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February 05, 2007

A Unique Evening of Jazz

There's a certain amount of prejudice you encounter being from Iowa. Most people have the impression that there's nothing in Iowa but corn fields and farmers wearing overalls and seed corn hats - and certainly there's nothing to do. I don't care - people can believe what they want.  I'll just continue to enjoy amazing evenings like the one Wendy and I attended last Friday night.

Our friend Eric occasionally opens his home on the 'edge' of Lake Red Rock for evenings of live music. No cover charge. No pressure. No strings attached. Just show up with a bottle and snack to share. Eric is part of a great local Jazz band, Ashanti. He invites friends in the music world to to perform at his home and sell some CDs. So it was that we headed out to the lake Friday night.

The performer on this particular evening was Edsel Gomez, who will be at the Grammy's this week for his nominated album in the Latin Jazz category. Ashanti warmed up the evening and then Gomez sat in with the band. It was amazing to watch "the conversation" between musicians as the give and take transpired effortlessly in each song. Good food, good wine, good company...great music. Simple. Free...in Iowa.

Chapter-a-Day Genesis 1

God spoke: "Let us make human beings in our image, make them
      reflecting our nature
   So they can be responsible
Genesis 1:26 (TM)

I have two teenaged daughters. They are great kids - beautiful, intelligent, and talented. Responsibility, however, is not their strong suit. Mind you - I've done the reading and I know that an adolescent's brain is such a bubbling cauldron of chemicals and hormones that it's a wonder they can even tie their shoes (or if they can tie their shoes they will forget to wear them with socks in the snow and sub-zero temperatures). Nevertheless, it's maddening to repeat instructions over and over only to have them ignored and constantly deal with the daily messes (schedule messes, relational messes, kitchen messes, etc.) created by teen-aged irresponsibility. Perhaps it's because I'm in this stage of life that today's verse struck me...

"Let us make humans...so they can be responsible..."

I feel like our culture has lost much of its sense of responsibility.

Responsibility to God.
Responsibility to creation.
Responsibility to community.
Responsibility to neighbors.
Responsibility to the Body of Christ.
Responsibility to family.
Responsibility to future generations.
Responsibility to self.

Responsibility implies an accounting - the act of being held responsible. Isn't it interesting that the Bible begins with man being created to be responsible - and ends with him being held accountable on Judgment Day?

February 02, 2007

The Next Production

Mornings_at_sevenFriends and family members have been asking Wendy and me about the latest production we're involved in. I'm currently directing a show called Morning's at Seven for Pella's Union Street Players.

It's a very funny comedy about four elderly sisters who've all lived in the same town their whole lives. One of the sister is a spinster whose lived with - and gotten between - one of the other sisters and her husband (see photo). Another sister has a 40 year-old son whose never left home and has never once brought his girlfriend of 12 years home. The eldest sister lives up on the hill and is married to a pompous, educated snob who refuses to let her see her family - whom he considers "morons". Their disfunctional, enmeshed family provides for some hilarious moments that allow us to laugh at ourselves and own crazy family systems.

You know, a trip to Pella, an overnight at the Royal Amsterdam Hotel or the Strawtown Inn, a dinner out and an evening of laughter at the theater...sounds like a good Valentine's Day present!! (Hey guys, I'm talking to you here!)

Production dates are February 22, 23, & 24 at 7:00 p.m. with a matinee on Feb 25 at 2:00 p.m. All the other information you need to know you can found on the sidebar here. If you need me to score you some tickets, I can hook you up...I know a guy.

Chapter-a-Day Romans 16

Hello to my cousins Andronicus and Junias. We once shared a jail cell. Romans 16:7a (TM)

Most people skip over the verses at the beginning and end of the New Testament letters, when the writer is sending personal greetings. I don't. Those little personal notes add a whole new perspective for me. They remind me that I'm not readng a "book" I'm reading a "letter" and letters are personal.

We don't write letters much anymore. You get a sentence or two in broken, cryptic English via e-mail. You might get a card with a signature on it on birthdays and holidays. If you actually get a long, hand-written letter these days it's a big deal. It's special. They were special in Paul's day, too. Few people knew how to read and write. They didn't exactly have the USPS to pick up a letter at your home and deliver it anywhere for a few cents. The letters of the New Testament were a big deal for the senders and the recipients, and all of those names and little personal messages remind us that the letters of the New Testament were very, very personal.

I don't know who Andronicus and Junias were - but they must have been Roman Christians - and they shared a jail cell with Paul. They were fellow prisoners. There's a story there that sparks my imagination and adds depth to Paul's letter to the Romans. He wasn't writing to the city of Rome - he was writing to two guys who survived Roman prison with him. That's intruiging.

I can see the three believers shackled to the wall of the dank prison singing The Roman Prison Blues:

I hear the legion comin', their marching round the bend
ain't seen the sunshine since I don't know when
I'm stuck in Roman prison, time keeps draggin' on
but that legion keeps a marching - down to Pergamum

When I was a baby, my momma said now son
always be a good boy - don't get yourself stoned
but I saved a man named Philo - just to give him Life
then I went and saved his children, and his lovely wife

There's probably rich folks eating in the vomitorium
they're probably having orgies in the praetorium
but I know they have it comin - I know they're just not free
When I think how lost they all are - I get down on my knees

If they freed me from this prison, if liberty was mine
I think I'd move a little farther down the line
far from Roman prison, that's where I'd want to stay
but I've got the Holy Spirit - to drive my blues away!

February 01, 2007

Chapter-a-Day Romans 15

Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, "How can I help?" Romans 15:1-2 (TM)

As I read these verses this morning, I was reminded of the prayer of St. Francis...

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.