Monday, May 6, 2019

2019 Address to the Graduates


2019 Address to the Graduates of Judson Memorial Baptist Church
May 5, 2019
Lessons:
Romans 12:1-2
I Got Rejected 101 Times by Emily Winter

So here we are…

X you arrived on the scene here at Judson when you were in sixth grade, shortly after you were baptized here, attended Sunday School, gave a personal reflection, even led Second hour session. You will be attending St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. I’m a little apprehensive about your choice...you see Martin Luther never really liked our anabaptist ancestors, in fact he endorsed the slaughtering of them. So always be looking over your shoulder when you’re around a large gathering of Lutherans. And if you’re feeling the Lutheran pull, just go by “Judson” stained glass in the chapel and pray for all the baptist saints to save you. (Reader, please note that Adoniram Judson is a subject of the stained glass in the St. Olaf chapel).

X for a while you and your family were occasional visitors to Judson, then you became chronic visitors, then you attended Sunday School, became more involved in church life and now look at you, you work here! You’re going to Drake University. It’s a historic United Methodist school. And Methodists are fine and dandy folk, a little on the boring side but nice folk over all. I’ve went ahead and contacted one of your religion professors, Dr. Jennifer Harvey. She attends a local UCC church but she is ordained American Baptist, I think she is friends with Pastors Debbie and Russell from House of Mercy. You can thank me later. Also, a friend of mine is the senior pastor of Plymouth UCC in Des Moines, I will pay you $5 for every Sunday you attend that church, sit in the front row and roll your eyes and sigh while he preaches. It’s a 13 minute bike ride from Drake. But there is also a house church, Wellspring, which is a 15 minute bike ride that you may like even more.

--
When I was 16, my cousin Monty died of a heart attack while mowing grass. He was 17 and as close as a brother I ever had. At the funeral the pastor did a horrible job, rather than honoring Monty’s life and love and creativity and compassion and how he always made you laugh the pastor said if all of us didn’t get right with Jesus we were going to hell. For the pastor Monty was a troupe, for me he was my cousin whom I loved dearly. So I said then and there I would commit my life to honoring Monty by trying to right the wrong the pastor did at the funeral. On Sunday I went forward at my home church and accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, the next Sunday I was baptized and the following week I went to speak to the youth pastor and senior pastor about a calling to the ministry. And I never looked back.

I represent about .0001% of 16 year olds in America who knew what they wanted to do in life. I’m glad you didn't have my experience, I’m glad you are pursuing your vocations with freedom and light hearts. Pursue with abandon. Have fun.

--

(Reader, please note that I have the graduates sit in large chairs up front facing the congregation so they can see the answers to the following questions)


I want you to see a visual of life and I want you to see all of these gathered as people you can lean on:

How many of you when you were 16, 17, or 18 knew what you wanted to do with your life?

How many of you changed your major in college?

How many of you changed jobs in your career?
More than two times? Three times? Four times? Five times? Six times?

How many of you in retirement are still seeking and finding your vocation?

How many of you have made mistakes? Been fired or laid off? Had bouts of melancholy or depression? Cry yourselves to sleep sometimes? Have thought of yourself as a failure?

I talked with someone this week in their mid 80s who has an unrecognized ministry and I thought, before you die I need to ordain you!

The expressions of your life journey will keep revealing itself over and over and over...

--

Our culture wants to transform college into job training centers. Don’t let the culture do that to you. Take a wide variety of classes. It might not be till your senior year and you stumble into a creative writing class that you discover you’d like to write. It might not be till one evening in the kitchen that you discover you want to be a pastry chef. It might not be till one day you walk into a hospital and sit with someone who is dying that you want to be a hospice nurse or a social worker. So make your life as broad as possible during college, go places, have fun, explore, play different sports, instruments, try out improv or stand up comedy, try Tibetan meditation, try to learn how to make the best plain cake donut ever!

More than anything take some risks. Dress up like a janitor and barge into a full lecture hall and say, I got a call about someone whose sippy cup top came off. Try something that is so outrageous and scary it makes our fingernails sweat. So many times I let the impressions of others dictate my own actions. There were times I just wanted to dance but knew my friends would laugh at me. Guess what they are not my friends anymore. The people I surround myself with now and people who support and nudge and laugh with, not at me. So take some risks for justice, for kindness, for comedy, for your own growth and understanding.

--

And unless you are going on for further education (i.e. graduate school of some type) don’t stress about your grades (but don’t let them dip so much that you lose your scholarships). Up till now it has all been about grades but you’ll soon enter a world where grades are irrelevant.

Do you know the GPA of your doctor, your dentist, your therapist, your pastor, your math teacher, your hair stylist, the chef at your favorite restaurant, the Metro transit bus driver, your neighbor? I graduated top of my class in seminary, then spent three years going through the ordination process and guess what no search committee has ever inquired about my GPA and no one has ever asked to see my ordination credentials. Don’t fret, I’m official, I have my bona fides.

What matters is not your GPA but can you make someone else smile, can you listen to another person and your own life, can you help share the burden of a neighbor, do you have courage to speak up against injustice, is your heart cracked open, are you curious and compassionate, do you have the capacity to say you’re sorry and ask for forgiveness those qualities form the kind of people that change the world.

This summer go to the library and check out a copy of the 1973 movie “The Paper Chase”, it’s about a first year student at Harvard Law School. What you are after is not a grade, you are cultivating and pursuing a love of learning and growing and deep interior formation.

You are not going to college for job training, you are going to discover your vocation. Your vocation is already in you, you just may not have discovered it yet. Your vocation is the place Frederick Buechner wrote where your deep love and the world’s deep need meet. Devote your life to that and you will never look back, it will evolve and morph and deepen and expand but keep coming back to that intersection of your love and the world’s need and you will do amazing work in this world.

Something will happen in your life, some form of pain will wind its way into your path and you must choose to either run from it or go at it head&heart first to redeem it. That is when you will discover your vocation. You may make a living at it, it may be what you do as soon as you clock out of work. Either way, when you find your vocation nurture it, develop it, expand it, and keep letting it form and shape you as a child of God.

--

A few years ago I heard a tale of former Judson youth who was in college and didn’t believe in God anymore. I rolled my eyes and thought, “come on, the kind of religion you are rebelling against aint the religion you were raised with here at Judson, what gives?” But just a few months ago I realized that rather than rolling my eyes I should have been jumping up and down with glee. Because it meant this former Judson youth was doing exactly what they should have been doing for a active and robust faith.

Over the course of the next four years I hope you too will develop a robust and lively faith. This faith will have seasons as you develop it on your own away from Judson. It will start with a Spring season where faith is simple, your faith will be tied to Judson or church camp. Then it will move to a season of Summer where your faith will be more pragmatic followed with lots of growth, this will be the seeds of “your” faith, coupled with new knowledge in and out of class. Then Fall will appear, with lots of ambivalence and ambiguity. You’ll question and reject nearly everything. You may even despair and think all is hopeless. If you don’t give up, if you can just hang on, and keep pushing you’ll arrive at a place of harmony in the season of Winter where you integrate all your experiences and learning and commitments into your own faith and life.

And then guess what? You get to do it all over again and again and again throughout your life. Folk like to think there always in stage four, winter. But let me tell you, you and I know they’re still in stage one for sure…

Know that while you are at school this church has your back. We will be your biggest cheerleaders, we will pray for you, send you cookies and gift cards. We will want to hear all about your experiences when you come in for holidays and breaks.

But don't come back the same person that left here. Take all you've incorporated from your life and from your time and experiences at Judson and set the world on fire. Don’t wait for Jesus to find you, go find where God is already present in the world or be so bold as to say Jesus is here with me and we’re going to set the world on fire with love.
--
The world will want to form you in its own image, don’t let it. Keep your center clear and light. Mother Teresa adapted a prayer written by a teacher for his students and placed it above her bed. Mother Teresa, Saint Teresa of Calcutta, had to be reminded every morning and every evening of the difficulty and the tenderness required of her vocation. We pray this prayer for you too:

(Reader, please note the congregation practically yelled out their response in bold - feel free to do this at home, on the bus, or at the coffee shop as you read along)

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.
Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten.
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

Amen and Amen.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Biking & Birding Adventure

The week after Easter is a week of rest and relaxation; Jesus is risen, Pastors can sleep.

But my period of rest and relaxation, i.e. Lenten-Palm Sunday-Holy Week-Easter Recovery, was not to be.  Center Point Energy is installing new main gas lines in my neighborhood.  In addition to the flashing lights, beeping back up sounds, rumble of bulldozers and front end loaders it feels like someone wrapped the house in a large leather belt and hooked it up to one of those 1950s vibrating exercise machines.  Needless to say, I had to get out of the house.

The plan was to hop in the minivan and drive to Frontenac State Park to go birding, but the forecast of rain made that a no-go.  And then I thought of the lovely idea from the woman-who-goes-to-Ikea's-breakfast-buffet-every-Saturday once recommended: biking and birding.  I got onto ebird, found a hotspot I had never visited and had a most glorious day.

Bass Lake Ponds was my destination, a mere 30 minute bike ride from my house.  I have known about the Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge but I thought it would be haunted by airplane noise, which kept me from ever going there.  Planes fly over my house all the time, my mental health needs some deep silence.

I got onto Bloomington Ave and headed south.  Eventually I came upon this Mega-Lo-Church on 86th St.  I wondered: it's on a bike path, does it have adequate bike parking.  Before moving on...in case you do not believe me, look at the bike lane in the picture (which contains a real life bicyclist).  

Ok, we have established a church on a bike path with real bicyclists. 

Here is what i found:



12 bike parking places (2 per side).  At a church that has at least 500 car parking spots. 



(Did you ever notice how it's never car parking spots, its always just parking).   And this is just one side of the church! 


Judson Church, the fabulous church I serve has a grand total of 12 on street car parking spaces (we do not own these, they are public property - it is the number of spots on 41st and Harriet that are in front of the church).  We do have 8 bike parking spots. (But hold off on exploring our webpage, it is being redone and will be extremely minimal for a couple more weeks, instead just pedal over on a Sunday morning at 9:30, 4101 Harriet Ave in South Minneapolis).

If you are church seeking why not ask the church ahead of time this question: What is your bike parking to car parking ratio?  I think you'd find a lot about the congregation with just this simple question. 

I made it Bass Lake Ponds a few minutes later and had a wonderful time.  I still cant believe it was only 30 minutes away from the house. 


Birds galore.  Names? Well I can easily tell you there were Wood Ducks and Canadian Geese and a 1000 Redwing Black Birds and Mallards and Mergansers and a juvenile Bald Eagle and Swallows and Thrushes of various types and Brown-headed Cowbirds and Yellow-rumped Warblers and Sparrows of all kinds and Cardinals and so on.  I forgot my bird book, I was going on memory and the heads up by a "serious birder".

After my birding round I walked up a trail that followed a spring fed stream.  The verdant and fecund atmosphere coupled by the trickling and burbling waterfalls made it the most pleasant place to read from the Sermon on the Mount and to just be. 

Three hours in this lovely retreat and I was ready to notice what the world had for me.  Which is maybe why I noticed this mural exiting rather than entering. 











Monday, April 22, 2019

Easter Sermon 2019

Showing Up and Sitting Down, Repeat
Easter Sermon - April 21, 2019
Luke 24:1-12 & Genesis 18:1-15
Rev. Travis Norvell





Last summer, thanks to a generous grant from the Lilly Foundation, my family and I spent six weeks trekking around Scotland and north east England. We went as a way to invest in each other, explore the roots of our families or origin, and hopefully along the way rediscover our spirituality. The trip was life changing and it reinvigorated my pastoral vocation and especially my work as pastor of Judson Church.

As our time in the U.K. ended my lovely kids and wonderful wife had simply one request, “can we please NOT go into anymore cathedrals or churches or chapels or holy sites.” I wanted to go into every cathedral, church, chapel or holy site we saw. It was fascinating to be in those places but I also wanted desperately to find one, just one, that was alive. Because everyone we went into exhibited the three Ds: they were all dark, dank, and dead.

I came back to Judson and saw this beautiful church, both as a building and as a people and said if we don’t get our act together those three Ds will be our fate as well.

So to repeat a line from an earlier sermon, “My name is Travis Norvell and I’m here to recruit you to be a part of a resurrection story.” A story where Judson Church becomes a thriving liberal congregation, and not just thriving but the best 150-worshipping-on-a-Sunday liberal church in America!

Those are the two scariest sentences I have ever preached in my life. Because I thought you would not take me serious and because I thought you would take me serious. When you start to practice resurrection and have faith in resurrection funny things start taking place, the energy changes, you start taking that slow 18-inch journey from your head to your heart and all of sudden life ain't the same no more. I feel like everyday I see or witness or overhear a small r resurrection.

I’m pretty sure most of you here have difficulty with the Resurrection of Jesus.

Beliefs come and go. The crucible of life will smash shallow beliefs in one breath. Life has the amazing ability to erode away presumed solid beliefs.

Belief in the Resurrection of Jesus - not so much, faith in resurrections to the bone. Faith is more central than belief, faith is more important than belief. Beliefs come and go, but faith is what you hold onto when chaos reigns, when love seems out of reach, when a new world appears.

I invite you to collect your resurrection story/stories. I invite you to write it down and carry it with you. Because you will find the story as a launching point, as a generative moment to propel you to your work and vocation as a Christian, as a person of faith, as a person of conscience.

Resurrection is not an historical event, it is a way of life. It is a practice: we show up then we sit down and reflect, then we repeat again, and again and again.

Maybe you’ve never thought about your resurrection story - a moment that changed your life. You have them, probably quite a few of them. A friend of mine tells his when one morning he woke up in a ditch. He dusted off his clothes, got some breakfast and found the nearest AA meeting. That was 20 years ago. It took weeks before he sobered up and it took years to stitch his life back together but piece by piece, by showing up and reflecting he’s practicing resurrection.

When I first went to visit Hope all the only information I had was that she was in a nursing home. I walked into Hope’s room and found Hope in her chair and Ralph her husband sitting beside her. They were both in their late 70s. Hope had an aggressive form of Hodgkin’s disease that robbed her of nearly all of her motor functions. But for the years I visited Hope until she died there was Ralph beside her. He would arrive everyday at 10:00am and stay until 5:00pm. After he left he would go to the grocery store and buy overripe fruit to make a puree to feed to Hope the next day. His knees were shot and his health was not too good, but he said it can wait...During my visits there was miracle moment when a fraction of Hope came back to us, there was only tears and holding hands and precious memories. In midst of this room, however, there were small r resurrections every time I asked Ralph to tell me about Hope, how they met, their favorite vacation, their toughest times, and etc. Then a small crack would appear, some light would come into the room and Ralph would look into Hope’s eyes and smile. Day after day Ralph showed up, went home exhausted, gave thanks, then rose again. And day after day a lowercase resurrection took place.

Or did you see the movie Best of Enemies? It is the story of school desegregation in Durham, NC involving two unlikely characters: the head of the local klu klux klan, C.P. Ellis and an African American community organizer, Ann Atwater. In 1971 a judge orders a two week charrette, a period of enforced, deadline-driven discussion. Ellis and Atwater are chosen as co-leaders of the gathering. Only one problem, they hate each other. But over the intense two weeks small cracks in their hate begin to appear, some light finds a way into their hard hearts and school desegregation became a community reality at the end of the charrette. Ellis and Atwater went from this event to form a lifelong friendship; they mutually supported one another in their quests for social justice. But they had to show up, they had to soften their hearts in reflection, they had to do this every night and day. And because of their relationship resurrection took place.

April 15th for all of us here it was tax day, but the third Monday in April for the running world it is the day the Boston Marathon is held. 51 years ago Karen Switzer was the first woman to run the race with an official bib, #261. Race officials and fellow runners, i.e. men, tried to tackle her, tried to rip her race bib off her body. But she finished and finished strong. As she reflected on her history making event she credited her father for urging her to run when she was 12. She wanted to make the field hockey team, so her father said run a mile. She did and never stopped running. She found running gave her courage and expanded her capacity for action in her life. That’s what our resurrection experiences do for us, they give us small bits of courage to risk, to take chances, to leap, to expand.

2,000 years ago some women went where no man dared to go: outside to the tomb where they buried Jesus. We know from the Gospels that Jesus encouraged these women and maybe even more importantly they encouraged Jesus. Because they showed up they became the first evangelists, heralds of good news: Jesus is not here, he is risen…

These women are our ancestors - urging us to show up, urging us to reflect, and urging us to repeat. Over the past 106 days, beginning on Epiphany, January 6, we have been showing up, learning, risking, and expanding our experiences and souls. The women: Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, Mary the mother of James, Mary the mother of Joses, Mary the mother of James the younger, Joanna and Salome, and others were with us as we toured Youthlink’s main building, wrote to our state representatives, served and cleaned up at Loaves and Fishes, watched the Howard Thurman documentary, attended the Student Climate Strike, listened to David Hogg speak about gun restrictions, picked up trash with our children, got the ball rolling for having solar panels on the church’s roof, having difficult conversations, loving people we didn’t want to love, and getting out of our comfort zone. We held a memorial service for poet Mary Oliver because it needed to be done, we brought Hester Moore to Minneapolis so she could share her the work and life of Harriet Tubman with the community, we raised over $1,500 for the We Win Institute, we hosted a community Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfast these experiences pushed us and shaped us.

Everyone here can practice resurrection, everyone here can have small r resurrection experiences. You just gotta show up, then sit down and reflect then repeat…

In February I was at a conference in Orlando, FL where a couple shared their most painful experience in life. As a way to thank us for our attention they gave each of us an icon card. It was of the icon of the Three Holy Visitors, which is on the front of your bulletin this morning. I placed the icon in my pocket and then went to lunch with some colleagues. After lunch I suggested we go to the Pulse Nightclub Memorial. I was once the pastor of a kid, from the time he was 7 until he was 14, who grew up and as a young man came out. He and his partner would go to the Pulse nightclub on a weekly basis. But on the night of the shooting he and his partner got into a fight and they did not go. Survivor’s guilt and his depression were too much for him to bear, he died by suicide the following night. I went to the memorial site to say I was sorry, that I should have done more as his pastor to make sure he knew he was loved through and through every time he came to church. I felt the need to write a prayer and tuck it into the wall with others had left. I reached in my pocket and found the icon card of the Holy Visitors. I wrote my prayer, rolled it up and placed it in the wall.

When I got back to the conference I asked if the couple had any more of the icon cards. They did not, but they would send me some when they got back home. Sure enough they did. And as soon as they arrived I had people in my life that needed more than me, so I gave them away with prayers attached.

Then Lori and I were changing the sheets on our bed and I discovered in the space between our bed and our window an old faded card. It was a picture I had been given years ago of...The Holy Visitors.

Then this week I had written my sermon all was good and I opened up a magazine and who do you think is looking at me on the page I open...The Holy Visitors.




Abraham invited the three visitors to eat with him, they did and in turn they shared amazing news: Sarah would give birth. When Sarah heard it (being almost a 100 years old), she laughed. You would have laughed too. And I bet if you shared with someone you are going to practice resurrection, they’ll laugh at you too. It is difficult to believe news of resurrection. And practicing resurrection is exhausting.

In our lives it feels like there is never a moment to stop and reflect. The news cycle is just one more unbelievable act of cruelty and scandal. There is always someone knocking on our door wanting our money, our time, our energy. There are texts and phone calls and emails begging us to attend a rally, because if we don’t surely life as we know it will cease… But the Holy Visitors invite us to stop for a moment, eat, laugh, cry. They invite us to refresh our wound up spirits & relax our clenched fists. They invite us to reflect and recreate. The world has enough wound up, clenched fisted, tired, angry and worn out activist, Creation needs you - rested, filled, open, tender, willing...

In my reading of church turn-arounds or re-founding or the resurrection of churches I read one person who wrote, “you want to revitalize a congregation and your pastoring? Here’s the one thing you can do: write 10 thank you notes a week. If you can't write 10, then you’re in the wrong profession, and if you can’t find 10 people in your life each week to say thanks to then you need to change.” By doing this simple act I have found myself more open, more compassionate, slower to anger and frustration. And I believe for some people the cards have acted as the Holy Visitors. I know this because of my own experience, I keep every card people send to me in a drawer, I call my resurrection drawer. Every time I’m feeling down and frustrated I go to that drawer, pull out a card and read it and within minutes I’m ready to rock-n-roll.

The women at the tomb and the Holy Visitors I feel are part of same Action->Reflection Cycle of resurrection. Sometimes we show up, sometimes we invite others to sit down and join us to reflect. Sometimes we march on the streets, sometimes we write thank you cards. Sometimes we sit at a bedside with the dying, sometimes we take jars of homemade soup. Sometimes we advocate for the voiceless, sometimes the voiceless advocate for us.

In your life, in our world we are all in need of some resurrection. I invite you to take up the practice of resurrection knowing the spirit of the women and the Holy Visitors are with you. I invite you to take up the indispensable work of resurrection ministry, either through Judson or another faith community. But know your work, your heart, your spirit, your effort are sorely needed in this world. This is not a time of judgment or guilt, this is a time of showing up, reflecting and repeating, it is the time for loving the world into a new existence.

Brothers and Sisters and Siblings we can do this. Happy Easter. Amen & Amen.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Sunday Recap

It was ironic, given the week prior, to preach on Sunday a sermon on hope.

When I accepted the call to Judson Memorial Baptist Church in the summer of 2012 I had all kinds of ideas, dreams, visions, and what not.  But more than anything I needed a place to heal.  Judson healed me, for sure.  Then I went on sabbatical this summer.  I came back for the next phase of ministry in my life.  Basically, I want to throw all my energy into helping this amazing place thrive and flourish.  

I came back from sabbatical with a deep sense of urgency to lead this congregation forward.  I see the need for the urgency, but I wasn't sure if the congregation saw or felt the same sense of urgency.  Here is my attempt to get them to see why we need to act with a sense of urgency.

And I need to say one other thing.  When I say, "Baby Boomers it is time for you to step aside" Indeed Judson needs the Baby Boomers to stick around, and provide leadership and talents and tithes.  Indeed.  But I need them to step aside in approach, we cannot operate with as a church customized to Boomers: meetings at 10:30 on a Monday morning (even though it was a great meeting today).  

Friday, November 23, 2018

Im Officially a Jackass, maybe, or at least i have the potential to be one; er, i may need your help...

Shortly after arriving in Minneapolis, six years ago, I began my on-going experiment of biking most of the time for my job as a pastor.  That first winter was a doozy, it was dubbed "The Polar Vortex."  I learned tons about winter biking (and survival).  I loved riding on the ice with studded tires, I loved riding in the silence, I loved riding in the winter.  But there were times when I wished I had wider tires for the deep snow, for the slushy stuff, for trail riding...

The following summer after watching a friend complete his triathlon over at Lake Nokomis the kiddos and I were strolling home when all of sudden I heard this loud rumble.  The noise got closer and closer until I realized it was a bicycle.  Not just any bicycle but a fat tire bicycle.  Some idjit had winter/aggressive trail tires on oversized tires and was pedaling them on a paved bike trail.

Okay back to the dude on the fat tire bike.  I had not seen a fat tire bike up close until that fateful summer day.  I was amazed at the setup but the dude on the bike was drunk, was cursing at folk who were walking on the bike path (due to the tri the paths were confusing), and was just being a flat out jack ass.  Ever since then in my mind I have equated: Fat Tire Bike = Jackass.

Over the past few years I have come close plenty of times to purchasing a fat tire bike.  Last winter I even tested many models during the winter expo down on the Midtown Greenway.  i even did something on a fat tire bike I had not done since I was in college: wrecked and rolled down the hill.  But each time I nearly buy one of these bikes I think back to that jackass cursing and swerving around Lake Nokomis.  And I just couldn't purchase the bike.

But then this week I did it.  i purchased a fat tire bike.  i hope im not on track to being a jackass, but one never knows.  That summer i saw that jackass cursing and swerving around Lake Nokomis I confess that before I saw him up close I was taken back to 1995 when I wrote in my journal about my dream vehicle: a CJ-7 Jeep with a 305ci engine, dual exhaust, hard top, and the gnarliest tires I could find.  Lucky for me I was dirt poor and could not afford this vehicle.  But if i had had the funds then I would have been just like the Lake Nokomis dude (sans drunk and cursing) riding down a paved road (MacCorkle Ave in my hometown) and making a ruckus of noise.

Friends, make sure when you see me pedaling around town this winter to say to me: "Travis, dont be a jackass."

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Hey What Happened at Judson on Sunday?

What happened at Judson last Sunday, glad you asked.

It was another great Sunday.  We had a special guest: violinist Karen Thomas!  She accompanied Jim on the piano with Morning Has Broken and Simple Gifts

Call to worship was loosely based on Chance the Rapper's song Blessings.

Question of the Day: When was the last time you were lost?

We sang This Little Light of Mine and Hush, Hush Somebody's Calling My Name and The Summons (which is my favorite hymn, plus with the violinist I was taken to the third heaven and someone even almost came forward they were so moved by it and I think we even did a better job than First-Plymouth! but they do an amazing job...
The choir offered Dear Refuge of My Weary Soul and Take My Life

Rev. Karla McGray gave an amazing Personal Reflection.

101PNV01/M2U00069 from Jacqueline Thureson on Vimeo.



The Lessons were a selection from Upstream by Mary Oliver and Luke 9:1-6.

I offered a pretty good sermon, IMHO, Finding Our Way

101PNV01/M2U00070 from Jacqueline Thureson on Vimeo.


But my favorite part of the service was the bulletin cover.  A few months ago someone found a treasure trove of old Judson photos.  This being the 109th anniversary week of Judson we chose to share some of them on the front cover.  This one, The Deaconnesses of 1930 is my favorite.



After Adult Education (Legacy Giving) a few of us went on a mini-pilgrimage to the corner of 38th St. and Harriet Ave. (the original site of Judson Chapel).  Then we headed east to Funky Grits.  What an amazing restaurant.  Then we stopped by the Arthur and Edith Lee House and learned of its history and then toured some Tilsenbilt Homes.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Sunday Wrap Up

What I don't have to share with you: a link to a sermon, a link to great poetry, a link to personal reflections, a link to anything actually.

What do I have?

This was the first Sunday since 49 of us went to Memphis.  We wanted to share what we experienced in Memphis, but not all at once.  

So here is what happened.  

One of the norms we wanted to change at Judson was starting on time.  Folk meander in when they meander in. Which means the first part of the service is always lacking energy.  So we asked everyone to be on time, and they were!  

We started with the ringing of a singing bowl/bell.  Everyone got quiet, found their seats, then we jumped in with a medley of Spirituals (Woke Up This Morning With My Mind On Jesus, Swing Low, Sweet Chariot, and There Is a Balm in Gilead).  It was amazing, I couldn't believe how it altered the way we started the service.  

A little later we asked the question: Where this week did you (or did not) experience the presence of God?   For 90 seconds one person spoke and the other listened, then we switched.  Amazing again.

Then we formed a Baptist shape (ovalish-squarish-circle) and sand Lean on Me.  

No foolin' that really happened last Sunday.