Sunday, December 31, 2006

Exilic Thoughts on New Years Eve

I recently read Michael Frost's Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture. Exiles! That word definitely fits for people of The Portal. (Hmm... 'People of The Portal' sounds like the title of a science fiction movie. I'm picturing aliens emerging from a space ship door.) In any event, here's a quote from the book:

"Exiles will not sit in churches passively and put up with the phoniness, but neither will they simplistically take their bat and ball and go home. Too many people, alienated and angered by the contemporary church, have just left, contributing to the decline of the Western church. Exiles might well leave (or be thrust out), but if they do so, it will be to forge a new way, to fashion communities of honesty, openness, hospitality, and genuine love."

So as we face 2007, here's to the "new way" we are forging! It will be interesting/exciting/fun (pick one of those adjectives or fill in your own) to see where the year takes us.

(The artwork is "Stranger in a Strange Land"; source:

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Highlights of Christmas at The Portal

Christopher volunteered to be the official Portal Mascot

The Wise Men, continued...

I keep running across things relating to the Wise Men this year! I found what has got to be the absolute WORST Christmas card ever. CLICK HERE and check it out... you won't be sorry. (Well, you WILL be sorry, but that's the fun of it.)

source: american greetings

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Movies

So I took this quiz, and apparently my Christmas is most like the movie, Home Alone. Hmm.... I'm going to have to think about that one! I guess if I'd have to pick a movie that I'd prefer my Christmas to be most like I'd go for The Bishop's Wife or White Christmas (if we're talking old movies). If we're talking newer movies, maybe Christmas with the Kranks! Anyway, take the quiz and let me know your results!

Your Christmas is Most Like: Home Alone

At Christmas, you usually feel like you're going it alone.
But you always have a crazy adventure!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Wise Men 'On The Road'

I got two (count 'em TWO!) Christmas cards today both featuring nearly identical pictures of the Wise Men.... which got me thinking about the Wise Men in general. They strike me as poster children of sorts for The Portal.

Matthew 2, NIV: "Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.'

Hmm.... They obviously had seen something new and their response was to hit the road in search of it. No committee; no task force; no whining about "but, gee, we're so comfortable in our little astronomer's club the way it is." They just hit the road. It seems to me that's what we're doing with The Portal...

I also like the part of the story where "they returned to their country by another route." Yeah, yeah, I know it was because they had been warned in a dream. But what strikes me is the flexibility, willingness to go another way---whatever route is necessary.

So if I get Christmas cards tomorrow featuring elves, I'll see what I can do with that...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Let it blow, let it blow, let it blow...

I wondered last night... Do people save their most inept driving for when weather conditions are poor? It looked that way on the trip up to Bellingham, when people drove as if they were on the Autobahn during gusty winds and pouring rain. Which leads me to my quote of the day from my good buddy Albert Einstein:

Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What drives me nuts at Christmas...

Is it just me, or is Santa's presence at the manger just plain wrong?! What's up with mixing the stories?

When I look at this picture, all I can think is that Santa took a wrong turn on his way home to the North Pole. Or... Was he afraid of being outdone by the Wise Men with the gifts?

I'm all for Santa and I'm all for the manger scene (even though I'm sure the manger scene isn't totally accurate historically speaking), but let's keep them separate!


Friday, December 8, 2006

Keeping Christmas Simple

I'm thinking this year we'll get an artificial tree and have the cats assemble it...
It's just one more thing we can do to concentrate on what's really important during the season...

(picture source: google image search)

Monday, December 4, 2006

Advent and Rhymin' Simon

Any Paul Simon fans out there? Here's a song of his that, while I'm sure he didn't write it for advent, works well as an advent reflection. (If you have a music service like Rhapsody, check it out.)

Quiet by Paul Simon

I am heading for a time of quiet
When my restlessness is past
And I can lie down on my blanket
And release my fists at last.

I am heading for a time of solitude
Of peace without illusions
When the perfect circle
Marries all beginnings and conclusions.

And when they say
That you're not good enough
Well the answer is
You're not
But who are they
Or what is it
That eats at what you've got
With the hunger of ambition
For the change inside the purse
They are handcuffs on the soul, my friends
Handcuffs on the soul
And worse.

I am heading for a place of quiet
Where the sage and sweetgrass grow
By a lake of sacred water
From the mountain's melted snow.

(picture source: google image search for "advent")

Friday, December 1, 2006

Post-Presbyterian and Proud! (or... Dechurched and Delighted!)

I pedaled my bike past LPC today... It really doesn't seem like "home" anymore so I guess that makes me officially dechurched and post-Presbyterian! Was bopping around the internet and ran across a reference (on which is where I found the picture also) to the work of Alan Jamieson, sociologist who studies people who left the institutional church. He compares them to "travelers who abandon a luxury liner in mid-cruise. They grow tired of the endless buffets and entertainment, the carefully designed activities, or the captain who makes all decisions about the ship's speed and direction. Longing to experience what is not on the itinerary, they sell all they have to buy a small boat and leave the well-traveled sea lanes for uncharted waters... The danger of going it alone is still safer than the scripted sameness of conformity."

So I can relate to hopping on the little boat and setting out for uncharted waters, but thinking of LPC as a "luxury liner" is a bit of a stretch! It's more like the S.S. Minnow from Gilligan's Island. (Hmm... will it meet the same fate? Stay tuned.) Here's to the small boat ride, new song, traveling the road, and whatever other metaphors I can pile on this blog.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Carl from Beyond

Just finished Carl Sagan's new book (which was quite a feat for Carl considering he passed away a decade ago... Actually the book is based on transcripts of a lecture series in 1985.) The book is entitled The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God. Sagan starts by expressing his opinion that "the objectives of religion and science...are identical or very nearly so." As much as I admire Sagan's impressive intellect, I would have to respectfully disagree. I believe the objective of science is to understand the 'what' and the 'how', while the objective of religion (or at least one objective) is to embrace the mystery of the 'why'. So for me, the subtitle (A Personal View of the Search for God) ended up being a bit of a misnomer. Sagan's strength is (was) in the scientific realm; he doesn't quite have it in the theology department. However, that being said, it's a decent read---and parts are quite thought-provoking.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Pic of the Day

Just ran across this... sorta rings true, don't you think?!

source: google image search (was just bopping around)

Saturday, November 25, 2006

New Song (by Ginny Owens)

OK, I did it! Made a powerpoint for this cool song -- which turned out well if I do say so myself :) ... And it looks as if we are going to discuss it Sunday night, so here are the words in their entirety:

I've been grazing in the lush green pastures,
Watching time pass me by,
And I've been wading in the shallow waters,
Where everything is all right-
But today I know that something's different,
Something's disturbing my peace,
Oh, I can feel the changes in the distance,
And hear them calling to me-

The day is here, the time has come
To sing a new song,
It's very clear, I must move on,
And sing a new song,
It will define who I become,
This new song,
So show me how to sing along
To this new song-

I've been looking in the strangest places,
To find the source of my strength,
And even though the outcome never changes,
Still I search endlessly,
But no more wandering around in circles,
It's time that I cross the sea,
Now I'm trading in my cozy corner
For the bigger mystery

Going there means leaving here,
Saying yes means saying no,
Moving on means letting go of what is sure,
For more

Hope to see ya at The Portal!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Musings from an Erstwhile Elder

With the Session resignation, etc this past week, I've been thinking about where I've been and where I'm going... I was bopping around Rhapsody today and found a song that I just might put to powerpoint slides... It's called New Song, and I think it fits...

I've been grazing in the lush green pastures,
Watching time pass me by,
And I've been wading in the shallow waters,
Where everything is all right
But today I know that something's different,
Something's disturbing my peace,
Oh, I can feel the changes in the distance,
And hear them calling to me-

The day is here, the time has come
To sing a new song,
It's very clear, I must move on,
And sing a new song,
It will define who I become,
This new song,
So show me how to sing along
To this new song-

...There's more, but that's the idea :)

So anyway, here's to the new song (as we travel along the road)... How many metaphors can I combine?!