1) Wow! What a worship service! Lots of laughter... lots of tears... just everything you'd expect, and more. I cannot think of a more fitting end to Joseph's tenure at Shawnee UMC than the celebration we had yesterday. Special thanks to everyone who participated and attended. I know that Joseph and Marty felt honored, and if you know Joseph, you'll know that he'll be talking about that service for days... months..... years! You can bet that he'll describe it as the best last service EVER, and he'll breathlessly re-tell everything that happened, punctuating each episode with "and you won't believe it when they did (fill in the blank)...". You can bet too, that the morning, as all things done in love and grace do, will grow in meaning in he and Marty's heart as the years go by. I don't know if I've ever felt more humbled. It was a truly glorious experience.
2) People are asking if now that Joseph has said "farewell" if we are now back in Beantown. Well, unfortunately, no. While Joe will no longer be in the office (as he's started some vacation before he begins his new work), Marty still needs to finish her school year (she teaches at Vantage Vocational School), thus we will not be taking possession of our home until May 25th. But even at that, we have a couple of minor obligations we need to fulfill here in Kentucky before we can leave. I have just a couple of things I need to do toward the completion of my degree, but the major obstacle we currently face is that the boys don't finish school until the end of the month. Thanks to a couple of "snow days" (if it even looks like it might snow down here, they cancel school) the school year has been extended to May 31st. So, here's the plan...
We will be coming home Memorial Day weekend, and on Saturday May 26th, we'll take our stuff out of storage (thank you Craig and Carol Montgomery for graciously supplying us with storage space the last eleven months) and move into our home. If you'd be willing to help us move in that morning, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
so we can give you directions on all the details. We certainly would appreciate the help.
On Memorial Day, we'll head back to Wilmore so the boys can finish their last three days of school. Then on June 1st, we'll move out of our townhouse in Wilmore, and come home for good. I'm sure there will be many tears when we have to say final goodbyes to people that we have grown to love and admire.
Finally, on Sunday, June 3rd at either 9 or 11am come join us for what will amount to my worship services as Senior Pastor of Shawnee United Methodist Church and will be essentially my third "first Sunday" at Shawnee. A long strange trip that began in August of 1991 (v1.0) when I started as a part-part-part-part time youth director, was re-kindled again (v2.0) in 2004 when I returned as an associate pastor, and will culminate now in (v3.0) the next step in this leadership journey.
I can't think of a better church to keep coming back to!
Anyhow, hope to see you June 3rd. Until then, Charlotte will be holding down the fort (so be kind and gentle... she's worked especially hard the last year).
3) Am receiving significant blowback from friends and family who are mocking my choice of the Golden State Warriors in this the semi-final round of the Western Conference playoffs. If you remember my last column (The Basketball Judas), I tried (without much success) to make it clear that I was rooting for my beloved Jazz, but believed that the playoffs would end up being far more entertaining and unpredictable if Golden State could keep pushing forward. Anyhow, at this point, with the Jazz up 3-1 in the series, it's clear that with the re-emergence of Andre Kirlenko as a defensive stopper and the team being ignited by Derek Fisher's commitment not only to his sick daughter but also his teammates, its looking like the Jazz will be facing either the Spurs or the Suns (most likely the Spurs) in the Western Conference Finals.
And I'm fine with that... giddy even! Go Jazz!
4) In the (L)Eastern Conference, another team is starting to come together unexpectedly at the right time of year. When Mike Brown moved Larry Hughes to the point guard position, and inserted Sasha Pavlovic into the starting lineup, who could have predicted that the Cavs would rattle off an 11-1 record? Nobody really. Hughes isn't really point guard and Pavlovic has been up and down all season. But the change has somehow ignited Big Z and Drew Gooden. Coupled with Eric Snow handling his demotion from starting lineup with the grace you'd expect of a true professional, there is a real chance the Cavs could be playing in the Finals this year.
Jazz v. Cavs in the Finals? Could The Basketball Judas' dream match-up become reality? Could you imagine the reception Carlos Boozer would get in Cleveland after wagging them over three years ago? If I could spend an entire year, particularly this year, living next to a University of Florida grad who's from Indianapolis (two collegiate championships at the expense of my Buckeyes, a Super Bowl ring, and I even had to room with the guy when the best college team money could buy beat the Bucks for the NCAA basketball championship... insufferable) why not one little gleam of hope for this poor suffering sports fan? A guy can dream.
5) Great editorial today in the Lexington Herald by Richard Dawahare regarding the empty legacy and promises states have been left with in the aftermath of legalized casino gambling. One would expect, given all the promises that have been made regarding economic windfalls, that state governments relying on gaming revenue would be flush with cash while the tax burden on citizens would be minimized. However, three states - Illinois, Connecticut, and Rhode Island - despite gaming companies realizing ample gambling revenues all now sport state governments that are broke and tax burdens that are relatively high. I mean if millions in tax revenue are promised by mega-companies (or Native American tribes fronting mega-companies) promising the world, how much in disposable income do you think has to be spent in order to generate high rates of revenue on 4% of a return?
By locating a casino so closely to people's homes, all the gambling corporations do is create new markets, while local municipalities are left holding the bag. And unlike a place like Rising Sun, Indiana, where essentially the size of the population was minimal, it appears that in places that already experience significant social issues, that those issues are only compounded by casino gambling. I mean, are you any more excited to vacation in downtown Detroit or Gary, Indiana?
Given the sale of the refinery, the emergence of the energy industry as part of the new backbone of Lima's economy has created the first positive news in terms of the community's future in quite some time. Why add to it a "business" where it appears in virtually every place it is invited into the local mix, bankruptcies escalate?
6) Got too see both my buddy Paul Rebelo, and the post-punk band Ho-Ag in Chattanooga, Tennessee last week. Paul is confronting the challenges that face a growing downtown church with limited resources while Ho-Ag has been confronting a booking agent that didn't follow through with what they said they were doing. Both Pauly and band are doing well however. Was particularly gratified to see Paul's kids who are all growing like weeds. Just a great visit.
Also got to visit a bit with "The Clouse", a former fellow staff person of mine at Goshen First UMC over an afternoon last Friday. It was neat catching up on how the fam it doing, and where he's at in the ordination process (he's working on a MDiv at a seminary in Elkhart with the intent of becoming a UM-pastor). He's a good friend, who is also dearly missed.
7) Once again, thinking of "Ten Things" to think about is proving challenging. Since I'm typing this at a Panera Bread (where the Wi-Fi is free), I guess I'm thinking about good coffee. I think I'll get up and get a cup!
8) Speaking of coffee, I am stunned at how dependent the ol' stomach has become on Dean's Beans high-octane-yet-low-acidity java. I ran out of Dean's (oh Mocha Sumatra... where art thou?) a few weeks ago, and have been drinking cups of joe brewed from beans given to us for one reason or another. The upshot is that the coffee tastes fine, but since the blends I've been buying all year possess lower acidity content, my stomach is not reacting well to the change of product. Or maybe I'm just so ridiculously out-of-shape right now, that my body is rebelling. In any event, I'll be making a Dean's order as soon as we return home, as well as making some dietary changes (already occurred, hence my being here at Panera) and exercise (from "zero" to "more than zero"). A year's worth of sedentary living where I've done little more than read, write, think, and occasionally surf the digital waves has left me feeling bloated and lethargic. Time to raise the bar again on what goes inside the whole piehole, and how I use my time. Those who love me deserve better. Expect a regular feature on this blog on said subject by mid-June.
9) Speaking of changes, for those haven't heard, last Friday I added a 2001 Kawasaki Voyager XII to the Bucher Transit Authority's stable. It's a four-cylinder, 1200cc riding machine the runs as smoothly and effortlessly as a twig on the shoulders of a mighty stream. Haven't taken a picture yet (and can't figure out how to get pics off my cell phone onto my computer because I am older than 17 years of age), but here's what it looks like:
The coloring and features are pretty much all the same as the bike in this pic. It only had 5200 miles on the odometer and was owned by one of "those guys" who maintains everything and keeps his garage looking like a surgical center. So far I've been getting just a shade below 50mpg, and after a trip from Lima to Wilmore yesterday on I-75, I am beginning to get a sense of this bike's quirks and personality. The best part of the whole deal is that the seller through in four helmets, including a real police helmet he picked up at a garage sale. With it and black leather jacket, I look like Erik Estrada on milkshakes. I even had a clueless teenager ask me today what the speed limit was on Man of War Drive today (I told her 30 mph.... if you are that clueless, you should have to drive really slow). Anyhow, the bike is a blessing, enjoyed not only by me but by the boys (who like taking rides around the block). Another year of practice, and Aimee and I will make that trip to Toronto on it that I have been dreaming of.
10) Finally, say a prayer for Wade Broadwater. Wade, who is serving as a Marine in Iraq, hasn't been heard from by his family in awhile, and we've got him on the prayer chain at the church. If you could remember him in your time with God, I know they'd appreciate it. And while you are at it, pray for all our troops who are in harm's way this day. Pray that they might not only be delivered home safely, but for peace for all in this world so that mothers and fathers everywhere might be able to rest a little bit easier.