31 August 2016

Massive Summer Movie Reviews!

Most of the time when a movie review is in the works, it just flows. So this post is very unusual. I am writing mini reviews of movies I watched during the latter part of the summer. I've been working on this post, mentally or actually typing, for weeks. There is still time to see most of these movies on the big screen, even if at your local dollar cinema-- or certainly on demand! Check them out this Labor Day weekend! Or not... Here they are, in no certain order:

Ghostbusters (2016)
I mentioned this movie in a recent sermon, so if you were here that Sunday this may sound familiar. I am a huge superfan of the original Ghostbusters, and when this was announced I had mixed feelings. I was glad for the all-female cast but didn't want the studio to mess with a cherished memory! The new movie is fun. It's good. It's worth seeing. What an amazing cast, and it looks fantastic. But the box office has been so disappointing that evidently Sony is not planning on developing the franchise further. This shows the sad power of online sexism and racism. Trolls went to the movie's imdb page and gave it low ratings-- even before seeing it-- resulting in a low 5.5/10 score. The movie is not great, but it is way better than 5.5! And Leslie Jones has been shamefully targeted online. It's a real testimony to how broken we as a people can be. Ghostbusters was once one of the funniest, most joyful franchises. Now because of the actions of some terrible people the franchise itself has been tarnished.

Jason Bourne, or as I call it "Jason Boring"

Why was this movie made, again? The first three Bourne movies were great; the fourth, starring Jeremy Renner, was not. So why bring back the same crew again? Oh yeah: $$$. There is nothing new here. The entire movie, start to finish, is a Jason Bourne cliche filled with Bourne cliches. Save yourself $12 and just watch this honest trailer instead.

Or if you insist on seeing the movie, watch the video first, then laugh out loud, like I did, when you see every cliche on screen. If you have time today or tomorrow, check it out at the brilliant Odeum Cinema in Whitewright, TX!

Our son James (14) has become a huge comic book fan, so when he heard The Killing Joke was coming to the big screen he was very excited. This was a special, one-off screening of a direct to on demand movie. It's an origin story of The Joker, voiced by the great Mark Hamill-- yes, Luke Skywalker-- returning a role he developed in the 90s animated Batman series. This is an R rated movie, for good reasons. There is violence, including sexual assault. It has been called misogynistic in its portrayal of Barbara Gordon. James enjoyed the movie as a kid, but as an adult I found it very grotesque and disturbing.

This was one of the most anticipated movies of the summer. I was very excited to see it. And what a disappointment. It's Tomatometer rating is below 30%. But 2/3 moviegoers liked it. I did too. It's not a good movie. It's actually a mess. But it's a fun, check your brain at the door summer movie. It has made a ton of $$$ and you can expect lots of spin-offs and sequels. As many others have said, DC studios needs its "tent pole" franchises to do well, and they have, but Suicide Squad kept the Batman vs Superman trend going: big opening weekend, big fall the next. Ramp down the marketing budget and ramp up the writing budget!

This is probably my favorite summer movie. It's not perfect, but it's the best of the JJ Abrams rebooted Star Trek movies. Directed by Justin Lin, who made the Fast and Furious movies into a major profit generating franchise, this movie is full of sci fi action. The boys and I watched nearly the entire first season of the original TV series this summer. It rekindled a love for Star Trek, and this movie kept the good feelings going.

Not seen yet, but still on my list: Pete's Dragon (coming to the Odeum in the week of September 9) and Kubo and the Two Strings.

And finally, if you see nothing else this summer, check out Stranger Things on Netflix, which I reviewed earlier this month. I recently watched the series a second time, this time with Christy. I still love it. It's the best! And great news was released today!!

30 August 2016

A Little Planning Goes a Long Way

This summer our family has become big fans of The Flash, a TV series based on the DC superhero. The Flash exists in the same universe as other DC comics heroes, like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, etc. The Flash will have a role in the upcoming Justice League movie(s). Season Three of the TV series kicks off in October. We've watched the first two seasons over the last eight weeks or so on demand. Season One on Netflix, Season Two on Amazon.

You probably know, and can certainly guess from the image above, that The Flash is fast. I used to think he was the most boring superhero- how can running save people? And on his own The Flash would be mostly useless. But the best thing about the series is that Flash is not alone. He is part of a team, almost like Scooby Doo's pals in the Green Machine.

So say a villain with super powers shows up in Central City. Obviously The Flash is the most equipped to handle the situation, but how? Run laps around him? Challenge her to a race? Here comes his team. One is a physicist. One is a doctor. One is an engineer. One is a cop. One is an investigator. They meet together, study their opponent, formulate a plan, and execute it-- all in 43 minutes or so. The Flash gets the publicity; no one knows about his buddies. But he is "quick" -- ha-- to share praise and celebrate victories within the team. The victories are almost always found in the planning.

I've been doing some planning with various folk recently here at Grace, and you'll begin to see some of that fruit roll out over the coming weeks. Our worship team has outlined services through the end of the year. Our Connecting Grace (a new church-wide small group ministry) is finalizing its plan. The stewardship team is formulating a direction to teach a spiritual approach to giving. Here is an outline of upcoming worship services, so you'll have an idea of what is coming next:

Thanks to everyone on the various teams making these and other plans fruitful. Just thinking from a worship perspective, I appreciate very much those who lead worship, from our liturgists to our liturgy writers to the staff who assume various roles each week. Thanks to those who keep our worship spaces clean and inviting, those who design, print, and fold bulletins, plus those who manage information on the screens and through the sound system. Thanks to those who lead singing and who join in singing (this includes the choir, our praise band, and everyone in the congregation). Worship is a team effort, and when it is successful good planning is often a part of the equation. After all, as the great theologian Soren Kierkegaard said, God, not the folk in the pews, is the audience for worship!

25 August 2016

Blessed Are the Teachers

The other night Christy and I went to Ft Worth to hear one of my favorite performers, the great Lyle Lovett. I have heard Lyle several times, but this was the first time at the wonderful Bass Concert Hall. It was an amazing show-- two and a half hours of great music, including some great gospel songs like I'll Fly Away and Do Not Pass Me By. If you've never heard him in concert, check him out next summer!

But my favorite part of the concert was not the music-- it was the storytelling. Throughout the show Lyle introduced the band members, most of whom he has played with for his 30+ years in music. He remembered where they met, where they first played together, a special piece of music they improvised at a random recording session in Phoenix decades ago. Musically and intellectually, the guy is a genius. He told a couple of very touching stories of important, influential men who had died recently: a musician/mentor and a teacher/principal. The way he spoke about both made a lasting impact on me. He said, "Great teachers aren't remembered for what you learn in their classes; they are remembered for the life lessons they teach you."

I am a massive fan of education, and have benefited tremendously from the teachers from whom I have learned over the years. Starting in Bay City and through several universities, I have been challenged and encouraged to grow in my knowledge and understanding. Upon graduating from college I took a job teaching History to eighth graders at a suburb of Houston. It was hard, lonely work. I didn't last in the profession. The demands and pressures we place on our teachers are often overwhelming. Like so many other things, until one experiences something first-hand, it's difficult to understand the stress and the responsibility. I appreciate our teachers very much.

At the same time I was struggling with my teaching career, God called me to pursue I different one: as a pastor. Fortunately for me, I had benefited from other teachers. Many Sunday school teachers, family members, and former pastors taught me about faith. Mentor pastors helped me to explore and shape my ministry. In turn, I have had the privilege of mentoring new pastors. Teaching is one of my most important roles as a pastor. This is one of my favorite verses, one that I try to emulate every day: "Remember the faith of your leaders, those who taught you the Word of God; imitate their faith" (Hebrews 13:7).

Last Sunday at our church we prayed for and blessed teachers, students, administrators, and staff as they began a new school year. If you have not had the opportunity to bless a teacher yet, I urge you to do so. It can be in a formal way in a large group setting, or informally: a thank you at the carpool line, a small gift at a school open house. With a teacher in mind, try to live out this verse: "Keep doing good works and sharing your resources, for those are the sacrifices that please God" (Hebrews 13:16).

18 August 2016

New Opportunities

The kids were not too pleased yesterday when I informed them that there were only two days left in the summer. They should know by now that school is starting. Over the last couple of weeks we have:

  • bought school supplies
  • bought first day of school clothes
  • registered each for school
  • toured new schools
  • met teachers and school counselors
  • early morning football practice for James
  • bought Sherman t-shirts for football games
Why are we doing these things, people??? So whatever forces are feeding their denial, it's the real deal: school starts Monday. This Sunday is Back to School Sunday, where we will bless backpacks and pray for students, administrators, teachers, and staff. There is still time to invite someone to worship!

With the start of school, and after nearly two months, the Drenners are officially "settled in" to life in Sherman and Grace UMC. Last week I even finally hung up all of my artifacts on my office walls, after receiving some desk moving help from Jan, Rhonda, and Connor. Thanks again! Now that the settling has happened, we have set up a handful of informal opportunities to spend some time with your new parsonage family outside of Sunday morning worship. They are all Tuesday evenings, 6:30-8:00:
  • August 30 at the home of the Dominicks
  • September 6 at the home of the Lightfoots (Lightfeet?)
  • September 27 at the home of the Walkers
There will be signup sheets out this Sunday, or you can let the church office know which meet and greet you would like to attend. Not really a get to know you deal, but more of a fellowship time: Christy is organizing a women's Bunko night at the church Friday, September 9. I've heard they are fun, but honestly I have never been welcome to attend, so who knows!

Thanks to everyone who has done so much to make us feel welcome: meals at the house and after worship, play dates for the boyos, tips on navigating the schools and town, encouraging words about sermons, etc. I am excited to share that hospitality toward others in our community, this week and beyond, as more and more people learn about the loving congregation at Grace UMC. All grace is amazing!

11 August 2016

Why Ordinary Time Matters

Over the years I have increasingly become more and more liturgical. For the first decade of my preaching ministry I preached sermon series. For the most part, I selected the topics, sometimes based on specific needs I had heard expressed within the congregation; other times they were topics I was personally interested or considered important. You can search my blog to find all kinds of examples of this approach, which culminated in my doctoral project in preaching. Last year in my previous appointment I launched a new worship service that was highly liturgical, including preaching from the assigned lectionary texts of the day. I even made it a goal to link all four texts together for the sermon. Since coming to Grace last month, I have continued my practice of preaching the lectionary, but only focusing on two texts.

One important aspect of liturgical practice are the seasons of the church calendar. There are the most familiar ones, Advent and Lent, but also Christmas, Easter, and Ordinary Time. Many churches still claim Pentecost as a season, but most do not. Pentecost is thought of as a day, not a season of the church. Each season has liturgical colors which add symbolism to the observances:

  • Advent (the four Sundays preceding Christmas) is the beginning of the church year. The color is purple, which symbolizes royalty. It is a time of preparation for the coming of Christ-- not only at Christmas but his ultimate return, often referred to as the Second Coming. Advent means "coming."
  • Christmas (December 24 - January 6): You've heard of the 12 days of Christmas, right? Yeah it's a thing. The color is white.
  • Lent (the six Sundays before Easter): Another time of preparation with the color purple symbolizing the kingship of Jesus-- evidenced in the Passion story by his wearing a crown of thorns at his crucifixion
  • Easter (Easter Day and the six Sundays following): White, symbolizing his resurrection and the promise of new life for believers
  • Ordinary Time, the season between seasons of the year: Green, symbolizing growth. Ordinary Time is by far the season with the most Sundays. It lasts all the way from the Sunday following Pentecost to the beginning of Advent
  • (There are special Sundays within Ordinary Time that merit their own color and emphasis, but they are not technically seasons of the year).

Ordinary Time was once referred to as Kingdomtide, which I will admit is a much more exciting title for a season. Ordinary Time is not exciting. Ordinary never is-- it's ordinary. But when most of the year is ordinary it makes the special emphases stand out more, right? I mean if we observed my birthday or anniversary every day it would be great, but not as special. The texts assigned for Ordinary Time generally promote the spiritual life. A couple of weeks ago, the gospel text focused on generosity over greed. Last Sunday the texts addressed faith. And this Sunday August 14th will address conflict and division. If there is a more relevant topic for our society or my United Methodist denomination than conflict and division, I'd like to hear it!

For example, consider the presidential election, which is still 89 days away, if my math is correct. Both candidates nominated by their respective parties have approval ratings among the population under 40%. That has never happened before. Both candidates have historically low approval numbers within the party that actually nominated them. Within my own denomination, no one knows if it will even exist a couple of years from now-- our distrust and lack of listening to each other is so rampant. In this week's gospel text, even Jesus says, "what stress I am under until it is completed!" (Luke 12:50). We can relate!

Rather than ignoring the conflicts that naturally arise between people in relationships, Ordinary Time brings it front and center. Maybe the root of our brokenness is found in our discomfort with conflict. If the point of Ordinary Time is to focus on practices that promote spiritual growth, let's turn toward, rather than away from, our hurting relationships. If you worship at Grace, let's come together for worship and learn to grow together, embracing the conflicts that are inherent to relationships between people. If you worship elsewhere, move here-- no, stay where you are-- don't run away from your covenant community when you experience some cracks. Or if you are looking for a place to experience spiritual growth, find one that emphasizes authentic relationships with others and God and invest yourself there. By embracing others, we will be able to live into Jesus' question at the end of this Sunday's gospel lesson: "Why do you not know how to interpret the present time?" (Luke 12:56).

07 August 2016

Ready for Action!

The other day Christy had the idea to make the family a special dinner, since it was going to be the first time in a week or more when we all ate together. She thought I should make hamburgers on the grill. It was near lunchtime and I was already running errands, so I stopped by the store. Among other things, I bought:
  • Bread for the boys’ lunches
  • Hamburger buns
  • Two pounds of meat
  • Lipton onion soup mix
  • Blue Bell ice cream
  • A two liter bottle of soda for the boys

When I arrived home and began unloading, i expected to be greeted as a warrior returning home from a successful campaign, having voluntarily gone to the store for dinner stuff. Instead, Christy snickered. Why? Because she had gone to the store too, and, among other things, purchased:
  • Bread for the boys’ lunches
  • Hamburger buns
  • Two pounds of meat
  • Lipton onion soup mix
  • Blue Bell ice cream
  • A two liter bottle of soda for the boys

So now we were double stocked up for our dinner, which was wonderful. But it goes to show that careful planning, even double purchasing, can make the journey ahead more successful. How many of you, when preparing for a long trip, spend hours the day before packing/strategizing/stressing? How many of you wake up, throw some things in a suitcase, and take off for the airport all at the same time? It probably doesn’t matter all that much, as long as you know where you are going. But what if you have to go on a trip and you have no idea what to pack? Or where you are going? Would that frighten you, or energize you?

The writer of Hebrews lifts up Abraham and Sarah as great models of faith, because God called them to go on that exact type of trip. God shows up, tells Abraham to leave behind family and familiarity, and take off into an unknown future. God promises him his descendants will be as the sand on the seashore or the stars in the sky. And it’s enough. Abraham and Sarah pack up and take off. Even in their advanced years they are prepared to load up the RV, fill it up with gas, and hit the accelerator.

Hebrews Chapter 11 mentions not only Abraham and Sarah, but others heroes of the Bible who exemplified faith: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. Hebrews 11 uses some form of the word faith twenty-four times, and the phrase “by faith,” referring to one or more of the characters just listed, eighteen times.

Faith is an unshattering trust in the promises of God. Abraham’s faith is specifically commended because it is focused on the far-away future, not the immediate. He is not faithful because he believes God will provide tonight’s place to sleep or tomorrow’s breakfast; he is faithful that God will bring him and his family to a home “not made with hands, but eternal in the heavens.” Abraham and Sarah, Hagar and Ishmael, and eventually Isaac, lived in tents, constantly moving from one place to another. They were travellers, sojourners. But Abraham knew one day he would come upon a city where he would no longer live in a tent: “They lived in tents while he looked forward to a city founded, designed, and built by God” (11:10).

This was a city Abraham would never live in during his earthly lifetime; but he looked forward into God’s future and saw the promise revealed. Abraham and Sarah died before seeing the fulfillment of the promise, and referred to themselves as strangers and nomads on the earth. “People who use such terms about themselves make it quite plain that they are in search for their real homeland. They could hardly have meant the country they came from, since they had the opportunity to return to it, but in fact they were looking for a better homeland, their heavenly homeland. This is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, since he has founded the city for them” (vs. 13-16).

Last week’s gospel lesson focused on a farmer God considered a fool, because he was focused only on his own needs. He has an abundant crop one year, and instead of sharing with the hungry or investing in the lives of others he tears down his existing barns in order to build new, bigger ones. Following that parable Jesus offers his well-known promises that God provides all our needs: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life-- what you will wear or what you will eat. Life consists of more than food and clothing. Look at the ravens of the air and the lilies of the field… God provides for them, and God will provide for you” Putting it plainly, Jesus says, “Set your hearts on his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. It has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:22-32).

“Set your hearts on his kingdom” sounds alot like Abraham’s “looking for a better homeland, a heavenly homeland,” doesn’t it? The disciple lives in faith. God delivers on God’s promises. We do not need to be tied to earthly things: “Sell your possessions and give alms to the poor. Build up treasure in heaven, where no thief can break in and steal. Be dressed for action, like servants who have done their jobs and are ready when the boss returns home.” That parable of preparedness has a shocking turn: the master himself puts on an apron and serves the servants. Preparedness is a vital characteristic of a disciple, because we do not know when God will show up. We do not know when a great need will be presented. We do not know when we will have an opportunity to share the good news of Christ. We have to be ready for action. Listen to some challenging words of John Wesley on the readiness disciples must exhibit:

Yea, to-day, while it is called to-day, hear and obey his voice! At this hour, and from this hour, do his will: Fulfill his word, in this and in all things! I entreat you, in the name of the Lord Jesus, act up to the dignity of your calling! No more sloth! Whatsoever your hand findeth to do, do it with your might! No more waste! Cut off every expense which fashion, caprice, or flesh and blood demand! No more covetousness! But employ whatever God has entrusted you with, in doing good, all possible good, in every possible kind and degree to the household of faith, to all men! This is no small part of "the wisdom of the just." Give all ye have, as well as all ye are, a spiritual sacrifice to Him who withheld not from you his Son, his only Son: So "laying up in store for yourselves a good foundation against the time to come, that ye may attain eternal life!"

Think about it for a second: what is it in your life that is keeping you from being fully ready to follow Christ’s call to discipleship? Do you need more proof? Do you need more stuff? What are you afraid of? What is holding you back? Give it away! Rid yourselves of whatever would keep you from setting your minds and hearts on God’s heavenly kingdom. God calls us to faith. Faith is forward looking, focused on God’s long-term plans. It is our privilege and joy to invite others to see beyond current needs and wants into God’s future. Over and over in the New Testament folk saw themselves as moving from an earthly home to a heavenly home:

  • “So you are no longer aliens or foreign visitors; you are citizens like all the saints, and are part of God’s household” (Ephesians 2:19)
  • “...You must be scrupulously careful as long as you are living away from your home (1 Peter 1:17)
  • “I urge you, my dear people, while you are visitors and pilgrims, to keep yourselves free from the selfish passions that attack the soul” (1 Peter 2:11)
  • And be patient: “Think of the farmer; how patiently he waits for the precious fruit of the ground until it has had the autumn rains and the spring rains!” (James 5:7)

So live your life in faith. Emulate those examples of faithful living cited in Hebrews, especially thinking today of Abraham and Sarah. They could not, they did not, have any idea what the future would hold for them. But when God called them, he found them ready for action. Live as those servants in Luke’s parable. The homeowner came home and found the place in order. And he rewarded the servants’ faithfulness by putting on an apron and serving them. Set your eyes on the heavenly city. Set your hearts on God’s kingdom, and your Father, who knows you need things like food and shelter and clothing will provide all this and more. Do not afraid; it pleases God to provide for us. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Go forth from this place in peace.
Go forth knowing your faith is the assurance of things you hope for
  and the conviction of that which you have yet to see with your eyes.
Go down from this mountaintop,
  setting out like Abraham, not knowing where God is leading.
Leave this service, not yet having received all the promises of God,
  but seeing them in the distance.
Press on in faith.
Step back into the "everydayness" of your life
  desiring to see God in heaven,
  not ashamed to be called God's people. Amen.

04 August 2016

God Calls Us to Unity

Please note: I offered these thoughts at Custer Road's Youth Week this past Monday.

I joined social media in 2008, meaning this is my third online presidential election. Every day political opinion articles show up on my news feed. Or friends share their political opinions. I really joined Facebook for grandbaby pictures and to share church stuff, so elections are exhausting. And I am a political junkie. I would say it's comforting to know the election is less than 100 days away, but that just means the 2020 election kicks off in less than 100 days! 

The other day I was rolling through Facebook and a friend posted said this about Secretary Clinton: "She is not a UNIFIER!" Then someone else noted that Donald Trump, whose convention speech over and over said, "I alone can fix this," is hardly inviting unity either. And then I had this thought: it is probably unrealistic for us to place the burden of unifying a divided country in the hands of one person. It's hard work, and it takes all us, not any individual, to achieve it.

Evidently unity was a major concern of the early Christians. Throughout his letters the apostle Paul encouraged the different churches to be unified under the Lordship of Christ: "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it" (1 Corinthians 12:27). Jesus himself prayed that his followers would be one, as he and the Father are one (John 17). 

As I thought more and more on the theme of Christian unity, I kept hearing the words of John Wesley, who founded the Methodist movement 300 years ago: "Give me thine hand." It's from one of his sermons, probably his most well known, called "Catholic Spirit." He is using the word catholic in the universal sense, not as a reference to the Roman Catholic Church. You can read the entire sermon online. He draws on an obscure reference, 2 Kings 10:15, the story of two men fighting to cleanse Israel from the worship of the false god Baal. They meet on the road, and one says to another: "Is your heart as mine?" "It is," says the other. "Then give me thine hand," says the first. They have different histories and stories, come from different places, but they have a common vision and work together to achieve it.

Here are some selected thoughts from Wesley's sermon to consider: 

1. Unity does not mean we cease to have our own opinions about issues. Think about it: how boring, and potentially dangerous, is it for everyone to think and believe the same way? 
2. Unity is based on mutual love. If we love one another as brothers and sisters, regardless of who we vote for or why, unity is possible. We must love one another.
3. We have to entrust our entire lives to each other in community. Wesley urges the faithful friend to lift up any brokenness to God in prayer, asking God to heal it. 
4. Inspire each other to change-- not our opinions, but our lives. We call this accountability in the church. Love me enough to challenge whatever is broken in me.
5. And I make these same commitments on your behalf.

This is where unity becomes possible, even in a broken world. It begins with love. And it is not the job of any particular person, Democrat or Republican. It is our work. It is the work of each person. So: Is your heart as mine? Then give me your hand. 

02 August 2016

Stranger Things Are Happening to Me

Last week while Christy and James were gone on a choir tour with our previous church, I had some free time each night after putting Linus and Miles to bed. I started watching Stranger Things, the new original series on Netflix. I had read lots of buzz online about this series and I was interested, mostly because it is set in the 80s. I am not normally one for scary shows, but my curiosity got the better of me. After the first two episodes, I was hooked in a big way. And scared. I tweeted this that night:

It was, officially, a thing. Friday night I watched three hours. Saturday: two hours, even though I was preaching the next morning. I never stay up late on Saturdays. But the show was that good. So good that after the first two episodes I could go to sleep without the lights! And I just finished the series today at lunch. Eight episodes, six hours total, and near perfection. Here are some thoughts, observations, and questions.

[Spoilers; scroll down to skip those and get to some life application type stuff.]

1. As I said, Stranger Things is set in the 80s; specifically 1983. That was an amazing year-- Michael Jackson exploded on the world in a big way, and the last Star Wars ever, so we thought, Return of the Jedi, was released.
2. The main characters in Stranger Things are kids who are twelve. I was 12 in 1983. If I had lived in Indiana instead of Texas, they would have been my friends: Dungeons and DragonsStar Wars... riding bikes all over town. Yup. This series evokes lots of memories.
3. If you liked Stephen King's It or The X Files you'll dig this.
4. The night Barbara went missing, how did Nancy get home?
5. By the way, when was the last time a series featured characters named Barbara and Nancy? Probably 1983. Millennials, let's bring these names back!
6. What happened to Barbara's car? And why wasn't there a community-wide search for her? Where are her parents? Her mom shows up for about 18 seconds.
7. Winona Rider was an icon in the 1990s and then sort of vanished. Twenty years later she is back in a big way. I hope to see more of her in great roles like this one.
8. And Matthew Modine. Creepy.
9. El. Eggos. My kids love them too.
10. Dustin. YES.

Last night I was a guest preacher at Custer Road's youth week opening worship (still feels a little weird to say I was a guest at my former residence from the last three years!). I spoke on unity, and mentioned this series-- the relationships between Will, El, Dustin, Mike, and Lucas are, or become, so intimate over time. I asked the crowd how many have watched Stranger Things, but was shocked to see only a couple of hands. Anyway, if you are into nostalgia, curiosity, determination, monsters, flashlights in the woods, Christmas lights throughout the house, telepathy, a ridiculously checked-out dad, upside down worlds, crying a few episodes after being scared, check it out. What a show.