As I posted a few days ago Tapestry provides the teachers and staff of Washington Elementary School a jambalaya lunch on their last day of work each year. We’ve been doing this since we started the church a few years ago. The teachers, and their families, love it. Just look at the picture of the pot above. The photo shows exactly how much jambalaya I took home after the teachers were finished. As I said, they love it. Every time I see a teacher from Washington in public invariably their first statement is “you guys are going to make jambalaya for us again this year, right?” Today there were 8 “threads” that were a part of providing food for this meal. Those of us that were there heard the teachers and staff say “thanks” a ton but I want to make sure that everyone who couldn’t be there knows that those thanks were meant for you too.
But first, an illustration of why I want to make sure everyone else knows those thanks go to them too.
Katniss is nice enough to illustrate my point here. See how the bow and arrow work together.
I have some friends that I love and respect greatly that form a amazing church in Baton Rouge. They have taught me more than I will ever be able to adequately acknowledge. One of the things that they do that I love is that when they talk about missions they use the example of a bow & arrow. It is such a great example. You see the arrow is what hits the target. You could say the arrow is what accomplishes the aim (that’s right I just made a pun). Yet the arrow can’t do anything without the bow. The bow gives the arrow its power. The bow sends the arrow on its mission. The bow and arrow work together.
The Holy Spirit working through the “threads” of Tapestry is the bow. I know all of you can’t make it to a lunch during the work week. You are working. You have responsibilities that don’t allow you to do take off at 10:30 a.m. on a Friday. Still, please remember that you were a very important part of the meal that took place today. Your offerings through the church paid for the jambalaya. Your belief in what we do as a church makes it where people consider it part of my work to make jambalaya rather than just considering it a picnic for me. Some of you even went out of your way to drop off food even though you couldn’t be there. The 8 of us that were there may have been the arrow but God working through all of the “threads” is the bow. Whether you were are Washington today or not God is still working through you and what God is doing through you is powerful and effective.
So this arrow wants to say thanks to all of you for being an amazing bow. Thanks Tapestry for believing in us serving in manners like this and thanks for making it possible!
Each year we provide a meal for the teachers and staff of Washington Elementary School to say thanks for putting up with us. This Friday we are doing it again. I will be cooking jambalaya for them and the rest of the “threads” will bring the following:
You can participate too by bring something by Washington before 11 a.m. At church I announced this was at 11:30 a.m. The principal has asked if we could do it at 11 instead. You can bring your stuff by the school anytime before 11 a.m. You are also invited to stay and eat the meal with the teachers. This is one of the ways we say “thanks” to the school.
This is Agricola – One of those difficult games that I’m not a huge fan of but others seem to like. I like checkers. Checkers is a good game. Nice and simple.
Anybody using board games in their church as a way to reach into their community? Tapestry has a large group of board gamers (I don’t know what else to call them) that I think could share the community of Christ with others. I would love to steal … sorry I meant borrow and give full credit … ideas anyone has out there. So is anybody doing something with board games like Settlers of Catan, Agricola, Pandemic, Risk, other other games?
I’m just not sure how to use board games to extend community right now. Do we just do the board games and hope friendships develop out of them that encourage faith in Christ? I’ve done that before and I believe in it. Or do we try to add some spiritual exercises to it since this could be the only spiritual community that some will get – i.e. a check in time, develop, and prayer at the beginning? Would this come across as forced? I’ve done this before with good results too. So I’m looking for ideas. Anyone?
Earlier today I received a call from a guy saying his name was John Wesley (phone number 321-576-2185 you’ll understand why I post his phone number by the end of this post). John said he his wife (Mary Anne) and two daughters (Jessica & Denise) had visited Tapestry a couple of times. He started telling me that he was in Florida because his mother had been killed by a drunk driver. He quickly opened up about his struggle with being angry with God over the situation.
John Wesley called from Fern Park, Florida. Funny I thought he spent all of his time in Georgia.
To be honest I was eating it up – I am a sucker for trying to help people who are struggling with faith. Still I didn’t remember him which is odd for me. There are some parts of being a pastor that I might not get right, but I definitely connect with the guests who visit Tapestry, especially guests with kids because we don’t have a lot of kids. So he continued talking about his struggle and after 10ish minutes he said they were driving back home to Stevens Point when his car threw a rod. They were now trying to buy Greyhound bus tickets back to Stevens Point but they were $125 short. As a minister for quite a few years I have dealt with my fair share of people asking for money. Some of the have been genuine and some not.
My radar was buzzing. Still, I typically try to side on preferring to be snookered than to ignore real need. Matthew 25 haunts me. I don’t want to ever ignore Jesus when He shows up as one of “the least of these.” So even though red flags were going up I still wanted to help the guy if I could verify a little info. So I told him that I wanted to help him but his story sounded like a few attempts I had experienced with people trying to scam the church. So I needed for him to answer a few questions. I asked him when they had last visited Tapestry. I asked him this while I was looking through my electronic record of guests who have visited Tapestry. He said it was at Easter and I might not remember him because the church was pretty busy. You need to know that when I told this story to Tapestry tonight everyone busted out laughing when I reached this part of the story. You see, unlike almost every other church in the nation, Easter is typically a low attendance day for us. The congregation of Tapestry is so young that most of the “threads” are traveling to relatives’ homes on Easter Sunday. Our Tenebrae gathering (usually on Maunday Thursday) typically has 3 to 4 times the attendance of our Easter gathering.
Of course, John couldn’t have known this because he was just trying to scam me. You can see other churches that have received the same phone call and story here. I told John that my brother-in-law lived about 10 minutes away from where he was stranded and I could get him to quickly drop by and see if there was anything that could be done for them. Click … our phone call was ended when John suddenly hung up. I called him back a few times and for some reason he wouldn’t answer my calls. I really love going to a non-ordinary church.
SIDE NOTE – just in case you didn’t figure it out I posted the guy’s phone so that other churches might find it if they are contacted by him and search for his phone number to verify his story.
Institutions do not die easily. They tend to linger around a very long time. Recently I’ve been listening to some lectures on Medieval/Reformation history and the Holy Roman Empire keeps coming up as a pretty significant illustration of this. The HRE lasted far past its relevance. It might not have actually died till 1807, but it had been comatose for at least a century before its death. Institutions don’t die easily.
The shrinking Holy Roman Empire. It wasn’t “holy,” “Roman,” or an “empire” but it sure lasted for a long time.
I think the phone book is another example. We received our new one yesterday. I honestly can’t tell you the last time I used a phone book. I’m sure there are people out there that do use them and I assume that Yellow Pages still makes a profit off of them (though businesses aren’t immune to simply keeping things around either) but I would bet there aren’t many who still use them. My phone book went directly into the recycling bin and I am sure that a VERY large percentage of others did too.
Institutions, and habits, are hard to kill. This is just a true in the church. Things that served a wonderful purpose at one time tend to last long after they are no longer needed. If you see something stupid in a church you can usually safely assume that at one time it as a brilliant idea that served a real need. The only thing that makes it stupid now is that the need no longer exists and the action continues. This is also true of the churches themselves. It is really ok for a church to die. Its not always a bad thing. Some churches do amazing things with God and then lose their way or the community around them changes in such a manner that they are no longer able to reach it when other can. Such churches never really die, they just slowly fade away in a long, agonizing manner. I have guest preached before at a church whose building once held gatherings with hundreds of people but now only has four that come to it. Such churches will continue to exist even though there is very little life in them. Their not technically dead but that is only a technicality.
Why? I think it is because it takes more courage than most people have to admit that something is over and to decide to move on. It takes a very brave person to say “God did great things through this and now we can push these resources in another direction where He will do great things again.” Instead we usually would rather just let something limp along very slowly to its grave.
We don’t have a lot of examples of this at Tapestry right now for one very simple reason … we are a new church. That’s doesn’t mean that in the future we won’t have examples of things that should be allowed to die. I hope that when we do have such examples we are brave enough to say “its time is over, glory to God for what He did through it, and now what’s next?” I believe we are that brave.
A year and a half ago I bought a used Elmo document projector. I actually got a really good deal on it – $49. I was really excited about it because I thought I could use it effectively during sermons. I’ve only used it a few times for preaching and unfortunately I feel like I have used it only once in an effective manner. The other times haven’t been a waste, they were just examples of imperfect use. Tonight I used the Elmo again at Tapestry in another NON-exemplary use but I think I have finally figured out how to consistently use it in an effective manner. What I figured out tonight was that I need to practice my drawings before I use the Elmo and my drawings need to be large and simple.
The image to the right is what I drew during the message. The only parts that I feel like really helped the message are the two pages on the bottom of the image. These drawings were big and simple and that’s exactly what seemed to work well in communicating what I was talking about. The top part of the image on the right is filled with smaller images and stick people that I used during the message. Those smaller and more complicated images didn’t really help the message much. Way to small. Next time I am going to draw much bigger images and use many more pages to do so.
I am also going to practice all of my drawings before the message. I had the entire message figured out but I didn’t really practice the drawings before delivering it. This meant I was trying to figure out how to draw something while I was actually talking about it. Not a very good idea. One of the “threads” decided to help me draw better stick figures and gave me some examples (the image on the top of this post). Her stick people look much better than my stick people do. My stick people were so pathetic that I believe they were actually a distraction. So next time I use the Elmo I am going to draw out the entire message on a practice run first and use big, simple images. I think that will make it more effective.
We’ll see if I am correct.
So the threads
have spoken and the next messages series at
will be on the book of Judges. It will also be much shorter than the series on the Gospel According to Mark. Right now I have outlined about 8 weeks. I imagine I’ll end up adding a week or two at most.
I love the book of Judges because it is full of amazing stories of faith and unfaithfulness. In includes some amazing stories of God using unlikely people, including two of my personal favorite such stories: 1) the story of Ehud, and 2) the story of Jael. This is going to be fun. Ehud brings out the middle school boy in me and if Pam and I had bee blessed to have a daughter I would have pushed for her name to have been Jael just because I think she is an example of a strong woman.
Anyhow it starts this Sunday night.
I took the above video with my mp3 player Sunday during the Lord’s Supper. Just a little reminder of the preparation we did during Lent so that we can remember. I hope this Resurrection Day was a great one for you.
SIDE NOTE – you can download the entire Lenten Project LP here.
Montana’s current position pretty well expresses how I feel right now.
Did the chaplain thing at St. Mike’s hospital, fed 70ish people jambalaya at the Place of Peace meal tonight at the First Baptist Church of Stevens Point, and setup led Tapestry’s 2013 Tenebrae. Long day. Missed a lot of friends who would normally be there if it hadn’t of been Spring Break this week – I hope you guys and ladies know that you are missed. Jambalaya pot is now cleaned but the church sound equipment will end up staying in the minivan for at least another day. Tired and ready for bed. I am very thankful for the threads that make this stuff happen. Looking forward to celebrating Resurrection Sunday with Tapestry mainly because I really enjoyed celebrating it with them today by serving others and reading the 14th and 15th chapters of the Gospel According to Mark (which is pretty much all our Tenebrae gathering is – reading the 14th & 15ht chapters with 7 candles and 7 songs).
If you haven’t checked out Tapestry’s Lenten Project yet then please let me recommend that you do so. Various threads have used their talents to help Tapestry prepare for Easter. I am really enjoying each week’s art and song. Good news is that you can download the individual songs now and the better news is that Joel is going to work on all the songs again before we release all the songs together so they will be normalized to each other (thus having an equal volume). It is amazing to me what these ladies and gents are able to do.
Part of what I love the most about what the threads consistently do is that they do it for free. They offer their talents freely and that is just plain cool. By the end of this project Tapestry will have developed a 7 song EP that is being given away for free. The threads don’t hesitate a second in just giving their talents away. I think that is a different type of mindset and I am honored to be a part of such a group.
Here are the songs thus far (one more song comes out on Easter):