Jesse Tree Week #1

During Advent at Tapestry we participate in Advent Conspiracy with lots of other churches around the nation.  I’ve written about this before on my blog (here’s one such entry). The basic goal of Advent Conspiracy is to encourage Christians to celebrate the remembrance of the birth of the Messiah in a manner that will actually please Jesus. So we focus on four things:

  • Worshiping Fully
  • Spending Less
  • Giving More
  • Loving All

As a part of this year’s Advent Conspiracy we are going to focus the messages around a Jesse Tree celebration with the kids, and anyone else who wants to, making the ornaments for each week. Here’s this week’s ornament suggestion and instructions.

SIDE NOTE – If you aren’t doing so already I would highly encourage you to begin some Advent traditions with your kids. Last year I wrote about some that have been helpful for Pam and me. Here’s the post.

Have You Used Your $2?

Sunday as a part of the message I gave out $2 bills and asked people to grab a few and find a use for them that will somehow reflect the kingdom of God. It is easy to think that the big actions, the ones that are so often beyond the abilities of so many of us, are the only actions that matter. The reality is that such big actions are almost always the result of lots and lots of little actions and are usually done by people who have been trained by lots of small actions. So I asked people to grab a few $2 bills and do a kingdom act, after all those of us who are followers of Jesus are a part of a kingdom from which evil flees when that kingdom is really lived out.

So my question is simply this – what have you done with your $2 bills? If you haven’t done something yet, why not think about, or better yet pray about, what you can do.

I have a suggestion, if you don’t figure out something on your own. I know a person who is a part of Place of Peace (remember Tapestry does the meal this week and for the first time in a long time we aren’t doing jambalaya) who is having to drive to Marshfield each week for chemo and could use some help with gas. That might be a good use. No matter what doing some small kingdom act this week.

Please Forgive Me Bragging on My Friends

If you look out the window you’ll see the youngin’s

Please forgive a small brag about two sets of friends.

This weekend Pam and I had three friends from Baton Rouge come over and spend the weekend with us. Debbie, Megan, and Josh are simply amazing people that I am honored to call friends. All three of them have been a huge influence on me and have shaped how I serve as a minister. They came up to the Upper Midwest to be presenters at the Just Faith Summit (a conference concerning the fight to end human trafficking – yes I not only marry very well but I have impressive friends too). You see together they have written a book (here is a blog post that Debbie wrote about the book) that is basically a commentary on texts from scripture that are difficult for survivors of abuse of human tracking to deal with. So after the conference was finished they drove over to our home and spent a few days with us. This meant that we were able to introduce some of our BR friends to many of our “thread” friends who make up Tapestry (interesting we had a decent number of “threads” out of the country this weekend – I felt very cosmopolitan saying that.😁). I know y’all are cool, but it is really nice hearing friends that we respect from another time in our lives talk about how awesome the people are that make up the church that I am a part of leading.

For some reason we older ones stayed inside.

Of course, I already know that y’all are awesome. Seriously I was thinking today about several recent events in which y’all have gone WAY ABOVE AND BEYOND THE CALL in an attempt to help people that basically none of y’all knew. I figured it up that in the past two years our little, bitty church has done about $6,000 worth of ministry for people that have no connection to the church and are not part of some program or ministry that we are doing or support. This was work that was done in addition to the regular planned given that is a part of our monthly ministry. It doesn’t count supporting missions, Place of Peace, InterVarsity, Nicaragua, World Vision, or any of our other planned ministries, nor what so many of the “threads” do individually. This was just “threads” hearing of a need in our community and getting together and deciding to do something. One example that many of you know about has just happened in the past two weeks. You guys have been, and regularly are amazing. Still it is a lot of fun to hear people that I know very well and that I think are impressive meet my “thread” friends and quickly realize how impressive you are.

I am so thankful that all of you are my friends (in this case BR and “thread” friends) and I am very grateful to be in ministry with so many of you and for some of you to consider me your pastor.

Here’s a screen grab from out backyard camera with the timestamp of when we finished talking and went to bed. Night Owls!!!

SIDE NOTE – the only problem with these BR friends is that they are serious night owls and since I really enjoy listening to them (again they are super cool people) I end up staying up far too late. I feel like this has always been the case. I stayed at Josh’s house quite often when I was working on my D.Min and I remember at the time thinking that I would never be ready for my seminars the next day because I enjoyed talking with Josh and the people were often at his house (this regularly included Meg and Debbie).

SIDE SIDE NOTE – my BR friends may be night owls but they are also some of the best people in the world to watch “The Office” with. I love that show, but I have never laughed as hard or as long as while watching it with them.

Yes the photo is blurry but that is from me laughing while taking this photo of us watching The Office together.

I Love Tapestry’s Leadership Team

I am a subject in a friend’s Doctor of Ministry project concerning discussions of church facilities. He told me a story of one church that he was dealing with where the leadership hadn’t told the pastor their true feelings concerning their building because they were being “Minnesota Nice“. So my friend asked if Tapestry’s leadership was OK telling me their true feelings even if it meant disagreeing with me.

I just started laughing. Yeah, they have no problem telling me when they disagree with me. 🙂

One of the things I love about Tapestry’s Leadership Team is that while I always feel like they have my back, they also have absolutely no problem telling me when they disagree with me or think that one of my ideas is stupid – which they often are. Today is one great example of this.

Tapestry continuing a worship gathering during a tornado warning.

Today we canceled our worship gathering for tomorrow. This is a big deal for me. In all my years of ministry I have NEVER, until today, canceled a worship service. I once held a worship service for our church’s youth, open to everyone, once during a hurricane even though the main church service had been canceled. Once in Tapestry we continued our worship gathering  after we had been forced to move into the school’s very small basement because of a tornado warning.

So today while discussing whether or not we should have our worship gathering tomorrow I was seriously leaning toward continuing the worship gathering because my mindset is that people should just choose not to come if they view it as dangerous. As we chatted via text messages I told them all about how I had never canceled a service/gathering. There are 5 of us and the vote at the time was 1 to 1 with 3 others considering their vote. When I told the LT that I had never canceled church Marc came back with a message saying he felt secure traveling because he had all-wheel drive and lived in town but that wasn’t true for everyone else, and we shouldn’t have church out of pride. Marc & the Holy Spirit don’t play fair. 🙂

BAM! Suddenly the vote was 5 to 0 for canceling our worship gathering tomorrow.

I hate it when I am wrong, but I am VERY thankful for our Leadership Team.

BTW – Tapestry WILL NOT have its normal Sunday worship gathering tomorrow.

I Need A Flat Bottom Boat for Sunday

Does someone have a small flatbottom boat that I could use for Tapestry Sunday morning? Doesn’t have to be able to float. Just needs to be small enough to easily move inside and flat enough not to rock back and forth if someone steps in it. In other words, I can’t use my canoe because it will rock back and fort.

SIDE NOTE – Andy & I caught a few brookies this morning. Yeah!

Maundy Thursday – Place of Peace Meal

It doesn’t always work out this way but I do love it when it does work out for Tapestry to do the Thursday night Place of Peace meal on the Maundy Thursday of Holy Week. This year it worked out, so tonight we made, served, and the ate the Place of Peace meal with everyone who was there. Maundy Thursday is when the church traditionally commemorates the Jesus washing the disciples’ feet (the Maundy) and the Lord’s Supper. I simply can’t think of a better way to remember our Lord’s service and death until He comes again than to be a part of the PoP meal.

It was a wonderful night and a great way to lead into tomorrow night’s Tenebrae Gathering. If you don’t have a Good Friday service consider joining us for the evening. We’ll be at the Smith Scarabocchio Art Museum.

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For those of you who may be curious, the guys who were the focus of Protect Tuna Casserole were there tonight and they were thrilled by the tuna casserole that the Glaze’s brought. Also Project Memories has been initiated.

4th Sunday of Lent Collaborative Message Prep

Here’s the Google Doc for our fourth week of message preparation collaboration during the Lenten Season. Basically I am asking you to look at the scripture passage for this week’s message and record any thoughts you have concerning the passage. You can also add any images or songs that for you fit with the passage. BTW I created a Spotify playlist of the songs that have been suggested for each week’s message. You can find that playlist here and you are welcome to add any songs to it that help you to connect to Christ during the Lenten season.

Here’s this week’s passage:

14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned,but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

3rd Sunday of Lent Collaborative Message Prep

This Sunday is the 3rd Sunday of Lent so here is the link for Google Doc file that I have setup for my preparation. If you are up for it please consider going by the Doc, reading the scripture, and writing down your thoughts in the Doc. I would appreciate if you mark your thoughts with your name somehow, but you don’t have to do that. You are welcome to write anonymously.

For the 3rd Sunday of Lent we are reading John 3:13-22.

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

Collaborative Lenten Season

What I am about to suggest is late for the first week and that’s entirely my fault. I didn’t think of this in time.

Let’s collaborate on the Tapestry Sunday morning worship gatherings. We’ve done this before and it was excellent.

Here’s what it will look like.

  • I’ve created a Google Doc for each Sunday (and Good Friday) in the Lenten Season. That document has the scripture for the week and an overall theme. Here’s the link to the overall Google Doc (which has each week’s Doc link within it) and here’s the link to this week’s specific Google Doc.
  • I will put my sermon preparation notes into each document and add a few questions that I would like us to consider.
  • I would encourage every “thread” who would like to participate to to put down their thoughts, questions, and anything else that you believe connects with the passage and them.
  • Specifically I would love to have some image and song that relates to each week theme. Something that we could display on the projector (or in person) and play on the sound system while everyone is coming into the gym.

I know this is late for this first week but it definitely isn’t for the weeks following. I’m not asking anyone to put more time into this than they can. If merely a fifth of the people involved in Tapestry put one thought down each week that would be awesome. If it was more that would be even better.

All I ask is that no one makes fun of my invariably bad spelling. I am a work in progress.

Why Tapestry Setups the Way We Setup – Part #1 The Coffee & Snack Table

I get the privilege of being a part of one of Marc Martin’s C12 (a business peer and coaching group from a Christian perspective) meetings each month. It is always enjoyable. Sometimes the business specific information he covers relates very well to the pastoring and chaplaining I get the privilege to do and sometimes I just get the chance to take the topic and think of other things (sorry Marc but there wasn’t much I could do with the section a few months ago concerning cyber-security – I don’t have anything to do with CCAs cyber-security and I simply used “password1234” for everything related to the Tapestry 😁)

Today we talked briefly about the struggle to delegate and I confessed how much trouble I have delegating things within Tapestry.  Specifically, that I don’t really have a problem asking someone to do something but then I struggle with them not doing it the way that I think it is important. I am basically the “jack of all trades and master of none” when it comes to setup for our Sunday morning worship gatherings. There isn’t much involved in setup that I am not at least proficient in (other than making the cover – for some reason I really stink at making the coffee). This works well in that I can fill in where every it is needed. It also leads to me being seriously tempted to take over when I see something not setup in a way that I believe reflects the purpose we are aiming for as a church that follows Christ.

Rublev’s “Icon of the Trinity” hangs beside the desk in my study where I write the messages for Tapestry, along with an image of C.S. Lewis’s wardrobe, a hatchet from my dad, and an autographed football form Bart Starr. 

Therefore, I want to write out some of the “why” of our setup for our Sunday morning gatherings. We have a purposeful idea of why we do the things we do and that should be, and ideally is, reflected in the setup of our Sunday morning worship gatherings. I have discussed before (here) why the church is named Tapestry. The short version of that post is that we best bear the image of God (Imago Dei) when we are “woven” into each others’ lives, like a tapestry whose image is created by its threads being woven together. I believe God’s nature as Trinity is the best example of this type of union. I love Andrei Rublev‘s Icon of Trinity for its image of this interwoveness (I may have created a word here). That icon displays God as Trinity as the Three seated at table in conversation.  That is what I believe Tapestry’s Sunday morning worship gatherings should look and feel like – an inviting conversation of people who love each other deeply and are ready to welcome others to that love.

Let’s begin with a drawing of what they looks like in our gym setup.

Now for me to explain what and why that drawing is the way it is. This is going to be long winded so I will do it in several posts.

First, I’ll talk about the most important part of the whole room, the coffee and snack table. I’m really not joking there. Yes our singing is important, yep the message is important (and hopefully I do I decent job of), sure our information table is important, but I personally believe that the coffee and snack table is the place in the room where we make it or break it on displaying a love for each other that comes from God and welcoming others into that love (unless, of course, if you consider setup and tear down – which are my favorite parts of our gatherings). This is where “threads” gather and talk with each other and also do the best job of bringing others into that conversation.  I love that I have a hard time each week getting people away from the table to “start” our gatherings, or at least start the “formal” part of our gatherings. This table isn’t merely about socializing. At its best it is deep interwoveness (I am going to continue using this word because I like it). It is a reflection of the Trinity. It is the followers of Christ letting others know that they are Jesus’s disciples by their love for one another (John 13:35) and welcoming others into that love also. I believe it also hints at the Agape Feasts that were so much a part of the early church, which were basically a weekly potluck that had communion as a part of them.

The importance of this table is why I have thought seriously about its placement. The table used to be where the sound table is now, which is by the entrance to the gym/ The problem was that the crowd that gathered around the table, to enjoy each other’s company, formed a barrier right by the entry and made it rather intimidating for guests to enter the room. Imagine having to walk through a crowd of strangers to enter the room. So we moved the coffee and snack table across the room so that our guests can enter the room easily. Soon after entering some “thread” will see them, start talking with them, and slowly but surely some way or another end up at the coffee & snack table. This is why we keep plenty of open room around the coffee and snack table.

My personal goal for every guest that enters the Washington School gym on a Sunday morning is for them to have 3 significant interactions with someone who is a part of Tapestry (one with me, one with a member of the Leadership Team, and one with another random thread). I see it happen pretty much every time a guest enters the gym. They walk in past the sound table, where I often am and I start a conversation with them. Then a member of the Leadership Team does the same thing. Finally, a random thread comes over and invites them to the coffee and snack table. Bam! “Hey come grab some coffee, a snack, and jump into the conversation.” 

This table is the beginning of the welcoming conversation and it is why the coffee that is made and the snacks that volunteers make each week are so important. When you make these snacks I encourage your to pray over them because God uses the work of your hands (or your purchases if you are running late) to invite our church to live out His image that we bear together as we are woven into each others’ lives. Our snack volunteers are on the front line of us bearing the image of the God described in Rublev’s Icon of the Trinity.

Tomorrow (or the next day), I’ll write about why we setup the chairs the way we do. For now I will leave you with the sound of our “haunted” percolator that sits on the coffee and snack table.

SIDE NOTE – Thanks for making me think about putting this in writing Marc.