Monday, December 21, 2015

The Force Awakens

I took the family to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens on opening day.  

We didn’t know how crowded it would be – I warned the kids that we might not get to sit together.  I was shocked when we walked right in.  There was no line and we were the second family in the theater – we sat right in the very middle and had great seats!

I would have loved a real-looking lightsaber like these
but they didn't exist when I was nine.
I was a big Star Wars fan as a kid.  My ninth birthday party involved taking a bunch of my friends to see Star Wars in the theater.  We then went back to my house and ran around using whatever we could find to double as lightsabers that we swung at each other.  I remember my mom making the declaration that the party was over and driving all my friends home!

Star Wars was such a great story because it tapped into archetypal characters that endure through time.  You had the Hero in Luke Skywalker that went on a journey from innocence to maturity as he vanquished evil.  You had the Rogue in Han Solo whose very name represents a me-first attitude.  His journey was to discover that he could in fact care for something more than himself.  You had the Damsel in Distress in Princess Leia who also turned this image on its head by being more than capable of taking charge.  You had the Wise Old Man in Obi Wan Kenobi.  You had the Fool in both C-3PO and R2-D2.  You had the Animal Companion in Chewbacca.  You had the Devil in Darth Vader.

These classic images told a good story where good triumphed over evil.

As we tap into these helpful myths once again with the new release, we realize that these archetypal stories help us to deal with our own chaos and anxiety.  It is no coincidence that the first release was later subtitled, “A New Hope”.  This is what humanity continues to long for.

This week, we also will retell an old old story at Christmas.  We will likely hear Luke 2:1-20 read and if we are attentive, we may rediscover the sense of wonder that this story brings.

In this narrative, we discover that God has dwelt among us.  We remember that God does indeed love us.  We recall that good triumphs over evil.

Worship at Christmas is special because unlike a movie, we actually enter into this story.  We find that our faith in Christ doesn’t just make us observers – as fun as that can be.  We are actual participants.  As we darken the sanctuary and then light the candles at the end of our worship, we are signifying that our job as Christians is to help shine the light of Christ into the world.

The importance of this can be staggering. 

I hope that you’ll make worship a part of your life journey this Christmas Eve.  If you’re in the Edmond area, we’ll have services on December 23 at 7 pm as well as December 24 at 4:00 pm, 7:00 pm and 11:00 pm.  There might be a crowd but it will be worth it!

In Christ,


Picture by The Conmunity - Pop Culture Geek from Los Angeles, CA, USA [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Passing the Peace

I've been on the receiving end of many angry outbursts as a pastor.

Some of them have been deserved.

Some of them have been because I was an unknown irritant and the rage and frustration finally erupted.

Some of them have been because the person was grieving and I represented the only physical substitute for God that they can yell at.

We all know what it is like for someone to direct angry words our way.  It is never something we would pursue unless we have some kind of weird disorder!

Do arguments over sports represent
a kind of scapegoat for us to release
our pent up anxiety?
Physiologically, our bodies react when this occurs.  We often go into the "fight or flight" response which includes an increase in heart and breathing rates.  Our adrenaline levels also rise. Some become a little sick to their stomach.

If this happens too often for us, the stress of the body moving back and forth into this state may lower our immunity and we can become fatigued or sick more easily.

Lots of people experience conflict at work or at home or at school.  For some it is their extended family members.  For others, it is their in-laws. Some have neighbors that are antagonists.

If you live with a sense that you have an ongoing enemy, you realize that you are in need of the Prince of Peace.  This Sunday, we'll examine Isaiah 11:1-9.  Christians later adopted this Hebrew text as a scripture that speaks to us of Jesus Christ.  What were the people of Isaiah's time going through that they needed to hear this word to them?

There has been conflict since there have been people.  God grants us rest from this. God has always done this.  God continues to do this for us today.

Even in the midst of shootings and warfare and violence.

A blessed peace is what we need.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, we have one more Sunday to wait. But while we're waiting, may the peace of Christ which passes all our understanding, be ours to share.

In Christ,


Picture by Googie man on CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Stress and the Baby Jesus

Stress is a normal part of the holidays.  It starts right before Thanksgiving and goes right up through New Year's.  

Much of it has to do with seeing relatives that we don't often interact with on a regular basis.

Our relatives have interesting issues - we love them but may also have unresolved conflicts or tension from years ago.  

There are family dynamics that come into light that can be blessings but just as often may cause us to curse!

Moving can also be stressful.  Whether you are moving to a new town or new job or new school, it has its own set of hurdles.  As a kid, I remember moving from Tulsa to Sapulpa.  It wasn't terrible but I didn't know a soul where I was going.  That first day of school, I had to meet new friends as well as navigate a new culture.  School had started the month before so everyone else was used to their routine.
The new drop off is ready to receive
people this Sunday!

I'm not sure if I got snappy with my parents during this time but I wouldn't be surprised if I did.  We often grouse at those whom we love when stressed because it's going to come out somewhere!

At First United Methodist Church of Edmond, we are moving into a new space.  We are moving into a new worship service at 10:50 am.  We are dealing with the stress of things we didn't foresee as well as things we did!  It could be that people feel a little irritated.  For some this comes as a surprise.  After all, we are in a brand new setting - everything looks pretty!  It's got that new car smell to it.

Why would anyone complain?

It may just be a fairly normal reaction to the stress of adaptation.  The good news is that God is a part of this.  We are able to take a deep breath and remember that this is what we've been working toward.  Maybe not the minor irritation - but the mission as a whole to create new space for discipleship.

New space always comes with a few headaches but nothing we can't handle.  

And at the same time, it is very exciting and fresh!  Our glass is more than half full and we have more than enough to share with our community.  Thanks be to God to all who got us here!

As we look toward the baby Jesus on Christmas, may you find the Peace of Christ once more!

In Christ,