Friday, December 29, 2006

Jenny and the Watson Twons

Jenny Lewis, with her Grand Ol’ Opera Americana voice, is delivering theology on Late Night With David Letterman. Not since the Crash Test Dummies, has a song writer been so very wry (and effective) about delivering thoughts on God and the nature of man. For instance, check out Jenny’s song, Born Secular:

Born Secular
I was born secular and inconsolable. I heard that he walked, he walked the earth. God goes where he wants. And who knows where he is not. Not in me. It's the way mothers greet their sons when it's a moment too late. It's the law of the land. That sometimes the dam just breaks. God works in mysterious ways. And god gives and then he takes. From me.

Rise up with fists What are you changing? Who do you think you're changing? You can't change things. We're all stuck in our ways. It's like trying to clean the ocean. What do you think, you can drain it? Well, it was poison and dry Long before you came. But you can wake up younger under the knife; And you can wake up sounder if you get analyzed. And I'd better wake up. There but for the grace of God go I. It's hard to believe your prophets when they're asking you to change things. But with their suspect lives, we look the other way. Are you really that pure, sir? Thought I saw you in Vegas. It was not pretty, but she was (not your wife). But she will wake up wealthy, and you will wake up forty-five. And she will wake up with baby. There but for the grace of God go I. What am I fighting for? The cops are at my front door. I can't escape that way, the windows are in flames. And what's that on your ankle? You say they're not coming for you, but house arrest is really just the same. (just the same) Like when you wake up behind the bar, trying to remember where you are, having crushed all the pretty things. There but for the grace of God go I. But I still believe. And I will rise up with fists. And I will take what's mine. (mine, mine, mine) There but for the grace of God go I. There but for the grace of God go I. There but for the grace of God go I. There but for the grace of God go I.

Run Devil Run
Run Devil run Devil run Devil run Run Devil run Devil run Devil run Run Devil run Devil run Devil run From love

Monday, December 25, 2006

That's a Lot of Church for One Day

Here is an article that features The Church of the Cross. It appeared in the Island Packet over the weekend. The article deals with the challenges churches face due to Christmas Eve falling on a Sunday and what locals pastors will due to reach out to the community. As the dust settles, I realize that The Church of the Cross reached out to 1500 people through seven services over a period of 36 hours on two campuses.

The 5:00 pm CrossPoint service where I showed the clip from Telledega Nights about the Christmas Jesus, had a record 450 people in attendance. A college student that came to Christ a few years ago at The Church of the Cross, and who has been praying for her family to come to church since that time, came up to me after the service beaming. Her whole family showed up for church. She said that the sermon, which talked about all the ways tat we keep God in a box and subsequently, remove the possibility of really knowing Him, hit home for her family. Some might say that nothing good could come from the sleepy little town of Bluffton. But, they said that of Nazereth where Jesus grew up as well. It seems to me that Jesus is very much alive in Bluffton. God will not be stopped. It is so good to chasing God in His mission to save this dying world. Merry Christmas.

Pastors across the Lowcountry will have their hands -- and their pews -- full on Christmas Eve

Published Saturday, December 23, 2006

The challenges for local clergy are twofold this holiday season: First, they have to juggle regular morning worship services with the traditional evening services of Christmas Eve. And they have to try to appeal and relate to the many in attendance who are not regular churchgoers.

Christmas Eve is a day when a church can reach the greatest number of people at one time, Slocum says, so no matter what day it falls on, you have to get it right.

"It's the day you work for the whole year," he said.

Local churches large and small are having to adjust to the Christmas Eve crunch this year. The Church of the Cross will offer three Christmas Eve services split between their Buckwalter and Calhoun Street campuses as well as their usual morning services.

It's not a huge wrench in their operations, pastors say. They are just making a few adjustments to make sure everything goes smoothly.

"With Christmas Eve on a Sunday, that complicates life a bit," said the Rev. John Sheppard, associate pastor of First Presbyterian Church on Hilton Head Island.

One of those complicating factors is the number of musicians -- and stamina -- needed to pull off extra services. Just a normal Sunday service is enough to get good wear out of the vocal chords, but add to that evening services, which are often carol-heavy, and it also turns into quite a day for church choirs.

Some churches, such as The Church of the Cross, are bringing in hired musicians to fill out a string or brass section on this special occasion. First Presbyterian will go to a smaller choir during its morning service, then bring in a larger group for the Christmas Eve service. And each Christmas Eve service will be preceded with a half-hour of music from soloists and the choir.

"We'll have a smaller chamber group (in the morning) to take the weight off the full choir," said Russell Floyd, First Presbyterian minister of music.

Those involved with Lowcountry Presbyterian's Sunday services have a little less time to recuperate. In addition to the two morning services, the church also will hold two afternoon Christmas Eve services at 4:30 and 6 p.m. The early Christmas Eve services are the result of a concern among the congregation's seniors about driving at night, said the Rev. Jerry Kramer.

The church considered holding just one of their two morning services to reduce the load but decided it would be best for the congregation to keep its regular schedule.

"We find that when we change the worship times, some people don't get the message," Kramer said.

Other churches also will be sticking to their regular schedules. The Live Oak Christian Church will hold its usual Sunday morning service as well as an evening candlelight vigil -- minus the candlelight, because the 2-year-old church can't have open flames in the Bluffton High School auditorium where it meets.

For its Christmas Eve service, Live Oak will be continuing its Sunday morning practice of showing a movie clip, then relating it to Biblical themes. This Sunday, they'll show a few snippets from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and illustrate how the joy of the Christmas season can permeate even the darkest places, said lead pastor Mark Jones.

Other churches are using similar tactics, showing contemporary movie clips to help relate to guests who might be attending the church for the first time as a way to make the service more appealing and relatable.

For his Christmas Eve sermon, Slocum will show a clip from "Talladega Nights," the Will Ferrell NASCAR spoof, where Ferrell's character explains his preference for saying grace to the baby Jesus as opposed to the grown man. The purpose of Slocum's sermon -- Are you worshiping the cuddly Christmas image of Jesus or are you worshiping the King? -- is delivered with a twist thanks to multimedia techniques that are more eye-catching to an audience not used to the typical Sunday sermon. It's an adjustment that might just bring in more people next Sunday, Slocum says.

"It's a whole different crowd," he said. "It may not even be that some of them believe in Christ; they might be there because it's a nice tradition. I'm really looking forward to speaking with them."

Monday, December 18, 2006

Merry Christmas, Buckwalter

Yesterday, we had our first ever Christmas @ Buckwalter Festival. It was off the hook. We had at least 1200-1500 people show up. Three months ago, I met with Lori Brien from Land Shapers and Eileen Spncer from the Ronald McDonald House. The idea was to do a fund raiser for the Ronald McDonald House while at the same time reaching out to the Bluffton Community with a Christmas event that would help people see the Gospel in action and Christians living missional lives here in B-town.

My vision was to have lots of food, a live nativity, hay rides, choirs, Christmas Songs, and a huge tree. We had that and Santa Claus and Lollipop the clown. Why Santa? The event was definitley geared to reach folks who pray to "The Christmas Jesus (See Ricky Bobby)." And, though Catherine and I would never lie to our kids and tell them that Snata is real, our kids still love Santa Claus. The idea behind Santa is that there ought to be someone who gives freely of themselves. Of course, the incarnation is the ultimate expression of "The Spirit of Christmas" but it happens to be true and real. Anyway, it was great to be able to see local businesses like Jim and Nicks, Myrtles, The Down Town Deli, Trattoria's, McDonalds, Romeo Pizza, and Bess's Catering offer us great food. The Bluffton Fire Department brought there fire engine. Landshapers Landscapeing provided the tree and the decorations, and the Ronald McDonald House was there to raise funds and awareness. What was really great was the fact that we, as a church, remained decidedly Christ centered, both in the way we expressed ourselves and in the way we extended love to the town of Bluffton. Thanks to all who volunteered from The Church of the Cross and thanks to the Bluffton Missionary Baptist hurch Choir for lending your voices to sing song that give the Living God glory Also, thanks to the Live Oak Church's Youth Band . What a party. I can't wait till next year.

Here is the cover story for today's


Hundreds attend charity fund-raiser for Savannah’s Ronald McDonald House

Avery Tuohey’s Christmas wish is simple: The 2­ year-old shyly told Santa on Sunday that all she wants in her stocking is “chocolate and candy.” Avery, we bet that Christmas wish comes true. Eas­ier for Santa to fit in his sleigh than, say, a pony. Avery, along with hundreds of other children, visited with the jolly old elf during Sunday’s “Christmas at Buckwalter” cel­ebration at the Church of the Cross’ Buckwalter campus. The event featured a little bit of everything related to Christ­mas – children’s choral groups singing carols, a live Nativity scene, hayrides, Santa and a giant Christmas tree. It even fea­tured several donkeys, including a few miniatures. Avery probably got to pet a pony after all. The event was free, but church members accepted donations for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Coastal Empire. The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile, which offers free dental care for Beaufort County’s chil­dren, was parked just behind Santa Sunday night. “The Church of the Cross wanted to extend this gift to the community,” said the Rev. Jay Slo­cum, who preached a little about giving thanks, led everyone in a countdown and officially plugged in the massive tree. Several local churches partici­pated in the event, which orga­nizers estimated attracted 1,500 people. Slocum added, “This is what Christmas is supposed to be – giv­ing.”

Photo: Scott Salibury/Bluffton Today The Bible Missionary Baptist Church Choir sang Christmas songs Sunday at the Church of the Cross on Buckwalter.

Photo: Scott Salibury/Bluffton Today Avery Tuohey, 2, with her father Steve, said she wanted candy and chocolate for Christmas.

Photo: Scott Salibury/Bluffton Today Alexandra Forbell, 2, and her mother Christi pet one of the donkeys stabled near the Nativity scene Sunday at the Church of the Cross’ Buckwalter campus.

Photo: Scott Salibury/Bluffton Today Melody-Rose Kinauy, 4, hugs Santa Claus at the Church of the Cross on Sunday during the “Christmas at Buckwalter” celebration.