Pete Rocks Music Festival in East Petersburg, PA

Pete_rocks_heroAugust 1st of 2105, the Borough of East Petersburg will be home to the Second Annual Pete Rocks Music Festival.

The Pete Rocks Music Festival is put together by local promoter and musician Ken Heeter with the Borough of East Petersburg Events Council. Ken Heeter recently talked to with Lancaster Newspapers about how the artists like giving back to our small and growing community. I’d encourage you to read that article.

I am excited to be volunteering as a generalized grunt around the Pete Rocks Music Festival and look forward to getting to see many of my neighbors and meet new ones. The Pete Rocks Music Festival is a free event for all who want to enjoy a little music and relaxation in an comfortable and intimate neighborhood setting.

There is a lot of good energy and events happening in the Borough of East Petersburg. We are a neighborhood of changing faces and attractions. I would encourage my neighbors and friends to come out and see the good stuff that is happening in East Petersburg. I will be there around 12:30pm to start my generalized grunt work. At least stop by and say hello if you are in the area. The Pete Rocks Music Festival starts at 3:00pm.

Nick DiSanto, the One-Man-Band.
Nick DiSanto, the One-Man-Band.

One of the musicians I am most looking forward tomorrow at the Pete Rocks Music Festival is Nick DiSanto. Nick is a one man band, and a pretty well known musician and sculptor from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Traveling the American Northeast with his guitar and a multifunctional contrivance known as the DiSantomophone, Nick performs his one-man show wherever audiences might gather. Nick’s enthusiasm for designing, building, and playing his musical contraptions is boundless, as is his love for the ageless American music that comprises his repertoire. Naomi especially loves Nick’s performances and music around Lancaster Central Market and other places.

So friends and neighbors, even if you think it won’t be your type of music, it might be fun to come out and see what is going on. It’s a great chance to support and be apart of your growing Borough of East Petersburg neighborhood.

East Petersburg Community Park is located at the corner of the Pine Street and State Street intersection in East Petersburg.

Explore the musicians and Information here.

RVSP on the Facebook Event Invite here.


Descent of Civilization

Last Tuesday morning I took out for a contemplative walk around a revitalizing downtown Kansas City Missouri before our Mennonite Church USA Convention of 2015. As I walked, I stumbled across a Bison Memorial statue, which was titled the “Descent of Civilization.”

The Bison was nestled on a large institutionalized concrete foundation. Engraved into the concrete was this reminder of a past that no longer echoes –

“This sculpture serves as a memorial to the great herds of plains buffalo, a reminder of what was compromised in the development of our great nation and is now lost from the landscape.”

The statue depicted a sculpted bison skeletal system; a systematic bone structure that was now frail, withered, weathered and dead. It stood erect, casting a shadow on the large towering building behind it. It protected a water fount that baptized institutionally planted and maintained flowers and trees.

A Bison Memorial in Kansas City Missouri
A Bison Memorial in Kansas City Missouri

The evidently absence of his warmth from skin and fur screamed through the intersection as I crossed it. Hurried passerby types, walked around his blockade, scattering like coach roaches to and from buildings of grandeur. Their silent focuses, drowned out his screams of warning.

Prophetically, this memory of a once magnificent bovine stood out to me. I stood and looked into the blackness of his eyes for sometime – for something there resembled and resonated with me. I needed to grasp it. To absorb it. More importantly, to face it.

A Bison Memorial in Kansas City Missouri
A Bison Memorial in Kansas City Missouri

We all know that our humanity was purely almost exclusively accountable for the near-extinction of what is called the American bison. Their shadows burned on the plains, remind us of their genocidal funeral in the 1800’s. Where once tens of millions of bison roamed North America – now stands building after building and a land void of topsoil.

Yet, he spoke to me as I gathered for Mennonite Church USA Convention of 2015. There I stood with sympathy, contemplation, reflection for his loss….. He appeared as a mirror, full of sympathy, contemplation, reflection….for my loss. Though I admittedly, only saw dimly and more will make sense En el camino (on the road).

His stare has not left my eye sight since I have returned. Good has been replaced over and over again by the descent of civilization. And as the civilization stares into the abyss of what was…. we finally resonate with that which we brought to death.

The pursuit of integrity from wisdom for what we are given.

Yesterday, as I explored the Bible in a time of seeking, solace and centering a few verses came to me and really stuck out to me. As I sit here in Kansas City as a delegate and take part of the decision making process of the future of Mennonite Church USA positions, perhaps no other verse was as fitting for me as what I encountered in my reading rhythms of 1 Corinthians 4:2.

The New International Version translates it in this way; “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”

This verse from Paul that reads like a proverb – should be a reminder of all of us followers of Jesus, no matter what our context or responsibility may be, to hold what we are given from God with reverence and integrity.

In an age of increasing individualism and focus on self identity – I believe we’ve entered an era in which we may have seemingly lost definitions on what integrity may be for a communal focus. We may neglect or forget what integrity and responsibility looks like outside of what it means for one to just be true to our self.

Paul writes later to his friend Titus, and hashes it out practically to him of what some practical approaches are to living out integrity in our given responsibilities.

The New International Version translates Titus 2:7-8 “in this way; In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”

This begs the question on how we know what is good or not?  The wisdom of Proverbs that seemed to influence the first quote from Paul I shared, shows the source of wisdom to know what is good, the good of which we are to serve and handle with integrity for the responsibilities we are given.

Proverbs 2:6-8, as translated by the New International Version, calls for us to approach integrity to our responsibilities for goodness of that in which we are responsible for, and not for self or popularity. Rather, we are to approach integrity through a means of centering and seeking from the Lord and the Lord only. “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just
and protects the way of his faithful ones.

As I gather here with other delegates to discern the future of Mennonite Church USA – and as you gather where you are doing what you are responsible to – my prayer is that I, and you, will approach integrity with the goodness sought from the wisdom of the Lord, because of our responsibility to what we are given.

In a spirit of that prayer and hope, I leave you with verses from John Wimber’s Spirit Song.

O let the Son of God enfold you, with His Spirit and His love.
Let Him fill your heart, and satisfy your soul.
Oh let Him have the things that hold you,
and His Spirit like a dove, will descend upon your life,
and make you whole.

Jesus Oh Jesus
Come and fill Your lambs

Crash! Boom!

Well, a few weeks ago during some routine domain transferring and work, I accidentally deleted and lost my wordpress blog archive. After contacting Bluehost twice, I tried to resort to a previous saved version of my blog and something didn’t work right and just created more of a headache.

So, while I will probably start blogging again, I am taking this moment to dream up a new direction and start with new and fresh beginnings. After all, I have been blogging on this domain since 2006, and previously on Jeff Tragedy (.com) from 2003.

So, be rest assured something new is coming soon.

Celtic Musicians, The Sweet Sorrows, at Chancey’s Pub on Saturday.

Americans have an interesting attachment to Celtic culture. It is true, a lot of this country was formed, founded and orchestrated by Irish and Scottish immigrants. It is also true that most of us have a little of Scotch-Irish in our heritage by now.

It’s somewhat ironic the way we as Americans engage our very distant Celtic past when we hear the echoes of bagpipes and shed tears and overly used quotes in Braveheart movie nights. We all know that when Saint Patrick’s Day rolls around – we all suddenly go from a little Irish to gold pot seeking, tri-color flag waving lads and lassies.

This upcoming Saturday I invite you to celebrate a little bit of your distant Irish and Scottish heritage at Chancey’s Pub in East Petersburg, in an authentic way. Sammy Horner was born and raised in Ireland, but more importantly is internationally renown for his Celtic-themed songwriting. That renowned songwriter got it start in Sammy’s Celtic-rock band, The Electrics.

The Electrics were a Celtic rock band from Dumbarton, Scotland. They formed in 1988 and then released their first album, “Views in Blues.” They had taken a lot of their keys and influence from The Waterboys and The Pogues. Subsequent recordings followed, including “Vision and Dreams (1990),” “Big Silent World (1993),” “The Whole Shebang (1995),” “The Electrics (1997), “Livin’ It Up When I Die“, “Danger Live (1999),” “Reel, Folk’n’Rock’n’Roll” and many others.

After the disbanding of The Electrics, Sammy would take to the singer/songwriter scene and engage a successful solo career as he produced seven solo albums and continued to play, write, record and tour throughout Scotland, England, Ireland, Germany, Australia, Canada and the USA. He also produced a few kids albums and wrote two kids books.

It was just a few years ago when Sammy and his troubadouring songstress, Kylie, teamed up to form a musical Celtic nomad band called, “The Sweet Sorrows.” Since then, Sammy and Kylie Horner have become musical nomads with a passion to go wherever they’re asked – spanning the globe, delivering a blend of Celtic and Americana songs that are a diverse mix of traditional songs and original songs inspired by their journey. The Sweet Sorrows brings Celtic charm and edge together with soft harmonies to create a unique Celtic Roots fusion.

Their music has caught the eyes of many Celtic festivals and fans. Perhaps one of the greatest eyes to catch their music was British Journalist, Author and Music Critic Clive Price, who said…

“You’ve heard of Robert Plant & Allison Krauss, Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris, Glen Hansard & Marketa listen to The Sweet Sorrows.”
– Clive Price

This Saturday, May 23rd at 9:30pm, come get your American Irish and Scottish cards authentically stamped as these Scottish singer/songwriters entertain you with their music, comedy and stories. Chancey’s Pub is an unmatched neighborhood pub and restaurant located at 6049 Main Street in East Petersburg, Pennsylvania.

You can RVSP on the Facebook Event Invite.

Any questions or comments can be directed to Jeff McLain; by e-mailing or calling (717) 892-8239.

Review of Pyle-Pro PDMIC78 Dynamic Microphone

Review of Pyle-Pro PDMIC78 Dynamic Microphone

This blog is not for professional sound engineers and techs. This blog is a review of the Pyle-Pro PDMIC78 Dynamic Microphone as an affordable microphone for church planters, small churches, missional communities and the like – that are on a tight budget but need to desperately improve their sound.

I never expected to like this microphone to any degree. I even hestiated to review it publicly.…

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Ethos of the Kingdom. Learning the DNA of the Kingdom of God

Ethos of the Kingdom. Learning the DNA of the Kingdom of God

I am really excited about our upcoming series at East Petersburg Mennonite Church. Our new series is called the Ethos of the Kingdom. This is a series about learning the DNA of the Kingdom of God through the Beatitudes.

We’ve been on a reflective journey though our “Upside Down and Inside Out” Lent series which came to an end as we celebrated the life and hope of Easter. If you missed this series…

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Missional Implications from the tale of John Henry.

One of my favorite American folklore stories is the traditional tale of the mighty hammer swinging John Henry. The story of John Henry has become more legend than factual memoir, but the importance can still be found even throughout this narrated account.

As the generalized tale tells, John Henry was born into a slave family. His family was enslaved by a southern plantation owner who had no respect for their rights. However, when John was born, his parents knew life would somehow be different for him. There was something special with this kid, as some sides of the tale say was he was prophetically born with a hammer in his hand.

Eventually the civil war came to an end and the emancipation of those who were enslaved was proclaimed from coast to coast, from North to South. John now a young and strong man found a young and beautiful wife. They were destined to make a better way for their life and their family. John was known for his pure brute strength. Few people could match his ability at hard manual labor work. It’s said when John Henry swung a hammer, the earth shook with reverberation. It’s also said that he was just a gentle giant with a great and unmatched work ethic.

John Henry would come to find work for the railroad. The emerging railroad needed strong guys to lay rails across much of the unexplored and rustic west lands. In exchange for his work he was promised true freedom in life. He was promise Zion – a land, a house and life in a healthy neighborhood. In some ways, he was in pursuit of the “American Dream” as it was viewed in those days. John was a faithful rail worker, he enjoyed life with his rail gang. There was a good sense of community and life together. They were working together for common purpose and mission – freedom and a better life. They worked hard hours of manual labor together with laughs, a sense of family and some song.

However, progress moves on and few things can stand in its violent onslaught. The railroad had a new machine toy. It was bound to be stronger, faster and more accurate than a whole communal rail gang of men. John Henry was known to be the faster, strongest and most accurate rail layer. He held his team together like a backbone. His team worked hard. So, to put this new machine into test – the railroad rolled their steam-powered track-laying, mountain-destroying drill down the line towards John Henry’s fast working rail gang.

The sense of oppressed defeat must have returned into the hearts of those rail workers as they saw this job-terminating machine roll down the line. They knew this meant the end of their community together, it meant the end of their dreams and mission for freedom and a better life. Put quite frankly, the times were changing and standing in the shadow of this machine they most likely knew that their life was about to change too. There was no way they were going to keep up with the violent onslaught of progress.

John Henry surveyed this efficient machine as it stood before him on the tracks. After a few walks around and leaned-in glimpses, he declared that the old way and humanity together was still better than this steam-powered drill. He declared that he alone could beat and outsmart the drill through the mountain with speed, consistency and efficiency. So, the line in the dirt was drawn and the contest of power was on. The old verses the new. Machine versus mankind.

It was in nervous angst that John Henry picked up his twenty-pound hammer and drove his way through the tunnel. He rested very little. He had to prove he could best the coming tide of progress. Hammer swing after hammer swing, he stayed ahead of the steam powered drill. He worked for the same purpose and mission he did before, but know he worked alone and he worked not in a communal spirit – but in a competitive one.

John beat the machine, but only to fail to know his limits and collapse and die on the tracks from overworking himself. His family lived in his dream, but in his  mission he failed to enjoy the purpose that fueled him on. He never reached his vision. He may have proved human community is better than progress, but he never stopped progress in it’s tracks. No, progress would progress on.

Followers of Jesus could learn a lot from the tall-tale story of John Henry. Somewhere along the line we tried to keep up with progress. We went from a collective of community-driven groups meeting in homes to working overtime to maintain our place and sustain our role. We even built machines to keep up with the machine of progress.

It would stay this way through the Reformation. In the Reformation we merely adapted this now old institutionalized way with a go-it-alone attitude that has tried to stop progress and stay one step in front of it the whole time. A small sense of community was inside the Trojan horse trying to maintain.

However, a few years ago, we realized this sense of Christendom has ended. Many of us realized we had exhausted the machine we built to keep up with the machines of progress. The corks and screws began to fall out. Suddenly we weren’t sustainable anymore. We had collapsed on the rail with our hammer at our side.

Watch as 3DMovement‘s Mike Breen talks on how Christendom changed us.

What remained in this sad scene was two major camps. There are those that don’t realize it or don’t want to and they keep propping up a dead horse and telling people it’s safe to ride.  Yet, another camp realizes maybe we had it right in the beginning. Maybe all those years ago before we tried to outrun progress, we had something better in the small community-driven rail gangs working together with laughs, a sense of family and some song.

The story of John Henry makes me wonder lots of other questions;

  • What would of happened if John Henry and his group continued community together and didn’t try to outrun progress and change?
  • What would of happened if John Henry didn’t go-it-alone, and worked with his community to sustain the importance of human community against the machine?
  • Why was it so important for John to beat this machine on his own? Could he not trust God to provide in a different way?

Sometimes when we step out to sustain, maintain and protect we are doing so out of a weakened faith. A reality that we don’t trust God enough to make who we are enough to survive. Now, thousands of years later – the Missional Community movement is discovering that there is something special about being together without machine or competition.

The warning in Hebrews rings clear to me in a different light than membership and attendance in a institutionalized church.

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
– Hebrews 10: 24-25

In my opinion, there are some serious Missional Implications from the tale of John Henry. Some of the questions I am left asking are…

  • Have we lost the communal spirit for a competitive one?
  • Do we trust God enough to keep his promises?
  • How might we focus less on propping up the dead horse, and think of the ways to motivate one another to missional acts?

I’d be curious as you read this story of John Henry and listened to Mike Breen and read my blog…

  • What other Missional Implications from the tale of John Henry do you see?

Creating Healthy Cultures of Mission in Community

Yesterday, Katie McLain had to get to the doctor for one of her regular checkup’s within regards to her pregnancy. At the same time I needed to get to East Petersburg Mennonite Church for a meeting. Because we are a one car family, I decided to hop on the last Red Rose Transit bus out of the city of Lancaster.
As I sat in the downtown bus station enjoying the spring sunshine and waiting for the Manheim-bound bus to leave, I found myself increasingly becoming aware of the parents around me and the cultures they were creating with their children.
We are always create culture in community whether we realize it or not. Directly to the left of me, there was a mom in her mid-thirties eating with her son who was probably about twelve. They had a phone with a plugged in speaker blaring Lil Wayne’s “B#$@# Love Me.” (I didn’t know the song, to I Googled the lyrics.) At first I thought they just had a radio streaming. I quickly realized after about eight minutes, that they actually had this song on repeat.
Community happens in many contexts, large, medium and intimate. This Mom shared with her son in a sense of community what we might call a shared experience. In her mind it might seem innocent and maybe she thinks it makes her a cool mom. However, at the end of the day it also creates a culture of learning. That learning culture she creates with bring her son up in a way that is shaped by those things. It’s somewhat surprising that mom would want to bring her son up with a song that disrespects the role of women. In essence, she is teaching him a culture that he should and will also disrespect her role and who she is.
The culture we create in community can take many forms; healthy, sick, unplugged and shallow. The first opening line in that song, which repeats itself over and over throughout the song is far from something I would be comfortable listening to with myself, never the less with my daughter. However, here I watched a Mom sitting with her young and impressionable son; and the song they listened to simply degraded women and celebrated a life of drug use and alcohol.
Creating Healthy Cultures of Mission in Community
Now, I do not know the heart of this mom and her intentions; but at first glimpse I would assume that she is probably in the sick community sense of culture.
I am sure as a woman she would be self-aware of the music and how it makes her feel. However, because of she had an importance for the shared-experience together (mission) with her son, she most likely ignored any drive or desire to be intentional about changing.
As you look at each quadrant you will see that they each expresses a style of community in a different way with different consequences for the culture in which they are creating and how it affects their mission.
Creating Healthy Cultures of Mission in Community
Being self-aware and intentional about culture in mission should be part of the mission of every community. Regardless if your sense of community is your family, your friends, your co-workers or something like your church, missional community or small group – you are creating culture. A community culture’s is a shared-experience that shapes people and their story. Every relationship or community we belong too should have a sense of mission; a sense of something that needs accomplished together. (See my previous blog about finding that mission.)
Creating Healthy Cultures of Mission in Community for Faith. Communities should be priority. Though each culture we develop and move in should be one that we are self-aware, high on intentionality and high on mission together – it is especially important for faith communities to do so. As a faith community we need to fuel and facilitate communities and individuals that are intentionally creative about the lovingly way in which they announce, demonstrate and embody the reigning good news and goodness of the Kingdom of God.
  • How self-aware is your community?
  • How intentional is your community?
  • How are these things affecting your mission?
I’d enjoy reading reflections from people on what quadrant they find their different communities in and what steps they are going to take to move into a healthier sense of culture in community.
“Culture is a little like dropping an Alka-Seltzer into a glass-you don’t see it, but somehow it does something. ”
– Hans Magnus Enzensberger
“Noble life demands a noble architecture for noble uses of noble men. Lack of culture means what it has always meant: ignoble civilization and therefore imminent downfall.”
– Frank Lloyd Wright

Discovering Your Intentionally Creative Identity of Mission as a Couple

When Katie and I had our first date, it was in the old Eat’n Park Diner in Lancaster Pennsylvania. The night was pretty dreary and our attempt at feeding ducks was rained out by the cold rains of late fall. Yet inside the diner with hot coffee and greasy diner food, we found ourselves in a conversation that lasted several hours. I don’t know or remember what normal couples talk about on first dates, but Katie and I found ourselves explaining to each other the things that made us, the things that really defined us as individuals.  We each shared our story with each other in such a way that deeply shared our experiences, heart callings, beliefs, spiritual giftings, hobbies and talents with each other. That conversation was almost 11 years ago and I can still recall many of the things we discussed and engaged in conversation with.  We both realized something else that night. We didn’t want to enter a relationship with each other without realizing that relationships meant a transformation of our individual identity.
Over the past few years, Katie and I’ve engaged the missional living and missional community movements with lots of energy. We saw it as a viable way to beintentionally creative about the ways we announce, demonstrate and embody the reigning good news and goodness of the Kingdom of God to our neighbors. However, we also realized that we needed to find a way of doing this that was unique to us and unique to our identity as a couple and now as a family.
When we enter relationship, as a couple or as a family; we need to be self-aware that we each bring our own experiences, heart callings, beliefs, spiritual giftings, hobbies and talents that shape our individual identities.
Love and relationship brings more than one really unique identity together with another really unique identity.  The secret to a healthy relationship is first realizing what identity God is calling you to, together. Many couples try to maintain and protect their individual identities in relationship instead of finding their identity being transformed.
  • What is God saying to you, together, as a couple?
  • Together, what are you going to do in response to what God is saying?

We never truly stop being us, nor should we abandon what God has shaped in our story.  We also shouldn’t expect the other person in our relationship to bend to our vision or dreams.However, we must learn to transform what identity means to be in relationship together.

Everyone read’s Paul’s message a little different. In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul writes the church in Corinth about concerns in marriage. We practice living the way we read it. We may understand it theologically one way, but live it out a completely different way. Some live it out to mean we have to choose mission or marriage. Some read it as individuals each on their individual mission, holding to relationship together in tension. We also don’t read it all. Paul says starting in verse 17, regardless of what path we choose, we are still called to mission.
God calls us all to mission. This is a truth regardless if we are single or married.
We are all called to be intentionally creative about the we lovingly announce, embody and demonstrate the reigning good news and goodness of the Kingdom of God to our neighbors. Relationship and family bring new focuses and distractions into the mix. The reality of Paul’s words are that we are called to discover mission in a transformed way so together we can be intentionally creative about the we lovingly announce, embody and demonstrate the reigning good news and goodness of the Kingdom of God to our neighbors.
Take a moment and reflect. Each person in the relationship should make a list of what makes up their identity and story. What makes you, you? Each one of you should list all your experiences, beliefs, heart callings, spiritual giftings, hobbies and talents in the corresponding circle. Explain who God has shaped you to be and how you have been shaped.
What areas do you find are shared pieces? Where do you correspond with similar pieces of your story, experiences or beliefs? Where do your focus drawn towards, together? The things God has shaped you to be together, is a great place to discover your transformed identity together. It’s a great way to explore what mission God is calling you to. Use these shared areas as a starting point to explore how you can be intentionally creative about the together you lovingly announce, embody and demonstrate the reigning good news and goodness of the Kingdom of God to our neighbors.
  • Who has God called you together?
  • Together how are you going to respond?
  • What unique and intentionally creative ways will you live out this response?