Wednesday, December 30, 2015
I am retiring as Pastor of Sun Lakes Community Church at the end of June. It coincides with my completion of 40 years as a minister ordained to preach, and 49 years as a follower of the Lord. This 35 year old congregation has had five pastors and I am the first who will continue to live here. There was one pastor who lived here and stepped up to serve for a time, but I came here to serve and at least for the forseeable future Sun Lakes will be our home.
Health issues are the primary reason I am moving on, and a desire to do some other things with the time I have left is the second reason. I will still preach when asked, will always be in conversation and teaching and learning with those who I am in fellowship with after we step away from this place of service.
We have been thinking through the various issues of retirement and dealing with the questions and the uncertainties. We know its time for me, and since I am three years older than Laura, she will probably continue her career for one or two more years. We will see. Forty years passed by quickly. "Time like an ever rolling stream bears all its sons away" Here's hoping I have some good years ahead.
Given the upheavals in the world spiritually, politically, and socially, it's a good thing to step back from trying to speak to people trying to navigate the uncertainties and just work on my own search for beauty, truth, hope and peace.
Friday, December 25, 2015
We knew it would be crowded, and it was. We knew it would be chilly, and it was. We knew it would be expensive, and it was. But....we also knew we would be enchanted with the family fun, rides, attractions and the general excellent and heart warming blend of music, memories, and Christmas cheer that always comes through so wonderfully.
We were surprised to hear not only general Christmas music all three days, but sacred Christmas hymns were played as well. We were surprised by the attention to detail that transformed every attraction to have a special Christmas feel. The Jungle Cruise became a hilarious Jingle Cruise, and every display in Its a small world played Christmas music and had a total Christams/New Year theme. Every street, every building was decorated with creativity and care.
A couple of things were jarring to me personally. Seeing a woman with her husband and children dressed in the full muslim outfit with only an eye slit for see. It just seemed so out of place among the crazy fun of children dressed as princesses and thousands of silly shirts and coats and disney headgear. Just a reminder to me that the fundamentalist islamic way of life will never never never thrive in never never land!!!!
I was jarred by three Korean teenagers holding large signs and passing out tracts as the masses headed into the soggy park on a rainy Tuesday. Threatening people with eternal hell when people have sacrificed to provide a disney vacation seemed to be in very bad taste. I don't care how much they believe that every family is going to hell if they don't repent, this was not a good venue to cast this negative pall over a very happy, and loving family crowd. I forgive the adults who put you teenagers up to this confrontational evangelism at its worst.
I will leave our biannual trip to Disneyland with the following impressions. The flowers and horticulture are beyond amazing, God and man at work to present fragile beauty. Music and fireworks were the most spectacular in my memory, they keep topping themselves. The patriotism and American spirit that drove Walt to present such timeless things as Moments with Abraham Lincoln and to observe the flag and band traditions of America.
Families with handicapped children and adults were treated with such love everywhere, including handicapped performers and care in helping wheelchair bound people enjoy the park like everyone else.
And, yes, Americans have enormous problems with being overweight, its not mean to say it, we are a nation of overeaters, and I am included. Got to get back on my diet after enjoying a Charro, two pineaple whips, some vanilla ice cream, caramel popcorn, gummi bears disney characters. To my defense I did eat lots of Salads too.
We love Disneyland and thank God for the positive cultural influence of this magic place.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Some people love a good fuss, jump into a conflict and will debate till the crows fly. For me, when division and dissension rise to the surface some deep wounded place in my heart wants to leave. Long ago when I tested to be a church planter I was strong in all areas except for dealing with conflict. They said I was too much of a peacemaker to survive the tough early months of a church plant when sometimes you have to let people go who are hindering the core group.
He was right. Have never really been that thick skinned or cold hearted. Anyhow, while the national discussion of safely and security and fear and violence rages on, please allow me to wish you a Merry Christmas and tell you I will be back after Christmas.
Monday, December 7, 2015
Chandler Symphony Orchestra Christmas concert was this past Sunday Afternoon. Opened with traditional Christmas Carols, had three Hannakah songs for our Jewish Friends, and a number of secular and traditional Christmas songs that were enjoyed by all.
The last month of 2015 is here, just a few more weeks till the new year. We are already doing so many things a bit differently this year, starting with our decision to spend time at Disneyland on Christmas. We have done this once before and though the crowds will be huge the decorations and atmosphere will be worth it.
We made this decision with the knowledge that major park renovations are coming next year which we would not mind missing. We are further deciding not to decorated the home, which is a freeing concept.
Freedom is such a precious thing,and we must allow ourselves freedom to do different things, good things. So, let the Christmas spirit fill our ears with the music of the freedom we have in Christ.
Saturday, December 5, 2015
Shannon, my granddaughter turned 16 this weekend, and my my time flies. She has been so much fun, first as our weekend visitor and then as our summer vacation companion where she has traveled many times to Disneyland, to the south, to NYC, and many other places.
We will enjoy the annual Symphony Christmas Concert of Sunday and be off to a great simple holiday month, a month were peace of earth is nowhere to be found, but always in my heart.