I do not wear shoes when I preach.
It started out as a theological statement: that in worship we come into God’s presence, just as Moses did at the burning bush. And in recognizing this space as holy ground, we (like Moses) remove our shoes.
But removing my shoes is not an empty theological gesture that has no consequences. On the contrary! Every week, I remove my shoes and allow my feet to be visible to all who would examine them. (And my feet are not traditionally something I am excited to show off.)
Moses removed his shoes … and then, in his encounter with God, went on to demonstrate both his best and his worst natures. So, too, do I find that God’s call utilizes my best gifts, while challenging me in those areas where I need the most improvement.
In an act that is both freeing … and slightly unsettling … I remove my shoes each week and allow the less-than-polished parts to be visible. Barefootedness is no longer just a theological signpost; it has become a continual reminder and my weekly, intentional consent to allow my vulnerabilities to be apparent, rather than hiding behind a polished facade.
This week, I am thinking of Shoeless Mo (Exodus 3) and I am particularly cognizant of the unusual places in our lives that God is at work. And I am oh-so-thankful at the opportunity to remove my shoes and come into God’s presence.
My mother spent her entire career in elementary education. She never sequestered herself in administration; she spent 35 years in the classroom.
Over the course a lifetime of family dinners, I was forced/privileged to hear stories both humorous and touching, to endure analysis of contract negotiations, and to absorb both the hopes and frustrations of one who was both unequivocally dedicated to the public education system and who truly appreciated the gifts and individuality of each student.
So the last several weeks of watching more than one state government attempt to solve their budget woes by eradicating the collective bargaining rights of teachers, police officers and firefighters has been difficult for me to endure.
In addition, I have been sickened at the ways in which certain media outlets have demonized these public servants, portraying them as selfish or greedy or self-serving.
My own second-row seat to collective bargaining between teachers’ unions and administrators saw as many discussions about things like class sizes as about salary.
I grew up understanding that the local teachers’ union negotiated on behalf of the teachers AND in the service of the best possible school system … not in an attempt to be self-serving, but in an attempt to do a service that they took very seriously.
And (for the record) having been a substitute teacher for a couple of years, I can say (without reservation) that I have never met an elementary teacher that was overpaid.
These were formative experiences, although I didn’t know quite how formative until recent events helped me to look more closely.
People learn all sorts of things from their mothers. It turns out that the influence of mine shaped my politics.
Every church I’ve ever served (in any capacity whatsoever) has had THE conversation about young people and the church.
Where do they go?
Why do they leave?
What can we do?
What will bring them in?
If you’ve been in church leadership, you know the conversation I’m talking about.
It seems everybody has something to say about this topic. And here is the latest offering.
Personally, I think this explanation is a little bit over-simplified. We’d love to think that “Facebook killed the church.” That would give us someone to blame for all our woes. But our woes began long before Facebook … or even text messaging. While it may be a contributing factor, it doesn’t get all the blame.
The value of this post, to me, is it’s laser-precision cultural critique. It’s one small (but valuable) look into the mindset of a generation of which I am not a part. And that is a treasured gift.
Read the article, then leave a comment and tell me what you think.
I have my favorite teams.
I know enough about the games to not be a nuisance to real sports fans (who may be watching alongside me) by asking rudimentary questions.
However, it should be noted that under no circumstances do I enjoy discussing the game. If you’ve seen it and I haven’t … I don’t really want a play-by-play. If we’ve both seen it, I don’t want to engage in color commentary. And if I’ve seen it and you haven’t, please don’t expect more from me than a report on who won. (If you’re lucky, I might also remember the score.)
So, tonight, when the beloved nephew began to explain (in excruciating detail) not only which NFL teams he likes, but also each of the teams he doesn’t like and why he doesn’t like them (including a very complete analysis of players abilities and attitudes) … how did I find myself hanging on every word?
I don’t know. It’s a mystery.
But I could almost guarantee that that child could talk to me for hours about anything at all (or nothing at all) and he would have my undivided attention.
Just an observation …
By the way: what’s a “nose guard”?
One of the best things you can do for the environment this gift-giving season is to give gifts that don’t require batteries. Admittedly, this is usually easier if your list has a bunch of adults on it, rather than a list full of children. And, of course, it’s practically impossible to give batteries up entirely. (We still need our smoke alarms, after all!)
However, it’s worth the extra time and effort to find those battery-free gifts. All those batteries (and there are loads of them) end up in a landfill eventually. Even the rechargable ones don’t last forever. And all those discarded batteries are quite the environmental hazzard.
Nearly half of all battery sales occur during this time of year … so let’s see if we can’t trim the number of batteries that wind up in landfills this year.
And thus ends our 12 Days of Christmas. Geez! Now I’m not sure what to do next. Hmm. Maybe I’ll take a day off!
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See you then.
Today, we’re leaving this topic to the expert of experts, the consummate crafter: Martha Stewart! Click on the links to visit her site and see photos, instructions and templates. As always, the site we link to gets the photo credits.
Tomorrow: 2 Happy Dogs
See you then.