1) Every day at church is a mixture of highs and lows. Today, for example, I received a number of comments regarding how much people enjoyed yesterday's "Freedom Celebration", which is a service I inherited from Joseph. You see, back in the day (sixteen years ago), the idea of a "Freedom Celebration" came out of Joe's desire to capitalize a) on all of the WWII vets we had attending the church and living in the area at the time and b) put together a service in the dead of summer that would remind people we were still here. In the first five or six years, the service picked up steam, and started garnering a lot of attention in the community. Color guards were invited to be a part of the service. Vets did 21-gun salutes outside on the lawn. And the church became known as the church that surrounded itself with hundreds of small American flags, stuck in the ground about a foot apart from one another around the perimeter of the church.
As time passed, however, the service started losing some steam. A big part of it was the sheer number of WWI vets who were passing away each and every year. That's really the last war we fought as a nation that morally everyone can agree had to be waged. Every war since then, particularly Vietnam, has been controversial and left the public divided in terms of its support.
The WWII guys had no qualms about their service. They fought Adolf Hitler and a Japan that had bombed Pearl Harbor. These guys are proud about their service to their country.
Couple that with the pain we feel every year we do this service, and a few more of those guys are no longer with us. Now, when you see the various vets rise while their branch's battle hymn is played, you are reminded of the faces you don't see anymore. This year, for example, I looked out and there was no Gene King or Bob Joyce. That's just..... hard.
But this year, we kind of took the service in a new direction. For the first time we focused not on the vets, but on the soldiers serving now, which seemed appropriate given the fact that there are so many of them fighting and dying overseas. To personalize this, we focused on recognizing Wade Broadwater, a young man who is a member of our church, graduated from Shawnee High School in 2005, and enlisted in the Marines. Wade was one of soldiers that went to Iraq in the "surge" earlier this year. We just tried to tell Wade's story from the perspective of his parents and friends, as well as make a connection between him and one of our own WWII vets, Dale Lockwood. The point I wanted to make was that no matter how you feel about this war (and even here in the a Republican hotbed that is Allen County, feelings on this war are decidedly mixed), that as we yearn for a world where justice and mercy reign supreme, we must in all humility as Christians serve our soldiers, their parents, the government, and the people in Iraq caught in the middle of this war, with our prayers and service. Thus, we prayed for Wade, peace for the world, and a day that earth would work more like Heaven than it does now.
Fortunately, that message seemed to get across, thanks to the help of a lot of people (particularly Lindsay Hefner who put the video pieces together) and it was nice to hear that the message was received.
2) But, like I said, each day has its ups and downs. There are always people issues. Finances are always tight in the summer so each new voucher I am presented with gives me indigestion. I don't so much show up at work hoping I won't have to confront some sort of issue or problem, as much as now I just expect that something will come up and I try to anticipate what it will be. I am usually wrong, but it's still a fun game to play. Anyhow, I'm just trying to learn how to find balance between the moments I feel pretty good about things, and the moments that make me feel sick to my stomach. The moments I think maybe I'm starting to get a handle on this ministry stuff, and other moments I take a look at that brochure for truck driving school.
But, we probably all have those moments, don't we.
3) Aimee used the money she made teaching music on-line to buy a couch. It's being delivered tomorrow from Elder-Beerman. It's really a long, red sectional with a chase lounge on one end and kind of a.... well, I can't really describe it at the other end. Aimee has always wanted a chase lounge, and she knows I like couches long enough to lay down on, so this is her compromise. Can't say that the first time I saw it that I felt overjoyed. That's kind of a pattern in our marriage... neither of us can agree on furniture. If I had it my way, everything would be dark, heavy, and traditional. Aimee would be happy if art students from the Columbus College of Art and Design came here and welded us new furniture. So, we're never happy with what the other person likes. But, as time goes by, and I've visited the floor model of what she bought a few times, I must admit that it's growing on me. At least I didn't have to listen to an Art Punk band while a kid from Dublin with plaid hair welds me a big oval that's supposed to be a chair. I'm sure it will be fine.
4) Experienced another "first" yesterday. The annual Shawnee fireworks happened yesterday, and since we live only a hop, skip, and a jump (through John's woods) from the ball field at the Middle School, we could watch the fireworks from our house.... meaning we didn't have to sit in traffic for two hours to get home. Couple that with the picnic that our next door neighbor hosted for her friends as part of the pre-fireworks festivities and their insistence we eat dessert with them, and you get a first-rate evening. Millie's son Lowell, who works in management for Captain D's, even gave us all "3-D glasses" that supposedly take the fireworks experience to a whole new level but they just gave me a headache and made me wonder what all the fuss in the sixties over LSD was about. The boys, however, found them to be the best thing since sliced bread, and intend to take their new glasses with them to the "Star Spangled Spectacular" in Lima on Wednesday.
Apparently Captain D, you have a winner!
Anyhow, the best part of the evening was, upon the conclusion of the festivities, we put our chairs in the garage, went inside, and hit the hay. Fantastic!
5) Earlier in the evening, we had a bit of excitement here on Sandy Lane. Our newest next door neighbors are a young couple who bought a house across the street at a Sheriff's Sale (the size and scope, of which, continues to grow as foreclosures shoot through the roof here in Allen County). They're in their early twenties, and are as nice as can be. The guy, though, owns a four-wheeler, which is a problem given that their lot is probably less than a half acre. While mostly he'll just tool around the yard, and occasionally up the street (sometimes to the chorus of "slow down", of which every time he does because he is very polite), yesterday his wife's young brothers were over, ostensibly for the fireworks festivities, and things took a bad turn. As a means of entertainment, my neighbor took each brother for rides up and down the street. The young boy would ride on the front, steering, while my neighbor rode on the back, helping steer and keeping a hand on the brake.
I was in our bed room, changing out of my church clothes (we had spent the afternoon at my mom and dad's), and I could hear this contraption racing around. With three young boys, one of which is prone to wander into the street if we aren't paying close attention, I can't say I was all that comfortable with this activity, and even, at one point, wondered allowed to myself if something horrible might happen, when..... POW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I'm still not sure what happened exactly, but the boy with his hand on the throttle, pushed when he shouldn't have, and the four-wheeler decimated my neighbor's mailbox and pole, which was fairly substantial. The boy driving ended up with a gash on his head. My neighbor, who was pitched off the back, had a serious case of road rash over his entire back. The four-wheeler was dented badly and leaking anti-freeze. It was something horrible, and it had happened.
Fortunately after a visit to the ER, everyone was pronounced well (although cleaning out that wound on my neighbor's back couldn't have been all that pleasant). I saw repairs to the mailbox today, and the four-wheeler is tucked safely in a shed in my neighbor's backyard awaiting what I am assuming will be hundreds (if not over over a thousand) dollars of work. My neighbor is shaken up and humbled, and I'm assuming a little wiser. Probably next year, they'll play badminton or cornhole instead. That's my guess.
6) I read Ronald Lederman's editorial column yesterday. In what can only be considered another one of his famous leaps of logic, he equated the voting down of a proposal of a casino company to expand gambling in various forms by the voters of Ohio as a step toward "mob rule" where government is conducted by "lynch mobs" who force the will of the majority on the rights of individuals. If you don't believe me, check out the article here. It was a little over the top.
7) Which leads me to this.... if I published this blog under an assumed identity, or anonymously, I think in some ways it would be a whole lot more fun. I could have made some serious comedic hay with various posts from today if only nobody knew who wrote this crazy thing. As things
stand, though, I have to constantly reign myself (particularly my sarcastic, cynical self) in so as to keep the waters smooth (or at least not as rough). I'd like to think that by having to always think twice that I'm becoming a more sensible, wise, and compassionate person.... but it's probably just turning me into a big wuss who is thinking more and more like a politician every day.
I say this because I ran into more than one old acquaintance up at our district's Senior High Church Camp last week who is doing some form of youth ministry, and the constant refrain was that by becoming a senior pastor I had somehow "crossed over the dark side". That instead of railing against "the man" who never supplied the youth pastor with enough money or support, now I was the said "man", doing the "sticking". I'd like to say that they're all just a bunch of weenies, but with each day as I find myself looking to answer questions with positive, yet non-committal answers that imply I care, but need to "further study the subject before acting" that I am becoming exactly just like the people who always frustrated me the most.
This is not good.
It's for this very reason that I contemplated a change of career a couple of years ago. My feeling then was that my days as a loud rabblerouser were probably over, but that I could be more independent and free-thinking as a lay-person in a church, as opposed to a pastor. I could play silly political games at the local Public Defender's office as an attorney, but at church I could just live out my convictions.
Now, two years later, having made my choice, I wonder if my glimpse into the future as a "cautious to a fault" Bucher isn't coming true, and if somehow in the process I've compromised something. Of course, then again, if I also keep hearing the words, "If you don't do this ministry thing, then who will?" echoing in my soul, and so I press on. I just don't want my prophetic voice to atrophy as I commit to "further prayer" or "continued study". Somehow there needs to be a balance. Will I be able to find it? I don't know.
8) A big thanks to the mass of people who showed up Saturday to weed, rake, and trim the church grounds. The place looks great, and the turnout was just plain energizing. My mom suggested we put together a ground's team, which my wife termed as "The Master's Gardeners", which sounds like something that would be printed on a piece of ceramic you could buy at the local Christian book store. But, strangely enough, I kind of like it. If we adopt the name, next year we might have to get T-Shirts.
9) No swim meets this week, thanks to July 4th being on a Wednesday. Now I know what it was like to receive manna from heaven.
10) And finally, after a heated game of "tackles" out on the trampoline tonight, I made the mistake of telling the boys -whose mother suggested that some night they sleep out on the trampoline with their father under the stars and now they won't drop it - that I'd try to find a tent we could camp out in... meaning, I'll have to sleep out in a tent, on the ground, outside, with three boys until the youngest starts crying for his momma. This is my penance for working so much lately. I'd better starting getting home earlier, or next week she'll start suggesting we need a pet snake.
Don't look for me in the office after 5.