Posted in Life

Sophomore year

Today was the beginning of a new school year here in Flagler County, Florida. My youngest is a Sophomore this year, kind of an in-between year of high school. No freshman jitters, yet no Junior or Senior excitement yet, either. The challenges will be geometry (one of my all-time favorite subjects), honors biology (mom, you get to help with homework in that subject), and world history (there is a lot more history to learn than when I was in high school!)

I am stretching my brain, trying to remember my Sophomore year in high school (1972-1973). We had a three-year high school, so it was my first year at the senior high. I remember walking to school each day, about 1-1/2 miles (no buses for us). I had Algebra 2 with Mrs. Miller, who’s favorite phrase was “that’s good mathematics” when an elegant solution was presented. I had chemistry with Mr. Yoder (wow, pulled his name out of a hat). Somehow I got put in the advanced half of the class, which meant we were left alone in a lab to conduct unauthorized experiments which often resulted in unknown, noxious gases which forced a hurried evacuation from the room. Let’s see, Mrs. Cavanaugh taught English, probably one of the most attractive teachers we had all throughout high school. I had health the first half of the year with Mr. Schnellenbach, the wrestling coach, who taught us more about wrestling than anything about health. Und second year German with Mr. Maiwold, who made our lives miserable until winter break, when he died, and was replaced with Mrs. Carpenter, who was just slightly worse. We had Phys Ed — every year back then — and had to take showers before heading to our next class. And band, which was always fun. Back then we marched to “Get it On,” the Olympic Fanfare, “Parade of the Chariots” from Ben Hur, and jammed to “Jingo” in the stands.

I guess my memory hasn’t totally let me down yet. Things we didn’t have: smart phones, Internet, texting, AIDS, airport security, hand-held calculators, digital cameras, bike helmets, microwave ovens, cable or satellite TV and DVRs. We did have Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars, curable STDs, classic rock before it was “classic”, pot, great high school football and $.29 McDonald’s hamburgers. It wasn’t such a bad year.

Posted in Life

Holiday concert

My wife and I attended our daughter Olivia’s holiday concert at her high school this evening. There are few things I enjoy more than attending our kid’s events, and I am admittedly biased towards band concerts, since I played in many of them myself over the years.

Attired in long black dressed and tuxedos, the band looked so different from the marching group who just finished their season. A number of the students played different instruments than they did for marching season. Many from the percussion section and pit were back on their primary instruments, which looked strange at first.

The jazz band started and played some very nice, swinging Christmas numbers, including a medley from the original Charlie Brown Christmas special. The concert band followed with some Christmas and Hanukkah pieces. The low brass resonated beneath the talented, well-blended woodwinds, trumpets and horns. A nice way to spend a chilly, rainy evening in Palm Coast.

I can still remember many band concerts from elementary school through college and even some community bands after that. I can even remember some of the songs we played. It’s amazing how all those notes tend to stay with you, as well as the faces of the people you played with.

Posted in Life, Ministry

Pit crew

My daughter’s high school played their last football game of the season last night.  I’ve been the volunteer in charge of the “pit crew” this season, the guys who help set up the xylophones, drums, and podium for the marching band competition and show routines.  The job got me into the football games and marching competitions, but also gave me the opportunity to get to know a lot of the band and their families.

I think this kind of activity is important for me, because it gets me out of “church” circles and out into the community.  It’s amazing how much of a pastor’s time can be spent with members, isolating you from the unbelieving or unchurched world.  (I know the label “unchurched” isn’t the greatest, but it’s the best I’ve got for now.)  I got to know quite a few parents, the band director and his family and my daughter’s friends in the band, with no agenda other than being there.

For a while, no one knew that I was a pastor.  Then someone recognized me from a baptism they went to, and the secret was out.  It didn’t make too much difference.  There was one guy who began apologizing ahead of time before using questionable language, but that’s about it.  So they got to see that a pastor (at least me) is just a regular person in the community who cares about the students, schools and activities.

All of those things are a part of our witness in the community and the world.  Being out there as people who care, people who help out, and people who work together can enable conversations about spiritual things in the future.