Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Music

So I caved in and ordered HiFi on my Telus Optic TV subscription.  They gave it to us for free over Christmas and sure enough I was hooked like a weekend cocaine addict.  Marketers and Drug Dealers - soulless devils!

I basically subscribed so I can watch "Later...With Jools Holland".  Weekly he hosts an eclectic (truly worthy example of how that word should be used) line up of musical acts.

A couple of weeks ago the band whose CD art graces this blog were on.  So was Bryan Ferry - seminal leader of the '80's art rock mega-band Roxy Music.  I'm a big fan of Ferry and Roxy so imagine my dismayed delight when Two Door Cinema Club wiped the studio floor with them!

TDCC is a thoroughly up to date quartet who embody '80's pop sensibilities with 21st century skill and technical prowess.  Think Devo meets Metric and you might be getting warm.  The tunes are tight, precise, frenetic, crafted, ironic, jaw dropping in execution and fun!  It's a combination at once familiar and wholly unlike anything I've ever heard - and I've heard a lot!

So get your Google on and check them out.  Summer is awkwardly shambling towards us and we all need some tunes to bop the winter blues away.  TDCC could be your ticket to a summer double-feature fun-fest.


Where The Leader Won't Go

The second chair is a following chair.  I've read the book - "Leading From the Second Chair" - and it has helped.  But the truth remains that there can only be One Leader.

I'm totally cool with that.  Scripture teaches me that. I am giving myself every day to being more available and obedient than the day before to The One Who Leads Me.

That's the plan anyway.

And I'm being taught in so may ways.  All of them drenched in grace and wisdom from the Lord. He always teaches.  Sometimes his hand is heavy.  Sometimes it is light.

This one lesson has been repeated several times lately to me.  The followers will not go where the Leader won't go.  The followers will go to wrong places, but that's not the same.  When there is a destination that needs to be visited, the Leader must go....first.

It is sometimes frustrating to wait for the Leader to move.  It is sometimes painful when others see the destination and ask why the group is not going there.

I am convicted by my own unwillingness to enter those spaces that I must.  I wonder who is waiting for me to go past the barrier to the place we all want to be?

I watch and learn and wait.  I pray and read and work.

The lessons come.  They go deep.  I will be unable to forget them.

And should I one day be the Leader again, I will use them.


Monday, April 15, 2013

Monday Morning Letters

Today the letter came.  Pastors get "Monday Morning Letters".  Invariably they are eruptions of frustration and festering discontent that range like downwind birdshot - indiscriminately peppering the relational landscape of the community.  They happen on Mondays because we have such outrageous and unhealthy expectations of Sundays - and the least little nudge can tip the balance and cause the emotional detritus to cascade forth.

People who write Monday Morning Letters always send them late Sunday night.  They let them loose after a day of stewing and festering, and because they can't sleep with the monster they have wrestled with - they exorcise it onto the page and release it.  I imagine they sleep well.  Their recipients won't for many days afterwards.

Monday Morning Letters are always beside the point.  Like pointing out Hitler was a vegetarian, or that Jesus was a carpenter's son.  What they aim at is hardly ever the real story.  But they do illuminate that something needs to be addressed.  What follows is often a singularly twisted hunt for relevance and truth.  And the conclusions that Monday Morning Letters precipitate are never as useful in the long run as they seem in the moment.

Monday Morning Letters are seen as a natural right of expression for the people who author them.  Never mind that, for Christians particularly, talking is always preferable.  Instructions, recipes, shopping lists, driving directions, general information almost always makes sense enough written down.  Emotional eruptions regarding unmet expectations and perceived inequities never make sense in prose.

For pastors these Monday Morning Letters are the "black marks" of ministry.  They get dealt with in the short term, but leave a lasting stain that hinders slightly.  Like that scratch on the fender of your car - too small to bother to buff it out, but eventually part of the reason why the car is no longer suitable to the owner's needs.

Monday Morning Letters carry phrases like "for a long time", "no idea", "what we are paying for", "doesn't understand", "can't know", "always been", "never been", "others agree", "should", "shouldn't", "huge", "big", "awful" - and it goes on.  The implications are always that something has been amiss for some time and the leadership has been collectively (often wilfully) unaware.  Something must be done.

Monday Morning Letters never offer solutions - yet they indicate that drastic measures are invariably needed.  Pressure is applied.  Something has to give.  Satisfaction is the ultimate goal! Never understanding. And reconciliation is as unlikely as it is unmentionable.

I have had a couple of small Monday Morning Letters in the 26 months I have been at this place.  Let me remember - one regarding preaching about stillness, solitude and contemplation of God and His word (I was too "New Age").  One about calling God "The Big Guy" - a term of endearment for me, not for some though.  A complaint about not protecting the "study hour" because we allowed an ad hoc choir to practice for Easter. And now today's Big Monday Morning Letter - two and a half pages, of which I was the subject of only the first two paragraphs. Twenty-five and a half months into my service here.

Monday Morning Letters start chains of events that their authors have no conception about.  They always start countdown clocks in ministry.  Countdown clocks to the end of the service of the person they are about. April 14, 2013 - and the clock is running on my service here.  How long it ticks until the alarm goes off will be determined by how many more Monday Morning Letters mark me.

No Shalam
No Shalom