One Month, Seventeen Days: Books and Questions

Tuesday afternoon a church member and good friend stopped by to see me, walked into my office, looked around and burst into tears. My first thought, “Something really bad has happened.” And then she said, “The reality just hit. You are leaving.” I had packed up many of my books over the weekend. Normally stuffed-full shelves sat, mostly denuded and dusted, waiting for the next set of books to fill them. Family photos all packed as well. The time pressure has hit. In a month, the movers pick up and store all my belongings so the parsonage can be cleaned … Continue reading One Month, Seventeen Days: Books and Questions

Four Months, Seven Days

I thought that the first Sunday after the congregation learned about my retirement would be the hardest. Wrong. Second Sunday worse. People I hadn’t seen the first Sunday coming up to me and reminding me again how much I will miss them. And then there is Addie. Addie, daughter of one of the faithful families in our congregation. Addie, young, innocent, loving. Addie–she represents to me so much of this congregation. Sunday, after her dad and I had exchanged a long, tearful look, she came back in from the parking lot and wrapped her arms around me. “I love you … Continue reading Four Months, Seven Days

The Wasteful Weekend

What a waste. Twice a year, a large team of people head to the Texas Youth Correctional facility in Corsicana, TX.  There they lose three days and spend a huge amount of money feeding, caring for, speaking with and offering grace and love to some of the incorrigible adolescent males incarcerated there. Many of those troubled kids will be transferred straight to an adult correctional facility when they turn 18.  In the meantime, they are there for a reason. Someone, or lots of someones, reached a point where they’d said, “No more. Lock them up.  Get them off the streets. … Continue reading The Wasteful Weekend

The Consumer-Driven Church Model, Part Three

Note: this is part three of a three part series. Part One is here; Part Two is here. Three Things to Keep in Mind First: not all growth is good growth.  When effectiveness is measured only by numerical growth, we make the fatal mistake of assuming that just because something grows rapidly, it is doing so under the blessing of God.  All gardeners and physicians know this:  rapid growth doesn’t necessarily mean good, healthy or desired growth. Second:  the process of making disciples is a long, slow, and often painful one.  A disciple is one who is actually willing to … Continue reading The Consumer-Driven Church Model, Part Three

The Consumer-Driven Church Model, Part Two

Note: this is the second of a three-part series.  Part one is here; part three is here. The Church is In Crisis I suspect everyone agrees that The United Methodist Church, as a world-wide organization, is in crisis.  Our membership grows older and the death tsunami looms. Few churches see a vital future. People in the US church, who have been the principle financial support of the worldwide church, are moving away from denominational religious structures. The crisis leads to pressure to have numbers that look good. We’re no different in that sense from any business that must please its … Continue reading The Consumer-Driven Church Model, Part Two

The Consumer-Driven Church Model, Part One

I recently walked out of a local electronics store in some frustration.  I have an older inkjet printer that needed new ink cartridges.  Now, ink cartridges are some of the biggest consumer rip-offs ever devised, so I wasn’t in a great mood when I walked in.  My irritation grew when I realized that my aged printer does not have its exact model number indicated on any of the multitudes of printer cartridges available. Two different sales staff tried to help; each came up with a different solutions.  Both admitted that if I bought a cartridge, put it in the printer … Continue reading The Consumer-Driven Church Model, Part One

Judicial Council Decisions: The Emperor Has No Clothes

The United Methodist Church cannot be re-formed. It’s over for us with our current structure. The Judicial Council’s decision to revoke the involuntary retirement of Bishop Earl Bledsoe over issues of violation of procedural minutia found in the Book of Discipline (not over the question of his effectiveness, which was not being ruled upon) has forever made this clear. It is over. It’s easy to get frustrated with the Judicial Council for the rulings of the last few months. Their work has thoroughly reversed decisions made by General and Jurisdictional Conferences. However, I think that would be a mistake. They’ve done the … Continue reading Judicial Council Decisions: The Emperor Has No Clothes

Three Hundred Words to Convince or It Vanishes

The WordPress blogging challenge for the day, “You have three hundred words to justify the existence of your favorite person, place, or thing. Failure to convince will result in it vanishing without a trace. Go!” My response: Light.  We are light, this small community of faith. Grace and forgiveness glue us together, yet hearts and arms open to anyone wishing entrance. The young acolytes solemnly hold their candlelighters. The worshippers see their clear faces shine. Holy smiles race around the room.  An elderly woman holds her neighbor’s sleeping baby. Her life comes full circle, as she, thinking herself unneeded and … Continue reading Three Hundred Words to Convince or It Vanishes

Invisible People

Last Sunday, I asked people to think long and hard about how they treat others in a way that makes them invisible.  I had used a scene from the movie “The Help” to illustrate it. There, the black maids, who made life possible for their white and privileged employers, were also invisible to those very employers. Their employers spoke about their maids as though they were not there and denied them the most basic of courtesies. At the end of the message, I suggested we all remember what if feels like to be rendered invisible by others see what we … Continue reading Invisible People