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Showing posts from 2010

Time after Time, He Comes again

Some random thoughts for the Christmas season:
I'm writing this on a new computer. I recall our first: a Leading Edge IBM compatible that had an operating system you loaded by inserting two floppy discs into the computer each time you turned the machine on. In contrast, the one on which I'm writing has reached a modest level of Isaac Isamov's Law of Machines: "No machine shall have any moving parts." While this computer has some moving parts: the keyboard keys and the hinges on the lid (it's a laptop), it has no internal moving parts. It is completely solid state: including the hard drive. Wow! Progress is amazing.
I grew up in a house with no plumbing, a well on the back porch, and heated by two coal stoves: one in the dining room, and one in the living room. We seldom used the living room during my early childhood, keeping only the dining room and kitchen warm. At night in the winter, we simply piled on more quilts.
We had no car, grew our own vegetabl…

Thanksgiving

The holidays bring lots of family, friends, gifts, meals, and...depression. There are many for whom the holidays are harbingers of remembered pain. A parent who made the holidays terrifying. A spouse whose holiday activities tore the family into pieces. Those memories can make the holidays into times of suffering and pain.

How to survive if you are one for whom the holidays bring such memories? I may have a couple of suggestions.

In The Canterbury Tales, a nun carries a banner with this emblazened on it: Amor Omnia Vincit. (Love conquers all) That is a great place to start.

If you can center yourself on the fact of God's love, you will begin to see creation in its proper order: with our loving Father God in the center. This image is how things are supposed to be in the Kingdom of God. Despite those who hurt us, the fact of God's love can be a great and a healing influence.

Second, if you can simply avoid those who hurt you or cause holiday disturbances. Despite the fact…

At the End of the Day

The end of summer is quickly approaching, and school will start in just a couple of weeks. When I was a boy, we had an extra month over the kids today, with school starting the first week of September. That's no longer feasible as the U.S. drops farther-and-farther behind the rest of the industrialized world in education.

Keila went to Italy as a part of her education at Berry College. While there, she was required to observe in a number of Italian primary schools. She was inspired by what she saw, and horrified at how far our schools miss the mark.

Using modified Montessori models, Italian schoolrooms are places where busy groups of children cooperatively learn. They are busy, conversational, hands-on places. Here, steril classroom settings with neat rows of chairs greet children. They sit silently while information is imparted, and work endless worksheets of problems. If it sounds boring, it is because it is.

It is obvious that, for all our knowledge about how children lear…

July Heat, Remembrances, and Regrets?

I seem to have come to that point in life at which one ruminates over the past while in the midst of the simplest things.

I sat with an African-American friend on our porch the other day and a sudden image flashed into my mental view. It was the image of a document I have stored away. My dad bought a couple of shares of stock in the Westside Development Corporation...or some such innane title. It was really a racist entity developed to purchase houses in our community to keep black people from buying them during the turbulent 1960's. It happened anyway, and the community changed. I keep it as a mark of shameful remembrance of a time my dad came to regret as he accepted that we are all God's beautiful children no matter what our color.

I've spent some time looking at old family photos...well, some are actually even tintypes...my family recollection is beginning to span back nearly two centuries. I look at the faces of those gone and remember how short our lives really a…

Nimrod and Ayn Rand and other things

While preparing for the sermon Sunday, June 13th, on Christian families, I decided to begin with the Tower of Babel. I traversed from there to Jesus' parable about the men who built houses on sand and on The Rock.

In studying I found out some curious things about Nimrod and Ayn Rand. In several scholarly sources, I found comparisons between the two, with several scholars expounding on the philosiphies of both. It was interesting to note that the similarities between their philosophies were extremely close. It is also interesting to note that both Nimrod and Rand held similar ideas about the primacy of The Human Spirit versus ideas about God.

While I have my questions about the comparisons made by those scholars, it is interesting to note that Nimrod's arrogant belief that he would lead humans to become "like gods," and Rand's belief that humans, not God, are the primary force in the universe are so similar. And...both easily lead humans to unhealthy patterns of liv…

The Christian Family

This summer we're focusing the first part of the season on the Christian family. This past Sunday we began that journey with the sermon which took its beginning in the Shema.

Beginning with Moses' desire to leave the Children of Israel with a new legacy in the Promised Land, we opened our study with Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 in which Moses instructs the Israelites to center their homes and their lives in their belief in God. Starting with that ancient call: "Hear O Israel, The Lord your God, the Lord is One..," we began our journey toward an understanding of the Christian Home and its difference from other homes.

We found that Moses hoped to help the Children of Israel understand who and what they were. We also found that Moses understood that, to be fully human, people have to understand who they are. The Shema starts us on that journey which finds its fullness in I Peter 2: 9-10 when Peter posits: "Once you were no people, now you are God's people."

Moses …

Summer Ministries

Summer is here, and our ministries for the summer are accelerating rapidly. Today we had nearly 100 at lunch where we feed children, youth, and adults. This program is a real challenge and a blessing. It is a great thing to watch little ones have a nutritious meal and know that your church is the reason they do so. It is a blessing to watch whole families sit down to eat, knowing that your church is the reason they can eat. Just as Jesus fed the multitudes, The Church today has an increasing need to "Feed the Sheep." We're doing just that.

Our kids from the After School Program will enjoy activities all summer, with programs to help them enjoy the summer, and programs to help them keep their academic edge during the vacation season. And, yes, I will be helping kids make their own cherry bombs with black power they make themselves. Living dangerously, that's part of what we do here at Douglas Street UMC.

We have a number of family events this summer, to include …

The Weeks before Jerusalem

In the weeks before Jerusalem and The Cross, we follow Jesus through a challenging series of events: none more so than his encounter with the woman about to be stoned. It sets the scene for the crucifixion.

When the Pharisees bring the woman to Jesus, it is to trap him. Instead, Jesus traps the Pharisees in their own deceitfulness by asking the one of them without sin to cast the first stone. Boy, if He had asked that of many modern-day politicians, the poor woman would have disappeared in a flash beneath a mound of stones.

The Pharisees are representative of pietistic leaders throughout the ages. Their psychological dopplegangers dot the pages of history: those who know that they are the "chosen" ones of their age.

With this encounter, Jesus sets the stage for endless encounters between the faith which will bear his name and those who "know-that-they-know" through the ages. The encounter of a Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Nazism, the bold stance of an Oscar Romero ag…

A Lenten Parable

I'm working on the Parable of the Prodigal Son for March 14th. I've been working on it for about a week now. Of course, the three main themes are: (1) the pentitent son, (2) the jealous older brother, and (3) the overarching them is that Helmut Thielike called "The Waiting Father." For this Sunday I've decided to center in on several themes: (1) God's ways are not ours, (2) the cycle of sin and repentance is part of every human being.

The theme of God's difference is one which is often in my mind. The Bible tells us that "My Ways are not yours." It also speaks of God as both person and Being beyond personhood. For me the most poignant example of this latter thought is found in Moses' encounter with the Burning Bush. When God speaks in response to Moses' question of His identity, God says: "I am That I am." There is a distinctive sense of God's 'Otherness' in this response.

Yet, Jesus speaks of God as 'Fat…

A New Year, A New Heart

The Psalmist cries: "Create in me a clean heart, O God." It is the cry of milennia of humans seeking to renew their lives and their faith. It is the cry of David when he has sinned. It is the cry of the Israelite nation in the deserts of the Exodus. It is the agony of Peter when he has betrayed Jesus. It is our cry, too.

Each new year brings new hope. It calls us to the renewal of faith and the refreshing of our hopes and dreams. From the recollection of a youthful body able to run all day which calls me to lose weight and get in shape, to the heartfelt call on my life to make my last years count for more in God's service than previous decades: I feel the call to renew. I, just like you, need renewal. I need new commitment. I need my faith refreshed. I need to do more and do it better.

So, my pledge to God this year is to try and do better.

As I approach the "three score and ten" allotted to us all, I am increasingly aware of the hurts and needs of our …