It’s a tough, tough time for the nation.  We are well into a huge economic crisis and the people who are going to get hit the very hardest are those living on the edge with no reserves to fall back upon.  The more vulnerable ones live paycheck to paycheck, sometimes even taking out payday loans to cover emergencies–and those loans have unbelievably damaging interest rates, thus pushing already precarious financial positions into real calamity. No reserves–that’s the problem.  Nothing to… Read more

“Oh! You better watch out, You better not cry, You better not pout, I’m telling you why: Santa Claus is coming to town! He’s making a list, He’s checking it twice, He’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice. Santa Claus is coming to town! He sees you when you’re sleeping, He knows when you’re awake. He knows when you’ve been bad or good, So be good for goodness sake!” The words to that song drive me over the edge… Read more

I’m working on hanging in. Just feel slammed by learning just a week ago that our church Administrative Assistant has a fast growing and always fatal liver cancer. No warning, symptoms only started a week before the diagnosis. Aggressive treatment may buy her some time. Right now, it seems to be harder on me than on her. She’s just been doing this work for the church for a short period of time, but we had already formed a good friendship… Read more

As I continue to ponder the challenges of being a pastor, I find myself really, really bugged by something.  I recently heard from a friend who is pastoring a small, struggling church in the Midwest.  She mentioned that she has only a 50% approval rate by the congregation and was not sure of her future in the church or in the ministry as an ordained clergy (she is not United Methodist, but is part of a denomination where she must… Read more

While I was working out in the yard today, on this gorgeous November afternoon after a glorious morning of worship at my church, I felt the tentacle of paranoia began to wrap around my soul and pull me into that place of darkness and fear. I’ve been re-reading the past few days the beautifully written book called “Leaving Church” by Barbara Brown Taylor, an ordained Episcopal priest who decided to leave her parish and her life as a priest.  Our… Read more

We are a bruised nation.  We’re bruised economically, we’re bruised internationally, but mostly we’re bruised internally.  We’re bruised because the uncivil discourse that characterizes most political campaigns bruises and soils our individual and national souls. While it may not be articulated in exactly this way, the sentiment seems to be growing: if people of local, state and national prominence can speak of one another so distastefully, get away with it and even win elections doing it, then we can get away… Read more

“Did you know that your headlights weren’t on?”  That’s the first question that popped out of my mouth after a frustrating 30 minutes trying to find a friend of mine who was supposed to meet me at a restaurant.  Her reply, “At least I was driving on the right side of the road.  Give me some credit!” She’s been living in England for three years, and had flown in for a short vacation.  All her plans were made at the… Read more

I find myself still shocked by some of the events and conversations of last week, and others that are continuing this week.  Every pastor, when coming to a different church, no matter what the circumstances, gets to enjoy a honeymoon period.  Everyone is on good behavior, and we’re all hoping the best will happen.  We look at one another with generosity and often hide some parts of ourselves and our thoughts for fear of being unloved if exposed.  So, while… Read more

“Oh, The People You’ll Meet And The Places You’ll Go”. . . that’s the title to a Dr. Seuss book often given to people who are changing something in their lives—a graduation from high school, or perhaps a new job, or the first time to travel to someplace very different. It’s a celebration of possibilities and future. “Oh the stories you’ll hear and the heartbreak you’ll know”. . . .That’s my current paraphrase of the book title as I consider… Read more

A few days ago, I saw someone with whom I had developed a friendship several years ago. I remember being so intimidated when I first met her as she walked into the room where we had a joint meeting. This educated, articulate, poised, elegantly dressed, tall, beautiful, wearing pointy-toed high heeled shoes women entered and I thought, “We’ll never have anything in common!” Later, I discovered that she had been raised by doting well-to-do adoptive parents who had given her… Read more

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