Thursday, February 10, 2011

Midwinter 2011 Reflections

  • I always love the times of worship... Since I first started coming in 2001, I've been grateful for this little glimpse into the Kingdom. Many tribes, tongues and nations gather in unity and worship the Creator. It's really beautiful. Thursday night's communion service was particularly moving.
  • Great, diverse speakers. Where else can you hear Jim Perkins, Al Tizon, Laura Sumner Truax and Ray Johnston all in one week? I gotta say, though... I really missed Craig Gross, who apparently got a better gig - appearing on CNN that morning - and canceled us. Can't say that I blame him though...
  • Kris Causton and Lindsay Small were a hoot... Every day I roared with laughter. I know this loses something in the translation to video, and you kind of have to be a Covenanter to really get it, but still... Here's the first day. If you want, you can see the rest of them - plus speakers, music, etc. - here on the Covenant website.
  • Man, do I love my friends. Every year it feels like I'm coming home. In the crazy last couple years of my life, Midwinter has been a safe place in the storm, a place where I can always find people who really, really understand me. You know who you are, and I love you.
  • My workshop, "Better Together: Worship Planning in Our Diverse Denomination" was well-attended, and people were really engaged. It was so good to be together as worship pastors and leaders. Just to be together in dialogue is a powerful thing, and I think the relationships will continue over on our new Facebook site. Covenant worship leaders/planners/lay leaders, please join us! We're still deciding what to do with the hours of footage we got from the workshop, together with the five short films we made (OK, Luke Johnson and Joshua Havens made them). Maybe a DVD set? Maybe an interactive web experience? Maybe a worship curriculum?
  • Yes, we were snowed in. Chicago got the third-largest blizzard in its history while all of us Covenant pastors were snug and warm inside the Hyatt Regency O'Hare. I realized as I left the hotel on Friday morning that I hadn't been outside since Monday afternoon. (I must admit I'm already looking forward to 2013. We're having Midwinter in San Diego. My question: Will anyone attend ANY of the sessions or workshops?
  • Did I feel guilty, leaving Luanne and the kids to experience Tulsa's record snowfall and subsequent home-imprisonment? A little bit, yes. I wish I could have been here with them... But it was great to be in Chicago, too. And I'm so glad they were safe and sound. Power stayed on, they had plenty of food. I *do* think it's a little ridiculous that my kids haven't been back to school yet... We've already heard they will be out again tomorrow. That, my friends, makes NINE days in a row. Yes, you read right. NINE DAYS out of school because of these two snowstorms.
  • I continue to be amazed by and grateful for the Covenant... a denomination that truly emphasizes the authority of the bible and the need for rebirth through Jesus Christ... while at the same time boldly proclaiming the need for compassion, mercy and justice. This group of people practice what they preach. And as much as we poke fun of Gary Walter's "In It Together," I really experience it. And I love that we can agree to disagree on nonessentials... It's just that sometimes it's hard to see what is essential and what isn't. God, help us...
  • My new friend Nathan Albert put it this way in his blog, and I agree: "I realized that Midwinter is all about pastors pastoring one another for a week. Conservative and liberal; men and women; old and young; African-American, Asian, Latino/a, Caucasian. It was encouraging and affirming, challenging and thought-provoking."
  • Thank you, Redeemer, for letting me go to this conference. It nourishes me and prepares me for another year of serving God with you. Thank you, ECC, for giving me the opportunity tp present my workshop and making it all financially possible. I'm so grateful to be in it with you.
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