Thursday, April 28, 2011

Twins versus Rays--brutal

Last night I had the privilege of using the first of my Twins’ seasons tickets. For the second year in a row a group of guys in my neighborhood are splitting a 20 game package. Our seats are in lower level—section 130 in left field. The seats are much better with the addition of the new scoreboard and Twins tower.

I shared on my Facebook page that it was a bad omen when snow greeted me as I left the office to drive to the game. Gary Wassam was willing to venture out into the snow to attend the game with me. We shared in our yearly ritual of eating at Wendy’s before watching the Twins.

We made it to Target Field without a hitch, found our seats, remarked at how late arriving the crowd was, and settled in with hopes that the Twins could extend their three game winning streak. We weren’t impressed that Hughes, Butera, and Tolbert made up the bottom of the Twins’ order. We thought that the Twins would be fortunate to score five runs.

The Twins needed a shut-down start by Francisco Liriano.

Our hopes were quickly dashed. The game started at 7:10. At 7:16 Ben Zobrist hit a triple making the score 3-0. Sean Rodriguez immediate singled Zobrist home and in six minutes the Rays had scored four runs. Could that be a record?

The Twins had some opportunities in the first and third innings to give us hope—but Justin Morneau didn’t deliver in either inning. When the Rays scored three runs in the fourth the outcome was sealed and the game became about the weather.

It snowed—at a baseball game—on April 27th. I made a comment on Facebook about snow at the ballpark and received a Semi-Pelagian (figure it out) response that we Minnesotans wanted outdoor baseball, and this is what happens in outdoor baseball. I agree, but it doesn’t make the experience any less brutal.

I have now attended Target Field the first time it rained during a game—Twins versus Boston last April—and the first time it snowed.

Wass and I were amused by the appearance of Santa Claus, a gorilla, and winter wonderland music played by the organist. We also had three guys in our section who were individually dressed in a completely green, orange, and blue outfit. As I was driving to the game, the two announcers on Dan Barreiro’s radio show said the heaters at the ballpark were not working. Thankfully this information was incorrect. For the last three innings we stood under the radiant heat.

We left at the bottom of the seventh thinking. We didn’t miss much. I love the Twins and outdoor baseball, but last night was brutal.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Dinner with Jesus

The day that the church calls Maundy Thursday is unfortunately overlooked and underappreciated in the church. When Jesus was reclining at a table and celebrating a Passover meal with his disciples, he changed the way all of us practice our faith. By taking a loaf of bread, blessing it, breaking it, giving it to his disciples and then saying, “Take, eat; this is my body,” Jesus (among many things) illustrated his sacrifice on the cross; by taking a cup, giving thanks for it, and then saying, “drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sin” Jesus (among many things) illustrated that forgiveness would from then on come through him. When I stand behind a Communion Table and share these words with people, I often am amazed at the revolutionary nature of Jesus’ words and actions.

Not all churches celebrate Maundy Thursday, but we do at Chain of Lakes Church. Tonight we will gather at 7:00 p.m. at the Lino Lakes Senior Center to celebrate what we’re calling “Dinner with Jesus.” We won’t be eating physical food, but instead we’ll be remembering what it was like for the disciples to share that Passover meal with Jesus. We will be sitting in concentric circles around the Communion Table. We’ll sing, pray, share our burdens with each other, celebrate Communion, and leave in silence. I encourage people in the north Metro to come. Directions to the Senior Center can be found at Child care will be available.

During worship we will take an offering for the scholarship fund of Bentley Ducharme. Bentley is the son of Trevor Robinson--Trevor died in a drug overdose recently in Blaine. Taking this offering is one way that we at Chain of Lakes can response to the brokenness in the world. We, at Chain of Lakes, have no connection to the Robinson family. However, we still want to help. I talked this week to Bentley's aunt. She was touched that a community who doesn't know her family would reach out with such kindness. I see this offering as one way that Chain of Lakes Church can live out our Core Value of "Outward Focus."

The word “Maundy” is the Latin word. It means commandment. The commandment that we remember today is the new one that Jesus issued. He commanded all of us to love one another just as he loved us. I’m wondering if all of us can take steps today towards living out this commandment

Today—Thursday, April 21, is not an ordinary day. The world is pausing to remember and celebrate the revolution that Jesus started in the Upper Room. I’m praying that churches will be packed tonight.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The richness of relationships

Palm Sunday is one of my favorite days of the church year. I am inspired to think that Jesus would actually enter Jerusalem on a colt—a demonstration of peace. As I said in the sermon I delivered on Sunday, Jesus could have bombarded the sky with such an intense display of lightning and thunder that the entire town of Jerusalem bowed at his feet. Instead Jesus entered Jerusalem by giving up power in order to display a different kind of power.

At Chain of Lakes Church we started our tradition of the Palm Sunday processional. We gathered in our fellowship hall and marched outside behind a banner that the kids of Chain of Lakes made. The children led the march. At certain parts of the march we waved palms and shouted, “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna.” The march was inspiring—partially because our attendance was so high and the line extended a long ways.

In the sermon I responded to all the questions people had submitted about Holy Week. Our video team had gone out to a shopping center in Blaine a week ago and took footage of asking people their questions about Holy Week. The sermon and video can be seen at:

When I came home from worship, my family quickly changed clothes and drove to Rochester to celebrate the retirement of Father Joe Keefe. Father Joe is the priest at Pax Christi Catholic Church in Rochester. He recently was diagnosed with A.L.S. and will be going on disability next month. My wife, Amy, was the administrator of Pax Christi for many of the eight years that Father Joe served at Pax Christi. She couldn’t miss this event.

We had a marvelous time at the event seeing and re-connecting with people we haven’t seen for a while. We were touched by the messages that many of the speakers shared about Father Joe. I even saw a family who participated at the Presbyterian Church in Plainview.

After talking to people for ninety minutes we got in line to shake hands with Father Joe. It was a poignant moment. I had listened to this man preach and share the Eucharist for almost ten years. He has a remarkable outlook on his illness and on his remaining time here on earth.

Relationships in the church have an immense richness. They are beginning, changing, and ending. As I was saying good bye and congratulating Father Joe, I was inviting another family to visit us in Blaine. Departure and deepening—all taking place in a fellowship hall at one faith community.

I love life in the church. I am the pastor of one church and participate in another church. I value the different types of relationships in both—and treasure the people that God has brought into my life. I can’t imagine living without a faith community.

All of this happened because a man got on a colt and rode it into Jerusalem.

If you haven’t been connected to a faith community, Easter Sunday is an excellent day to “dip your toe in again.” I’m biased about Chain of Lakes Church and encourage people to check us out this Easter Sunday. We’ll start worship at 10:30 a.m. with a breakfast beginning at 9:30. We have a wonderful Easter service planned. More details can be found at But many other wonderful churches exist. We are all waiting to welcome people back with open arms. Perhaps Easter Sunday is a day that many people can discover the richness of relationships with people in a faith community.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Special Palm Sunday worship at Chain of Lakes Church!

I want to invite everyone in the north Metro to a special service of worship this Sunday, April 17th at Chain of Lakes Church. It’s “Be My Guest” Sunday, and we have a number of wonderful ministries planned. We’re gathering at 9:30 for a special breakfast. At 10:30 a.m. we will start worship in the Fellowship Hall which is adjacent to our sanctuary. We will process into worship behind a banner that the children of Chain of Lakes made. In the procession we’ll remember what it was like for Jesus to enter Jerusalem. Weather permitting we’ll walk outside and then into the sanctuary. During the sermon I will share a sermon called, “Questions about Holy Week.” For the past three weeks I have been asking people to share any question that they have about Holy Week. During the sermon I will answer all of the questions. I have received almost 30 questions. Questions as diverse as “Did Jesus really die?” to “What happened to Jesus from the time he died until he was raised?” The video team at Chain of Lakes took footage of people sharing their questions about Holy Week. We will share this footage in worship. My daughter, Hannah Moore, will be sharing a solo. We are taking a special offering for One Great Hour of Sharing.

Everyone from Chain of Lakes is encouraged to bring a guest. If you are curious about this new church that is forming in the north Metro, come check us out on Sunday.

We worship at the Lino Lakes Senior Center, 1189 Main Street in Lino Lakes which is a half mile east of the intersection of Main (#242) and Lake Drive. Come join us!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Terry Jones and the killings in Afghanistan

Two weeks ago Terry Jones held a six hour ceremony at the World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida. The ceremony was held to determine if the Quran, the Muslim Holy Book, should be burned. Unfortunately Jones and his clan ended up burning the Quran.

Last fall, on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, Jones threatened to do the same thing. Under pressure from political leaders in the United States—including a plea from David Petraeus, the commander of United States forces in Afghanistan, Jones decided not to follow through on his threat.

On September 8 I wrote a blog about Jones threatened action. I describe him as an angry man with a small flock. I’m heartened that the media paid less attention to Jones’ action this time than last September.

An important question for me is do I think that Jones represents mainstream Christianity? No. In no place in the gospels do I read Jesus encouraging or even hinting people to burn books. I’m preaching a sermon series right now on the Sermon on the Mount. In that sermon, Jesus asked that we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. I believe a more appropriate response for Jones would be to pray for Muslims.

In response to Jones’ action 24 people have been killed in Afghanistan, including seven United Nations workers. The country of Afghanistan suffered days of violent protests. Jones claims that he has received 400 death threats and someone in the Middle East put a 2.4 million dollar bounty on his life.

These killings and threats are terribly wrong.

Just as Jones’ actions don’t represent mainstream Christianity, I do not believe these killings in Afghanistan represent mainstream Islam. Last fall Chain of lakes hosted Kashif Saroya, who is part of the Islamic Resource Center in the Twin Cities. Saroya patiently explained to us that night that the actions like the ones recently done in Afghanistan do not represent Islam. In fact Saroya shared that Isalm is a religion of peace.

I know that many stereotypes about Islam exist in our country. My prayer is the recent killings in Afghanistan don’t deepen these beliefs.