November 17, 2008

Fusion, Secular Songs, the Mall, and Rhoda

I know. That's a great title, isn't it? That's what happens when you don't blog for a long period of time. You'll understand my randomness in a minute, I hope.

It seems that my life is always a busy, blurry mess. Part of that is my doing. I work the best when I have a million things going on around. me. I can remember times when I was at GLCC back in the 90s. I would have all kinds of school projects, rehearsals for madrigals, and so on going on around me. I would stay up late and get up early to try and take care of it all. . . and I think I did a good job. While its not fun sometimes, my personality seems to thrive in that environment. Part of the busy, blurry mess is not necessarily my fault, though. Ever since I came to South, my job description has spanned at least two or three ministries. It was worship and youth to start. Then it became worship and discipleship. Now, its worship, discipleship, and a little bit of admin/support. Granted, since my personality seems to like that overloaded sense of security, I'm sure I take on too much. It's a sick and twisted existence I live.

One of the things that has added to my busy-ness over the last few months has been Fusion. Fusion is a youth conference that GLCC puts on. It used to be Breakaway, for those of you older, "I remember that", readers. Revel on Sunday, the worship band that I'm in, was priviledged to lead worship for the conference this year. It was our first really big gig as Revel on Sunday. So, we put in a lot of work to be ready for it. It was a blast to lead for teens in that type of a venue. And, it makes us look forward to Statewide at the end of Feb, where we get to lead worship for 800 teens. That is going to be incredible!

Since Fusion, my mind has been on Christmas. I know, everyone is playing Christmas music now and people are putting up their decorations. My focus on Christmas is not about any of that, especially since we have a rule at my house to not play Christmas music till AFTER Thanksgiving. Rather, my focus on Christmas has been from a planning standpoint. Next week I will head off to a personal retreat with a few friends where we encourage one another in ministry, catch up on ministry projects that have gotten put on the back burner, and if there is time, dream about what we should be doing in our ministries. In ministry, to go away means you have to work extra hard to get ready to go--planning ahead, and working extra hard when you come back--to catch up from being gone. So, I've been trying to get way ahead in my worship planning so being gone is not so painful. Thus, my mind has been thinking through Christmas carols and what not. If all goes well, by the end of the week, worship will be planned through Christmas eve, and I'll be able to begin to focus on other things. We'll see how this week goes.

Speaking of this week, I'm wondering what types of comments I'll get, if any, about yesterday's worship service. Yesterday, Chad Cronin, our youth minister, spoke for the first time on the "out of the ordinary life". His text was John 10:10. As a lead into his message, he requested I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For by U2. It is the first time I've used a secular song in worship here at South. I'm not opposed to using the "secular" in worship. We've used multiple video clips to illustrate the messages. Really, that's all we did--and I think my team pulled it off rather well.

Now to the mall. I'm currently sitting in the Panera Bread/Cafe in the Lansing Mall. I had to go to GLCC this morning for a few things so, rather than going into the office then having to drive across town, I came to Panera for a few hours before I hit GLCC. Panera has good coffee, bagels, and free internet! What more do you need? While I've been sitting here, I've been amazed at the scads of retired people at the mall. Now, I know that the mall is the "place to walk". But, Panera is full of retired people this morning. There's a group over in the corner talking about GM, how it got into the trouble it's gotten in and so on. There's another group to my left that are talking about gold, bonds, and their accountants. Every once in awhile, you'll hear a comment like, "They are gone to Branson, MO for awhile." It got so bad I had to break out my headphones. Now, as a song finishes up, it fades into the musac playing in the background and all the hustle and bustle of the crowd. Its been fun to watch younger people like me walk through the door and look apprehensive because of the age of the room.

Now to Rhoda. My friend Eric recommended a book called 11 to me a month ago. In it, Leonard Sweet talks about 11 different biblical relationships we should have in our lives and that we should be to others. One of those characters is Rhoda, a servant girl who is mentioned in Acts 12. With Rhoda, he says we need someone who is young and has life in our lives. Someone who inspires us by their vigor for life. For me, Rhoda is my daughter Hannah Grace. She is a pure joy, probably one of the greatest gifts God has ever given me. Any of you who have spent time with her will understand what I'm talking about. I know, that comes off very prideful and braggy. That's not what I mean at all. I am prideful and braggy with her, for sure. But, there's something about her that draws people in and brings them joy.

For example, I am always blessed to have Hannah Grace and my wife Steph along with me as I go and do ministry. Every year they go with me to camp, Statewide, and so on. Hannah gets to interact with the "big kids" and be there beside us as we minister. So, this past week when we were at Fusion, she had a whole group of high school students hanging out with her. During worship they had a dance party, which she tried to turn into an imaginary snowball fight. Needless to say, momma had to step in and break it up. Who would have thought that a little, crazy almost 5 year old girl could have a following?

The thing I love most about Hannah Grace right now is the fact that she wears her emotions on her sleeve. She is hardwired into what is going on around her. Whether she's not getting her way and pouting about it, having a blast playing with the simplest of things like ripped up cardboard, or sitting on the couch crying because a show is having a sad moment, she's engaged with everything she is. She's listening, watching, interacting, and reacting. She hasn't been incapacitated by the need to wall off the world like most of us have been. She wants to listen, watch, touch, talk to, and dance with everyone and everything, even if its something sad. There is so much we have yet to learn in life, even if it is from an almost 5 year old.

Ok. I think I'm done rambling now. . .