Monday, February 14, 2005


A Choice of Ministries

"Maurice, how does this weekend look for a visit?" I'm sitting in his car in front of City Hall, after our traditional Thursday pho lunch.
"I think Jen's mother is coming up to look at places to live. Would the following weekend work for you?"
"Yes. I want to get a sculpture off, but either weekend will work."
An hour later he calls me. "I was talking with Jen. She says her mom is coming up the weekend after this one. Are you available this weekend?"
There's a clashing of gears. I'd gotten myself set for a sculpture, but that can put off. "Yes." We're on. He's busy so it's hard to make dates.

My life tends to be quiet. Events can be scheduled at short notice with little worry about collisions. Most of the time. Thursday night I got an Email from Chad, the more or less monthly Mosaic Tech Trumpet.

"Larry, I thought you might be interested in this good news!!! You are (as always) more than welcome to join us as we plan to go west. Let me know.

"EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT...Hot off the Press: Mosaic West-side begins meeting March 6th! The contract was signed this afternoon and we will begin meeting in Culver City on March 6th at 9:30 AM!"

He went on to mention a meeting on Saturday for all interested people. I prefer decisions that make themselves. Now I have a problem. Maurice and family, or Chad and the Mosaic tech family?

If this news had come a few months back the direction would have been obvious. I was unstable enough that rejoining the Mosaic fold would have been a necessary blessing. The plans came to fruition in February, however, my situation is different. The Holy Spirit has wrought deeply within me a new kind of foundation that didn't become apparent until I started thinking about it, and asking God what he wanted me to do.

My general take on things like this is that unless there's a clear direction from God I should just do what comes to hand. The idea is that we can walk closely enough with God that anything we do is good. It's an experiment, suited to my peculiar temperament and capabilities. Theologically sound? Beats me. I just know that I can't live any other way because I'm tired of duty-based guilt. Maybe this is a temporary state. I'm going one day at a time.

God gave me clear pictures of both options. He didn't put his finger on the scales. I drove north to Lancaster partly through the logic of Maurice not being available all the time and partly because springtime in the desert in a lovely thing, and partly because I can pick up the technical business when necessary.

If I choose to go at all.

What is a ministry? Our minds are full of the formal kind. I believe there are many others. I've noticed my life touching others and changing those, as I've been changed by them. Mauricio teaches me generosity and to meet challenges with what is available at the time. Don't worry about it beforehand. He's a good balance to my NASA-style approach to art and its production: i have to have just the right equipment. He does it with what he has; his first granite sculpture was banged out by hand hammer and chisel.

He and his family have become friends. We participate in each other's lives, and look forward to doing so. God honors this and helps by keeping my scattered psyche together well enough to make the drive up there. It's as if we're gifts to each other.

Some gifts I can do without. Jen says she'll give me the "Gilmore Girls" third season for my birthday.

There's another issue involved in the Mosaic West Side deal. If I go to work with them every Sunday as I did at Beverly Hills I'll no longer be able to do sand sculpture because I need Sundays to recover physically from the exertions of the sculpture. Sculpture is a gift from God, to me and to the beach community. Many people tell me that they look forward to seeing them standing there after I'm long gone.

What is a church? I've given this much thought ever since Mosaic pulled out of Beverly Hills. Even while working there it seemed needlessly complex and dependent upon expensive technical tricks. Lu and I were talking about this one night. Churches and choices. She said "You may not need the church, but it needs you." I could see some truth to that; every organization needs a Christian troubleshooter, designed and remade by God for some particular purpose. Yet I long for simplicity.

Sunday morning I made French toast for the whole family. A four-burner stove and I had three of them in use, parallel processing the toast and fruit topping. It was a hit; I've never seen Amelia eat anything so fast and she went back for seconds. Neither of the children gets all that
excited about food. Usually.

Afterward we went to Valley Bible Church. Maurice and Jennifer have been looking for a church for some time and this is the first that seems to be a good fit. An understated and well-practiced band sings a few songs and then the pastor preaches. After a closing song, that's it. No announcements, no extortion, and teaching from the bible.

The day's theme was mercy and grace. The pastor used John 7:53-8:11 as his text, starting with the admission that the story didn't become part of the bible until the fifth century.
"It has always been a part of the oral tradition, handed down and not written. It belongs here."
He went on to describe the situation and how the religious leaders were trying to trap Jesus. If he said to stone the woman, he'd be in trouble with the law of the land, the Romans. If he said to let her go, he'd cause problems with the Jews for setting aside the Law of Moses. As usual, Jesus
used the truth. Mosaic law says that both man and woman must be stoned to death. None accused the woman after that.

"The woman was guilty. By law, she deserved death. Jesus chose to give her mercy and let her have another chance. Mercy is giving people what they need, not what they deserve. May we be conscious of this at all times, and give those around us mercy."

At about 1230 I drove away, headed for home. At 60th, I had a choice: straight to the freeway, or go the long way to Gorman and then south. On a whim I turned north and then west, toward Gorman. Early poppies glowed on the southward-facing slope above the wandering road, orange faces tossed by a brisk wind from the southwest under clouds that seemed to presage a storm. A treat for my city-battered eyes, a gift from God.

2005 February 13, 14
Email failed. Posted February 15

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