July 1, 2020

Something did not happen in 2020. The United Methodist Church did not split. It wasn’t for lack of trying. COVID-19 brought with it social distancing, travel bans, and concerns about infection rates. The very idea that something more important than deciding which group will get to call itself a new denomination or how congregations will affiliate was not in the minds of the leaders from all sides. Insurance liability jargon considers a pandemic “an act of God.” It appears strange to… Read more

June 29, 2020

This morning I did something I have done more times than I like to think about. I moved into a new Pastor’s Study in a Church building. The funny thing is that I am always excited when I do this. I look forward to the new pastoral ministry. I always do. There are a few reasons for this. Being Wounded in Ministry Pastoral ministry is comedy meeting tragedy and attempting to define one another. We are all counseled at one… Read more

June 24, 2020

Aaron made atonement for the congregation. It was necessary. Both he and Moses were attacked by the hostile congregation. The Lord was angry and declared, “Get away from the congregation, so that I may consume them in a moment.” Moses made a plan. Aaron would take holy incense and burn it on a holy censor with fire from the holy altar and go into the middle of the congregation. And so he did. The Congregation Was In The Wrong Korah… Read more

June 21, 2020

Believe it or not, most of us developed our first images of God based on our parents. It’s strange. We may think our parents told us about God. I am sure they did. But they may have told us about our grandparents. Our experiences with our grandparents (if we were lucky enough to know them) altered the impressions we received from our parents. Children do not have the direct experience of God in this way. Unconscious associations of God with the… Read more

June 18, 2020

Hats off to the last generalists. The pastor is the last true generalist of the professions. I know others will disagree. I respect teachers, physicians in “general practice,” attorneys, and dentists. These are all honorable professions that do not require specialization. Pastors are not specialists. People that specialize in Biblical Interpretation, for example, are not very useful communicating that interpretation to lay people on Sunday mornings. The Job Description Of Pastors The job description for a pastor is interesting. Every… Read more

June 15, 2020

President Trump is a foil for most progressive Christians. He epitomizes every criticism of the evangelical churches we make. I want to talk about Donald Trump in two senses. Who he was before the popular television game show The Apprentice. And the man we have come to know since then. In each case, I want the title question remembered. “Is Donald Trump welcome in your church?” Donald Trump Prior To Reality TV Donald Trump illustrates the values of the 1980’s and… Read more

June 11, 2020

I recoiled the first time I read the words Acts concerning St. Paul’s shipwreck. Luke says in 28:2 that they were helped by the “barbarians.” It was a strange word to use. But there it was in the Greek text. Modern translations often use the word “native” or even “islanders.” Using the word barbarian seems a little to…well…barbaric for our ears. My initial emotional response was based on my own prejudice reacting to the prejudice of ancient Greeks and Romans…. Read more

June 8, 2020

I was silent for 8 minutes and 46 seconds yesterday. I stood there with thousands of others outside the court house in my hometown. It is the same court house where now Senator Lamar Alexander kicked off his presidential campaign. Before then, the biggest event ever to happen in my hometown was when Sam Houston introduced himself to Andrew Jackson. Yesterday was one of those events. And it was a worship experience. It was Church. It was one of St…. Read more

June 4, 2020

I suffer from a neurological condition called “essential tremor.” A lay member of my congregation asked me a question following Sunday worship. “Why do you shake?” It was Palm Sunday. My tremor was noticeable when I held up a palm leaf. The church finance chair was counting the morning offering in the other room. She responded in a way that said she had seen it too. “I don’t know,” I replied. “It seems to run in the family. As a… Read more

June 1, 2020

Jeremiah’s words apply to the situation of the United States and the American churches over the last six years since Ferguson. “For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,” when there is no peace.” (6:13-14) It is evil to declare peace while slaughter continues. Applying a small bandage to a wound that needs stitches… Read more

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