Monday, June 29, 2009

Starting a new appointment

Before anyone who reads this gets confused, no, I am not being reappointed, it just feels like it. Right now I am stuck in the middle of changing two jobs at once. My role at Light of the Lakes has been switching from pastor to church planter. With this switch suddenly my hours are less concerned with sermon and worship prep and instead are focused on how I can reach out and meet new people and working with my launch team to make things happen. Basically one of the main goals to get out of the office and out of my comfort zone and to do more things in the community. Unfortunately that is running counter with my other "new" appointment, which is the temporary "sole" pastor at Park. With Rory on sabbatical in Australia I get the joy of providing the pastor care and limited leadership for all of Park's members. This means I also have increased pressure to be in the office at the same time, since that is a great way to keep a pulse on the congregation. All of this combines to really feel in some ways like a new appointment. I am having to rethink how I structure my work week. I am learning and being reminded of different things I need to make sure get done and I am taking on a whole host of new responsibilities. The bonus though is that I don't have to move to get all of this. It reminds me of those first few days a year ago when I sat in the office and tried to figure out what in the world I was supposed to be doing as a pastor. Three years later the feeling is still the same. It is kinda nice that ministry remains fresh, new and interesting.

Monday, June 22, 2009


I had the chance on my recent vacation to see New York City. This was my first time seeing the Big Apple and was excited to see what all the fuss was about. Having lived in Chicago for a couple of years I was not exactly a small town kid coming to the big city for the first time. Still even my experiences in Chicago did not fully prepare me for the mass of humanity that is NYC.

I think the thing I struggle with in NY is really the lack of private space, the notion that almost everyone shares some space with someone else, often a lot of someones. Having spent most of my life in a quiet suburb I am not used to having to share so much space. The fact that cost of living forces people into tiny spaces and economic realities emphasize the importance of sharing that space is just foreign to me.

Not only is living space shared, but so to is open space. Central Park becomes the space to get away from cramped living conditions, as long as you are willing to share it with thousands of other people. What is most unnerving to me about all of this is the way it leads to dehumanizing those around us. I walk around Brainerd/Baxter and expect to met someone I know. With so many people around in NY you begin to not care who is around. It is hard to care about and give care to people in need because you see so many. The result seems not to be to help open our eyes to the needs of those around us, but in fact force us to close our eyes, because we just get used to it.

I only have my limited experiences living in Chicago, the Twin Cities, and visiting NYC, but I wonder if the number of people around us changes how we think about people. Do we have a limited capacity to care? Are we limited in how many people we can recognize as individuals and not just another person, part of the mass of humanity and so ironically less human to us? Is the benefit of a small community not just the quieter way of life but the benefit that we can keep seeing people as people. We have the space to be ourselves and to let other people be themselves and see everyone around us as being human.

Just my musings for the moment.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The point of debate

Garrison Keeler, in "A Prairie Home Companion" jokingly talked about a Lutheran Synod meeting where people stood up and said the same things they had been saying to each other for 15 years and neither side changing their minds. Today I read in Star Tribune that often appeals courts, such as the Minnesota Supreme Court have often made up their minds on cases based on the briefs put before them before oral arguments begin and that oral arguments often do little to change people's minds about things. This certainly resonates with my own experiences of debates in student government and also my own personal experiences in matters of faith I have been involved in where it rarely mattered what was said since both sides had already dug in on their side of the issue.

So the question that I am musing on today is, if debate does not seem to really make a difference, why do we value it so much? Why do we spend so much time in structured arguments if they so rarely result in a change in opinion. Is it all about posturing for the future? Do we just hold out the hope that hearts/minds will change? Or is it just important that everyone have the chance to have their say, even if it likely won't matter? Maybe it really tells us that we all need to be more open minded when we enter into these conversations. In the end I think it is telling that often we value people saying what they think rather than valuing listening to them, or having the conversation make a difference outside the debate.