Posts Tagged: "jesus"

Finding Our Groove (in the Jesus way of contemplation and action)

Occasionally there is a technical hiccup and our church service doesn’t record and/or upload to all the socials… and this Sunday was one of those times. Because this message is so central to our church, I feel like the notes are essential and should be on record. So, here they are:

I worked at the Rainier Beach Veterinary Hospital from my 15th birthday through high school, college, and my first couple years of marriage. This was not glamorous work. It was odiferous. And challenging. But it paid the bills, got me through some important phases of my life, and I mostly liked it. Saturdays were always challenging. It was the biggest day of the week. Crazy number of non-stop appointments. And all the cat and dog bathing we could manage.

One Saturday, I personally bathed over 100 animals.

There it is. My claim to fame.

“Our pastor is on Television. Our pastor is a social media influencer. Our pastor is an entrepreneur. Our pastor wrote the definitive book on raising children.”

Wow. Wow. Wow.

OK. Fairwood–what is your pastor known for?

“He once bathed over 100 cats and dogs in a single Saturday in the Rainier valley.”

Is that like animal baptisms?

No. just shampoo and conditioner and flea dip.

Oh. OK. Huh. I mean, that’s kinda weird.

Yeah, you’re not wrong.

Our pastor is, whispers, “special.”

The veterinary hospital was not open on Sundays. But animals were still there – recovering from surgery, being treated for infection and disease, being boarded. So, we didn’t need all the workers, but someone did have to come in and let the dogs out (who, who?).

Someone did have to come feed all the cats, clean all the kennels, feed the dogs, feed the random goat, bird, bunny, Vietnamese pot belly pig…

Stuff like that.

I liked the extra money, so I always volunteered to take care of the animals on Sunday nights.

The office was quiet, empty of people.

The animals were happy to be fed and given attention.

It was nice… my favorite day to work there.

And, even though I was paid by the hour and filled out my time card on Sunday night before leaving, the Veterinarian, Dr. Young, would always tape a $20 bill to the white board for me and any specific instructions about animals and their medications.

This same white board, on a Saturday, would have the name of every animal that needed to be bathed, dried, brushed, and sprayed with our signature pet cologne…

Seeing the volume of pet names on a Saturday would stress me out. But also, it was kinda like a challenge. Could it be done? Could I do it? On time?

Somehow, it always worked out. And I felt satisfied AND DONE.

You know what I mean?

But, also, those Sunday nights with no list of animals to be bathed, those Sunday nights with cash taped to the white board, those Sunday nights of quiet and calm…

They were my favorites.

I guess, when I look back and think about it, I’m thankful for the experience.

And I’m definitely thankful for the ebb and flow, the balance, the equilibrium, you know?

I’m thankful not every day is Saturday. I’m thankful for Sunday.

In many ways,  Sunday was the reward for my work on Saturday.

Chaos, followed by quiet.

Or was it quiet that prepared me for the coming chaos? Mmmmm hmmmmmmmmm.

So, that back-and-forth… that intense activity, followed by quiet and undistracted attention…

That’s what I hope to speak about today…. Read More

Lent Day 38… To See Them Like Children

Normally I have been posting each morning for this Lent series – but it is Spring Break and we are in Portland. Anyway, the internet was down at the Airbnb place we rented, so it’s only now that I’ve been able to get online.

Today is Maundy Thursday. If you look that up on Wikipedia, it’ll say something like:

Scholars agree that the English word maundy (referring to Maundy Thursday) is derived from the Latin mandatum (also the origin of the English word mandate).

It is the first word of the phrase “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” (A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, so you also must love one another.) This statement by Jesus (John 13:34) comes as he explained to the Apostles the significance of his washing their feet.

So today is about this mandate. This new command to love one another—as Jesus has loved us.

About two months ago, just before Valentine’s Day, I was giving a short leadership lesson on the theme of love. I acknowledged that Valentine’s Day was coming up… which meant that many of us would be thinking about romance and chocolate and flowers and stuff. This was my segue into sharing this next segment from an interview on NPR with author Alain de Botton…

I think that one of the most—one of the kindest things that we can do with our lover is to see them as children. Not to treat them like infants, but… Read More

Why Did Jesus Tell Them To Buy Swords?

A friend recently asked me the following question:

My reading this morning is in the latter chapters of Luke. The Last Supper is finished, they’re heading for the garden and what Jesus knows is His arrest and murder. He tells the disciples to bring swords. They say they have two, and He says “It’ll do.” Off they go.

Yet, in John, when stuff starts to go down and Peter actually uses one of those swords, Jesus tells him to put it away, because answering violence with violence is not the answer. Then He fixes the damage that Peter did.

So here’s the conundrum:

Why did Jesus tell them to bring swords in the first place?

If He didn’t want anybody using them, why did He… Read More

Identifiably Strange (An Excerpt)

I wrote a book, which is coming out this month. The following is an excerpt…


Recently, while spending a month living in the Italian countryside, I was constantly aware of how much we stood out.

Our strangeness was completely obvious to the locals…

All three of us have blue eyes and pale skin.

We talk like cowboys. I never thought I sounded like a cowboy before, but after hearing an Italian say… Read More

When What We Say About People Sounds Like The Devil Talking

- - Life With God, Uncategorized

Certain sounds are easily identifiable. Think old Volkswagens. Or Harley Davidson motorcycles.

Sometimes, you can even tell where a person is from by the words they use or how they say them.

You’ve probably already taken the “How Y’all, Youse and You Guys Talk” language test, right? I felt pretty good about my results… I’m either from Seattle, Spokane, or Grand Rapids… Read More

Jesus Had No Trouble With The Exceptions

The picture above is of the flowering cereus that blooms at night. The flowers are short lived, and some of these species bloom only once a year—for a single night.

The following are quotes from Richard Rohr‘s book Falling Upward

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Our daily experience of this world is almost nothing like Plato’s world of universal and perfect forms and ideas; it is always filled with huge diversity, and variations on every theme from neutrino light inside of darkness, to male seahorses that bear their young, to the most extraordinary flowers that only open at night for no one to see.

Jesus had no trouble with the exceptions, whether they were… Read More

Where Steams Flow Uphill: This Upside Down Kingdom

I believe the Kingdom of God is more upside down than we realize.

Where down is up, the last are first, slaves are free, enemies are loved, and the weak are strong.

Where streams flow uphill…

This upside down Kingdom.

Donald Kraybill, in his book The Upside Down Kingdom, says:

The Kingdom is full of surprises. Again and again in parable, sermon, and act Jesus startles us. Things in the Gospels are often upside down… Things are reversed. Paradox, irony, and surprise permeate the teachings of Jesus. They flip our expectations upside down. The least are the greatest. The immoral receive forgiveness and blessing. Adults become like children. The religious miss the heavenly banquet… Things aren’t the way we expect them to be. We’re baffled and perplexed. Amazed, we step back. Should we laugh or should we cry? Again and again, turning our expectations upside down, the Kingdom surprises us.

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And this upside down Kingdom certainly has an upside down King. Think about it:… Read More