So, let’s talk about something personal. Something that is a bit embarrassing to admit. . . Something that Jennifer deals with on a regular basis that makes her smirk and shake her head. I misplace a lot of things. And I mean that. . . a lot of things. I forget where my wallet is often. I lose track of my keys even though we have a basket in the living room for them. I have even forgotten where my glasses are—and I can’t see without them. It happens a lot, and Jennifer and the kids, just shake their head at me—not in chastisement, but in humor. I can almost hear them saying, “well here we go again, Dad lost something. I wonder where he put it."
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Recently I have been engaged in a series of conversations with someone who is working through a dark time in their life. The pain is great and it stings them. I have listened over the phone to tearful confessions and stories that they share with me. They have wrestled with their feelings and struggled with their choices. Initially they reported to me that they tried to just ‘stuff the feelings down,’ put on a smile, but that did not work for long. It seldom works long term. Pain always has a way of working itself up to the surface. It cannot be ignored forever even if we would like think that this policy would work.
Monday, December 28, 2020
About a week ago, Emma came out to the living room and asked us two related questions. . . One, what did we think about her learning to make her own clothes? [Emma was looking for a new hobby to occupy some of her free time]. Second, she wondered if Jennifer could teach her how to do this?
So, just after lunch of Christmas Eve, as the snow was just beginning to fall, Emma and mom headed out to Joann Fabrics to buy the pattern, the fabric, and extra supplies that the project would require. They were gone much longer than I assumed. But when they returned, Emma’s face beamed with excitement. They had fabric. They had a pattern. It was going to be time to get working! Emma showed us everything that they bought and put the supplies by the Christmas tree.
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
C.S. Lewis once wrote:
This morning I found these words to be both applicable and helpful. . . Today I was able to take Luna for a long walk after Jennifer left for work. The roads were finally clear of ice and snow and the sun was just peaking above the horizon. She was sooo excited to go. Carrying her favorite stick (or log if I am being honest), Luna trotted around the parking lot at Plains full of joy and expectation. The crisp breeze was our only companion on this early walk.Traffic on our route was clear. I was able to move back and forth across the road whenever ice threaten our footing.
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
While I was sitting in the eye doctor’s office with Emma, I began, as most of us do, to run through the list of things that I still need to accomplish today. Emma’s appointment was later in the afternoon so, by this point, this was less of an exercise in planning and more about panicking. 'There is so much still to do today,’ I thought. Then, as I thought more about what remained on my list, as I looked at it on my iPhone, I began to see a pattern forming—a pattern that I wonder if you have as well.
Monday, December 21, 2020
As we are now at the beginning of Christmas Week, I want to talk with you about worship. I want you to consider looking at worship from a more complete perspective. At Plains we have taken steps to make sure that our Christmas Eve worship is as safe as possible. We have continued to remove aspects of our worship while adding items designed to create social-distance. But does that impact how we worship? Does that weaken or lessen the passion of worship that we as the church are called to live into?
Perhaps like many other people, you have struggled to find, or create room, to worship this season. Maybe you say things like, ‘I couldn't worship the way I wanted to in Lent, now Christmas is being impacted’—and that hurts your soul. Perhaps as this pandemic has pressed in upon you, you have felt the joy and passion of your worship in Christmas-time being limited by the community and world around you. And that can cause struggles in our faith to rise and live unchecked for seasons. If so, then Bass’s words can be helpful to the church.
Thursday, December 17, 2020
Sitting here in my home office, Plains Church Road has finally become visible. The Plows and salt trucks have gone up and down a few times and their work means I can see the dark pavement. Their work has been successful as I watch a SUV go by. Travel is beginning to resume its normal flow outside. I can see Franklin and notice how easily people are coming and going.
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
t's too quiet here! The background joy of young children filling our halls is missing and I don’t like the silence. As I look outside I see snow beginning to coat the walkway and yard around Plains. This only adds to my distress—I have things to do today. The snow is not helping me accomplish that. So to combat that feeling I do what most pastors would do in my position. I brew some coffee in my favorite mug. Find the newest book that I plan to read. Move into my favorite reading chair next to the desk, and try to be intellectual. . .
Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Today I want to share with you the words of the Rev. Dr. Andrew Purves whose writing and teaching I encountered while studying for my M.Div at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Andrew’s teaching has been instrumental not only in my theological formation, but also in the formation of the PC(USA)—a denomination that he loved and served. In his book, The Resurrection of Ministry, he wrote these words that feel poignant during this week for me.
Although this book was written in 2010, it feels like Andrew is writing to the church living through the struggle of a global pandemic that has taken away much of the church’s joy and passion. But what if the passion is still there? What if we need to just look a little deeper? A little longer? I wonder what we might find?
Monday, December 14, 2020
We have 11 days left before Christmas morning. The Advent season always seems to fly right past me, while Lent, and its introspection, drags on. In Lent my mind gravitates to my sin, and the dark of the cold winter, I reflect more because of it; I reflect deeper. But in Advent, with trees lite bright, and warm music playing, time seems to travel too quickly. I don’t want Christmas to come yet.
Thursday, December 10, 2020
Christmas is a time of joy and cheer. But what happens when an event in Christmas starts out on the wrong foot? How can that help or bring a Christmas blessing to you?
Wednesday, December 9, 2020
This morning I ventured out onto some familiar ground. . . I walked Luna. I have not been able to walk her for a few weeks as my recovery is progressing. But today, I gave it a try. We didn’t go very far for two reasons. One, I was not sure if my headache would return and I didn’t want to overdo it. Second, it is quite cold today. The temperature when we headed out was 29 degrees.
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
Monday, December 7, 2020
Over the past couple weeks I had the opportunity to learn, maybe re-learn, a powerful lesson that I want to share with you.
Thursday, November 12, 2020
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
As I was walking to the church today, I took a quiet moment while the rain fell on me to think of those whose sacrifice and work ensured my freedoms. . .
Tuesday, November 10, 2020
“The gaps and divides of our outer world are so often projections of divisions within ourselves; as our inner world is healed by spiritual discipline and experience, our public world will be healed in some measure as well. In prayer and contemplation we begin to understand that our identity is not to be found in our differences from others—in our superiorities and inferiorities—but in our common humanity. In contemplation and prayer we can cease the anxious, competitive, and ultimately violent struggle to claim a name over and above others, and relax into the good news that God names us all as brothers and sisters. . . The major outcome of such an insight [is] —joy, pure and simple joy, the joy of no longer having to struggle for a sense of separate selfhood, but of being able to proclaim, ’Thank God, thank God the I am like other people, that I am only a person among others!’ “
Monday, November 9, 2020
Thursday, November 5, 2020
“It’s amazing how much sense our nonsense can make when we’re all alone in the courtroom of our mind."
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