Monday, August 30, 2010

Good works

I must admit that I am not a particularly big fan of actor George Clooney (my wife, on the other hand...). But, while channel-surfing last night, I caught the portion of the prime-time Emmy Awards show devoted to Clooney being presented the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award.

Clooney was recognized for his wide-range of projects to raise awareness and money in response to crises from New Orleans to the Sudan to Haiti. In his gracious acceptance speech he said something that was something of an "aha" moment for me as he expressed the hope "to help find a way to keep the spotlight burning on these heart-breaking situations that continue to be heart-breaking long after the cameras go away."

We tend to surround the grieving family member with love and attention at the time of death and memorial service. But who will be there when the house is deathly quiet a week or so later?

There is much talk this week about the five-year anniversary of the devastation wrought by hurricane Katrina on New Orleans and the gulf coast. Those of us who went to serve alongside the port ministry in New Orleans last year were reminded of the personal stories of pain and loss suffered by residents of the area. Global Maritime Ministries is meeting the needs of those working on the ships and those serving in the community. Would you like to go back with us later this year?

Dave Stewart recently went to Haiti with a group of Baptist Collegiate Ministries students. Dave's impressions were that not a whole lot has changed in the months since the earthquake's initial devastation. Can we continue to pray for the churches in Haiti? Can we continue to give to help finance relief work in the country?

It has been decades since the fall of the communist regime in Bulgaria. Yet, as is all too often the case, it is the poor, the children, the disabled, those on the margins (in this case the Roma/gypsy people) who suffer most intensely. In coming weeks we will be seeing more about the work of hope being coordinated by Ridgway Ministries and Bulgarian Child, Inc.

Some will only go where the cameras are running and the spotlights are shining. Perhaps, as Christians, we serve best when we "let our light so shine before men so that they see our good works and glorify God."

Monday, August 23, 2010


I start my journey most days with a clear destination in mind--- 1115 Shiloh Road in Kennesaw-- otherwise known as "the office." I have been making this trip consistently for about 13 years- sometimes it seems like the Yukon could do it on autopilot.

Yet, it seems that each day brings its own adventure. Timing is crucial since I have to hit "the windows" of peak traffic for each of the three schools I pass before even getting to US 41. To miss "the window" is the equivalent of being sent back to "start."

Before I leave the house I have consulted local television news reports on traffic conditions. Once I am in the car "Captain Herb" is my constant companion. Some mornings I don't even need "Captain Herb" to tell me of a mess on I-75-- traffic has already backed-up on 41-- backed-up on Kennesaw-Due West Road-- backed up to the point I can't even get out of our neighborhood. Ouch!

When I reach 41 I face my next big decision: go through downtown Kennesaw or go around on Chastain Road? Through town and you roll the dice with lane closures, road work, and the train tracks. Around past McCollum Field now leads right into the traffic chaos surrounding Kennesaw State University. Sometimes I feel like the lab rat in the T-maze-- faced with equally undesirable options!

Of course, I am not alone. I am surrounded by other cars and drivers- some evidently not sure of their destinations, others even less patient than I. Some are applying make-up, others eating/drinking breakfast, too many chatting away on cell phones. We're sharing the same roads but going in different directions.

Navigating traffic might not be a bad metaphor for life-- it helps if you have the adequate resources, accurate directions, a little patience, and a good idea of where you're going.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Future Church

Last Saturday Priscilla and I enjoyed the opportunity to fellowship with our young/er/est adult Sunday School class. Jason and Mary Luker's home was filled with conversation on a wide variety of topics. the aroma of some outstanding chowder and gumbo, and the sounds (and activity) of small children. The social was planned for the adults but it was the children that caught my attention.

They were still on my mind I as walked past the crowded rooms of our preschool area the next morning. It was tempting to think, "this is the future of the church." That would be right to a point- but the reality is that these children, and their families, are the church today. There is no waiting for tomorrow!

But their church will be different, different even than the church of their parents. The future church will be more diverse than the churches most of us have experienced. Our church is blessed with members from Kenya, China, Puerto Rico Jamaica, Haiti, and Eritrea. Several of our families have spent significant portions of their lives living overseas. The tapestry of the church will be woven from threads of many different origins.

The church of the future will be more transient. One of the biggest challenges I faced in the early days of my ministry here was the fact that careers brought people to Atlanta... and careers could also take them away! None of these young families (except Billy Ray and Delores) were here when we first arrived 16 years ago. Could we pray that these children will be our future missionaries, scattered like the early church to spread the Good news?

I don't know if the "melting-pot" metaphor holds any more but the church of the future will not be as homogenized as its predecessors. Our community is getting older (senior adult living complexes) and younger (student housing for Kennesaw State University) even as neighborhoods designed for single-family residences are surrounded by multi-family apartment complexes with a growing population of single adults. A church should reflect its community if it has hopes to reach its community.

Yes, the church of the future will look different. Some of us may not even recognize it! The future is bright if these children grow-up knowing that church is a set of relationships where a common commitment to follow Christ trumps all of our differences.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Throw-back church

It has been an interesting first week "back in the saddle." I think I finally felt fully "home" Sunday as we gathered for worship. Familiar faces, new faces (I guess I was a bit of both with my "new look"), and a full-house were quite a welcome.

I am quickly reminded of the many ways our church is connected with our community. I was greeted by back-to-school supplies for Chalker Elementary School. After supper, prayer meeting, and choir practice last Wednesday our sanctuary hosted the community quilting group on Thursday night. Friday night this same space was set-up for the rehearsal for Saturday afternoon's wedding of a couple in the community. Sunday was well, Sunday: deacons and Nominating Committee meeting before Sunday School, Bible Study, worship, and the children's ministry end-of-summer party. Precinct workers were here today (Monday) making preparations for Tuesday's primary election run-off. This Saturday afternoon we will host a one-day revival service for the Kenyan Christian community. We have now marked the calendar for Tuesday, August 24, for the first of the weekly worship services of the Kennesaw State/Southern Polytechnic Baptist Collegiate Ministries.

There once was a time when the church was at the center of the life of the community. The church offered its community its facilities, welcome, and hospitality. These are gifts we may still offer as we seek to be the presence of Christ in our community.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Home. Sounds good... feels better!

Hugs. Tea that's sweet... and cold. Biscuits served with gravy. "Ya'll." The Braves.

I walked through the house to make sure everything was still there (we had, after all, left it in the care of a couple of twenty-something boys). It felt like home.

I've walked through the buildings at church. My office. My desk. My books. The telephone rings and the process of connecting begins. Pen to paper, keyboard to screen, and worship planning and sermon preparation commence. It feels like home.

Home- it's what we know and where we are known. It feels good to be home.

Maybe Dorothy was right...