As before, ""This week I am attending workshops in Tempe, Arizona, on topics related to leadership and ministry in Native Christian Churches. (Saying "Native American Churches" means another thing.) Here are a few random thoughts from today." First day. Second day.

1. I had a glimpse tonight of the World to Come. Some of us attended Prayer Meeting at the Gila Crossing Presbyterian Church on the Gila River Reservation near Phoenix. The members there were mostly Pima. In our group from the Cook Training School were Nez Pierce, two bands of the Dakota/Lakota, Puyallup, Winnebago, and I think one or two more, plus a couple of us Anglos. We sang together, prayed together, listened to Scripture together, and ate together. In the Book of Revelation we are given a vision of the World to Come in which members of every tongue, tribe, and nation, unite in praise to God. We need to do it more now.

2. Jesus promised that those who left all to follow him would receive a new family--fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters in Israel. I met one of my brothers this evening, a member of the Gila Crossing church. He was an older man (an "elder" not necessarily in office, but according to the respect given in tribal churches to older members) who told me of the history of the Pima and Maricopa tribes: the Pima farming and fishing along the Gila and Salt Rivers (the rivers had flowing water even in his memory, today they are used so hard that the water rarely flows), joined in confederation by the Maricopa who moved into the area from California after conflict with other tribes there, the confederated tribes defending their homeland against other tribes such as the Apache who would raid down from the mountains after harvest (war seems a human universal), coming under white rule, enduring, living now on the Gila River Reservation. Official website. "We are a desert people," he said, "and always will be." He spoke somewhat of his service in the Korean War. Then, he talked of Scripture, and of the Christian life. My family is big.

3. When Jesus promised us a new family, he did not promise us a perfect family. The downside of family life is that you do not get to choose your family, and some of the characters are odd, or even abrasive. So too my Christian family. We've had some friction among us at the conference. Some members of the family are easier to like than others. But, who am I to complain. I ain't always easy either.

4. One of the workshops I am attending this week is on Gangs and Meth. Perhaps more on that later. This afternoon our class went together to see the movie Freedom Writers. I recommend it.