Confirmation Cakewreck

15 04 2012

Today, for Confirmation Sunday, we welcomed eight youth (and two of their parents!) as new members of our church.

Perhaps because Confirmation was such an important part of my own faith story, I always  look forward to this day each year.  And this class of confirmands was so much fun to work with: they asked great questions, thought deeply about the topics we studied, undertook the memorization work with gusto, and were full of great joy and excitement about stepping forward in this journey of faith.

We celebrated with a reception at 9:30 this morning. My job was to pick up the cake from Sam’s Club. It was not quite ready last night, but they told me I could pick it up when the store opened this morning at 9 a.m. If all went perfectly (and let’s be honest…nothing ever goes perfectly), I would have exactly 30 minutes to buy the cake, get it in the car, drive halfway across town, and get everything in place for the reception.

Here I should probably mention that when I’m pressed for time — or worse, running late! — I transform from a fairly pleasant person into a stressed-out, snarky, panic-attack-prone, sometimes-just-plain-mean monster. So while I had given myself the easiest job of all, I still might screw it up horribly.

But all went more perfectly than I could have imagined. Sam’s Club let me enter at 8:59 a.m., the cake was already ready for me, and I did not even have to wait in line at the check-out. After just a bit of maneuvering, I managed to fit the cake in the backseat of the car.

9:06. It seemed too good to be true…I was going to make it!  And in fact, I pulled into the church parking lot with 10 minutes to spare! Proudly I set the cake down in the middle of the table.

And then, for the first time, I actually looked at the cake.

It said (in beautiful cursive letters):

Ron            James
Jane           Jordan
Lee             Quicky
Jake           Zachary

Did you catch that? Third line??? QUICKY????

It was supposed to be Ricky!!!

Frantically, my volunteers and I began scraping off icing and scrounging around for more red frosting in the church kitchen. All we found was black frosting, though, so we salvaged it the best we could. (And by “best,” I mean…it was pretty clearly ruined!)

Fortunately, his parents had an excellent sense of humor about the whole thing! And in the big scheme of things, that was the only major mishap … so all in all, I’d call that a success!

*Names have been changed…although none so horrendously as the cake itself!

Blue Like Jazz!

10 03 2012

Okay…after watching this trailer, I’m officially excited about Donald Miller’s new movie:

Here’s hoping it comes to Shreveport!


16 12 2011

Check out this awesome Advent video, created by the folks at micronormous.  (My favorite part occurs at 1:15).

In which unexpected places have you noticed God at work this holiday season?  And the scarier question is, where have we ignored Him?

MORF: Working with a Serial Killer

8 11 2011

MORF Magazine just did an interview with [Christian] screenwriter Scott Reynolds, who writes for the Showtime series Dexter.   He has a great perspective on what it means to live out your Christian faith in Hollywood:

“Colossians 3:17 says, “…whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus…”  It’s about doing a good job. I have found that I can talk to people about God —even Jesus —because I try to excel at everything that I do, stay later than everybody else and work harder than most people. I have worked with a lot of Christians that are known as whiners and complainers, who say terrible things about people. It gives a bad name to Christianity…”

“In every job I’ve had — and I’ve had a lot — someone has said, “I can’t believe you are a Christian. If I were to become a Christian, I would want to be like you.” Is that good or bad? I don’t know. It’s a step closer, but it’s not so much in the writing. It’s more in the character that you build, the good that you do, that the difference is made. It’s in trying to be a real, authentic human being. It’s not trying to hide my scars and hide my darkness. He called us to be real live human beings.”

I feel really conflicted about the show Dexter; on the one hand, I think it’s one of the best shows (with some of the best writing) on television today, and on the other hand, it creeps me out to spend that much time thinking like a serial killer.  But I’m loving where the writers are going with the current season…there are definitely spiritual overtones, as Dexter explores his own darkness and light.  And the show gives us good examples of faithful people, and bad examples of faithful people….just like in real life.

And I’ll confess…part of the reason I keep watching the show is because I want it to explore the theme of redemption.  After every episode so far this season, I have told Jordan, “Oh, wouldn’t it be great if Dexter got to know Jesus?  And maybe he could give up killing!”  I know that makes me a huge dork, and the very idea defeats the purpose of the show…but I can still hope, right??

God of this City

2 11 2011

Love this song, and love this video created by students at a local high school.  As a youth worker, it’s a great inspiration to see juxtaposition of these “ordinary” images (as seen through a student’s eyes) with the lyrics “Greater things are yet to be done here….”

Grace for Benjamin Linus

10 03 2010

Excuse the following nerdiness…I got sucked into the LOST phenomenon at the end of its fourth season.  Jordan made me start from the beginning, and I watched close to 100 episodes in a single summer.  And then, of course, I was hooked…for better or worse.  The show has become so ridiculous and so fantastical that I can hardly believe that I tune in every week…and yet, I have to know how it’s going to end!

Maybe it’s just where I am in my life right now, but I am watching the final season as one big metaphor for the Christian faith.  I think it’s the kind of show that becomes whatever you want it to be, so someone with different life experiences might see the whole story as a literary metaphor, or historical allegory, or science-fiction riddle.  But I’m pretty seeped in Christianity right now, so that is what each episode is screaming out to me. 

(The unfortunate part about this series is that you really need to have watched the whole thing to really get what’s going on…so as much as I want to create Bible studies based on the show, I also know that I’m never going to be able to force a Bible study group to watch all 6 seasons!  So I’m subjecting my virtual blog-audience to my ramblings instead)

For the first couple of seasons, Benjamin Linus was THE bad guy.  He manipulated people, lied, killed, stole, and ruled unjustly.  It got so bad that when one of the characters had the opportunity to kill the young Benjamin Linus…I really didn’t have much sympathy for the little boy.  After all, everyone knew what he was going to become!

And then the creators  of LOST began messing with their audiences’ minds, causing us to wonder whether Ben was a good guy or a bad guy.  Even in spite of all the crimes that he had unquestionably committed, I found myself hoping that, against all odds, he would end up as a good guy.  Even as he continued to lie and steal and kill and manipulate, for some reason, I kept holding out hope.

At the beginning of the final season, Ben kills Jacob, who is the island’s protector (and in my allegorical interpretation, functions as the “God figure” of the story), and the whole island prepares itself for a huge cosmic battle. 

In the latest episode, Jacob’s followers tie Ben up and prepare to kill him as vengeance for Jacob’s death.  Ben is angry — at himself, at the followers, but most of all, at Jacob.  “He didn’t even care that I was going to kill him,” he says.  “He didn’t even try to stop me.”

But Miles tells him this is not the case.  “[Jacob] did care,” says Miles.  “Up until the very last second, when you stabbed him, he was hoping that you would change your mind.”

Don’t you have to wonder what Jesus was thinking in those very last seconds, as the Roman guards were taunting him and telling him to save himself?  Was he giving us another chance, another chance, another chance…until he finally ran out of time?  Was he, too, hoping that someone would change their mind and stop this madness?

It is at this point that the Smoke Monster/John Locke/Satan figure comes to Ben.  He loosens Ben’s chains and offers him a chance to rule the island.  Ben escapes, but Jacob’s bodyguard soon catches up to him.  This time, Ben has the upper hand; he has found a rifle. 

“But where will you go?” asks the bodyguard.

“To John Locke,” says Ben.

“But why?”

Ben looks miserable.  “Because he’s the only one who will take me.”

She looks at him and turns back toward the camp.  “We’ll take you,” she says.

Grace.  A new start.  Somehow I had been thinking that Jacob’s death had somehow solved the question about whether Ben was good or evil.  Anyone who kills God must be so bad that there’s no hope left for them, right?

…Oh, wait. Maybe that’s our story, too.

What was incredible about the way the episode was put together was that, as a viewer, I desperately wanted Ben to find that grace and hope and rejoin the cause of what was right.  And at the same time, his character had become so despicable and repulsive that forgiveness seemed out of the question.

Amazing grace!  How interesting it is that Jacob’s followers have received the power to forgive, giving away grace with the same redemptive power as though it had come from Jacob himself!

Star Wars and the Prophetic Imagination

27 08 2009

yoda_biggerSpike TV has been running a series of all the Star Wars movies this week. Although I am fairly familiar with the original three episodes, having watched them every year on youth choir tours, I never had seen the newer films. So, I was rather (and idiotically) enthralled (“No, Anakin!! Don’t go to the Dark Side!!”)

I guess I have had Brueggemann on the brain, but last night’s episode (The Revenge of the Sith) seemed to be a great science-fiction exploration of imperial consciousness vs. alternative consciousness.  Here’s why (and in this analogy, I will consciously try not to equate “the force” with God):

Anakin’s decision to explore the “Dark Side” originally stems from his desire to keep his wife alive, after he has visions of her dying during childbirth.  Wise Master Yoda’s advice is as follows: “Death is a natual part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not, miss them do not … Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”

The chancellor, on the other hand, tells him a story about defeating death and attaining immortality.  This is the more attractive option to Anakin, so he embarks on that path and embraces the Dark Side.

vaderLater in the movie, the Chancellor tricks the Senate into believing the Jedi have gone rogue.  In order to protect the universe, he declares that “the Republic is now the Empire!!”  (I don’t think that’s the exact quote, but it’s something like that).  The new emperor”rescues” Anakin — now renamed Darth Vader — from a horrible lava burn and recreates his body as the robot with the heavy-breathing mask that we all know so well.

It’s just a shell.  Anakin’s body was badly burned and he was on the brink of death.  But the Empire-consciousness cannot accept the idea of death.  It trades in the richness and beauty of life for a cheap, robotic immortality.  An immortality that can be controlled.  A status quo.  A seeming permanence.  A squelching of hope.  A silencing of song.

And in this story, too, hope comes from prophecy — specifically, the prophecy about a certain Skywalker Jedi who is destined to redeem the universe.

But that’s a whole other episode, for some other day.