Wednesday, April 14, 2010

In Control

I woke up Monday morning expecting to feel different in my new interim senior pastor role.  I was certain that I would command a new sense of respect, power, and authority. 
My dog Isaiah, of course, was my first test. When I told him this was my first day in my new position, he rolled over on his back to have his belly scratched. Later on, he refused to come inside when I called him.  I gave up and left him outside all day.
As I walked into the church building, one parishioner called me the Grand Poobah. I offered him to kiss my ring, but he said that’s reserved for popes.  Another person said I looked a foot taller, but I was a foot taller than she is before I assumed the church’s helm. 
Others have been scheming with me on the best ways to maximize my newfound authority. My mentor reminded me that when the president of South Africa took leave a few years ago, the deputy president invaded Lesotho. 
The senior pastor himself joked that I might be the next Al Haig. For those of you who missed or slept through that era of American history, Haig served in many government positions, including Secretary of State under Reagan. When Reagan was hospitalized after his assassination attempt, Haig reportedly said, “As of now, I am in control here, in the White House.” The irony is that Haig was really fourth in line to inherit the presidency. 
As I contemplate the humble reality of the position I’ve temporarily inherited, I wonder about the adventures the next four months have in store. I pray for an extra dose of patience and grace. I hope for new experiences and challenges.  And every time I’m tempted to quote Haig, I’m reminded that we are never, ever really in control. 

Saturday, April 3, 2010


In the wee hours of Good Friday, two more teenagers in our city were gunned down as violence ripped again through a Westside neighborhood. One of the young men died; the other is in critical condition after surgery.
According to news reports, it was the second shooting at the home in a 24-hour period.  The night before, 12 shots ripped through the house, almost hitting a 9-year-old boy sleeping on the couch.  
The alleged perpetrator remains at large.
To many, these teenage boys are nameless and faceless, just one more example of teenage violence, just one more adolescent life with a tragic end.
To one of the child care providers at North Church, these young men are precious children in her family. Her stepson was the one killed; her son remains in critical condition. She knows their faces, stories, and lives with deep intimacy. 
I can’t even begin to imagine her nightmare. I’ve wondered today, of all days, why Jesus is still in the tomb.
And I wonder how in the face of such despair, we can be a community that believes he still moves stones.