Photo on 2011-04-23 at 08.28

This is a busy week…

I just got back from a quick trip to Boise, Idaho. I have been working with a minister there on his blog site for a few years. He wanted to expand his communication outreach and the best way to handle it was for me to spend a pretty solid day working on his stuff with him. The church he pastors is coming alive and doing some great stuff in the area.

Next week they are doing three events to spread some Love to the city, a party downtown with music and food, visits to the elderly, and care for families who have ended up without a permanent address. it’s all good stuff and you can see God moving through this “normal” church. Now it’s a busy three days and then I am heading to Nashville for a few days.

By charleswear Posted in My Life

Getting Free of Religion

In the early 90s for a couple of years I was an unpaid “Executive Pastor” of a denominational church. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am not really a great committee member. I just find the whole process frustrating. I think I am a pretty good team player as long as everyone knows that I own the team!
My management style is directive. My favorite response to an idea or initiative I have conceived? Yes Sir!

You can imagine then how frustrated I was meeting with the paid pastoral staff of the church week after week as we were attempting to retool and relocate the congregation. None of the paid staff, except for the senior pastor, wanted to retool or move. They would rather die than change, and they would rather talk than work. As I spent hours every week attempting to move them, I imagined my blood pressure going higher and higher.

At the same time I was reading a book about paradigm shifts. You know, the kind that happen when a new technology surpasses an older technology. Electric lights surpass gas and oil lamps. Horseless carriages surpass horse-drawn carriages. The internet surpasses the broadcast networks. You get the idea, right?

As I drove away from one of the staff meetings, fuming and nearly foaming at the mouth, I heard a whisper from the Holy Spirit. “It’s okay, Charlie, the time of the paid staff pastor is coming to an end.” This idea was somehow comforting to me (He is the Comforter after all :)). Of course, it takes time for new ways of doing things to rise above the old ways. This is the way it is with the “normal” way of doing church. But I am getting a glimpse of a “new” way and what I am seeing makes me very happy. I am praying that I get to see the great awakening that will come from it.

In one of those mind-numbing staff meetings one of the pastors said to me, “Charlie, you are just an iconoclast!” He didn’t mean it as a compliment and I didn’t really know what he meant. So I had to go look it up:

i·con·o·clast? ?
[ahy-kon-uh-klast]–noun
1. a breaker or destroyer of images, especially those set up for religious veneration.
2.        a person
who attacks cherished beliefs, traditional institutions, etc., as being based on error or superstition.

Okay, he had me. That’s what I have been doing my entire adult life, starting in high school and continuing to this day. I am always asking the Dr. Phil question, “How’s that working for you!” I am also approaching the mission of the church with the Cable Guy mantra, “Git ‘r done.” I have a fundamental assumption, we have to change what we are doing if we are going to get different results. And different results are what we need to fulfill the mission of Jesus.

Photo on 2011-04-23 at 08.28

Love Never Dies

If you have been reading my blog or if you are a friend of mine you know that I have been having an “existential crisis” since the beginning of last December. The precursor to my nervous “break-through” happened a year ago on Mother’s Day. On the way to brunch I became aware of an abyss of deep-seated and unresolved emotions about my mother.

These unresolved feelings began when my mother began a series of psychiatric hospitalizations and suicide attempts in my pre-teen and teenage years. Although not successful in taking her life her numerous attempts left a deep scar in my psyche which has clouded by entire life, mostly with a lot of misdirected anger.

Starting in December I began to face and then unravel the past hurts with my mom. I sought and received psychotherapy. For a time I tried medication to deal with anxiety and sleeplessness. Eventually I had a cathartic experience that relieved a huge amount of the burden I had been carrying.

For the past twenty-some years I had never visited my mother’s grave, just one more symptom of my angst. It was the day before easter and Loretta and I were taking my granddaughter Annie home. The cemetery was on the way, impulsively I turned in and we began to look for my mom’s grave. Twenty years is a long time and so we were unable to find it. Ben and Annie were running up and down the rows of gravestones while Loretta and I looked more methodically. I didn’t have any great expectation or ritual to perform at the gravesite, but I did want to find it!

After a trip to the office, with map and instructions in hand we returned to the general vicinity where we had been looking, and suddenly there it was. It had been so long that I didn’t remember what we had put on my mom’s headstone. Cleo Charlene Hight Wear, my mom’s name when she was married to my dad was in capital letters on the first line. The second line read: “Mom and Grandma.” My mom was a very sweet person who suffered from “smiling” depression. After her time of severe psychiatric disturbance she went on to live a life of connection to her children and her grandchildren. She babysat for my kids on a daily basis for a number of years.

When she renewed her faith and rejoined the church she naturally gravitated to the nursery. She loved children, especially babies. It was herself she didn’t like.

And then the third line on her gravestone, “Love Never Dies.” When I read those words the sob immediately escaped and I began to gently weep. As I stood there by my mom’s grave I felt her love for me echoing long past her death. My wife, Loretta stood with her arm around me as I wept. Ben and Annie put an easter egg on the grave. We hadn’t brought flowers.

And then I was remembering the love of God. The Love that has echoed throughout eternity. The non-ending, and eternal love of God. Who, knowing full well the mess we would make of things made a plan to rescue us from our mess, all because of love.

Yesterday we celebrated Mother’s day with Loretta. Cards and Mexican Food for lunch were the order of the day. I thought about my mom, and my grandmothers, and my great grandmothers, the women who held together my family over the years. They were a strong group of women who faced trials. The love they had for their children and grandchildren reverberates past the grave and touches their descendants today.

Father, thank you for your unending love and the love our mothers, Amen.