Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Knee Surgery

That's my friend Glendon Yoder and his family. 

 

Phoenix, AZ.  The Yoder backyard at Christmas. 

 

I've claimed them as my extended family.

 

I knew Glendon and Deb before they were married.  I provided the music at their wedding.

 

And I'm thinking about them all tonight.

 

I imagine they're worried, because this morning Glendon had knee surgery.  

 

So I'm sending out my best wishes for his swift recovery.

 

                         *     *     *

 

And I'm wishing Ashley (far right) a happy birthday!  Glendon's right proud of her.

 

                         *     *     *

 

This past Sunday morning, at PMC's farewell service for its founding leader (Jim Brennaman), Erin Dufault-Hunter reflected on the meaning of leadership. 

 

I'm publishing an edited version of her speech below.

 

                         *     *     *

 

Jim treads where few pastors dare to follow: into a world of the not-so-serious, into—why not just say it?—the goofy. He shows us that humor has its place in the Kingdom alongside calls for justice and peace.

 

Freedom to laugh makes Jim a shepherd who truly seeks the good of his sheep—he does not require us to stroke his ego. Jim’s lack of pretension provides safe ground for our own experiments in faith.

 

Jim is indeed someone you invite to your parties, and you don’t have to worry who else will be in attendance. He will be approachable and gracious, even to friends who find our Christian faith offensive.

 

But his respect for others doesn’t mean he is milquetoast. Jim is comfortable in his own skin, in convictions that have been hard-won and purchased through his consistent pursuit of truth.

 

Jim’s thoughtfulness and formidable smarts kept many of us here.  In this self-effacing wedding of laughter, and honest, intellectual engagement, we found a fellow traveler.  A leader we deeply respect and on whom we call when troubled.

 

While other pastors might shy away from a congregation so overly educated and under-intimidated by formal authority, Jim invited us to dream, to work with him for the mission of this church.

 

Part of Jim’s personal joy is in the pursuit of his intellectual life. In this congregation,he encourages us to “talk back”—to engage God ourselves, to discern by the Spirit our own journey and our collective calling.  

 

Jim trusts that iron sharpens iron and that imperfections and silliness allow for the glory of God to shine through his earthen vessel. All of this gives him a creative authority that empowers others rather than enslaving or crushing them.

 

Jim is one we can call when we are suffering or caught in despair.  He unashamedly weeps as he shares our personal sadness and struggles—be it the loss of our child, the suicide of our fiancé, the death of our parent, or the burden of chronic depression.  Jim's tears are accompanied by hope in the story of a compassionate God. 

 

Jim doesn't try to make us believe or act in certain ways.  Instead, he encourages us to sense the presence of God, wherever we are in our journey.  And if we cannot perceive Christ’s light ourselves, he holds on to that hope for us.

 

Jim’s self-effacing nature drew many of us to this congregation.  He has remained willing to let others lead, to address the questions of even the most antagonistic atheist, and to let our disagreements with him or with his theology stand as they are.

 

Jim is reluctant to be the "star" of the worship service, or the "real" leader of our congregation—he makes us work out our own salvation.

 

In asking for our aid, while refusing to do too much for us as our pastor, he has nudged us forward, making us more than we would ever have dreamed possible.

 

                                                                       ~ Erin Dufault-Hunter

 

Now do you understand why I climb out of bed on Sunday morning and drive 30 minutes to Pasadena? 

 

Any group that supports this kind of life philosophy has my vote.

1 comment:

ckays1967 said...

What a wonderful speech and awesome tribute...if ever I am near I want to go to your church.

In our little community half our members have PhD after their names...and they build things that require secret service clearances.  They often glow in the dark.

Our pastor tells jokes too.

Glad I found you...