Thursday, April 29, 2004

Life Back to Normal

Well, things are finally slowing down for me- yeee-ha! This season (usually whenever I talk in terms of seasons, I am referring to the church calendar) has been great and I've really learned more about myself than I have in times past. I think I may have stressed myself out too much- working on too many projects at once. However, all my projects save one, are over. I am leading a retreat on Saturday about developing personal devotions as a journaling exercise in your daily meditations with God.

This last week, anticipating my summer, I took my bike to the bike shop for its annual tuning up, bought some fancy gadgets for it (its a racket I tell you, all the fancy stuff you can put on your bike for a "special discount price"), and am ready to ride the new bike paths that stretch all over the island. The city parks department has completed most all the routes and I am excited to get riding. NYC has 32 miles of bike paths that circle the island. I am way psyched.

So- everything seems to be going well with me. Were you wondering? Well, even if you weren't I am glad you're reading this now. (smile) I have learned that with the coming of the summer sun, many of my friends (including myself) are getting out of their winter funk and are eagerly anticipating a happier and relaxed time of year. If you know someone who has been in a winter funk, drop them a note and say hello. It'll help make them feel better to know that people are thinking about them.

The Psalmist wrote: "Let me share in the prosperity of your chosen ones. Let me rejoice in the joy of your people. Let me praise you with those who are your heritage." (Ps 106:5)

When we share in other people's joys and happinesses, we are extending their faith as well as enriching our own. Besides, it makes everyone feel better too. Can you think of someone who'd like to hear from you? I can think of several people who I am going to email and call today. I hope your Thursday is as bright and sunny as mine will be!

Monday, April 19, 2004

One of my best weekends ever

I think its amazing how, at one turn, life is full of stress and the feeling that you're just not doing everything you should. And then, suddenly, everything turns around and life is fulfilling, rewarding, and productive. While this may sound very bi-polar to some, I have discovered it is also a part of my life at times.

My weekend was absolutely stellar! On Saturday, New York City had the best weather its had in months. The sun was shining bright, there was a light breeze that made sure you wouldn't feel too hot, and all the colors of Spring were beginning to dot the scenery. You wanna know what I did? I got outside and enjoyed it all. I met friends in the late morning. We had coffee and went strolling through one of NYC's many public parks. Later in the day, I went riding my bike until the sun fell below the backdrop. At night, tired and exhausted from my day, I watched a movie until well past midnight. I tell you, I had the best day off I've had in months.

And then came Sunday. In the morning, I preached for a friend deep in the boondocks of Queens. The church is a small but very friendly one. I preached well and the prayers were right on target. Everyone loved the service and enjoyed themselves during it and the coffee hour. After my morning sermon, I headed back into Manhattan where I went, 'to work' so to speak, at my church. The service was beautiful, my pastor preached an incredible sermon, and we all had a great time worshiping and fellowshipping together.

Last night, as I was saying my prayers, I had to thank God for one of the best weekends I've had in a long while. My prayer time was not spent praying for what I needed; it was simply a long 'thank you' for being allowed to participate in what God was doing.

I gleaned a lesson in all this: the more my work depends on me doing what I ought, the more stressed out I feel and often doubt how hard I am working. However, the more I do what God has laid before me and, simply do what I would normally do and join in where God is already working, the less stress I feel and the more time I have to simply enjoy being alive and 'look around'. Now, don't get me wrong, I work hard and prepare well- but then, once I have been the good boy scout and prepared as I need to, I think my life lesson is to simply do whatever task I am to do- and then let God take that and be responsible for inspiring and enlivening others. Maybe this is my key to a life of less stress.

Okay, so this might not sound very wise and may not carry that 'A-hah!' moment to you- but it sure does with me.

Now if I can just figure out a way to bottle this idea and carry it with me throughout the weeks and years ahead! :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Easter is over.. sort of

Okay, so I know that Easter isn't "really" over. What is over, is the season of Lent and the holiday of Easter: the Christian High Holy days, as it were. The season itself has been a bit long to me- what with the self-reflection of Lent and asking myself how and why I continue to sin and how that sin affects both myself, my faith community, and my larger community (country and world). I have spent this season in serious reflection and the Easter celebration was just a day after 40 long days. I guess I just wasn't ready to be happy all of a sudden. Sure, I know that the Easter season lasts for several week up to Pentecost- but its suddent celebration from Lent was difficult for me to transition into.

For many New England church folk, the church year is about over. When Pentecost happens, most church choirs will be off for the summer. Apart from Vacation Bible School, most church activities will dwindle. Many church members will be showing up less and less and spending more time away at their out-of-city cabins and beach front properties. Pastors will begin coordinating their summer vacations and study sessions too. Soon, church attendance will look more sparse than full. And so it is with the church season. In spite of this regular happening, my personal life hasn't been so even-keel.

My personal life has been on a roller-coaster of late. Having ended a dating relationship that lasted quite a while, I found that working more and spending less time moping around my apartment was what I needed. So, I poured myself into my work. I worked more hours, attended more meetings, volunteered more often, and generally created so much work for myself, that it'll be months before I can catch my breath. And you know what? I think that is just fine. Perhaps it is a self-medication of sorts. I tend to be happiest when I am most productive- even in my personal life. Sure, I realize that perhaps I oughta be telling this to a therapist instead of my weblog; but it feels good to write this down (and I know that it is therapuetic to do so).

So you can see, this season for me has been a bit stressed. I've been certain to dot all my "i"s and cross all my "t"s. I have been preparing for and attending meetings, both at church and within my non-church commitments. I am planning a retreat for May, looking at my summer plans, and working on a new ministry within my denomination. Work, work, work... but then, its work I enjoy (and, fortunately for my occupation, I do believe that God is in the details).

After some thought, I guess one lesson for me in all this is to realize that Easter is not a one day experience but a continual one that lasts all year. And, while the church season works on a regular clock, my personal life doesn't. I am hoping that I'll catch up a bit and better appreciate the resurrection experience I have in Christ.

I am, honest to goodness, beginning to feel a bit better today. I took the day off yesterday and spent most of it relaxing and sleeping. I also went shopping for nothing in particular at a discount shopping store around the corner. I also brought my bike down from storage, cleaned it up, and got it ready for summer. I do love riding my bike. Yesterday was a peaceful day.

Please pray for me that I'll be more peaceful, find more relaxing distractions than more work, and that the resurrection of Christ will become a daily exhortation for joy- even if I don't think I have time for it.

Peace to you all-

Friday, April 02, 2004

April Newsletter Column

Here is what I posted in our church newsletter this month:

During this holy season, we have been bombarded with more religious imagery and talk than in recent memory. Recently, we have heard the hoopla over the movie The Passion of Christ, the issue of gay marriage seems to be on the front pages of every newspaper in the city, and religious zealots of every flavor have been telling us what God thinks about these days we're living in. It seems everyone including Mel Gibson has an opinion of what God thinks and how God wants us to live. And yet, God works in ways so profoundly different from our perceptions that I believe we often do not recognize God's voice or we are unable to recognize when God is working right in front of us.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a mule, some people cried out “Hosanna!”, while others had no idea what was going on. Even those who recognized Jesus as something more were the first to later exclaim, “Crucify him!” Did they really understand who Jesus was in the first place? Regardless of what the people said to Jesus, their cries of both praise and shame had nothing to do with his journey or his desire to love them. In spite of them, Jesus went about doing his Father's business.

There are some of us who like to think that God does exactly what we think God “should do,” and yet are unable to grasp why this thinking is so dangerous. When we love others as God loves us, we are doing right. However, when we turn that around and suggest that God loves those whom we love and hates those whom we hate, we cross the line into blasphemy. I remember someone who said, “You know you are practicing idolatry when your God hates the same people you do.”

May this season remind us to discover God working around us that we might listen and live as God would have us to do. May we remain open to the truth that God works in many ways, both easily recognizable and in unique and unexpected ways. Let our prayer this season be, “Reveal yourself to me, O Lord, that I might see you at work and go about doing your business.”

With Grace and Peace to you,

Pastor Bo

Thursday, April 01, 2004

No Bake Cookies

Here is a great receipe for cookies that you can make and your guests/friends/family will love. And the great thing is that its quick and you make them on your stove top.

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter (half a stick)
2 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Heat cocoa, sugar, milk and butter over medium heat. Boil these verrrrry
slowly (they will turn out better) when they reach the boiling point boil
them for no longer than 90 seconds.

2. Stir together oats, peanut butter and vanilla with a big wooden spoon.
Pour the hot mix over the oatmeal mix and drop on wax paper.

Makes 2 dozen