Saturday, October 08, 2011

A few words about love...

1 Corinthians 13 Image from Cafe Sozo.

(This short message was shared as part of the wedding ceremony for my friends Daniel and Leanna today...)

"1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man/woman, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

The words used to describe love, in Corinthians 13 are: patience, kindness, selflessness, humble, forgiving, truth seeking, peaceful, protective, trusting, hopeful and never ending. This list of character traits is a tall order. Each day of our lives we have the opportunity to seek and live out living a life of love, and that is where a great deal of effort and energy is expended. It is important to remember that living a life of love is not a solitary effort. We can attempt this great task on our own, but the truth of the matter is - we need help to accomplish living a life of love.

This day is a special for L and D, today they have chosen to come to this beautiful space in the company of their family and friends and make the commitment to each other in marriage. Today, you as guests, also have chosen to come to this place to encourage, take part and celebrate the love you have witnessed in the lives of L and D. This celebration is a time for each of us to consider the impact and influence that love can have upon our own lives and relationships.

As I mentioned a few moments ago, the task and calling of love is no small one. In order for love to prosper, it is necessary to know that we must work together if we desire to live lives of love. Even in working together, love's journey can be challenging. The faces we see around us today are not the only source for strength on this journey. In some faith traditions, when making a vow or promise the response to the challenge is: "I will, with the help of God." The names we use to describe God can be vast: Higher power, the Great Spirit, or the trinity of: Creator, Redeemer and Comforter. While the names we use to describe God are vast - our desire for a spiritual relationship and help from God may be even greater.

Love's great task that requires we work together, but we also need to understand that we are not alone in this effort. On this day and the days to come, God is with L and D and God is with all the guests assembled. As we celebrate this day, and move into the days to come; seek to live lives of love, work together in the efforts of that goal, and know that with the help of each other, the community that supports us and God." - love will never fail.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Things that make me smile...

Like a video link that my college freshman daughter shares with me.
"You me - dancing!"

There is some car dancing to ensue very soon indeed !

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Youth Group Thursday: Boxes are NOT boring!

October marks the month for costumes and dress up for Halloween. Why should boxes be left out of the fun? Each October, Shared Lutheran Youth Ministry creates flashy boxes for a purpose: to draw attention to our food drive to help collect food for Joint Neighborhood Project.

Here are




examples of how boxes - and caring for others isn't' boring!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

This little light

This week I've been working on a banner project with some gentlemen living "First House", a recovery home now in the parsonage of my church. The group of guys gave direction on the theme verse, "But seek first His kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33

It's a fabric banner that I placed trim around, and then added a graphic of a lantern in the center. It was a great team project that will grace the entrance to the home for their open house this coming Friday.

Blessings to First house and all who live and enter there - let you light shine!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Pig Will, Pig Won't and other life lessons

Image from

When my daughter was little, she loved the Richard Scarry book collection. Her favorite was the three story collection of Pig Will and Pig Won't. As you can guess, Pig Will was easy going and willing to help where help was needed and take care of things that needed to be done. Pig Won't - for the most part, wasn't interested in helping or doing much of anything. Scarry's books are filled with cautionary tales, but the endearing animal characters ironically humanize the conflict of each story.

Years after reading these books, the lessons have stuck with me - as a parent and personally. While most of the time people fall in the middle of will and won't - the story of these brother pigs have reminded me how important my attitude and action (or inaction) are. Years ago, if my kids started out having a bad morning I'd say, "Hey, why don't you run upstairs, hop into bed, hop back out and start your day over again?" or when there was a conflict, I'd ask... "Are you wanting to be like Pig Will or Pig Won't today?"

I think I need to send some gratitude to Richard Scarry for helping my kid sort out attitude and action when they were little, but I don't think the thanks stops for matters of juvenile challenges.

A little "Scarryology" could prove to be just what is needed to help face the challenges of adulthood as well.

So then, who do I want to be today? Pig Will or Pig Won't? The lessons of these books help to draw people into space where they can acknowledge challenges, but not stay stuck in the negative space of 'Won't'. Maybe after all - being a Pig Will or a Pig Me too (You'll have to read the series for this insight.) - isn't such a impossibility after all!

(Some have criticized the Scarry collection for being dated and non-politically correct (Ie. mentioning spankings/being bad) according to current standards. While some of the statements made in the stories may come off a little strong, the basic principals are valuable. In my opinion, the benefit and charm of these books outweighs the occasional rough edge. Editing while reading the stories to children is a parental practice that is encouraged, but may or may not be necessary in the case of this series.)

Image from Spooky Vegan.

Monday, October 03, 2011

SWB: Church Camp and Connections

Dreamcatcher image from Juror 2 - exceptionally curious t-shirts website.

I love looking for, finding and observing connections in life and today's focus for Sleeping with Bread is exactly that - defining where connections are and aren't made.

I don't know if you ever had the chance to see the TV program "Connections", with James Burke - the science historian; but it is one of my favorite documentary series". James makes his way through the world, exploring the how, why, and what of things that have come to be from the perspective of 1978. I love to find out the way things work and how what they do connects people. I love studying connections!
(If you would like to watch some episodes of Connections, you can view them at Top Documentary Film's website.)

SWB Meme prompt: Where did you feel the least and the most "Connected" this week?

There is some crossover for me this week on where I've felt the most or least connected. If you have ever been a part of summer camp as a kid, or even more so as a staff person as adult - you will understand what I mean when I say "Camps" (especially church camp) have a particular culture and feeling about them that is incredibly consistant, no matter the camp.

Summer camps have a tender place in my heart. I grew up going the Camp Burton from the age of seven, until I became staff at the age of fifteen. When I worked with the Salvation Army, I spent ten summers transporting children and teens to camp as well as leading a few teen week camps along the way at Camp Longpoint. Now with my work in the Lutheran Church, I spend a great deal of time working and attending Lake Chautauqua Lutheran Center with summer camps, retreats and special events. This last weekend, I had an opportunity to visit another local camp as I was the guest speaker for Mission Meadows Jr. High fall retreat.

Within a few minutes of my arrival at camp on Friday night, I was reminded of the consistency of camp culture. From the squeaking screen door at the camp office, to the dining hall filled with bouncing campers and a full coffee maker, the beautiful chapel for worship, the red boxy cabins sprinkled across the surrounding hills and the bell tower that held the camp bell - I felt at home.

In some ways, it felt like a parallel universe. The was the friendly camp director, the college-age kitchen and support staff, the counselors and the hopping schedule full of things like chapel, meals, photo relays, 'free-time', snack, crafts, outdoor games and kids - you can't have camp without the kids! So much was the same, yet all the faces were different! Besides a few folks I knew from previous ministry contact, I was part of an entirely new community.

I was welcomed into that community at an amazing pace - that is the way camp works. Within 24 hours, it was as if I'd been a part of the group forever. Folks knew my name, included me in their conversations, meals and activities - again I felt at home.

I think that from my perspective, the only way I felt dis-connected is that the faces and names were different. There were kids and staff that reminded me of other kids and staff at other camps - but they were still very new to me. I don't know if I'd really call it feeling dis-connected, but maybe a little melancholy for the faces I did know. I keep remembering childhood camp memories like: singing around the campfire, going to canteen and making art in the craft shack. As an adult I was remembering: moving worship services, crazy games of shaving cream wiffle-ball, and hours driving to and from camp - as well as the deep conversations with campers along the way.

There is one thing that is always consistant for me about church camp culture: I always have butterflies as I drive into camp and I always feel a sad gratefulness as I drive away. Camp had always been a place for me to connect with people, but even more importantly - with God. This Friday and Saturday were no different, and I'd like to thank the team for inviting me to be a part of that community.

Camp is the place (even though this one was new to me) that I feel very connected to God and where I'm reminded that God has an amazing way of bringing us into faith community - even if the sign on the driveway is different than the one you are used to.

The names of the camps that I've been involved with may be different, but what the sign communicates to me is: Camp ________________: a place to connect with, serve and love God and people.

Thank you God for camp and for helping me make the connection with you and some new community this weekend.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

In-between bread

Image from Citarell's Restaurant website.

In-between two slices of bread,
is the stuff of life some have said.

Lunchbags are filled with salty and sweet,
but not without grain filled, with lettuce, cheese and meat.

Wrapped in wax paper, saran or in foil -
this portable meal has a way of delivering joy.

Perhaps peanut butter and jelly is the best,
it pays no attention to age like some of the rest.

Baloney, salami, capicola and spam -
is it still lunch meat if it come from a can?

Pickles of dill and mayo that's real,
help to bring out taste that clinches the deal.

Then there is banana, honey and Fluff,
when you've had way to much of the other stuff.

My tastes and flavors for sandwiches are many, you see.
The love of a sandwich is something thats not on the in-between.

The troubles of life can be many that's true,
but sitting down with a friend over a sandwich,
has a way putting things together
and pulling you through.

T.L. Eastman Oct 2011