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June 2018

This Summer at Calvary will be Hectic

As I write this, there are three men up on scaffolding working on the masonry around the towers of the church. I am waiting for an electrician to come by and check on the installation of new emergency exit lights for the ground level. Behind the scenes, crews are preparing to reupholster the pews and replace the carpet in the sanctuary.

It’s going to be a little chaotic at Calvary this summer. It is likely that we will have to hold worship in Fellowship Hall (ground floor) on July 15th. It is possible that it may be necessary another Sunday or so in June or July. We will keep you posted by emails and postcards.

Even with the chaos, life goes on. We will hold three special activities: the Jubilate Concert (June 13th); the Senators Ballgame (July 13th), and an Acolyte’s Field Trip to the National Cathedral (August TBA).  Our main ministry to the children of the community, the Arts Camp, The Story Tellin’ Man, will go on as scheduled (July 22-26; 6:00 – 7:45p). Manna will continue as usual this summer except that we are expecting some visitors from a local church that has had to close its dinner ministry for kitchen renovation.

Sunday school and Worship should carry on as usual except for the possible change of location for worship on a given Sunday or two. This summer I will add some new pieces to the sermon series, The Gospel in Baseball (July), and to the series, Listening for God on Broadway (August).

Try to imagine with me life on the other side of the dust and noise! This September we should have a beautified sanctuary, a renewed exterior, and several unspectacular but crucial safety features. We will hold a Sunday afternoon celebration to which we will bring the very important persons to Calvary’s history who are not normally able to attend. And the Council will hold a retreat as we begin to take steps to find new uses for the building God has entrusted to us for a season.

It is good (and fun!) to be your companion for this stage of the journey.

Pastor Lew

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April 2018

The Problem with sui generis

It’s easy enough to pronounce: “soo-i-generes”. It sounds something like a hog call followed by the word “generous”. It means unique, radically different, singular, or “constituting a class alone”. The problem with sui generis is you can point to things that are sort of like it, but never quite finish the job. It is easier to say what sui generis isn’t than to say what it is.

Sui generis messes with what you hold to be true about the way things really are. It threatens to undo your view of the world. It is untidy, like a sloppy teenager who cannot be coaxed, bribed or threatened to clean up their room. Sui generis confuses by its otherness. We keep wanting to reduce it to something else with which we are more familiar, more comfortable.

I’ve never been one to throw around Latin terms. First, every foreign language I speak still comes out with a Pennsylvania Dutch accent. And second, the day when you could assume a common education in Latin is over. But occasionally, I can’t help myself, and that is the case here. Sui generis is exactly the word I need to talk about the resurrection of Jesus. It is an event without parallel and therefore difficult to pin down.

Every Easter it is the same thing. I want to speak about the greatest event in history, the miracle of all miracles, the decisive act by God that changes everything. I want to show people its relevance and urgency. But it never comes out like it should. I fuss and fume, aim, fire, and miss, set traps only to find the creature has escaped. In the end, I shut-up and point. I can only hope they see resurrection hope for themselves.

I am back this Easter trying again. Maybe this year I can be a better witness to God’s unique, one-time, singular victory over sin and death by raising his Son. Where do I get the audacity to keep trying? From two places. First from the New Testament stories themselves. I notice how uncomfortable, how unprepared, how unhinged are those first witnesses of the risen Jesus. If you think I look bad, check out Mary Magdalene or the disciples on the Road to Emmaus when they first encounter the risen Lord!

And second, from that wonderful Latin word that reminds me: if this is the greatest event in the history of humankind, then I should expect some stammering. I am living in the echo of this event, trying to make sense of what I pick up. Sui generis, baby! Deal with it! Over the next month of Sundays or so I will preach the implications if Jesus is risen. It is hard work wrestling with a sui generis and your sympathetic company would be much appreciated.

Pastor Lew

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