Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Truckin' and Eucharistin'

Before I blog anything too serious, I must begin with this link to a fictious advertisement for a Sunday worship service. It was created by a parishioner at St. Andrew's Episcopal in Birmingham, an Anglo-Catholic community not far from Trinity. It reminds me that, yes, there is room for humor in the Good News.

I was reminded of the humor of Scripture last semester in seminary when I wrote an exegesis paper on Acts 12. In this passage, Luke (the author of Acts and the Gospel bearing his name) tells of a young maidservant Rhoda who hears the voice of Peter at the gate to the house she serves. Peter has been imprisoned, sent away to die at the hand of one of the Herodian kings, but has escaped. Rhoda is so excited to hear Peter's voice that she runs in and tells her mistress Mary, mother of John Mark (supposed author of the Gospel According to Mark), the good news. Only she, and the others in the house don't believe her and Rhoda looks foolish. But it's only when they see Peter at the gate in flesh-and-blood, do they finally understand what God has done. The story eerily echoes that of Doubting Thomas in John's Gospel (John 20:24-39).

OK, so it's not going to be featured on Saturday Night Live anytime soon, but it is a scene which was assuredly funny to ancient readers, as it followed the tropes of the familiar (to ancient readers) Greek New Comedy genre. Not only is it funny, but it is imbedded in a very downcast portion of the narrative of Acts in which apostles and Christians are suffering persecution for their faith.

It's often said that God has a sense of humor. I think there's warrant for that. So next time you're in church, don't be afraid to tell a good joke. Just make sure it's not one you learned a monster truck rally...

Monday, June 28, 2010

A New Chapter

So, as you can probably tell, I have updated my blog. But I have done so in concert with an update in my own life. I graduated from Duke Divinity School in May, and I am now one week in to my first appointment as a United Methodist pastor. I am now serving as the Associate Minister for Evangelism and Young Adults at Trinity United Methodist Church in Homewood, AL.

The above picture is of the front entrance to the main sanctuary at Trinity. Trinity is a large church in suburban Birmingham. Its membership currently sits at around 3,500 members. Compared to most UMC congregations, Trinity is very young- 80% of new members in 2009 were under 40 years old. But more surprising still, is that Trinity doing all the same things that traditional UMC churches have been doing all along- two traditional worship services (complemented by one contemporary service), Sunday School, UMYF, UMW, you name it. But, as I can tell in my first week, Trinity is doing these things the right way. Perhaps I can flesh those practices more as this newly refreshed blog continues to unfold.

My responsibilities at Trinity will be to work with the Young Adult (ages 21-35) ministries and programming here, to help bring in new members, and to help those new members assimilate into the faith community here by finding their calling in service to God. I am blessed to work with a talented and faithful staff here, and I can already tell that they will be a big help. I am humbled to serve in this position, and if anything I do serves to open one person's eyes to the Kingdom of God, then it is by God's prevenient grace. Deo Gratias.