30 November 2015

Advent Snowglobes (Day 2)

This snowglobe was given to me in 2000. What I love about it is how the snowman is reaching for the star. Advent is a time of reaching. Christians do not reach for things (hey today is CyberMonday), but we reach for hope. For love. For peace and joy. "The Lord isn't slow to keep his promise, as some think of slowness, but he is patient toward you, not wanting anyone to perish but all to change their hearts and lives" (2 Peter 3:9). On this second day of Advent, what could you change about your own life to make that star a little closer to your reach? ‪#‎advent‬ ‪#‎day2‬ ‪#‎snowglobe‬ ‪#‎snowman‬ ‪#‎keepreaching‬‪#‎christmas‬

Advent Snowglobe Devotions-- Day 1

My mom has given me a snowglobe at Christmas every year since I was in high school. Today (Nov 29) was the first Sunday of Advent. My goal is to post a picture and reflection every day until Christmas. I received this one in 1989, my senior year. It once had a light in the steeple. It does not play music, and the church has become detached from its base. Like the church in the snowglobe, at times the Church around the world sometimes seems detached from both its audience and its Lord. In the current climate, where more and more folk self-identify with no religious preference, the gospel message is still vital. This is from today's epistle lesson- it speaks to our purpose: "May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all" (1 Thessalonians 3:12).

11 November 2015

Veteran's Day

Veteran's Day has a special place in my heart, and not because I ever served in the military (I did flirt with the idea of serving as a chaplain once or twice). So many men who have impacted my life served in the United States Navy: both grandfathers, my dad, and his brother, my Uncle Donald. I have two cousins currently serving (Army and Air Force). Very proud and thankful for all of them-- and everyone who has served.

My paternal grandfather, Frank Drenner I, WWII, USN. He was at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked-- we was wounded and his ship was sunk. My boys ask if he survived; I tell them if he didn't none of us would exist!

My maternal grandfather, Don Guffey, WWII, USN. He enlisted the week after Pearl Harbor was attacked. Papaw was a signalman on huge convoys relaying supplies and transporting troops in the Pacific
Frank Drenner II, USN
Dad's Navy stories (shore leave, etc.) are legendary. He served on those patrol boats (PBR) checking the waterways in Vietnam-- like the one in Apocalypse Now. He also served on a guided missile frigate

Yesterday I did a little research into the observance:
  • Originally Armistice Day, first observed in 1919 to commemorate the end of WWI (November 11, 1918). My maternal great grandfather served in the cavalry in WWI Mema still has his saddle in her garage somewhere
  • Changed to Veteran's Day in 1954 with three emphases:
    • remember those who fought and died
    • to commemorate the service of veterans of all wars
    • promote an enduring peace

And then I found this litany online, which sums up well the three purposes of the day (Presbyterian Church, USA):
A Litany for Veterans 
The Rev. Tom Williams

Leader: We pause to remember those who go to war in our name.
Congregation: We give thanks for courage, for love of country, for those who work to bring peace to our world. 
Remind us, Oh God, that the goal of any war need be justice and peace.
On this day, we pause in worship to give thanks to God for veterans. 
And seek to bind up the wounds of those who served.
Enable us to know how to comfort, how to bind up their wounds. 
And remind us, Dear God, that the widow, the orphan, the widower, and the veteran – all know the cost of war.
Challenge us to love the warrior but hate the cost of war.
And we pray for a time when peace will reign and swords become plowshares once more, that war be known only in history books.
All: And we give thanks, Gracious God, that you remain with us as we celebrate the service of all who dared to go forth in our name. Remind us that such service is not a movie, an adventure, nor something to be glorified. Remind us that war is a failure by us to overcome hatred with love, injustice with righteousness, violence with peace. We give thanks for those who protect us from such failures. May we truly be Your people and be makers of peace. AMEN. 

Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount:
 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
 ‘Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
 ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
 ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
 ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
 ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
 ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 ‘Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
 ‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
 ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:1-16).

09 November 2015


We had a pretty great weekend at La Casa Drenner. Celebrating Christy's victory over the CPA exams Friday night we enjoyed dinner at Roma's, our favorite family pizza joint in Dallas (we were going to watch SMU play Temple but the rain washed us out). Saturday we journeyed to Alamo to watch The Peanuts Movie with the boyos (it's great!). Then we dumped them at home and went out for a date night: dinner at her favorite place, Whiskey Cake, followed by the new James Bond movie, Spectre.

I've been very excited about this movie for several reasons:

  1. I am a lifelong Bond fan. My favorites: Goldfinger, From Russia With Love, For Your Eyes Only, License to KillGoldeneye (also a great video game on the ol' Nintendo 64!), Casino Royale
  2. 2012's Skyfall may be the best Bond movie ever.
  3. So this was building on greatness and adding the greatest actor of our time, Christoph Waltz as the villain Blofeld.
  4. It's a November release, meaning the closer it gets to us the closer I am to Star Wars.
  5. Daniel Craig may be my favorite Bond. I know that will make many people crazy, especially Sean Connery fans-- and that guy is greatness-- but Craig brought a reluctant seriousness to the role that best reflects the era we live in today. 
But the Bond team did not bring their best game this in 2015. It's an ancient sports cliche to "leave your best on the field," and the Bond crew did that with Skyfall. Spectre feels like leftovers-- not just the delicious lasagna from the night before, but when one person in the family eats X and another Y and another Z, etc. It's pieced and thrown together-- and the result is sloppy and boring.

The reviews for Spectre are lukewarm on the Tomatometer: 63% on the critics score, 70% from moviegoers. Similarly, on imdb.com Spectre scored a 7.3; Skyfall, on the other hand, scored 7.8. A few weeks ago our James (13) asked whether I liked the Bond franchise or Mission Impossible more. I said Bond just because I've watched them all of my life. This year's Rogue Nation scored a 7.6.

My biggest problem with Spectre was that it tried too hard to wrap everything up with a giant red ribbon. The previous villains from recent movies are now conveniently tied to a previously unknown (at least in this generation) global terrorist organization called Spectre. It's led by a previously unknown man who has coordinated the events of the previous films. A guy the young James Bond grew up with-- whose father raised James after his parents died??? Turns out the rights to the names Spectre and Blofeld were not resolved until a couple of years ago, allowing them to be pushed into this film. To waste an actor the quality of Waltz on this sort of role-- he's maybe on screen for ten minutes out of 2 1/2 hours-- is a major disappointment.

It's an entertaining movie; it has already made tons of cash, and we'll hear glowing (financial) reviews this week. If you see it, odds are good you will like it. I did, but only in parts. Skyfall would have been a better stepping away point for Daniel Craig, assuming he walks away per the rumors. Now that Bond is back to being a major revenue making machine, it'll be interesting to see who dons the tuxedo next. As a fan of The Wire, my vote is for Idris!

What did you think of Spectre? Who is your favorite Bond? And your favorite Bond film?

Spoilers below
I had several questions/reactions during the movie:
  • I loved Dave Bautista in Guardians of the Galaxy, but in this movie he is kind of useless-- he sort of reminded me of Jaws from the '70s. But without the humor.
  • Every Bond movie has a car chase scene, but this one was lame-- although drifting in front St Peter's in Rome was pretty cool
  • The "00" division is in danger of being shut down/irrelevant again? Didn't we deal with this in Skyfall?
  • The secret study room in the hotel in Tangier: Bond discovers it by knocking down a wall. That is a very inefficient way to access a secret room-- did the guy have to tear down and rebuild that wall every time he was in there?
  • A small handgun from the ground (well, actually water) can shoot down a helicopter? The most evil genius in the world is defeated so easily?
  • Lea Seydoux's character clings to Bond while he is being tortured. He says, "The watch. One minute." into her ear, and she reaches to his hands to retrieve it. She instinctively knows it's a bomb and where to throw it?
Oy. It's these kind of annoying tidbits that make Spectre a letdown. Again, if you are looking for a popcorn chomping, check out of the world for 2 1/2 hours movie, go for it. But after the brilliance of Skyfall I expected so much more than that.

03 November 2015

The Birth of the Messiah study

Last year during the Season of Lent I led a study called The Death of the Messiah. We explored the Passion of Jesus in great detail- both the stories from the Bible and classical depictions in Christian art. It was a great class and well attended. So this winter I will offer a companion study: The Birth of the Messiah.

We will explore the nativity traditions of the Bible: wise men and the star, shepherds and angels, Bethlehem, Mary, Joseph. We'll also explore the stories of Jesus' birth as it has been expressed through art- one painting each week. 

During Lent we offered the class on Wednesdays, but for Advent it will occur on Sundays to invite more to participate, including choir members. Here's the link to register: https://crumc.wufoo.com/forms/r1fpuqrl0yt935o/

The Birth of the Messiah
Led by Pastor Frank
Sundays December 6, 13, 20

Love to see you there!