Friday, February 10, 2012

And other duties as may become necessary from time to time

"To what shall we compare the Kingdom of God? It is like a recycling operation ..."

Admittedly, this isn't in the Bible, but perhaps it should be. There is no waste in the Kingdom of God. The economy of God finds use for all things, all people, and all skills - regardless of whatever judgments we might put on those things, people, and skills.

Case in point, when I was a high school student (and yes, my daughters, I can still remember back that far), I took algebra. I shared Fran Lebowitz's sentiment: "In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra." I went through the exercises of solving for x - although I could not for the life of me understand why x couldn't solve his own problems. No matter ... what I did learn was an obscure form of division called "modulo division." This form of division allowed you find a remainder as in 12 divided by 5 equals 10 remainder 2. Modulo division would give you the answer of 2 (the remainder). In the moment, I could not for the life of me see why I was learning this.

Fast forward 20 years to when I owned an IT training and consulting firm. One of the services we offered was custom database design. I had a client who needed to track employee training. In their system, 8 hours of training converted to 1 training day. But, if you went to a 10 hour training, that converted into 2 training days. I needed to convert hours to days ... but this was not simple division with rounding up to the next number. I had to program in a division process that would look to see if there was a remainder ... and then add 1 to the number of training days. 20 years after learning about modulo division, I actually used the darned thing! And it worked beautifully.

Yes, I'll admit to being more geeky than the average priest. I've stepped away from arithmetic work and canons do not allow me to touch money or finances in any way in the parish (be thankful for that). But, occasionally, duty calls me to use a skill in my new call that I had not counted upon using ... at least in the Church. Remember, no waste in God's economy!

Our boiler was acting up and we had a rather chilly worship experience a couple of weeks ago at Grace. When the service technician came out to check, he found that the thermostat was not working as programmed. Admittedly, this was a very old programmable thermostat - my first clue was having to know Morse code to program it (one step above the "smoke signals model"). Anyway, it was time to consolidate the two thermostats we had (one for the boiler, one for the heat pump/AC) into one. When I received the estimate from our technician of $235 to install a basic programmable thermostat, my frugal self about fainted. I knew I could do better at the Home Depot.

The result? For $125 and a little bit of time and geeky research, I installed this 3M Filtrete WIFI enabled thermostat:

And yes, it is in the pulpit! Odd location, I know, but mounting it on a stone wall wasn't the best solution. Besides, when those "hellfire and brimstone" sermons need to be preached, the congregation can get a Sensurround experience. Only kidding ... really.

The best part is if I have a lapse of memory (which is getting more common than I want to admit) and I forget to set the thermostat for a special program only to realize I forgot after driving home, I can use my Android phone app to set the thermostat remotely. Coolness factor - about 10 I'd say.

I'm always amazed how God can find interesting, and often unexpected, ways to use our gifts and graces for the welfare of God's people.