Riding the Wave of “Yes We Can”

I hadn’t yet decided where I was going to throw my hat in this presidential year. I’ve had a hunch that it was Obama for a while. I was sent this video today. And it’s pretty nice. I’ve embedded it from YouTube. But to get the credits and all go to: http://www.dipdive.com/

Here’s a nod towards all those who have the Audacity to Hope. Peace

Distributing Light

A network of peacemaking folks has asked if churches are willing to hold weekly prayer vigils to pray for an end to the War in Iraq. Our church (I’d link to the website, but we are woefully disorganized) has committed to praying throughout the day on Monday. The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program offers a yearlong Biblical Witness to Peacemaking, wherein a text from the Bible is given for each day of the year. I have chosen to use this each Monday to help focus my prayer for peace.

Today’s text is from Job 38:19-38. I don’t tend to spend a lot of time in Job, but I know enough to get a piece of the content. Job and God are in the midst of a dialogue about the justice of life; a “why do bad things happen to good people” sort of conversation. At this point in the narrative, it is God’s turn to speak. God asks of Job a whole lot of question that can be summed up with the familiar query: “Who do you think you are?” You can read the text for yourself to get into it a little deeper, because I’m more interested in one particular question which God asks. It is found in 38:24:

What is the way to the place where light is distributed?

Light is such an amazing concept, covering so many aspects of life. It is that which is needed when a child is afraid of monsters under the bed. It is that which philosophers spend most of their existence chasing. It is that which the Evangelist John identifies about Jesus in the opening lines of his gospel (John 1:1-5) It exposes injustice, gives hope, warms that which is cold. You can probably offer directions to places where light is distributed.

As I was writing this piece, someone from my church emailed me about the following video; an example today of one who has become a distributer of light: Professor Randy Pausch of Carnegie-Mellon University.

Peace,

NP

Noble Church Worship at India Cultural Garden

This is a bit of old news, but worth telling none-the-less.

Noble Road Presbyterian Church at India Cultural Garden

At the beginning of this month (July), our congregation–Noble Road Presbyterian Church–took a bit of a risk by taking its worship service outside of our building and into a local garden. Along a section of Martin Luther King, Dr., from University Circle to Lake Erie, a series of international gardens have been created to celebrate the city’s rich immigrant communities; these are called the Rockefeller Cultural Gardens.

Mahatma Gandhi Statue - India Cultural GardenLast year I noticed that a large statue of Mahatma Gandhi had been erected in the India Cultural Garden. As I spent many days driving past this garden I kept thinking to myself that it was a great spot to hold a worship service. Noble Road Church has been intentionally committed to peacemaking for most of its history, and worshiping in the shadow of one who committed his life towards creating peace in India, seemed like a natural idea.

So, on July 1st, 30 or so people carted our lawn chairs, guitars, and blankets to the garden and shared together in worship.

There is no doubt that the theme of the day was global friendship. From focusing on the impact Gandhi’s practice of non-violent resistance had on MLK, Jr.’s work, to hearing words of wisdom from India-born, long-time presbytery colleague Rev. Oommen Thomas, to receiving a word of welcome and witness from St. Petersburg, RU seminarian Vladimir Tatarnikov, we discovered just how much we need to establish friendships across borders in order for us to be true peacemakers.

Indeed, the friendships were wide on this day. One person attended the service because she read about it in the last issue of our church newsletter; another brought a friend after she visited the church earlier in the month and read about the service in the bulletin; and, yet another, brought his family after learning about the service while visiting the garden that morning as preparations were being made. Truly the Holy Spirit blessed us, and we give thanks to God for such blessed moments.At Worship

In the month since the service, I’ve had the privilege to share this story with friends and family in many places. But recently, I learned that the story had been shared with one of the co-creators of the garden. After a couple of shared emails, he asked me if he could post my thoughts on a blog he writes focusing for the International Community Council: focusing on India.

The whole experience continues to grow and unfold blessing upon blessing. I wonder where our worship will travel next???

A Punch in the Stomach

A couple days ago, we celebrated the 3rd birthday of the son of one of our favorite couples. One of the boy’s passions is Thomas the Tank Engine. While there wasn’t thomas.jpg necessarily a heavy thematic element to the party, it was clear that things having to do with trains would be the focus. The cake was a homemade, brightly-colored succession of train cars. Wooden train tracks were dumped on the floor for children (and a few adults) to build and play.

One of the guests even dressed the part: in overalls and an engineer’s cap. At one point in our conversation, the engineer-dressed friend, who grew up in Germany, informed us that the translation for train engineer in German is: Lokomotive Führer. “Führer, huh?” I asked casually. “Yes,” she responded, “it means ‘leader’.” Reflexively, I half-heartedly raised my hand and said, “Heil.”

Before I even had a chance to chuckle at my wit, or lower my hand, my friend gave me a purposeful punch in the gut. All I could manage was an “Oooo” as I realized what she’d done. Nothing more was said, just a look at one another, we were square. It didn’t take long to settle into my consciousness just what I had done trying to be funny.

This was yet another reminder of how you can go through this life thinking you are becoming enlightened, and sensitive to cultures other than your own. And in one moment you wind up with not only your foot in your mouth, but an appropriately placed fist in the stomach.