Saturday, June 27, 2009

What's on my mind tonight

So, Michael Jackson died. In case you haven't heard. But I'm not sure how you couldn't have heard about that by now. It's been on every TV station, and today as I was driving and listening to the radio, every break between songs the DJ talked about it. I think MTV even preempted their regularly scheduled programming to run a program about him. American Idol is going to re-air an episode for the first time, and it's going to be the one from this season where they all sang Michael Jackson songs. So I'm not sure how anyone could have gone this long without knowing something about Michael Jackson being dead.

And I get it. He's famous. He sang songs and made good music and cool videos. He did some pretty sweet dance moves and wore a sparkly glove. He lived at a fun park and had a pet chimpanzee and was friends with Emmanuel Lewis and Macaulay Culkin. I understand that.

But he was a person. No better or more important or any more special than anyone else. He wasn't any more special than one of my church members who I just found out died today in a car accident. His family mourns his loss. His wife and children and grandchildren now have a very big hole where this important and special man once was.

I just think it's wrong to lift up the death of some people as more important, more worthy of attention than others. We are all children of God, equally loved and cherished by God. It doesn't matter if we had best selling albums, or if we were on posters on every boy's room in the 1970's or if we were on one of the best late night talk shows, or if we lived in a small house in rural Minnesota. We are all special. We are all equal. We are all loved.

Friday, June 19, 2009

a list of highlights (creative title, i know)

Well, two weeks of Busy Summer 2009 are over. They were, indeed, busy. But they were fun nonetheless.

Some highlights of the past two weeks:

- Meeting Pastor Christie, a fun and funny fellow clergyperson, at church camp. She was there with her senior pastor and their middle school youth, and was at camp for most of the week, and was my partner-in-crime for the week. We now even have matching sweatshirts to confirm this.

- Canoeing with Pastor Christie and trying to catch pelicans on the lake. Even though they appeared to be sleeping they were able to get away from us. Though we did worry about being gangbeat by a bunch of them for disturbing their chillaxing.

- Playing "jackolight" at camp. It's a game original to this camp, that involves campers running around outside in the dark, and various counselors, staff members and other assorted adult-type people jumping out, shining flashlights at them and shouting "Jackolight!" Apparently there was a object that the kids were trying to find. I just thought it was an opportunity to jump and scream at the kids.

- Having kids raise their hands if they liked various food items, and when I said "Raise your hand if you like cheese curds," little Joey came tearing from across the room, looked at me with consternation and asked, "Did you say turds?"

- Eating at an end of VBS potluck and having little Becca standing behind me and say, "You have hair like my grandpa!"

- Taking another group of camp staff to see the two-story outhouse in town.

- Having a week at confirmation camp that did not involve threats of physical violence, mustard packets emptied on sleeping bags, kids tipping their canoes on purpose, or kids carving in their arms with safety pins.

- Playing Bonkers (also known as Biffer, or Biffer and Medic, or Boof or countless other names) and being a Bonker for the entire time and not dying. Although several kids taunted me, knowing they could easily outrun me. But it was a personal achievement. Don't try and take that away from me!

- Watching Sam and Aiden put pillows on their heads and dance to entertain the people behind our bus on the way home from camp.

- This isn't an actual highlight from camp or VBS, but it's related, so I'm including it. Getting to lead "Giants, Wizards and Elves," one of my favorite games ever (and I learned it at camp) at a meeting with the other churches with which we'll be traveling to the ELCA National Youth Gathering. It's a group "rock, paper, scissors" type game, and I learned it as "Giants, Wizards and Dwarves" but have changed it so as to be a bit more PC.

- Playing watergames during VBS in my backyard, and getting countless cups of water poured on me and more than several water balloons thrown at me. I try to remind myself that the sadistic attitude my young people have toward me really means that they like me.

- Finding and buying a camp hoodie that I had been envying and coveting for the past three years. And finding it on the clearance rack at the camp store. Granted, it's not the color that I would have chosen, but I still like it and am wearing it right now.

So those are just a few of the many highlights of the past two weeks. I've been enjoying a much needed day off, doing a whole lot of nothing all day. Tomorrow looks like a very similar day.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

and so it begins

Summer is officially here. Well, not according-to-the-calendar official, but In-the-life-of-me official. Because tomorrow I head three hours north, with a busload of 7th graders, to spend a week away from their parents, at confirmation camp.

Now, if you know anything about me, then you know I spend most of the entire year looking forward to this one week. I won't go into my deep love for all things summer camp, that could be an entire post of it's own. Maybe even an entire blog. But, let's just say I really enjoy it and look forward to the opportunity to go there.

This will be my third summer at camp as Pastor Mark. I'm hoping that it will be a great week, the weather will cooperate, and the kids will have a good time.

Note: The previous paragraphs were written the day before I left for camp. I got back from camp on Friday. What follows, is obviously written post camp.

So, the week was good. I took a great group of 7th graders up to camp for the week, and I'm pretty sure most of them had a good time. Some of them even had a great time.

The week started out chilly and rainy, but got better as it progressed. By the end there was sun, although I think I'm wearing a sweatshirt in every picture. This year at camp we did not have any major issues, such as we had my first year. Which was nice. All of the kids were low drama, mixed well with the other kids, and had a good time. Several of them even mentioned wanting to go back to camp next year.

I had a good time, too. There was a new pastor friend this year, who I had not met before. She is in her first year of pastorhood and we had a good time hanging out and causing mischief. We went canoeing and tried to harass the pelicans on the lake, but they avoided us all too well.

It was a great time. I love camp, I love being in the midst of that atmosphere and in that environment. So even though it was, technically, 24 hours of work a day, it was a refreshing and fun experience.

The day after we got home, we had a car wash. I was out in the sun washing cars from 10 until 4, and I was even an hour late. This was a fundraiser for our mission trip to Denver and our trip to the ELCA National Youth Gathering. It was a great day for a car wash. Not a cloud in the sky, it wasn't too hot, but it was nice and sunny and warm. Which, of course, means sunburns. I got one on the back of my neck and my bald spot. Luckily it's not a very bad one. I made out far better than some of the others that were there.

Today, the camp counselors arrived for our week of Vacation Bible School this week. Luckily, none of them are staying at my house this week, I'm just not sure that I'm up for that right now. I feel like I've got a lot of stuff going on and I need to be in all these different places, and the condition of my house reflects that.

This afternoon we had a get-together with the churches we'll be traveling with to New Orleans for the ELCA National Youth Gathering. I got to lead Giants, Wizards and Elves - one of my favorite games ever. It's sort of a big group version of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Then we chatted for a bit and worked on covenants for the trip. It was a good time and gets me excited for our upcoming journey to New Orleans!!!

Now I have to get ready to head over to church to eat supper with our camp counselors and get ready for worship this evening. Tomorrow we start our week of VBS. It's going to be a busy summer!