AM or so), alternately dreaming about "what-if" and hitting myself over the head with mental anvils for being an idiot chicken and not doing something to allow any of the "what-ifs" to come to fruition.

I made a decision. If I attended the early service, my Sunday School duties would be done by 10:45 or so, and I could drive back to the camp to be less of a chicken. I could get there around 12:30, and still have a little while to redeem myself before the reunion ended (I forget exactly when, but maybe 2 or 3). So that's exactly what I did. Even then though, it wasn't until everything was done and everyone was getting ready to leave that I finally mustered up the courage to go to Sweetie and say "it was great seeing you again."

"Yeah, you too."

"I oughta give you a call sometime. We should get together, get caught up, you know, just talk...whatever..."

"Sure, here's my number." (YESSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!)

"Cool. I'll call sometime."

The next day, I called. It was a Monday, so I asked if she wanted to meet for dinner on Friday. She lived in Lincoln, and I was almost 2 hours away, so I offered to come and meet her at the only place in town I knew how to find at the time...Rock and Roll Runza. We agreed on a time and hung up, and I started doing a victory dance there by myself in my house.

And singing a victory song. Catchy little ditty.

So I danced and sang my way over to the calendar, and looked.

Friday was February 14th.

Holy Crap! I just asked her out on Valentine's Day!

Well, this changes everything! She'll be expecting cards, flowers, a limo, candlelight, a string quartet serenading us the whole evening, and probably Josh Groban personally singing You Raise Me Up in a private concert! Well, I can't do a bunch of that other stuff on limited time and Hmmmm....maybe not on the very first date...don't want her to run away screaming in the night, fearing for her life from her gentleman stalker.

But a card? Yeah, I need to do that.

Do you, dear reader, have any idea how hard it is to find a Valentine's Day card that tells someone you really kinda like them without being too over-the-top or too cynical? Something you can give someone on a first date when you accidentally asked them out on the "day of love" and even though you really do like them a lot and hope that you can become more serious, you still realize that this is only the beginning?

After (I kid you not) almost 3 hours in the Hallmark store, I finally found the card. It was a Garfield card...he had a Nestle Crunch candy bar in his hand. On the outside I think it just said "Valentine..."

On the inside it said "I have a crunch on you!"

It was perfect. Cute, but not too cute. It said that there were feelings there while acknowledging that at the time, it was just a crush...but hopefully she'd read into it that I wouldn't mind exploring if there was more to it. Not too sappy, not cynical, not stupid.

Now the next problem was what if things went really well at dinner and we wanted to spend more time together but didn't want to take up a table at the restaurant forever? Hmmm....okay, a movie! There should be some romantic movies out--it's Valentine's Day, right?

Let's see...The English Patient. It's about falling in love while you're cheating. Not the best first date movie.

Okay, here's one. In Love and War. Sounds like it could have possibilities. It has love for her, war for him. Chris O'Donnell for her, Sandra Bullock for him. Sandra plays a nurse (Sweetie was in nursing school) for her, Chris plays a writer (I was an English major) for him.


But what if there's a steamy sex scene or something? Talk about uncomfortable.

Soooo...early in the week, I previewed the movie. That's right, I went to the theater and watched a movie that I was planning on suggesting we watch during the date.

Satisfied that I had left no stone unturned, I went into Friday confident and ready to go!

Okay, I was actually nervous as hell.

And ten years ago tonight, Friday came. How did it go? Well, we're married, aren't we?

I'd say it went pretty well.

Sweetie, I love you. Even though I still spend a long time finding the right card for you, I'm glad I don't have to preview our movies anymore. I'm looking forward to many more years of dates with the girl I still have a "crunch" on.

Happy Valentine's Day.

And happy "Decade Date-a-versary!"


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Great Big Sea

Well, I only have a few minutes to post and I've been on such a great roll with posting lately...I don't wanna lose that momentum!!! Soooooooo...I figured I'd introduce you to another of my fave groups, Great Big Sea. I mentioned them a couple of months ago real briefly--they're an Irish maritime folk rock band out of Newfoundland, and they're AWESOME. Check out some of their live stuff sometime on YouTube. For now, here's a video of one of my favorite songs of theirs...Consequence Free. Enjoy!


Monday, February 12, 2007

"Hallowed be MY name..."

Or so reads the Lord's Prayer According to Kiddo. We've been saying the Lord's Prayer together at bedtime for the last month or so, and if a proud daddy may say so himself, he seems to have picked it up pretty well. =)

Last night for the first time I got him started, but let him take it by himself the rest of the way. He remembered it so well that I rushed downstairs to get the digital camera and have him say it again (I know, making it a parental media event kind of reduces the "prayerfulness" of it all...but at the same time I'm convinced that if God were a human parent he'd TOTALLY be breaking out the digital camera every chance he got and would have a wallet so full of pictures of his kids...well, he'd be the person you quit inviting to parties because you're just so tired of him going on and on and on about how much he loves his kids...but I digress.).

So anyway, here's Kiddo from last night. He apparently doesn't believe in forgiving those who trespass against us, but other than that he got it all in there. And it's obvious that he's not comprehending 95% of what he's saying, but as is the case with so many things, the comprehension can come later. It's so danged important to take advantage of the learning sponges kids are at this age--the words will be permanently etched in his mind, and he'll have the rest of his life to grow into the meaning of what he's saying.

And please don't quit inviting me to parties. =)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

"Scrubs" Rant of the Week

Once again, the often imitated but never duplicated Dr. Perry Cox!

Dr. Cox: [to J.D] Newbie, the only way you could be less productive right now is if you were in fact the wall in which you're leaning against, of course, then you would be providing some jackass with a wall on which to lean against and reflect on what a jackass he truly is. I know, here it's a conundrum, but don't you worry about it, I'll tackle that one right upstairs. In the meantime, you could at least pretend to be doing some work, and right about now, even though you don't have your basket, its just a terrific time for you to skip away, Shirley... skip away... skip away... skip away, skip, skip, skip to my loo, woohoo!


Friday, February 09, 2007

Had enough Taylor Hicks yet?

I ran across these clips just a little bit ago. As you may or may not know, Taylor Hicks is getting ready to start his first solo tour. He's got an 8 piece band he's rehearsing with, and they have some of the rehearsals up on

There's others to be found up there, but here's 2 that I thought were particularly good. The first I wanted to include because it's not a cover. It's a song Taylor wrote that's on his Under The Radar album called Hell of a Day. As a matter of fact, the album version of this song was the first non-American Idol performance of his that I ever heard. An Alabama public radio station had done an interview with him a year or 2 before Idol, and still had clips of the interview as well as 2 songs from his independently released album on their site. It was after hearing Hell of a Day that I realized this gray-haired guy I had started to root for on the show was the real deal, and when I changed from a casual fan to a much bigger fan. Click on the link to watch and listen:

(Note: I just checked to make sure the links work...when the video page comes up for some reason you'll need to click the little link in the top right corner that says "big" to get the video to play. Not sure why, but hey, if it works why ask, right?)

Hell of a Day

The other one I wanted to include was Taylor's (rehearsal) version of Billy Preston's You Are So Beautiful. When done poorly, this can be one of the most boring songs on the planet, but when done well, it'll raise the hairs on your arms and bring a tear to your eye. He screws up the harmonica solo at the end, realizing at the very end of the clip that his harmonica is in completely the wrong key for the song...and I love how cool he thinks it is that he's singing a Billy Preston song while wearing a Billy Preston t-shirt. Good stuff. Here's the link:

You Are So Beautiful

I so can't wait for the concert!


"It's Been Quite A Year" Revisited

Last week I wrote a post about how it had been a year since I had left the Lutheran Student Center.

After having a conversation with a Good Friend, I realize I wasn't entirely fair in that post.

I think I surprised even myself last week with the emotions that came bubbling to the surface as I wrote, and I allowed those emotions to cloud my writing. The emotions are real--very, very real, and it would be both unfair and unwise to disregard them. But this isn't just a personal little black diary that I keep locked away in a drawer somewhere for nobody's eyes but mine. This is a public forum and I hold some responsibility...heck, a lot of responsibility for the way things are said and the way it makes people look.

An airing of grievances might be a part of Festivus (one of the best Seinfeld episodes ever, btw), but without a balance of compassion and understanding they do nobody any good.

And what I failed to do in my original post was acknowledge that through the whole thing, there was never any doubt in anyone's mind that everyone had the best interests of LSC, the students, the board, and the staff at heart. We had all been thrown into an extremely difficult situation that had gone on for a long time--we had all endured the pain of loss, the floundering of trying to keep the ship of ministry on course, the uncertainty of name the demon, chances are we all had come face-to-face with it at some point in the previous 2 years.

But through it all, the one thing that never changed was the goodwill and love of the board, staff, and students. That's one thing I never questioned at the time, and one thing I still don't question.

Yes, I wanted to stay longer. And yes I was surprised when after the subject was broached that things happened as quickly as they did. But it ended up being a combination of good intentions (after the first worship service of the year, I had no more responsibilities, yet was paid for the full month of January in an attempt to help me out while I looked for another job) and bad timing (pure coincidence that this all came to a head over semester break).

I really didn't realize this until last week, but I guess some unconscious part of me has been afraid all year that the students, staff, board, and supporters of LSC have thought that I let them down, that I left them high and dry. Reflecting on it now, I think that's where all this emotion came from. While I fully realize that I made plenty of mistakes, I've wondered if people thought I didn't try hard enough, or gave up on it all.

A lot of what you read in that other post was not so much the Festivus "airing of grievances," but LutheranHusker's "airing of insecurities." And as is the case many times when it comes to insecurity, the finger was pointing outward instead of searching for the real heart of the matter.

Here's the bottom line: God is good, even when circumstances are not. God remains faithful to us, even when we find it hard to be faithful. God grows us, stretches us, changes us, transforms us through prosperity, but mostly through adversity. We may not know what we're doing, we may be running around like little mice in a maze, we may make mistakes, but God uses those times to draw us closer to him. Through our own weaknesses, we end up being strengthened.

And when flawed but faithful people try to do good things in God's name, amazing things can happen. Miracles happen. Our Good Friday mournings lead to Easter mornings. I've seen it. I've seen it through the work of LSC. I've seen it through the faithfulness of the people who give their blood, sweat and tears so that students can catch a glimpse of God's goodness and grace. I've seen it in my own life.

Good Friend, you know who you are. Thanks for the conversation. Thanks for your faithfulness. And please accept my deepest apology.


Thursday, February 08, 2007

With apologies to Charles Schulz

RevScott's response here to my unpacking of the word "eucharist" got the ol' LutheranHusker brain churning. Unlike the good Reverend, I am not a self-proclaimed "Greek dork," but I know enough to be dangerous.

So with the magic of Microsoft Paint (which unfortunately doesn't include, as far as I could tell at least, a way to insert accent marks) and the little knowledge I have (so anyone who actually knows Koine Greek will have to excuse me if this isn't in the correct voice or mood, etc.), I give you: the incomparable Charlie Brown:

Three guesses as to what he's saying! =)

P.S. I realize what's up there is most likely not a real word...but much like one of my favorite t-shirts (Carpe Fish...Seize the Fish), that's part of the fun!

Well, I guess this makes it official. While I'm not a Greek dork, I am just an all-around dork.


Goooooo Biiiiiiiig Reddddddddddddd....


Yes, the college football season is well over, but yesterday was a big day for Husker fans...for two reasons:

1) It was letter-of-intent signing day. The day when high school seniors and junior college transfers sign on the dotted line and say "yes, I am going to play (and hopefully attend classes occasionally) at such-and-such school." Nebraska ended up signing a class of 28 players, and despite losing 2 highly-touted recruits, it looks to be a solid group top to bottom, which ought to help fill in some big gaps. Especially on defense.

Just as importantly, 12 Nebraska high school kids agreed to come on the team as walk-ons. That means they're playing, but with no athletic scholarship. Nebraska's walk-on program has been an important part of Husker history, and it's good to see the in-state kids sticking around and wanting to contribute.

College football recruiting is an interesting art/science. It's like putting the pieces of a puzzle together, except both the pieces and the picture you're trying to create keep changing. It's almost an organic thing.

2) Yesterday was also the day tickets went on sale for April 14th's Red-White Spring game. It's basically a scrimmage between the top units, but they try to play it in as close to actual game conditions as possible. The players are split into two teams, they stand on separate sidelines, they keep score and they play 4 15-minute quarters, with referees and penalties and cheerleaders and a band and everything.

And, there's fans in the stands.

Oh boy are there fans in the stands. For many Husker fans who aren't able to see the Huskers play in person in the fall, this is their one chance to watch them up close and personal. Even for those who can, this is their first glimpse at what next year's team may look like. So you get a LOT of folks in the stands. 3 years ago, there were 61,000...2 years ago, 64,000...last year, due to construction in the North end zone there was only room for 57,000, but it was declared a sellout.

This year? Who knows? We can fit 83,000 on a gameday. Wouldn't surprise me in the least to see at least 70,000 Red Clad Loons watch a glorified practice.

They raised the price of tickets this year--it's up to $8 per person, with kids 6 and under admitted free (kids ages 7-12 can get in free if they take a "drug free pledge" on the field at halftime). But you'd better believe I'm gonna be there. And I think we'll take Kiddo along for his very first Husker football experience.

Wanna see what 64,000 people watching a practice looks like? This is an amateur panoramic picture from the Spring Game in 2005. The guy basically just took 3 pictures with his digital camera from where he was sitting and photoshopped them together when he got home. Pretty cool.

I can't wait!


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Christ Has Died, Christ Is Risen, Christ Will Come Again!

There's a group of pastors who meet every Tuesday morning to do a text study on the Bible readings for the upcoming Sunday. Well, mostly pastors. I'm there just about every week, as are a couple of other lay church professionals. Everyone takes turns leading the discussion from week to week. I had signed up to prepare and lead the study yesterday. Even though the Gospel reading was from Luke's version of the Beatitudes (blessed are they...), I've been thinking a lot about the epistle lesson, which was 1 Corinthians 15:12-20.

1 Corinthians 15:19 has taken on special importance to me ever since I discovered the book A Skeleton in God's Closet, by Paul Maier. This verse also serves as the epigram to the book: If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. It's the conclusion of an argument Paul (the apostle, not Paul Maier =) ) had begun earlier, aimed toward a group of folks who didn't believe in the resurrection of the dead. His basic argument is this: if you say there's no resurrection of the dead, then you're saying that Christ has not been raised--and that's the one thing that our faith hinges on. "If Christ has not been raised, then your faith is futile and you are still in your sins" (verse 17).

So anyway, I generally try to stay away from Christian fiction...I generally find it to be badly written, cheesy, and usually with an agenda I don't agree with. A Skeleton in God's Closet is a very notable exception to this rule. In it, an archaeologist digging in Israel finds what appears to be a box containing the bones of Jesus. If this is indeed the case, it would completely undermine one of the most basic tenets of Christianity--that is, the resurrection of Christ. The book reads like a Christian version of CSI. There's a very exciting plot line, and it's really interesting to learn about the different scientific methods archaeologists use to figure stuff out. But more interesting to me is the way Paul Maier unpacks the ramifications of what this discovery would or wouldn't mean to the faith of over a billion Christians worldwide. Very good stuff.

And don't worry, there's a happy ending. =)

Oh, lest I forget, the one negative in the book is an extremely poorly written love side-plot. I have a feeling Maier's editors came back to him and said he had to put it in, because it seems contrived and sort of an afterthought. It's completely unnecessary to the story as a whole, and I wish it wasn't in there. I'm a sucker for a good love story, but this one just ain't good. If you ever read the book, please just completely disregard the love story.

For a number of years now, I've made it a practice of mine to re-read A Skeleton in God's Closet during Lent, as a way to remind me of the power and importance of the empty tomb on Easter morning. It's really helped transform the relationship I have with what happened for me that morning 2,000 years ago--it's no longer a historical event that I commemorate once a year in the spring. It's a very present event that happens to me every day as the old Adam is drowned in the waters of my baptism and raised to new life in the freedom and grace of the Christ who overcame sin and death on my behalf.

The title of this post is a very old Eucharistic acclamation , over a thousand years old in fact. (Note: "Eucharistic" is just a fancy-schmancy church term for "having to do with Communion." A little education here...the root of "Eucharist" is the greek word "charis", which means "grace." An acclamation is something you shout to show enthusiastic approval.) So what we have here is something that ought to be shouted in enthusiastic approval as we celebrate the gift of grace and new life in Holy Communion.

Below is a picture I took in New Mexico. I was there with a group of college students, and we were visiting a site where there were bunches of small, natural caves carved into the cliffs. When I set foot inside this one, it was for me as though I was experiencing Easter morning. This is one of my favorite pictures. Ever. I added the Bible verse at the bottom through the magic of Microsoft Paint. =)

So then, lemme hear you!

Christ has died! Christ IS risen! Christ WILL come again!



Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Soul Patrol! Redux

Well, a couple of days ago I posted about getting to see Taylor Hicks in concert coming up in March.

Since then, my fellow Soul Patrollers have been coming out of the woodwork...apparently, my blog's now linked on a couple of message boards. A big LutheranHusker welcome to all of you!

Steer clear of conversations concerning onions and thudding and all will be well in this little corner of the blogosphere. =)

To clear up a couple of misconceptions that I've seen pop up:
  • I'm not a pastor. I do work in a church as a Director of Christian Education and Music, I do play the organ, I do lead Bible studies and Sunday School and all that kind of thing, but I've not been to seminary. I am in what the ELCA calls the candidacy process for an Associate in Ministry designation. If you think of it as sort of the church's equivilent of an associate's degree for laypeople, you're on the right track. I wrote some more about it, as well as my personal sense of call, here. In the past, I served in sort of a pastoral role for a campus ministry, but I did it as a layperson.
  • I do live in Nebraska...though I'm going to the Iowa concert, I'm a Nebraskan through-and-through.

Glad to meet you all, and please feel free to keep reading. I like to write about a bunch of different subjects, just to keep myself interested more than anything else, I suppose. I've found that I tend to gravitate to the subject matters of faith, my family ("Sweetie" my wife and "Kiddo" my 3 year-old son), and great quotes from Scrubs (of which there are MANY to choose from). That being said, just about anything is fair game if it's something I'm interested in. =)

So today, knowing there's an audience out there who's interested in good music by under-appreciated artists, I'm gonna pimp two of my favorite newly discovered musical acts: Storyhill and Joshua Radin. Neither of them sound much like Taylor Hicks at all, but they each have a distinctive sound that touches me.

Joshua Radin is someone I stumbled across just last week. If you like Simon and Garfunkel at all, you've gotta check this guy out. Great lyrics, great singing, great guitar, and definitely with that Paul Simon vibe. One of his songs was on the soundtrack for The Last Kiss, and I'm pretty sure he's been featured in some Scrubs episodes as well. Here's a clip of him singing Star Mile live...if I didn't know any better, I'd assume this was some obscure Simon and Garfunkel song that I just hadn't had the privilege of hearing yet:

Now, for Storyhill. Storyhill a word, awesome. Many, many thanks to my good friend RevScott for introducing them to me. They sort of have two home bases--Minnesota and Montana, and you'll find a number of references to both places in their music. They are a duo...Chris and Johnny both play guitar and sing and...very important for me...they also write all their own music. This is a clip of them playing Steady On. One note--the sound in this clip is way off from the video, so don't let that throw you off.


Monday, February 05, 2007

Arise, shine, for your light has come!

My parents have a very funny cassette tape of me when I was 3 or 4. When I was little, they had one of those old fashioned movie cameras that you have to hook up to a projector to play the movie, and that don’t have any sound. So, in order to record what their kids sounded like, they had to resort to a tape recorder with microphone.

Anyway, this particular tape was recorded not long after Christmas that year, and in it my dad asks me to tell what happened on Christmas. Like most 3 or 4 year olds, I begin with Santa Claus. This is pretty much a verbatim transcript: “First Santa came to Bobby’s house, then he came to the Matthew who lives behind me’s house, then he came to my house. After that, he decided to go visit the baby Jesus, so he did. He brought Jesus presents and met Mary and Joseph, and even little Jesus, who was born. Santa made Jesus laugh, because he was silly. There were shepherds there, but not the wise men. They didn’t get there right away, because they went very very slow. And you know, they were old. So they went very very very very s-l-o-w. And everyone said, ‘Merry Christmas, and a very happy new year to everybody.’”

Ah, yes. The theology of a four year old.

We’re in the middle of the Epiphany season right now—we celebrate the light that is Christ, shining in our lives. I love the poetry of Isaiah 60—it calls to us, even today: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For darkness will cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples, but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.” Wow. Great stuff…great news…and a great calling to each of us.

Sometimes the darkness of the world can seem overwhelming. Things go wrong. All we have to do is turn on the news or CNN to see it locally, nationally, and globally. People struggle with school. Families struggle with jobs. Friends, spouses, relationships of all kinds break down. There is so much hatred, so much fear, so much anxiety…it really does seem like we, the people, are covered in thick darkness, like the reading says.

But in the midst of the darkness, we are reminded…our light has come! What I really appreciate about this (especially as one who works in the church) is the reminder that I'm not called to be the light. It’s not on my shoulders to be the light for the world. (Thank God for that! We'd ALL be in a world of hurt if that was the case!) Rather, the light is Jesus. The light has already come. Even better, the light has already defeated the darkness! Jesus came, lived, died, and rose again to give us all the light that never grows dim. What we, you and I, are called to do is not to be the light, but to reflect the light. To carry the light into the dark places still hiding from the light. We are called to love our neighbor, to help the needy, to let our friends, neighbors, families know about the light in our own lives. We are called to pray for our friends and our enemies, to shine love and forgiveness where we go.

There's a wonderful little song I selected for last week's woship, entitled appropriately enough, We Are Called by David Haas (okay...David Haas isn't the one actually calling us...I suppose I should really say there's a song by David Haas entitled We Are Called. There. The English Major in me is now satisfied.). Anyway, here's the words:

Come! Live in the light!
Shine with the joy and the love of the Lord.
We are called to be light for the kingdom,
to live in the freedom of the city of God! (refrain)

Refrain: We are called to act with justice,
we are called to love tenderly,
we are called to serve one another
to walk humbly with God!

Come! Open your heart!
Show your mercy to all those in fear!
We are called to be hope for the hopeless
so all hatred and blindness will be no more! (refrain)

Sing! Sing a new song!
sing of that great day when all will be one!
God will reign, and we'll walk with each other
as sisters and brothers united in love! (refrain)

Think of your own life. Where is God calling you to arise and shine his light? Where are the dark places around you? This week, I challenge you to reflect on your calling, as I plan to reflect on my own. “Arise, shine, for your light has come!” Indeed—arise! And shine! We are called!



Sunday, February 04, 2007

Soul Patrol!!!!

For those wondering, this is what I had been planning on writing about yesterday. It's now official. I'm gonna go see the One And Only Taylor Hicks in concert on March 24th in Sioux City, IA. Sweetie and I had been looking at possibly going to one of the Kansas City concerts, but the tickets (BEFORE taxes and Ticketmaster's portion of your arm and leg) were $55...which we just couldn't financially justify. The Sioux City tix are only $36.50, it is, my parents (I love you, Mom and Dad!) sponsored the cost of one ticket as an early birthday present and Sweetie (I love you, Sweetie!) sponsored the cost of the other again as an early birthday present to me.

So look for us at the Orpheum in Sioux City, Main Floor Left Center, Row E. I'll be the one with the goofy, dopey grin on my face, and Sweetie will be the slightly embarrassed one trying to act as though she's kind of there with the idiot next to her (which would be me), but not really all that much.

I know, dear readers, that there are a number of you right now shaking your heads and thinking "Oh, poor sweet misguided LutheranHusker, why oh why did you give in to the American Idol machine?" Well, let me tell you, if you are uninitiated with the musical phenomenon that is Taylor Hicks, you're in for a surprise, because ladies and gents, this guy is the Anti-Idol. The man eats, sleeps, breathes, and probably even poops music (don't ask me how that last one would work). He grew up playing his harmonica and singing in smoky bars from age 16 on, and his influences are along the lines of Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Otis Redding, and Joe Cocker...not your typical teeny-bopper Idol. He's said from the beginning that his dream is to basically live on a tourbus, play a bunch of shows, stopping occasionally to record more stuff, then to hop back on the bus again...he's backing it up so far on his first post-Idol solo tour, with 55 concert dates scheduled so far over the course of the next 90 days.

God created the man with a gift for live concerts.

Suffice it to say that March 24th can't come soon enough.

During the American Idol tour last summer, Taylor had a habit of playing the AI concert, then leaving the arena and heading to a local club to do a "real" concert with "real" music. His old "pre-Idol" band, Little Memphis Blues Orchestra, followed him to a few cities and he'd play with them...I can't even imagine doing the Idol concert from say 7 until 10 then heading to a club and playing from 11 until 1 or 2...then crawling on to a bus and doing it all again. But when you've got it in your blood, instead of sapping your energy, it's what gives you life.

The church has a semi-fancy word for it that we're as the church beginning to's called vocation. From the Latin vocatio, it means your calling. What is your calling? It's not just to describe pastor-type folks in the church, and it's also not just to describe what you do from 9 to 5. You wanna see someone who's living out their vocation, their calling, as a musician? Check out this clip of Taylor and Little Memphis Blues Orchestra covering Joe Cocker's Feelin' Alright. Great stuff...

Looking for something genius but more low-key? Try a stripped-down version of Georgia On My Mind...just Taylor, his guitar and harmonica, and Billy Earl McClelland on solo guitar:

Georgia On My Mind



Saturday, February 03, 2007

More Kiddo Quotes

I was planning on writing about something else today, but it's going to just have to wait because I'm once again in "proud daddy showing off" mode. Both of these are from tonight at the dinner table.

1) Sweetie and I had ordered a pizza with beef, mushrooms, and jalapenos (don't was what we were both craving for whatever reason). We took all the toppings off one of the pieces for Kiddo. Well, the first bite he took must have had some residual jalapeno juice, because he suddenly started chewing faster, then looked at us with a semi-panicked smile and, reaching for his empty cup, said:

"My tongue hurts! Aaaaaaaah! More milk! More milk! More milk!"

(Sweetie pours a little milk in his cup)


" it's all better."

2) Later, after we had mostly finished eating but were still at the table, we were playing a game of I Spy. You know, "I spy, with my little eye..." Well, Kiddo has a Spongebob Squarepants placemat, and I was trying to get him to say "Spongebob." The exchange went like this:

Me: I spy with my little eye, something on your placemat that begins with the letter S.

Kiddo: Hmmmm....that's kind of a hard one. (Looking around)

Me: Do you need help? S makes a sound like this: sssssssssssssss.....and the next letter is P. Sp...Sp...Sp...

Kiddo: (still looking) Hmmmm....ssssp...ssssp...ssssp... (noticing his cup) ssssssSPILL YOUR MILK!!!!


Friday, February 02, 2007

Kiddo tidbits

1) This morning, as Sweetie and I were discussing that something was going to cost $5,000:

"That's a lot of money in my piggybank!!!!"

2) You know you're officially a parent when your 3 year-old asks to have his stuffed Elmo and lizard animals laying on the floor at night...and in the pitch black of night you're able by feel alone to pull them out of the closet on the first try.

3) About 2 minutes ago (actually, while I was typing #2 above), Kiddo called me back into his room (he's supposed to be trying to sleep). He was whining.

Kiddo: aaaaahhhhh....

Me: What's wrong? Are you mad?

Kiddo: No.

Me: Are you sad?

Kiddo: Yes.

Me: Why?

Kiddo: Because Jesus isn't here...and God.

Me: Jesus is always with you. God is always there. No matter what happens. You don't need to be sad. You need to be happy about that!

Kiddo: Jesus loves me even when I'm sad?

Me: (heart shattering into about a million pieces) Oh yes he does, Kiddo. And so do I. And so does Mommy. (And none of us will ever be able to tell you just how much we love you. But with any luck at all, someday you'll understand...)


Thursday, February 01, 2007

It's been quite the year...

Last night while lying in bed, waiting to fall asleep, I had one of those nighttime revelations:

A year ago today was the first day that I was no longer officially employed by the Lutheran Student Center.

It's been a year. Man, how time both flies and stands perfectly still all at once.

I miss campus ministry...a lot. Don't get me wrong--I'm very happy where I am and with what I'm doing, but there's just something about campus ministry that can't be replicated in a "normal" congregation. Maybe it's the academic setting, maybe it's just that college students are at that time in their lives when they're struggling to define who they are and questioning what they believe, maybe it's because for the first time in many of their lives they are grasping hold of their faith and making it their own (which is what confirmation is supposed to be about, except we confirm kids when they're entirely too young...but that's a subject for a different post). It's probably a combination of a number of factors, but it doesn't get much cooler than a campus ministry setting.

So today I'm feeling a little melancholy. And a little hurt, I think. The way my leaving came about last wasn't supposed to happen the way it did. My salary was draining LSC's budget, I had spent so much time and energy trying to keep LSC's ministries afloat for the University of Nebraska's students that the ministries at Wesleyan and Southeast Community College were basically starting from scratch, and I had come to the painful realization that sooner or later, something drastic was going to need to change. I had every intent of staying at least through the end of the school year, but once word got out over Christmas break that I wasn't planning on staying, it was decided that it would be best if I were to leave right away.

I hope the students didn't get the impression that I bailed on them, because I didn't. I feel really bad about the way that happened. They had left for Christmas break, I had told them I'd see them when they got back, and the Monday they returned I was gone. I was able to be a part of Sunday worship the day before classes started, but that was only because I insisted that I should at least be given the opportunity to say goodbye in person. I really would have preferred doing it the following week, because there were a lot of students still not back yet. But the decision wasn't mine to make.

Others who have left have had a reception, or a party, or some sort of acknowledgement that they made a positive impact. Looking back, I now realize I was thanked very nicely and quietly shown the door.

It's not about me, it really isn't. It's about the way everything looked. It looked as though I was sneaking out shamefully, as if I had done something wrong or underhanded. It looked as though I was waiting for the students to leave for break so I could pack up my office and get outta town. It looked, by my hasty and quiet departure, as though I had been caught doing something I shouldn't have. People leaving under good circumstances get a party. Those who have done wrong do not. I knew I was leaving with my head held high, I'm just afraid others may have seen what happened and wondered.

Bottom line is that my program hadn't yet run out of money, but the writing was on the wall, and I felt it would have been bad stewardship to go try to raise enough funds to prop things up for a couple extra months. I wanted to stay and help longer than I did, but I was unfortunately not given that option.

And I'm proud...very proud...of the work God was able to do through me during my time at LSC. I was there during one of the most difficult periods in its history, and worked my butt off, even though I didn't know what the hell I was doing half the time. I know I made plenty of mistakes, and I know there's plenty I could have done better, but I will ALWAYS look back on those 2 1/2 years with great love for the center and the students and with pride in the work I did.

I found my resignation's what I wrote:

Dear LSC Board and students,

It is with mixed emotions that I write this letter to resign my position as the Lutheran Student Center’s Director of Campus Ministry for Southeast Community College and Nebraska Wesleyan University, effective February 1, 2006.

It’s been a pretty incredible road God has led us down these past two years. Nobody, myself included, could have imagined everything that has happened. Though stretches of this road have been extremely difficult, God has done some amazing things through it all.

This is not a decision I have made lightly. I’ve loved my time at LSC, I’ve enjoyed the challenges of outreach ministry, and I’ve made some relationships that I will treasure for a long time. It has been unfortunate that the challenges LSC has faced recently have come at a time when a fledgling ministry was trying to take shape, both programmatically and financially. Recently, it’s been increasingly obvious that the SCC/NWU ministry has become a financial drain on LSC, at a time when LSC’s own budget faces uncertainty.

For the sake of LSC’s core program, the SCC/NWU ministry needs to be able to stand on its own. Due to a number of factors outside anybody’s control, we’re not at a point where that will be able to happen anytime soon. Out of fairness to everybody, a decision needed to be made relatively quickly as to what should be done—either fight on and try to raise a large amount of financial support while at the same time rebuilding two programs still in their infancy that have taken a big hit this past year, or to let it go. After examination of all the factors, some long talks with my family and much prayer, I believe the best decision for LSC and its future, as well as my and my family’s future, is to let it go.

I was at a text study the other week, and one of the texts was 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16. In it, King David decides that since he lives in a house, but the Lord (the Ark of the Covenant) only lives in a tent, that he should build the Lord a permanent temple. He asks the prophet Nathan what he thinks. Nathan at first says it’s a good idea, but after the Lord speaks to him, goes back to King David and says that God said not to do it. One of the pastors at the text study said the theme he took away from this passage is, “when I’ve made big plans and have everything in place ready to serve God, how do I react when God says ‘No, not right now’?”

For one reason or another, God seems to be saying “no, not right now” to the SCC/NWU ministry. LSC is at a delicate point in its history. We’ve recently lost a beloved long-time pastor, we’ve gone over a year now without full-time pastoral support, we’re searching for a new pastor and seem to be on the cusp of some big but exciting changes. I’m thankful to have been here through this time, and hope that I have been some help. I leave with many questions about my future, but with no ill feelings about the way things have gone. I hope the same is true for each of you in regards to me and the SCC/NWU ministry.

I wish for you all God’s blessings in your lives and in the individual ministries to which God has called you. Thank you for the dedication you have shown LSC through a difficult time, and thank you for all you have done for me personally as well.

In Christ,