Friday, January 15, 2010

Little Alexander, the Virgin Edna,Sex and Drugs,Standard Roaches, Dear Chickens

(buy the shirt pictured)

I was serving a denominational church in a large denomination when our son was born.
We got a lovely letter from the district superintendent congratulating us on the both of
'little Alexander."

We have gotten a kick out of that over the years, as our son's name is Timothy.

We referred to him as Alexander today.

Whatever happened, it's not the superintendent's fault. Whether it was a a slip, misinformation from their source... One explanation of course would be it was a pre-programmed form letter, and a previous name was left in.

Which reminds me of the classic "Virgin Edna" joke many of my Anglican priest friends tell:

The age of the computer makes it much easier to prepare worship folders. Some churches use the same basic format each week and then make the necessary changes, and presto, it’s done.
But it can be tricky.
In one church I know, they use the same format for funeral services. And when a person dies and a funeral service is prepared, the secretary simply uses the word-search-and-replace process and changes the name of the deceased from the previous service to the name of the deceased who has just passed away.
Very simply.
So when Edna died, the pastor instructed the secretary to prepare the service for her by following the above mentioned process. The last person who died was Mary. So the secretary instructed the computer to change all “Marys” to Ednas.” And so it was.
Image the surprise of the attendees when they recited the Apostles Creed and read: “He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Edna.”

And Eugene Petersom's hilarious account of his annual "sex and drugs" church report.

It's the nature of the system to become impersonal. Movements become machine.
Church becomes stats, numbers, and giving units.
When I was ordained in that same denomination, the bishop had to have cheat sheets (name cards) laying on the altar in front of each number..uh, he could make the holy moment personal.

One of my biggest frustrations is when i guest speak at a weekend retreat, or teach a weekend class...and just can't quite remember (or guess) everyone's name...When I see them months or years later, I love to be able to call out their name. I am so pleased when they say, "You probably don't remember me.." ...and then I can recall their name. Makes my day and theirs

After my encounter (with a nameless woman) in the thrift store, I have worked even harder to fit everyone's name into my memory bank..or at least onto cheat-sheet of paper in my pocket.

It all beats that trick when the person asks for prayer, and the pastor or teacher resorts to the telltale: "Lord, I ask that you would bless my brother..."

At least I never got a person's gender wrong....uh, story here.

Beth responded to my post:

"'Where the hell am I?'":What I learned about incarnational ministry from El Monte Slim, Depeche Mode, Joe Walsh and Bono's accidental lie"

...with an amazing tidbit. At the U2 Academic Conference, she heard from fellow presenter Steve Taylor (who met U2's lighting director) that Bono actually has one of his staff research each city they play, so he might say something personal and relevant..and often (observe) pray specifically over that city by name.
(Having heard about Springsteen and other recently greeting the wrong city in concert, I am wondering if Bono has ever done that...the closest I am aware of is his Sacramento slip.

And of course this classic moment below (see first 27 seconds);I am so glad they were honest enough not to edit it out of the DVD:

Good questions. Hold on, I'll ask little Alexander (now 16) how we feels about all this.
And I have to get ready to preach on this passage, anyway..

And should show this delightful/frightful clip.. You must watch the whole thing, but my point today is at the 00:51-56 mark. Enjoy!:

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