Monday, April 09, 2007

Ten Things I Think I Think

1) Well, it's good be back in the ol' USA. Don't want to make it sound like we were treated poorly in Korea or that the experience wasn't a good one. To the contrary, the way we experienced Korea is one of those things few people get to experience. The kind of hospitality shown to us by the Kwanglim Methodist Church was unparalleled... an unbelievable blessing of God. It's just that there's no place like home.

That, and here I can read the signs.... a real bonus in my book.
Anyhow, after seven great days and one terrible 32+ hour flight back to Korea I'm thankful for the way Christianity is expressed differently in different cultures. In every language of this world over the last 24 hours, Easter was celebrated, and the rising of Christ proclaimed. Pretty amazing thought, really, and one that humbles this blogger.

2) There were lots of great moments as we walked in a place 13 hours ahead of the Eastern time zone. Aaron and I prayed for a famous Korean college basketball coach in his home, with his wife. We heard Bishop Kim tell us the story of how at one time in his life, he had been forced to learn and speak Japanese against his will, and how now he would be traveling to Japan to use the words of those who had once been his oppressors, to now speak words of life. We listened to a typical associate pastor at a Korean church explain to us how he works 70-80 hours each six day work week, and talk about how its strengthening his faith. I listen to the story of Samuel, a pastor from Sierra Leone who lived through the horrible 10 year civil war in that country, only to emerge on the other side as a spiritual and political leader in his country thanks to the great faith and integrity he showed during that experience. I stood with Kent Reynolds watching a Korean tightrope walker and never laughed harder in my life as he described the experience. I ate things I can't describe. I prayed in a freezing cold closet while I felt sick as a dog, and count the experience as one of the spiritual highs of my life.

Even the miserable flight home had it's moments. Specifically, I met a young woman on the plane returning to Lexington who dreams of being a professional make-up artist and wants to get started in NYC by living with her aunt who is a nun living in that city (who could make that up?).

Just a great blessing. OK... I'll stop gushing and move on.

3) Enjoyed being home for Easter this morning. One of the great blessings this morning was seeing Joseph and Marty with their family in 9am service. Their daughter's family, Marty's sister's family, and her mom, were all there, taking up an entire row. It was a bittersweet blessing, for while I'm ready to spread my wings and shed the title "associate pastor" (and have been for some time, I think), there is a moment in time at that church captured in my memory that will forever be one of the most exciting and fulfilling ministry experiences I've ever had, and working with Joseph was a huge part of the equation.

I mean, I can't really explain what it was like in the early days when Joe first arrived at Shawnee, and the church was slowly turning around. There was a sense of belonging he nurtured for those of us who were a part of the experience. I used to love going to Annual Conference because we'd all stay together in one house, pastors, lay-members, and our families, and there was just always this sense that we were apart of something different... good... miraculous. I can still see him teasing Helen Price, and her giving it right back to him, while we ate ham sandwiches on the porch for lunch. I can remember him introducing Chris and I to all his friends, and listening to him rave on and on about all the great things happening as the church started coming alive. It was just the best kind of mentoring experience a young pastor could have had.

And I can remember all the Easter sermons. All the Sundays in the gym at Shawnee High School because four services on Easter morning in the sanctuary couldn't touch all the people who wanted to worship at the church that day. In those days, doing a benediction or a prayer, in front of all those people, seemed overwhelming, and I'd marvel as he'd just march up there and do his thing in the pulpit, totally unfazed.

This morning, him sitting in the crowd, and me, most certainly fazed, up there trying to preach something somewhat coherent, brought all those memories back, and reminded me that it's a season that will never be captured again.

That, and how much he's praying that I capture a new season in this wonderful church. I guess we'll see what God is going to do.

4) Never really commented on the Bucks dropping the big game to Florida. A parishioner told me this morning that a number of people from the community through a private, low profile bash for Jamar Butler - OSU guard and Shawnee HS grad - as a way of trying to lift his spirits. I'm sure those guys really wanted to win that game, especially after the drubbing they took from Florida early in the year, and the embarrrassment that was the BCS Championship Game. I'm sure they wanted to restore Ohio State's good name, and bring the championship trophy home to Columbus for the first time in 47 years.

Sometimes no matter how hard you try, you can't come through in the clutch. It's just in life, unlike sports, there are usually few moments where everything hangs upon one particular moment in time. Of course, years from now I'm sure all Bucks fans will talk about how special this team was... how they came together over the season, a few upperclassmen and a bunch of freshman. In time, the accomplishments of the team, winning the Big Ten championship, the Big Ten tourney, and NCAA Midwest Region, and making it all the way to the Championship Game a year or two ahead of schedule, will take on more and more luster over time. It doesn't feel that special in this moment, especially since Florida handed the Bucks their head twice in three months on the biggest stages in collegiate sports ( a fact, given a Florida grad not only lived next door to me this year, but roomed with me in Korea as the Bucks went down in defeat last week demonstrates how strange a sense of humor God has), but over time this team will become increasingly appreciated. That, you can take to the bank.

5) Had a nice Easter dinner with the fam Sunday. The Great One, my brother and his lovely wife, and our family gathered at our folks to feast on ham and give thanks for Christ's sacrifice for us this weekend. My brother, at his wife's instance, even showed up dressed like a deranged Easter Bunny, which brought no short amount a joy (we were laughing at him, not with him) to us all.

The Scariest Easter Bunny, EVER!

Andy With "The Great One"

Andy with the "Official Mom of From Bryan's Office..."

We missed Aimee's dad who had spent the day (Saturday... we did Easter dinner a day earlier to accommodate various schedules) working on a project at the plant, and mom's brother, Jack, and his wife Beth, who couldn't make it cause Jack was having dental issues. But all in all, we gorged ourselves, and enjoyed one another's company.

6) If you have access to such things via some sort of music service, check out the latest collaboration between Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby. A bluegrass album, Hornsby convinced Skaggs that they needed to do a re-make of Rick James' "Superfreak", which was about as far from Bluegrass as humanly possible. The results made me laugh.

7) While in Korea, after leading my fantasy basketball league most of the year, injuries down the stretch ended up depleting my team (who'd have ever thought my season would get torpedoed with an ankle injury to David Lee?), and while my brother (who is twelve years younger) made all the right pick ups and thus is still vying for the championship, I will, once again, end up in 5th place. Excuse me while I now light myself on fire.

8) While on the plane to and fro to Korea, I watched a rather sizable number of movies. You see, being of considerable girth, I cannot get comfortable, and thus cannot sleep, in an airline seat. Since Korean Airlines offered what amounted to "movies on-demand" for the 29 hours (total) I spent in their plane, here are some of movies I saw during the experience:

The Good
- Night at the Museum: Starring Ben Stiller. To be honest, when I saw it advertised during it's original distribution, I thought it looked terrible. I ended up (thankfully) being wrong. A good, clean movie. Robin Williams even summons up a decent acting job. Very enjoyable.

- Black Diamond: A movie so well done, and so personally disturbing, I had to watch "The Holiday" immediately following it's conclusion just so I could settle down. A flick not for the faint hearted (if you can't watch children be manipulated into becoming killers, don't rent this movie), this is a tragic story that takes place during the deadly civil war in Sierra Leone. Hard to believe people could be this evil, but that's what makes the movie so important. While the story is improvised, the war, and the way it's depicted, is accurate. As a father of sons, it was hard to watch, but very good.

- It's a Wonderful Life: Hey, next time you spend 29 hours watching movies, you can make your own list. For me and my house, we dig George Bailey.

- Rob B Hood: One of two foreign language films I watched. This one was produced by Jackie Chan, and it pretty much is everything you'd expect from a Jackie Chan movie. It didn't even need subtitles... the stunts by themselves, were the movie, and were fun to watch.

- 200 Pound Beauty: The other foreign language film (Korean) I watched. A movie so bad, it was unintentionally hilarious. Picture this... a woman who is overweight, but has a beautiful singing voice, has total plastic surgery only to become the biggest singing sensation because her beauty looks so natural. And that doesn't capture how convoluted the plot was. So bad, I laughed pretty much non-stop.

- Casino Royale: I don't even like Bond movies, and I liked this movie. The new James Bond is a good one. I might even rent this so I can see the ending (we landed before the ending.. I watched The Good Shepherd in it's entirety instead. Check under "The Bad" to find out how that went).

The Bad

- The Holiday: When the words "chick flick" show up in the dictionary, they should list this movie as the "grade A example". My estrogen rose to peak levels within 15 minutes of it's start. At least it did numb the pain of Black Diamond... that much I'll give it.

- Little Children: Had high hopes for this movie. An indie flick staring Kate Blanchett, it received lots of praise and high reviews when in the theaters. But this story about bad marriage, affairs, and the suburbs was long on cliches, and short on a decent plot.

- The Good Shepherd: About a guy who helped start the CIA. Aaron Wymer recommended it to me. Apparently he likes movies that last 3 hours and move slower than a frozen worm.

- Man of the Year: A movie where Robin Williams plays a political comedian who runs for President, and his love interest works for the computer company that throws the election, and they face all kind of trouble and.... oh, just forget it. Rent something else.

The Maybe

- Flags of our Fathers: I know I should have liked this movie more. Clint Eastwood filmed it, and it was an interesting story about WWII that came out of the famous photo of the soldiers putting up the flag at Iwo Jima. Just didn't click with me. Don't know why.

- Dreamgirls: Aimee loved this movie. I thought there was a lot of singing. Good singing, but lots of it. Found myself fast forwarding through all the songs to find out how the story turned out. If you like singing, this is for you.

9) Wow, is this long, or what?

10) Found on YouTube a fascinating documentary filmed for the BBC by Louis Theroux about the family who makes up the Westboro Baptist "Church". "The Most Hated Family In America" follows the Phelps family in their Topeka, Kansas compound, their "church", on their funeral pickets, and even gives us a glimpse at the patriarch, Fred Phelps, himself, who is quite simply one of the most hateful people alive. I found it very well done, and a good explanation by Theroux of what seems to make this group tick. I'll post the preview of it here, and it'll be up to you to follow the seven other links for the documentary (It's over an hour long). Note, that there is a great deal of profanity, and a number of disturbing images. Just wanted to warn you before you started watching what happens when a charismatic leaders convinces a group of people that they are the only ones in the world who truly understand the Bible. It gets a little ugly...

and that's because it is.


Anonymous said...

Enjoy the show as I compete to become the champ of our fantasy basketball league for the 2nd consecutive year.


Derranged Bunny

Jeff Moore said...

Well lookie here - look who's got a blog these days!?!? Can't wait to hear what's goin on with you! Hope you're well!