Posts

Turkey Trot...

What's Advent and Christmas season like for pastors? Crazy. I know some clergy get freaked out over the Lenten and Easter seasons, with Holy Week being a particular stressor, but personally? I pretty much lose it over December.

I saw a video posted on Facebook the other day of a small boy on his way home from school, and he was being chased by a wild turkey. You could tell the child was in a panic, as the big (dumb) bird was gaining on him. A Good Samaritan driving down the road, pulled his car onto the brim between them, cutting off the turkey, and ending the boy's anxiety. This is a great metaphor for clergy--at least for this one--in December. I am the small boy, Advent and Christmas are the turkey. Where, O where is our Good Samaritan?

I'll probably have to spend a weekend in purgatory for equating these Jesus-oriented seasons with a marauding turkey, but planning Advent themes that are meaningful without being trite is a challenge. I am blessed to work with a great Le…

Eulogy...

The passing of a President of the United States is always a gripping, and sad event. George Herbert Walker Bush's passing at age 94 elicited quite a series of editorial cartoons and Facebook memes about how wonderful it was that he was reunited with his wife, Barbara, and daughter, Robin, in heaven, and these are certainly nice sentiments. We are comforted by such thoughts, not just for our former Chief Executive and family, but for our own loved ones and friends at the time of a death. Our faith "kicks in" strongly when a dear one passes, helping us imagine them being "welcomed home" by Jesus or greeting family who have gone before, at the "Pearly Gates." Given that scripture doesn't really give us much of a picture of the afterlife, we are free to let our imaginations run wild, and the fact that we have such imaginations, and the desire to use them to picture a loving, receiving realm like heaven--even heaven of the movies--complete with a cast …

A Flash from Thanksgiving Past...

During my first year in seminary, I wrote this little piece, which was printed in the February 1985 edition of Monday Morning, a devotional for Presbyterian pastors:

ON BEING THANKFUL...

Every Sunday morning, when I lead the pastoral prayer in our church, I tack on a list of things for which we can be thankful to God. I try to be creative with the list of "thank yous," but often I find that I quickly run out of things for which to praise the Lord. That is until recently.

During a field education banquet at our seminary, a woman told about her experiences working in a center for the handicapped and disabled. She told of a time when she had some disabled children make a litany of thanksgiving--things for which they are thankful to God. A tear of revelation and joy came to my eye as she read a list that included things like "Thank you, God, for being able to stand up." And "Thank you, God, that Aaron (presumably a brother or friend) is alive." Wow! How do we mi…

Solidarity...

Last Friday evening, October 26, I spoke at the 7:00PM Shabbat Service at Temple Ohav Shalom here in Allison Park. As part of establishing a kind of partnership between St. Paul's and TOS, Rabbi Jeremy Weisblatt spoke at all of our Sunday services here at St. Paul's, and we scheduled my reciprocal speaking engagement for 10/26 shortly after. We had just finished a six-week worship theme on "Under the Tree of Life," examining the "other" tree God planted in the Garden of Eden in Genesis. We Christians have been preoccupied with the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the story, with beaucoup theology being produced on the resulting subject of sin and redemption. It was enlightening to spend some time talking about the Tree of Life in the center of the mythical garden, a tree that shows up again in the final chapter of the Bible when the vision turns to the "new heavens and the new earth." So, I spoke about this Tree of Life, which we share, and c…

Election...

Nationally, the mid-term elections are just around the corner. Please vote, people. If you can't get to the polls, reach out to the many organizations that will give you a ride, provided you haven't already made provisions to file an absentee ballot. Anyone who declares themselves a patriotic American, and who doesn't vote in every election is lying to her or himself. The one thing that keeps the American "experiment" going is that its people vote. Did you ever stop to think that the myriad problems we face as a people may be directly linked to the increasing decline in the voting ranks? In this past presidential election, about half of eligible voters actually voted. Only half of this democratic republic have raised a voice. Vote! Vote! Vote! I'll make you a deal: if you promise to vote, I'll promise to not rag on you for how you voted. Even if "my" candidates don't win, I'd still feel better--we should all feel better--if at least a ma…

Kavanaugh Fallout...

I don't know how many churches are standing for women and their general opinion that, in confirming Brett Kavanaugh, and even celebrating this "victory," the Senate has thumbed its nose at them and the whole issue of sexual assault. Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C., led by their lead pastor and staff, read in worship and released the following statement:

Hear my prayer, O LORD;
let my cry come to you.
Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress.
- Psalm 201:1-2a Over these past days, we have witnessed what many have called one of the ugliest and most painful moments of political theater in memory. Through the confirmation hearings for the most recent addition to the Supreme Court, not only has our brutal and near absolute tribalism been on display—both within the government and in response to it—but, through the courageous testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, we as a nation have been forced to confront yet another unacknowledged epidemic in o…

Spectacle...

I'll keep this short, for if I don't, I could get angrier and angrier. What transpired in the "hearings" for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh should have every American embarrassed. Embarrassed to the core. It was an awful spectacle.

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was a genuine, credible witness of the assault she experienced, allegedly at the hands of a young man who would go on to become a nominee for the Supreme Court of the United States. That she was assaulted came through clearly, and her therapists, a polygraph test, and witnesses could provide conclusive proof by whom. The witnesses were not subpoenaed, and were thus suppressed as evidence. An FBI investigation—which has now been advocated by the American Bar Association and Mr. Kavanaugh's Alma Mater, Yale University—has been ruled out by the President and the majority members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Kavanaugh, in his defense, was belligerent, condescending to his questioners, obfuscated a…