Water Mosaic echoes from home

pondering the mysteries, simplicity, and humor of life

Monday, December 27, 2004

Crazy Crowds

It was a nice Christmas, actually a white one. This may have been the first white Christmas I have ever had. Of course this isn't hard to believe coming from someone who grew up living in the hot piney woods region of East Texas. The presents were nice as was seeing Jennifer's family. My folks are here for a few days and I don't have to work all week (haha ThunderJones). We all went to Orpy Mills today where 1/3 of Tennessee resident showed up to peruse the many shops and eateries. It was ridiculous. My dad overheard a mall manager saying how 40,000 people would probably show today and spend their Christmas cash. All I'm going to say is how silly is was to watch people practically push you out of the way to grab a pair of jeans. Has this country, which is "under God" been misled to believe that their God is the god of stuff? I know my life is like that at times, but today just proved how selfish people can be.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Born Is The King of Israel

Merry Christmas. Remember today there is great news of great joy for all the peoples of the world. Let earth receive her King. Amen.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

4:30 AM

Another splendid morning spent at Hardee's with 3 great guys, which means another morning getting up at 4:30 am. All in all its worth it. Even though we were missing one from our group this morning, we had an interesting conversation. Around hot cheesy egg biscuits and refreshing orange juice, we discussed the ideas of "full-time" ministry or as some refer to it as "professional" ministry. What that boils down to is the idea of people being paid by the church to perform certain tasks such as preaching, teaching, organizing, planning, and engaging the other "lay" people in the church. Since all of us around the table have been involved in some type of ministry experience whether internship or missionary work, it would be safe to assume that we all hoped to enter into a full-time ministry in the coming years. But that assumption would not be so clear. As the four of us talked about church and working with a church, it seemed like we were identifying with each other's ideology. Questions and convictions arose from our discussion which was helpful at times but more confusing at others. How would we live out our convictions? Would we compromise? Would we dare to risk being conventional? Are we being fearful and not relying on God's power? Will we go where God guides us? Or ignore the need? Do we run away from what we know, only to establish something born from our prayers and hearts? Or do we run towards the problem? I'm sure this is really confusing because I'm still trying to make sense of it all myself. But it is comforting to know I'm not alone in my questions and struggles. So I guess once in a blue moon, something good happens at 4:30 in the morning.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

A Good Discipline

The past few days have been a blur. After a full day of work Thursday, I gathered together with my classmates at our professor's house to share a meal and evaluate what we learned this semester. Soon after, I was headed to a wedding rehearsal where I was apart of the ceremony. My good friends Dean and Amanda were scheduled to wed Friday night at 7 pm. The rehearsal finished and I was on my way to the rehearsal dinner, which included homemade lasanga made by Dean's mother. Since I don't have a cell phone, Jennifer called my good friend T to tell me that she wasn't going to make it to the dinner because she wasn't feeling well. But she said not to worry and have fun without her. When I arrived at our rehearsal dinner location, I called Jennifer back and knew she wasn't alright. I told Dean and Amanda that I'd have to miss their dinner and rushed to our apartment to see how my wife was doing. She was not good. I drove her to Vanderbilt ER and we stayed there until 2:15 am. Diagnoses: Viral infection and she was incredibly dehydrated. They ran her through 3 bags of IV fluids and she didn't even pee once.

We arrived home at 3 am and made sure Jennifer was comfortable and I dozed off to sleep. 2 and half hours later I was back up, taking a shower to get ready to go to work. While at work, I found out that I needed to be at the wedding at 4:30 pm. This was a problem seeing that I don't get off work until 4:15 and I have a 45 minute drive from Nashville to Murfreesboro. Not to mention I was feeling horrible myself Friday morning. My boss granted me an early leave from work because of my health. I was very thankful. Leaving Nashville, I needed to pick up Jennifer some supplies at Wal-Mart and cook her lunch. I caught a quick nap and a shower before leaving again for the wedding.

Even though this sounds like a hectic schedule, don't pity me. I have enough self-pity to last a long time. I kept telling myself, "I feel so bad" because of my sore throat and sinus drainage. Then it hit me. A colleague of mine reminded me (in my head) "This isn't carrying your cross, this is just a cold. Is this what you think suffering is?" I hate suffering. I'm sure most people do. But living in this world, it's impossible to escape it. I'm even ashamed of using the word suffering because I don't even think what I described about my past few days is even worthy of it. But I learned a small lesson: suffering should be welcomed in our lives and should be a discipline for enduring.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Anticipation during Advent

I'm very grateful for my heritage. I grew up going to a church of Christ, but it was not your typical run-of-the-mill church of Christ. We did some things differently, but at the time I wasn't exposed to the difference. One of the practices we did was recognize the Christian calendar, especially Advent. When I was growing up, I really didn't understand why we lit a purple candle every Sunday (4 Sundays) before Christmas. I think I even lit a few back in the day. My excitement wouldn't come with expecting Christ, but with expecting Santa to be here soon. The climatic ending to this was a candle-lit Christmas Eve service. When I moved up to Tennessee, I found out that this was very very rare if not non-existent in the churches of Christ. Why? I pondered and asked myself, "Was my church wrong? Did we do something that wasn't appropriate or scriptural?" Since working at a Methodist publishing house, I have finally understood the emphasis of Advent in the life of the church: anticipating Jesus entering into history, just as the Jews eagerly awaited their Messiah, as well as anticipating the second coming, the return of Christ as King of the Kingdom.

My convictions have led me to live this holiday season in light of this anticipation. I try to image the Jewish nation being hopeful, yet skeptical of the coming Christ. They had heard about the coming of Jesus through poets and prophets, but after several hundred of years he still hadn't come. Sometimes I feel that way about Jesus coming back. I don't understand the apocalypse or the final judgment or eschatology. Will it be like the picture painted in the Left Behind series? I don't know, I don't think so, but I have no idea. Yet, I anticipate the ending of time. Not in a manner that awaits passively in my living room, but in a manner that trys to live out the new social order Jesus installed in society. A manner that is inclusive, loving and merciful and just.

Because Advent has been on my mind lately and the idea of anticipation lingering near, I had a wonderful experience last night. Jennifer and I went to Nashville to celebrate one of my former roommates 27th birthday. We were accompanied by our good friends Dean, Robert and Emily. Dean was supposed to be escorting his lovely financee Amanda, but she needed some down time to herself. They are getting married this Friday. Rob and Emily have been married for almost 5 months now. We met Thomas, his girlfriend Jessica (of 9 months) and his sister Nikki there at Ken's Japanese Restaurant. Later we were joined by Catherine and Thomas (dating couple) and Daniel George. I had the priviledge of living with Rob, Dean and Daniel for a year. As we sat around the table and shared our hopes, dreams, and laughter, I found myself catching a glimps of the Kingdom of God. Jesus told a story about a fellow having a dinner party and inviting certain guests. The only problem was these guests gave excuses not wanting to come. So in their place the host told his servants to invite everyone, those on the street, those poor and hungry, those without friends, those without status. I witnessed a table full of people from different races, different backgrounds, different beliefs (spiritual and political) enjoying a meal together and listening to the stories that surround our lives. I anticipate more highly the period in time when this will happen to all people, all nations and Jesus will be our host.

Saturday, December 11, 2004


For the busy holiday season, may we remember Julian of Norwich's words on rest.

We need to know this, that we should delight in nothing that is made in order to love and have God who is unmade. This is why we are not all in ease of heart and soul, for we seek here rest in this thing that is so little where there is no rest and we do not know our God, who is almighty, all-wise, and all-good, who is true rest. God wants to be known, and it delights God that we rest in God. For nothing less than God is sufficient for us. This is why no soul is at rest until it is emptied of all things that are made. When it is willingly emptied for love, to have God that is all, then it is able to receive spiritual rest.

Julian of Norwich, "Encounter with God's Love."

Friday, December 10, 2004


I placed another semester under my belt. My wife has been awesome. I had to write a 10 page paper for my final in Ecclesiology. After reading several books and handouts, I had to come up with what I think is a healthy Ecclesiology as well as practices that uphold that view. Because I work all day and have to drive to Nashville, my days were shot. I had to write my paper at home, after work, not to mention I hadn't seen Jennifer all day. She was so supportive of me working on this paper. We didn't get to spend a lot of time together this past week, but she was the encouragement I needed. After several hours and over 12 pages later, I finished.

So I have another 15 hours of credit to finish my masters degree, which means more long nights and time away from my precious wife. I guess this is the price you have to pay for extending your education all the while being married. I can't imagine if I had kids right now.

On another subject, I attended an Advent worship service at work which was geared towards the "emerging" style of worship. It was really good and quite simple. A girl played guitar and sang one song. We had a congregational reading. Then a lady said a few things on expecting Jesus this year. Since Advent is grounded in the period of waiting for a Messiah, expectations play a big part in the story. Afterwards, there was a table with Scriptures from John the Baptist, Isaiah and photographs depicting issues such as unity, celebration, justice and love. After we walked by the table and lit a candle, we sang O Come, O Come Emmanuel and the same girl passed the peace. Then it was over. It taught me to be expectant this season. Not for my own selfishness or gain, but for God's reign to come. For his justice and mercy to rule over this land. For the Kingdom to come and his will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Early Morning

I have seemed to forget that God created a 4:30 a.m. Each Tuesday morning, I have pledged to meet with a band of brothers for a Hardee's breakfast and prayer. I am very excited about this for two reasons:
1. All 5 of these guys are good friends of mine (3 were groomsmen in my wedding)
2. My life has been lacking in the spiritual department for a few months.
Even though this is extremely early to meet, I need this. This morning we discussed the tension of living in America and being a Christian. We discussed tithing to church as well as giving to others, promoting justice, living as peacemakers in a time of war and the role money plays in our families and our futures. This discussion had important implications for me because it resonated with much of the material we have been reading for our class. Since taking this ecclesiology class this fall, my concept of church has been transformed. I'm in the process of writing my final paper on the topic of ecclesiology and practices that uphold it. The more I write, the more I see what I hope should transpire in our faith communities. I don't have all the answers and probably the answers I think I have are foolish. I might post sections of my paper on-line in the near future, but maybe I should wait for my grade first.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Why I Hate the BCS

How does the BCS work? Please, somebody tell me why do we keep this system to determine a national champion in college football. Heck, every division in college football has a way to determine a champion, but not Division IA. This is completely and utterly stupid! Look, I have no problem with USC and Oklahoma playing each other in a bowl. They were both undefeated in the season. Congrads. But we will never know if Auburn or Utah or Boise State could have beaten those two teams. Even last year, some dude from Sweden would have paid $10 million a piece to both LSU and USC to play a game to "unofficially" claim who was the best team in college football. I would argue that the old system works better than what we have now. And another thing, how does Texas jump ahead of California to number 4 in the nation...and they didn't even play this week! I mean does Chris Sims still play there? Isn't he the best thing since the George Foreman grill? Texas is so overrated its ridiculous. Now California, which lost its only game to the number 1 team in the country by a drop pass in the endzone, has to play the Holiday Bowl. Holiday Bowl?!?! Granted, the Holiday Bowl usually is the best and most exciting bowl game every year, but how can you sleep at night knowing you voted for Texas to play in a BCS game instead of California.

I guess its all about the money! And since FOX has bought the rights to the bowl series in the coming years, the system will probably not change. Oh yeah, can you tell ABC to stop kissing Oklahoma's butt for once. Hats off to the Auburn squad for not ripping the BCS and its flaws after they won the SEC conference Saturday night and winning a school record 12 games in one season. The only the thing I'll be watching this year is my A&M Aggies play Tennessee in the not so publicized Cotton Bowl. Oh to return to the Bucky Richardson days.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Busy Busy

Since I changed positions here at Cokesbury, I haven't been able to think aloud like I used to. I am now a consultant for UM churches in four conferences (Louisiana, both of the Kansas conferences, and the Yellowstone conference). Needless to say, my duty includes calling all 404 churches and introducing myself...within 2 weeks!! Why doesn't telepathy work?

Recently I have been focusing on repenting for my negative attitudes with work. I feel like I don't make enough money for what I am doing. My ego tells me that I have an undergraduate degree and near completion of a master's degree and I'm working full time (37.5 hours) on a $9 hourly wage. Its hard to see God at work in my job when I complain about how much I make and think I'm too good for this position.

O Lord, help me to serve you and to see you today. Thank you for this job and the income it gives to my wife and I. Heal my selfishness with your grace. May I be content in all things. Amen.