Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Day After Christmas

I think I have enjoyed Christmas more than ever this year. Sometimes the Christmas hype and expectation yield disappointment when it’s all over. But today, it seems different.

We have worshipped more this year. At least the worship has seemed more meaningful. As we gathered at with our church on Sunday, we experienced the Lord’s presence through music, prayer and confession, his word and Holy Communion. On Christmas Eve, again we turned our hearts to the Lord in a quiet, contemplative way. I think that we all left the worship gathering with Jesus on our hearts and minds.

We also received a special offering that night. This is the first year we have taken up a Christmas offering. Although I have not yet heard how much we collected, the money will go to Living Water, Amani Baby Cottage, Miracle House, and church planting. It is exciting to me to think about Christmas giving that changes the world.

Jesus came to change the world. He invites us to be part of the movement. The more radically we cooperate with his kingdom’s coming, the more radically the world is changed. God is bringing all things under the headship of Christ.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Fixing Baseball

Last week the Mitchell report named dozens of major league baseball players for steroid use. Many of the superstar players found their names on the list. It almost read like a who’s who of baseball.

The whole culture of the sport seems to encourage the use of illegal steroids. Some players claimed they had doctors’ prescriptions for the drugs. Some may have taken supplements, not knowing that they were illegal. They certainly all fell prey to the “everybody’s doing it” attitude. To be somebody in baseball, you had to bend the rules.

Then they want to talk about it on Capitol Hill. It always amazes me when the U.S. Congress gets involved in baseball. What stake do they have in the sport? Well, for generations they have given Major League Baseball a non-competitive playing field. While leaving other sports subject to the open market, the law gives monopoly status to pro baseball. There are no leagues to compete with Major League Baseball. Periodically, congress renews that status.

Other pro sports are certainly not free from corruption, but they are subject to competition. The ABA gave the NBA a run for their money. The AFL also challenged the NFL. Both of those alternate leagues eventually merged with the older sports associations, but maybe they helped make the sports better.

While congress demands that baseball get cleaned up, they ought to eliminate the sport’s special status. Maybe then Major League Baseball would clean up its act. I wonder if fans would support a system where the athletes were all drug-free. They may see fewer homeruns, but they would also see fewer asterisks in the books.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

An Army at the Parade

Saturday was everything I could have hoped for. Well, I could have hoped for snow. But everything else was incredible. The people of Crossroads turned out en mass to serve the community of Stokesdale. And while we were working, we were having a great time!

We helped turn the Stokesdale Holiday Parade into an even bigger celebration. Sharing God’s love is a whole lot of fun. We gave away 700 hot dogs, lots of coffee, hot chocolate and desserts. People kept trying to pay for the food, and we kept explaining that we just wanted to share God’s love with them.

Our band played for a couple of hours before the parade, having a great time. We even played a set after the parade was over.

But during the parade, we provided the play-by-play for the floats as they passed by. Before the parade, we asked for info on all entries. Then from the stage, two of our folks did the Katie Couric, Matt Lauer routine. They added a new element of life to the whole event.

In fact, they did such a good job, they have been invited to do the same thing for a springtime parade nearby. All the responses we have received have been very encouraging.

I am so glad that our people served with such enthusiasm. We owe a debt of thanks to the people who built the stage, ran the sound, played the music, bought the food, prepared the food, served the food, welcomed the crowd, and announced the parade.

May Jesus be glorified as we share his love. May the songs we sang and the conversations we had give glory to him.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Here Comes the Parade!

The Stokesdale Christmas Parade is always just a blast! We enjoy giving to our community and serving them in the name of Jesus. We have had entries in the parade since 1999, but last year we decided to do something different. Every year we had spent hours in the parade lineup, waiting for parade time. We were cold, hungry, and looking for something to do. So last year we gave out food and hot drinks, and we gave a free concert for anyone who wanted to listen. It was our way of sharing kindness with Stokesdale.

As the floats went by our sound stage last year, we realized that we could announce the floats as they came past. We just didn’t know what to say. We also realized that nobody really knew anything about the floats or their organizations.

This year we worked with the Stokesdale parade committee to get the info. Beginning last week organizations have been calling and emailing us with all the information they want announced at the parade.

This week we have dozens of people working to get ready for the parade on Saturday, Dec. 8. Yesterday we picked up the massive sound system, and tonight we will figure out how it works. Others are working with our food give-away, where we will hand out hot dogs, coffee, hot chocolate and desserts. Our band has been eagerly anticipating our concert at noon, playing until the parade steps off at 2 p.m.

This year we have some exciting new elements at the parade. Our stage will be set up at the Stokesdale Fire Station, just across from the main downtown storefronts. For the first time, the parade will have each entry announced as it passes by. A couple of Crossroads folks are gathering info on all the parade entries and, with appropriate humor and banter, will describe the entries as they pass the stage.

We are also giving out coffee with a purpose. The Land of a Thousand Hills coffee company sells coffee grown in Rwanda. By using this coffee, we are supporting business in this developing nation, blessing the coffee workers and helping build their local economy.

This has already been fun. See you Saturday!