This last week has been a busy one, and the next looks to be about as busy, so I thought I’d inform you of our doings.
Firstly, I’ve apparently been writing my fingers off. I’m not sure why. But I’ve written nearly every day for a week now. For some reason, our site traffic has jumped in parabolic proportion. Though not, hyperbolic. You need to offend the sensibilities of a pyromaniac for that. And since I stopped reading him when he felt compelled to make me read all his friends as well…
Other interesting web-things have happened. I’m supposed to be redesigning the website for our [church]( http://pigeoncovechapel.org/) as well. *That* has been a complicated tangle. I have a basic [template]( http://www.neumatikos.org/pigeoncovechapel/) set up, which is just begging for comments and corrections, but nobody from the church has been able to access the current site in order to make any changes. The previous “webmaster” has moved, and he’s been hard to get hold of ever since. However, those troubles are almost over. Supposedly, an elder of ours has stepped in and settled things, giving us another 6 years of rights to the domain name. All I have to do now is go through the process of resetting the passwords. Oh yeah. The easy part.
But, in the process of that, said elder discovered this weblog. I try not to foist this stuff on my fellow congregationers, but occasionally it gets mentioned. He said he was very impressed. He particularly liked the [pictures]( http://www.neumatikos.org/gallery/). So now *he’s* pushing the site on people. So Sunday, while people were complimenting me on my masterful 20 minute sermon, they were also stopping by to say what nice pictures Valerie takes. Fortunately no one was actually reading the things I’ve put on here, so my reputation as a nice guy is safe.
Speaking of speaking and other church activities… Whoo! As we await the final decision of the pulpit committee (and presumably the discovery of will of God as well), elders have been pushing for some time to get me to preach. So, despite all protests to the contrary, I was the bringer of the word of God this last Sunday. I posted my message [yesterday](http://www.neumatikos.org/transformed/). I have opinions on preaching method and technique which I now feel qualified to dump upon you, the unsuspecting reader sometime in the near future. For the present, let’s just say that everybody was terribly pleased at my first attempt (except, of course, for me). It was kind of nice, actually. Apparently I kept everyone’s attention, young and old alike. Plus, to my great pleasure, people came up and talked to me about the actual content of the sermon. (So glad I made an effort to keep the gospel in it!) I was also complimented by the elderly for speaking clearly enough to be heard, by the young for being entertaining, by the college aged for being funny, and by elders for good exegesis. The odd part was that several people came up to me and attempted to discuss nuclear physics! And so I have learned the dangers of using too powerful an illustration.
Saturdays, normally, Valerie and I have two events: a worship practice in the morning, and youth in the evening. Church is far enough away that usually we make a day of it, leaving the house around 9:30 in the morning and coming back around 10:00 that evening. (Remind me to tell you a joke some time about campgrounds and the all-importance of the bathroom-commode.) This means that, typically, I have a good seven hours or so to come up with something to talk about during the youth meeting. (It really does take me that long. I think it has something to do with culture clash.) But Friday night I discovered that I was spent. I’d done too much high-level processing the last week (witness my steady blogging) to have the energy to get up early on Saturday. We called people and moved the worship practice to Saturday afternoon. Oh the joy of small churches.
Showing up Saturday afternoon, it was quickly decided that the service shouldn’t be the Kyle French show. I was nixed from the worship team. By sometime around 4:30, worship was over and we discovered we had nothing prepared for youth. No activities, no snacks, nothing to talk about. My post last week on the [Holy Spirit and Baptism]( http://www.neumatikos.org/the-holy-spirit-and-baptism/) was the intro to the last of three or four talks we’d had on Baptism. One of my frustrations has been that, as a non-denominational church, we don’t have any clear teachings on anything much beyond the authority of scripture and the historic Protestant understanding of the gospel. So I don’t dare say anything as if I had the full agreement of the church behind me. What I’ve been doing lately has been to go through the traditional Catholic sacraments and the classic Protestant responses as an intro to discussion. At the very least, I want to get people at least thinking about these things. Sunday last was to be an intro on communion, forgoing detailed discussion of spiritual gifts (the logical progression from three weeks on baptism, confirmation, and the role of the Holy Spirit in salvation) for a later date. But at 5:00 or so, I balked. We went out for coffee at [Ellen’s](http://www.ellensharborside.com/), which was fun. **We** had coffee and appetizers. **Arthur** had a half-rack of ribs.
Sunday was busy, and not because I preched. After church, I we had our annual church picnic, the traditional ending for Sunday school. Interestingly enough, our church was founded through a Sunday school outreach. There’s a history book in the works. Someone has the records. That evening, we had a joint youth activity with another evangelical church on Cape Ann. (There’s another post pending for ya – comments on the need for more joint efforts among churches in a region.) It involved pizza and a movie, and discussion on “why bad things happen to good people.” The movie was *[Holes]( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0311289)* which I highly recommend. It’s a kid flick, so don’t go looking for lofty drama, but the plot has stayed on my mind for over a day. There was a significant amount of skill laid into pulling diverse elements together. Both the movie and the topic assigned were worth of far more discussion than we gave them.
And at the very end of a long post, Friday was my birthday. I am now old. I’ve put an order in for my new walker. For the time being at least, our family allowance is keyed to age, so I’ve gotten a raise. I am now entitled to $28 per week. Amusingly, Valerie’s family has a tradition of gifting the birthday child with a check in the amount of their age. As an adopted member I received in the mail a card with a check for $29. I called back and thanked them with appropriate mock-outrage. For my troubles I now owe my in-laws a dollar. My parents sent books and movies, a candle-holder of some sort (the only turtle in the batch ! ), and a massive coffee cup filled with the most exquisite candy-coated coffee beans I have ever tasted. I won’t call them chocolate coated, since that would be inaccurate. There were several kinds, milk and dark chocolate, yogurt, and something with a crunchy shell. (I testify before you that these beans have made no contribution to my recent profusion of writing ! :)) All of the above were encased comfortably in a large box filled with Styrofoam popcorn.
Which brings me to another box I [mentioned](http://www.neumatikos.org/trepidation/) about a month ago, also filled with popcorn. I regret to inform my concerned readers that I did not receive a new chemistry set. Nor did I receive an easy-bake oven, or a volcano kit, all worthy guesses. No, I received a [Bodum coffee press](http://contact.ebay.com/ws1/eBayISAPI.dll?ShowEmailAuctionToFriend&item=4468326582), also known as a [French Press]( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_press). Fitting, considering the name. The “beakers” which I described are special designer cups which came with the press. Some had handles and were for drinking coffee. Others had no handles but pouring lips (therefore looking more like beakers) and were designed for cream and other additives. Bodum, I’ve been told, makes the ones that Starbucks sells.
Valerie is very pleased with herself. She bought me a mischievous gift, which involved making things, yet which I also thoroughly enjoyed. She also managed to show me the gift without me getting a clue. The press is very much appreciated. I’m a moderate coffee drinker, down from an antagonistic stance. So I’ve been frustrated for a long time about the need to have a big machine to make a pot of coffee. The machine has to sit permanently on the counter (which we lack), and then I would use it only every couple of weeks. But if any family ever visit (particularly any moms), the lack of coffee-making facilities would be greatly bemoaned. Solution: coffee press. Sits neatly in the cabinet when not in use, runs off an external heating source (a kettle, which can sit on a stove burner – a place which cannot be occupied by your traditional coffee pot). Best of all, you can use a coffee press to make tea from loose herbs, so it can be a bit of an all-in-wonder.
So there you go. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about my doings and more. If you hear from me in the next two weeks, you may count it a small miracle. I’ll be writing, but you’ll likely not read any of it. I have a “statement of faith” and an exam, both due Friday the 16th.