I read about the comet last week. I tried a couple of times to see it, but it was overcast. Last night, I went to take the trash out and marveled at the stars. It was a beautiful, cold night. As I headed back up the driveway, I remembered about the comet. I stared into the night sky expecting to see the bright streak in the sky, just like the pictures. After a while, I grew cold and disappointed. I could not find C/2014 Q2 (its official designation, but more commonly called Comet Lovejoy).
To start the new year I have launched on a couple of new adventures. One, on Wednesday night I am going to do a series on the top 25 books (other than the Bible) in my library. Each week I will pick a book, introduce it and connect it to the Scripture. I will also be bringing other honorable mentions each week. This last week I talked about Henri Nouwen’s book, In the Name of Jesus. It was a great evening.
This tree looks like I feel lots of times right after Christmas. I’m tired and worn out by it all. The run from August to December is very intense in our church. We launch a new school year, start preparing for Christmas, prepare materials for the GLS in Ethiopia, host the GLS in Ethiopia, we squeezed in a religious pilgrimage to Ireland this year, all the while preparing for worship each Sunday, teaching on Wednesday nights, launched a new kids program and family campout. In addition, I was trying to host events concerning the changes to marriage in our country and ways for us to move forward.
Winter confuses me. It is supposed to be cold. I grew up in an Air Force family; we moved around a lot when I was little. I was born in Kansas City, then lived in Ft. Worth, then Colorado Springs, and finally Long Island, NY, before we settled in Texas. The pictures we have of each of those places included a great winter. There was lots of snow and it was cold. I grew up believing that winter meant freezing cold. Even the picture we have of Ft. Worth was of a deep beautiful snow.
We crested the hill and entered a new world. The weather went from clear and nice to cold and dark, as we passed through the tunnel entering Summit County. I remember hating this part of the trip. I clenched the steering wheel, shifted to low gear and flicked on the windshield wipers. They immediately turned the mist into adobe walls.
We knew we would have lines at the North Pole event this year and we wanted to dramatically improve our performance over last year. We had lots of meetings about line management. We made new queues, designed new pathways and made clearer exits. We added content to every waiting area. In the “Christmas Around the World” line, people saw flags from around the world and a slide show of mission projects. In the “Reindeer line” people watched two fun Christmas shorts.
I’ve spent the week getting the nativity scenes ready to transport to church. I have boxes of them. Some of the boxes are in tatters and I am in the process of replacing all of them with sturdy, well-designed cases that protect the delicate characters. Although it is a bit of work, I love getting out each set and looking at the faces. It never ceases to amaze me how differently the artists interpret the “look” of Jesus.
I am a sucker for Serial. I’m not talking about the cereal one might have for breakfast, but for the new podcast. It is topping out the charts and is totally engrossing. It’s a true story. Each Thursday a new chapter of the story is released. I download it and listen to it ASAP. Then I want to find people to talk to about the mystery.
On Sunday night, I gathered with some other church leaders in Waco and began a process that I hope will help extract the church from a no-win situation. We are attempting to get ministers to stop signing marriage licenses issued by the state. I have come to the conclusion that the church and the state have come to a parting of the ways.
I’m headed to Africa in a couple of days. This information has been met with numerous different responses.
1. Some people are afraid for me and afraid of me. They think it is at least irrational and at most pathological to be headed to Africa in an Ebola crisis, to which I have developed the following response. By going to Ethiopia, I will be moving farther away from Ebola than I am now. I will be over 4,000 miles away from the Ebola outbreak when I am in Addis Ababa. The distance between Ethiopia and Ebola is greater than the distance between Athens and Norway or Athens and Anchorage or Athens and Paraguay. The fact that it was in Dallas did not keep me from traveling there.