Tag Archives: service

The Life of Pie

Pie Festival PicI like pie.  I like pie a lot.  So there is very little arm-twisting involved when the opportunity to judge the Malibu Pie Festival heads my direction.

Several years ago in my first pie-judging experience I met Linda Hamilton of The Terminator fame who served as a fellow judge.  I had chosen the “fruit” category, but she mentioned that she had decided to take one for the team and judge the pies submitted by children.  This led to an ongoing moral dilemma in my life.  Do I judge wonderful strawberry, peach, and blueberry pies?  Or, do I judge pies adorned with gummi worms and breakfast cereals?

I have gone back and forth over the years based on my current walk with Jesus.

This year, I may have found a happy compromise by judging the pies submitted by older teens.  There were three lovely pies to judge, including a cannoli pie, a pina colada pie, and a strawberry pie.  All of them were terrific, and I left with very little guilt.  Win-win, as they say.

My friends at the Malibu United Methodist Church have put on the annual Malibu Pie Festival for twenty-eight years now as a fundraising effort for the many good works they perform and support in the Malibu community, including a weekly community dinner for our homeless friends.  I preached at MUMC one Sunday morning several years ago and was shocked to learn that it is a small church in terms of numbers.  Malibu really is a small town.  But MUMC is a huge church in its heart.

So sure, it is quite a privilege to judge pies at the Malibu Pie Festival, and sure, it is wonderful to see friends from the community out for the fun alongside celebrities like Jamie Foxx and Kelly Osbourne.  More importantly, it is inspiring to know that good hearts seeking to serve the underserved make it happen.

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A Joyful Noise

seahawksA game at CenturyLink Field in Seattle should be on every NFL fan’s bucket list.  It is a beautiful stadium, sure, but it is the crowd that gathers there that makes it special.  The fans come decked out in the navy blues and neon greens that identify Seahawks gear, but they also come with knowledge of the game and prepared to deafen the opposition.

Most fans love offense, and Seahawk fans surely appreciate Russell Wilson and a good touchdown, but when their defense takes the field, the fans stand in unison and make themselves heard.  Every single time.  All game long.  It is crazy-making noise, at least for the visiting offense, but it is music to Seahawk ears.

The fans make an actual difference in the game using nothing more than their football knowledge and collective voice.  Because the visiting offense struggles to hear their quarterback’s voice, there are more “false start” penalties at CenturyLink Field than at any other NFL stadium.  This is intentional, of course, and if you don’t believe it, notice the thousands of fans sporting a Seahawk jersey with the number twelve and the name FAN across the back.  They know that they play an important role on the field as the proverbial twelfth member of their defensive team.

I have been a Dallas Cowboys fan for forty years and couldn’t be happier this season but was happy to join voices with my Seattle University daughter and Seahawk Nation to create the roar that drove the Carolina Panthers nutso last Sunday evening.  The temperature was in the upper 30s but the decibels were up so high that they pulled out the Richter scale.

How great would it be for your life to come with fans like that, people who respectfully cheer your successes but stand and scream Home Alone-style at those who try to defeat you?  Fans of you who wear your jersey and consider themselves on your team?

Good luck with that.

Instead of holding your breath for a stadium full of personal fanatics, might I suggest becoming that sort of devotee for others who need it?  And doesn’t everyone need it?

Greater Than Self

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.” – Rabindranath Tagore

Earlier this week, Good Morning America did a short spot on Martin Passeri, a champion surfer from Argentina who lost this year’s national surfing competition for a pretty cool reason: Passeri spotted Nicolas Gallegos, a thirty-eight-year-old paraplegic sitting in his wheelchair on the beach and invited him along for the ride. Gallegos reportedly never learned to surf due to an accident at age eighteen, but thanks to Passeri he rode with—and like—a champion in the national competition.

On my flight back from Chicago last evening, I read an article in the most recent edition of The Atlantic with the provocative title, “Why It Pays to Be a Jerk.” The article considered conflicting research on where “nice guys” actually finish—first, last, etc. In the end, despite the title, author Jerry Useem concluded that “being a jerk will fail most people most of the time” with an important rationale: “Jerks, narcissists, and takers engage in behaviors that satisfy their own ego, not to benefit the group.”

Passeri lost the competition, which can further the argument that nice guys don’t finish at the top. But I contend that we all instinctively know that Passeri’s willingness to care for another above himself was a championship move.

I propose living for a cause greater than you. Whatever your current struggle, whether studying for a bar exam or struggling in a tough job or facing a health challenge, don’t let the struggle be as pedestrian as a struggle for your own benefit: Consider how your struggle might benefit others.

To quote Tagore, “I acted and behold, service was joy.”

[Check out a little video footage of the Passeri-Gallegos ride HERE.]