Saturday, February 18, 2012

What Dreams May Come

Last night I dreamt that I died, saw the "Mansion with Many Rooms," and was brought back from the dead to be part of some supper hero crime-fighting team.

The dream started when I was part of the Roman Imperial Court. Over lunch we discussed the benefits of empire, and I was arguing vigorously that a particular people should be allowed to keep their language and customs. The conversation moved on to the Ceasar's son, who had just been born. I was sent to the priests to observe the ritual of choosing his name.

The Roman Priest carefully three small darts from bird feathers and needles and then flung them at the wall. I helped measure their exact height off the floor, which somehow translated into a name.

Quickly the dream transformed and I found myself sneaking into a room full of RIM (Research in Motion, the people that make Blackberries) employees and executives. It was a preflight briefing for a corporate charter flight. We all loaded up into some wide body jet. After takeoff we were enjoying a close up view of Manhattan when the airplane pitched up radically, stalled, shuddered, and then began to yawl. I knew instantly that the pilot didn't have enough altitude to recover and that we were most probably going to die.

I decided to spend my final seconds saying the Lord's Prayer and thinking of my family. As we crashed into the East River I was thinking of my little Henry.

When I "woke up," I was confused and disoriented. I was inside, a large building. As I began to wonder around I saw that the different areas of the building were decorated in radically different design schemes. I admired some of the designs. Many of the rooms had projection screens. There were some people around, but I didn't want to talk to anyone.

In the dream, I then saw some of the news coverage of the crash. Apparently the pilot was the only survivor. He had apparently tried to ditch the plane in the river like Sully had, but failed and as riddled with remorse. Soon I realized that there were other members of the flight in the mansion. One of them had a digital audio recorder (he had been part of a video crew). When we played it, we heard the sounds of the crash and then a woman's voice explained that we had been brought back from the dead and taken to a secret island where we would be crime-fighting super heroes.

At that point the real Henry woke me up with some kicking and thrashing around.

It was a neat dream. I think my favorite part was seeing my mind's version of heaven. Maybe I'll get to explore it again, sometime!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Every Marine a Rifleman -- Every Christian an Evangelist

One of the organizational maxims of the U.S. Marines is "Every Marine a Rifleman"--which means, in a literal sense, that every US Marine must be proficient is using a rifle and maintain that proficiency, no matter how useless the skill might be to their assignments. In point of fact, most members of the U.S. Military (or most others) are not front-line combat troops, and they contribute best to the war effort in other ways (logistics is an obvious example). Spending time on on the rifle range might seem like a waste of time to someone who spends every day managing supply trains, but that's the rule.

The Christian application of this philosophy might be something like "Every Christian an Evangelist." Meaning, it doesn't work to leave communication about the faith the well-trained, paid elite corps. We need everyone involved in the work of making Christ known.

So I find it odd that people expect that all communications coming from a parish will flow through my office. I simply don't have enough time to
-Update the parish voice mail message
-Update the the street sign
-Update the parish Facebook Pages
-Update the parish Website
-Produce and Post posters
-Produce and distribute fliers
-Manage a parish newsletter
-Make an interesting service bulletin every week
-Send out a parish-wide e-mail blast
-Produce and post sermon videos
-And notify local publications about upcoming concerts and events
And that's not at all an exhaustive list of all the things our church does on a regular basis to reach people. Some of these things I've managed to delegate to others, but there is still a tremendous hole. And I realize that there will continue to be a gap between what's possible and what we do until we get away from a top-down communications strategy.

If every member of my church took it upon themselves to tell a few people in their circle about the exciting and worthwhile things they do at church, our communications problems would be completely solved. Alas, most people are reluctant to do so.

Solutions? Well, to start off with, I think we need to equip our people. They need to be coached on the basics of how to share their faith in a way that is respectful and engaging. The weird thing (to me, at least) is that people have become habituated to sharing all kinds of intimate details of their lives, and yet are quiet about this one. Is faith the last taboo? Or perhaps they just don'tf find their lives to be particularly worth commenting on (a sad thing, if true).

So I'm just thinking about this quesiton of whether we are raising the bar high enough for people who profess to call themselves followers of Christ. Surely they would not have committed their lives to God, and given up a few hours every weekend, unless there was something worth sharing in this whole God business?


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sermon - Epiphany 3 2012

Diana Heath preached this wonderful sermon on the third Sunday of Epiphany. I was the building at the time--doing church with the kids. I think she did very well, and it's gratifying to see lay-preaching developing in my congregation.