Friday, August 15, 2003

post date: August 15, 2003

3:01 PM Just now the staff surprised me with a small party in the Dining Room in honor of my 14th anniversary. We had chocolate silk pie and told a few stories. Bob Boerman said he knew he was going to like me when, at an early pastoral staff meeting, I stuck a pencil in my ear—the eraser end—and said, “I just wanted to see what would happen.” I of course have no memory of that at all. But Bob wouldn’t make that up, would he?

11:14 AM Brian Bill read my entry below on my first day at Calvary and wrote this addition: “I enjoyed reading this and remember you chewing on a rubber band during our first staff meeting together.”

10:38 AM World Magazine has published the best article on the gay bishop in the Episcopal Chruch that I have read so far. I think registration is required, but it is well worth it. The article points out that the Episcopal Church (and other Anglican groups) have been electing non-Christians to leadership posts for years. The writer draws this conclusion:

Heresy is even more harmful to a church than homosexuality. Choosing a bishop who is gay is bad enough, but choosing a bishop who rejects Christianity is surely even worse. And it should not be surprising that a church that has rejected the authority and the truth of the Bible would take the far lesser step of saying that sexual immorality is OK.

10:36 AM Good news. The OPCA enrollment countdown now stands at 14. Classes begin on August 24.

8:18 AM This is where it all started. Fourteen years ago this morning, I walked into the pastor’s study and began my ministry at Calvary. On that particular day (I think it was a Tuesday), my family was still in Texas, getting our home in Garland ready to sell. They would not arrive in Oak Park for two more weeks, which is why I was living with Fred and Erlene Hartman in River Forest. To say I felt lost that first day would be an enormous understatement. I had no idea about what to do first, no clear sense of direction. The only thing I knew for certain was that God had called me to Oak Park. I didn’t know enough about the community or the church to have a “master plan.” I wasn’t sure if our family would survive the move or how well the church would do under my leadership. I’m reasonably certain that we had a staff meeting that morning.

I wish I had a record of exactly what I did that first day on the job—but it is lost to history. Not that it matters greatly because I think I spent that day getting my office set up, checking out the phone system, trying to memorize names and faces from the church directory, and more or less trying to figure out, “What do I do now?” It would be some weeks or months before I learned the streets in Oak Park, how to find Parky’s and Lalo’s, and many months would pass before I finally felt “at home.”

Marlene and the boys came up from Texas two weeks later, and a week or so after that, we moved into our new home on Mapleton Avenue in north Oak Park. That was a long time ago—I was 36 then and I’m 50 now. Our boys were 9, 7 and 4 years old. Now there are only four days until Nick leaves for college. That first day seems like yesterday to me. I had no idea of what was to come—and that’s a good thing, a blessing from God. These have been good years, and looking back, I wish to give thanks to the Lord for calling me to Calvary and to Oak Park. The words of Psalm 16:6 come to mind: “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” Here’s that verse in the CEV: “You make my life pleasant, and my future is bright.” That’s how I feel about things as I begin my 15th year in Oak Park.

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