Thursday, July 31, 2008


We have a large family and we are so blessed by everyone.
This week Lisa came to visit with Brock and Rachel. Lisa is Chuck's daughter and Brock are 2 of her kids. Rachel is going into 8th grade and Brock into 5th grade.
First it was so much fun having Lisa here. She only stayed for 24 hours but we packed a lot into it. Marnie and Reagan and Addie came to dinner on Tuesday and we ate their favorite meal (Lisa and Marnie's!) Greek hamburgers and onion rings. We played cards and talked and it was great. Rachel is so good with the little girls - I can see that she could end up being a teacher like her mom.

Wednesday Lisa and I went to lunch at noodles before she had to leave. Brock and Rachel are still here. We have done a lot with them. A lot of games, a trip to the fair with Chuck (Grandpa), a trip to Inniswoods with me, mini golfing, dinner at Hooters, and games, games, games.

I realize that Chuck and I have become such a couple that we are boring. It is when kids are here that we get to do "family stuff." and I realize how much I love that stuff. Like cards, and watching TV, and eating together, and just "chilling." These 2 kids are great game players, smart, good sports and great company. Now, they "horse around" a little, but you can't have everything.
We went to the library and Brock picked out 2 books and Rachel got one and I got one and we sat in the family room quietly and read together. Even that was fun.

Tomorrow Grandpa takes them to the zoo while I finish my sermon. And then later on more quiddler, rummy cub, swipe and other family activities. I think I miss having kids at home.
Although........I do kind of miss the quiet!
I have the best of both worlds. (Brock asked me if I got that from Hannah Montana....huh?)

Monday, July 28, 2008

sunday mornings

This is my second time trying to write about Sunday mornings.

After church - our church service which focussed on love and acceptance and recognizing how God treasures us - I learned about the shootings in Knoxville.

It hit close to home because Audrey is in Knoxville and her best friend attends that church. The reason she was not there was because she was listening to Audrey preach about praising God.

That church was a scene of hate and death. And it is so disturbing. Too much has been written about the way religion can separate people from each other.

the church where the killings happened was Uniterian Universalist - a church which is open and affirming to all people and in the business of working for social justice.
As I type this I am watching TV as they are promoting a piece about a violent standoff in Columbus.

There are no words to express how helpless I feel.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Susan Howatch

One of my guilty pleasures for years have been books by Susan Howatch. I first read some of her big generational family sagas 20 years ago - Cashelmara and Penmarric.

But she started a series about Episcopal priests in England who were spiritual directors and got me hooked. Some of them that I read were "Glittering Images", "Glamourous Powers", and "Ultimate Prizes". I had not read one of her books for at least 5 years and found in the remainer pile "The Heartbreaker" at Barnes and Nobles.

And so I am hooked. But I find myself reading it pretty slowly for me. "The Heartbreaker" is about a "leisure worker" (prostitute) in England who is having sex with men for money and being used and abused by a woman named Elizabeth. He comes into contact with Carta and then the spiritual director Nicholas Darrow. It is in some sense a thriller as you wonder how he is going to get extricated from this life he has fallen into. It is about "splitting off" the physical from the spiritual, about dehumanization and it is about healing.

The healing happens as Gavin, the prostitute, is treated with compassion and respect and love.
At the beginning of the chapters, there are descriptions of pastoral care that often stop me and make me think. Here are some of them.

"The healing ministry is non-judgmental: those involved in it are encouraged to consider and address their own prejudices and stereotyping to avoid projection of their personal internal codes of behavior."

"Our identity is being forged in the crucible of whatever sufferings turn out to be inexticable from the particular journey of each person....into fulness of life."

"The challenge of pastoral care is to identify with suffering people and to offer companionship on their journey."

I have seen how spiritual direction and pastoral care brings healing to people. But the hardest part of it is to get rid of our judgments and allow ourselves to experience the pain that people carry within them. It is easier to judge and analyze people who are suffering than to stand with them in their pain. But that is when the healing happens.

Anyway, good books for me. I recommend Susan Howatch for a good read that makes you reflect on faith and the power of love.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday reflections

Well, it has been a week!
Bible School is always fun but......every night for 5 nights starts to be a drain.
But today in worship we showed lots of pictures of the kids and it really did feel like a good experience for everyone.
The chidlren sang 2 of the songs from Bible School. Alyse came up front with all the kids and sang with her back to the congregation. Halfway through Kacey came up and turned her around and then she stood there and scowled. What a kid. Afterward Joe DeWitt told Kacey that Jim Morrison (of the Doors) used to sing with his back to the audience because of stage fright. Is that what is going on? There is something funny about all of it.

I preached both the 10:30 and 5:00 PM service because Charles was not here for the gospel praise service. So, I did my sermon with my manuscript and my sermon notes. I think I got a complicment from Deric (who plays the piano) that he did not fall asleep. Hmmm

This morning after I preached someone asked me if I was a stand up comedian (I told a joke!) and someone else asked me if I was a liberal. I didn't know what else to say, so I said YES> And the church needs liberals and concerservatives.

Audrey has been in my prayers all weekend and her senior minister Scott. Scott is in the hospital with blood clots in his lungs. Audrey came home from Mexico on Tuesday to that news as well as a break in at her home and a stolen computer. She preached a funeral on Friday and today. All of which was unexpected. Plus lots of conerns for Scott. I know God is giving her strength to do what she needs to do. It is not easy.

Anyway, Sunday night and I am taking tomorrow off. Praise the Lord!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday night

I am home after a week of Bible School.
We had the last program this evening and had a dinner for over 75 people at the church.
It was - however you measure it - a great success.
We did the review of the week and sang the songs and reviewed the themes of every day. It was clear that the kids really learned something.
The best part was the intergenerational fellowship that develops in a church of this size. It all feels good but - of course - tiring.

Kacey and Brett went out for a drink afterwards and Jax and Alyse are over here. Right now Jax is in bed with poppy who is watching a race very loudly. Jax has his pacifier in and I think will be asleep soon.
Alyse is in the prayer room - and maybe she will go to sleep and maybe not. She and I played bunko, war and I tried to teach her a solitair game. It was clear it was too much and at one point she just wanted to be with Jax - who is her security blanket. It was okay.

I was watching her face and she was smiling one minute and crying the next and I knew she was really tired. A long week - but a good one.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bible School

Yesterday was the beginning of the week of Bible School that every church does every summer.
It was - for me - a ton of fun.

I am living ni the best possible world this week. I am doing the thing that I like to do the best - which is leading games. And even better my partner in doing that is Kacey. She is organized! And so, we got together and planned the games and then she wrote up the plans and is making sure we have the stuff and then we get to do it.

When you lead games you get to know the kids and the adults. And watch them having fun.
I laughed and laughed last night.

We try to work into the theme of the day - which yesterday was "Share" - we share with each other. So we ended up playing games like "Share the Cocanuts" (which is the same as "Steal the Bacon." ) So much fun. We had 4 groups of different ages and they all got into it in different ways.
The last group was small and we played the adults against the kids which was a hoot. Kacey and Glenn and I are all competitive and aren't going to let kids beat us. Funny, funny. (we ended up tieing. ....."shared" the victory)

I always have the same feeling after the first day of Bible School - that was fun. can't we stop now? Oh, we have to do it again tomorrow? and the next day? And the next day?

Regardless - this should be a good week.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


It is Sunday night and we are watching "Law and Order" CI with Chris Noth. I am happy. I wish he wasn't leaving the show. Next year he will be replaced by Jeff Goldberg! Not so good.

Busy weekend. Friday night we showed "The Great Debaters" at church for our "Reel Faith"
Only 5 people showed up but it was okay - it was a really good movie. I recommend it. What a feel good.

Saturday morning I did a funeral for a 45 year old firefighter who died of cancer. He was diagnosed less than a year ago and died on his birthday. I spent time with Shelly, his wife, on Thursday and just cried with her as I heard the sad story. It was the biggest funeral I have done since I have been in Columbus - must have been at least 70 vehicles in the procession. We drove past his station. It was all very sad. There was much ceremony with the whole thing. Especially at the cemetary. A bag pipe, a 3 gun salute, the folding and the presentation of the flag. There was clearly so much camaradarie iwthin the fire department. The whole thing was very memorable to me and I felt honored to be able to help out with the funeral.

Saturday evening Chuck and I went to a "Songfest" at New Fellowship Christian Church. It was organized by Deric who plays the piano for our Gospel Praise service. It started at 5 and was over at 8:45. It was an amazing evening - and Deric is an awesome piano player. He could accompany anybody with anything. At one point they brought in Charles Mom Teresa to sing (spur of the moment) and backed by three choirs (again spontaneously) they rocked the house.
It was awesome. So glad we went.

There are times in my life when I am attending events like last night that I just feel blessed to be in ministry here in Columbus. These are experiences I would have never had if I had stayed in Northwest Ohio.

God is Good.
All the time
All the time
God is good.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


I just watched a six part documentary on staffers of political candidates during the 2004 election. Apparently it was shown on the Discovery Channel a couple of years ago.

Because I met some of the Barak Obama's advance team, I found myself curious about and interested in their stories. This documentary followed a young woman with the Dean campaign, an actor who was the "Body Guy" for Wesley Clark, the "Body Guy" and other staffers for John Kerry, a young woman who worked for Kucinich and some staffers for Lieberman.

You saw the crazy schedule and the pressure and the high of this life in the bubble. It really was instant intimacy and they became a family as they worked together. It was mostly young people. As the campaigns folded you also saw their disappointment. For all of them it was really a once in a lifetime occasion. They all respected their candidates and wanted them to win badly. And, of course, none of them did.

What I liked was the risk they took - I guess it is the risk of the young, but I found myself envying the life. The only time I get anything close to that is working at church camp - as a bunch of adults come together for a week for a great purpose. And you do form a bond in that week and have your own humor and goofing around. But you don't get to drink at night :)!

I googled a couple of the people and found out that Marvin Nicholson who was John Kerry's "Body Guy" (Personal Assistant) and learned that he is still at it. He is working for Barak Obama and had a run in with Bill O'Reilly.

Anyway, it is always interesting to get a peek into other people's lives!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sermon - "Come to Me, Take My Yoke, Learn from Me"

I came into church with a message from a parishioner about how much he liked the sermon, so I thought I would post it................

Holiday weekend – celebrate the freedom that we enjoy as Americans
And while we may be politically free – but still in some ways bound
Ernest Benn said: “Liberty is being free from things we don’t like in order to be slaves of things we do like.”
How free are we? What is it that weighs us down – that burdens us

Question: What has you heavy laden?
Some suggestions of what can feel like burdens to us – financial – wondering how to make the paycheck stretch – as gas prices go up, food prices go up, health care goes up
Burdened by debt – or burdened by anxiety about debt

We may be burdened in relationships – areas of conflict and misunderstanding
Or maybe – like me – we are watching people we love in difficult situations and worrying for them and wondering what we can do
Burdened by it – because we love them
Concerns about our children and their development
Concerns about our parents and their deterioration

We may be burdened as we face the future for our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren
Problems of globalization – war – poverty - – what is going to happen

We may be burdened by our own health problems – physical and mental. .
Biggest burden _ ourselves – "wherever I go there I am"– negativity, depression, perfectionism, guilt, compulsions

Invitation this morning for you – from our Lord:

28“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Begin with the verbs – Come ,Take ,Learn
They are not a commandment – but they are an invitation – to all of us who know that we are burdened

1. come to me – come to a person – not to a church, not to a set of rule – but come to a person
2. take my yoke upon me –the word yoke symbolizes religion. The religion of the Pharisees was a thousand rules and regulations which essentially said, “No, no, no, no, no” to everything. Negative, negative, negative, negative, negative. religion. And this is directed to people whose religion has become a burden that does not give life – but wears them down with their inability to live by the rules. When Jesus is saying take MY yoke – he is saying - live in tandem with me totally connected – It is not a religion, but a relationship. do you realize the closeness that you need for that?
3. learn from me – not as a student – but as a disciple – as an apprentice. What does an apprentice do? An apprentice follows along after the person and learns by watching and doing what that person does. Learn from me. Learning means – of course – that you do not know everything. You are cultivating the beginner’s mind.
The Pharisees and the disciples would get into intellectual head games and Jesus would often put a child in front of them
Who gets into the kingdom of heaven – the one who is like a child.
Willing to learn – open to New ways to understand, to think and to do. Learn about yourself.
Try to say this – “I don’t know anything.” (I had the congregation say this aloud!)
Try to think of yourself as an erased blackboard ready to be written on.
Or say – Like the blind man – "I want to see."

Jesus says – learn from ME – learn about who you are in my life, learn about your place in the world through me
Learn that God has an important role for us.
This easy yoke is custom made for each of us – that is why it is easy – it is not one size fits all
It will not chafe and you will not feel burdened by it – it will be like no one else’s
We are part of his eternal design. We learn that – in being yoked to our Lord

That is the invitation for all of us – come, take, learn
And the promise is rest

To take Christ’s yoke means to submit to His person as the one who is gentle and humble in heart. And when you walk and work with this yoke mate, he gives you rest.
How? Because you learn to trust HIM. As you watch Him live a life of trusting God.
One of the best stories of Jesus is when he and the disciples were in a storm on the lake of Galilee and do you remember what Jesus did? He slept.
He slept because he trusted in God’s care for him.
And we can rest for the same reason – we grow to learn that being yoked to Jesus means that we can conquer anything that life hands us.
Jesus said – everything is possible for those who believe
Paul said – We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him
And we find rest in HIM – who loves us

Story about a woman who was running for the bus with two large suitcases
Gets there just in time – gets on the bus and stands there – in the middle of the aisle stiffly holding up her suitcases
Until finally a gentle older woman touches her shoulder and says
“It’s okay honey, you can put them down now – the bus will carry them”

That is the rest that we get – our Lord can carry the burdens – we can let go. Rest for our souls – we can trust the Lord

Understanding the Yoke:
1. Choice – choose to be yoked to Christ. And I have to say that we are all yoked to something.
And it is an image of working with God for God.
We are all yoked to something – whether it is career, financial independence, our family, and often ourselves. Our EGO
That may be the most prevalent and almost subconscious – the idea that it is all up to them.
We can be people who are weary with the burdens of our marriages, or our finances, or our personal issues.
And with our ego – try to take care of it all ourselves.
Richard Rohr writes
“I hope we can say ego is not bad. It is necessary. The only problem is that our culture teaches that ego is the only game in town…..the nature of the ego is that it tries to fix, name, control and insure everything for itself…..the religious version of the ego is that we want to be right and want to be in control.”
We wear ourselves down and out.
Wear the title Christian – but it is a “just in case” faith – call you if I need you – not a yoking

The yoke that Christ has for us is a choice – to choose to be harnessed with HIM and live by his values and live with his people.
And the choice of the yoke is to be willing to be led and to be living at times in waiting for the leading.

2. Authority – Spirituality is very popular these days – but without authority. Deepok Chopra write – “I satisfy a spiritual yearning without making people think they have to worry about God or punishment.” Well, this is about living under the authority of God. Which means being willing to be a servant –
· To love the people God loves
· To go the places God goes
· To be silent when you would rather speak
· To speak when you would rather be silent.
When you are yoked with Christ you give him free reign of your life.

3. Daily – I could preach this sermon every day to myself because it is so easy to fall away from the yoke.
When it is an invitation and not a command, my experience is that we may not notice that we have fallen away for a while at first.
It is when that feeling of being burdened comes upon us that we know that somehow we have slipped out of the yoke.
For me, it is a tightening in the shoulders, maybe a tension in the head and I realize I have gone off on my own again – as if there was no God

Or it may be finding myself starting to judge and criticize others for the way they have not lived up to my expectations – as I allow my ego to take the place where Jesus needs to be.

It is daily – to come again to the Lord, to enter into a life of contemplation and action listening for his voice, looking for his signs and following His way.

Being Yoked to Jesus means that you are back in that place of rest and peace and trust.

End with a story about Randy Reed – a 34 year old steel worker.
He was welding near the top of an almost completed water tower in south Chucago.
He needed some supplies but could not reach them from where he stood, so he unhooked his safety belt and leaned from his scaffolding to grab a few items.
The shift in his weight caused the platform on which he was standing to tolt.
He tried to catch himself but fell 110 feet and landed on a pile of dirt near one of the steel tower legs.

Someone called 911 as construction workers rushed to his sde.
Paramedics arrived quickly, finding him still alive.
They strapped him to a back board and rushed him toward an ambulance.

Randy, opened his eyes, looked at his stretcher carriers and said
Please don’t drop me.”

Now that is pretty funny – he had just survived a fall of 110 feet, but was concerned about being dropped a couple of feet by paramedics.
Later doctors found that he had only suffered a few bruised ribs.

We resemble that construction worker
We trust God with our eternity
But when it comes to the “small” matters of life we find ourselves worrying that God may drop us.

Life is difficult for all of us and there are times in which we feel particularly weary because of the burdens that we are carrying

May we remember the words of our Lord to all of us
Come to me
Take my yoke and learn from me
For my yoke is easy and my burden light

Sunday Reflection

Yesterday was a good day.

I preached in the morning about the invitation of Jesus: Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, take my cross and learn from me.

And many people said - that they needed that sermon. Certainly I could preach it every week. The whole idea that God wants us to walk and work with Him and when we do the burdens of life are lifted. But it is so easy to go off on our own and give our egos free reign and then feel so stressed and burdened down by life.

I went out to lounch with Kacey and Marnie which was such a blessing. It has been a long time since we have done that - just the three of us wtihout husbands and kids. It was really relaxing. I love the fact that Olive Garden now offers a "taste" of winefor 25 cents. I think I now have everyone trained to say yes to that - and then I drink everybody else's wine. What a bargain!

Our gospel praise service was great. We had over 40 people and Charles Mom Teresa sang and we had a troupe of mimes perform that were just wonderful. I had never seen this form of worship and it was really inspiring. I feel so blessed that I am being exposed to lots of different kinds of worship.

Our 10:30 service is "blended" which means that we combine traditional, gospel and praise music. Which means that usually someone is unhappy with something. Whenever we do worship evaluations someone complains about wanting more older hymns and someone says more newer music and sometimes the organ is too loud and sometimes the organ is wonderful. But I believe that we are being called to be intergenerational and that is the only way to do it.
I tend to like all kinds of music and wish everyone else did.

The Gospel Praise service is much more lively and uptempo. Deric, who plays the heck out of the piano, takes songs and keeps changing keys and going higher and higher. My sense is that as we are singing, we are going higher and higher too. I love it.

Afterwards we had a potluck picnic which is always fun with this group. I am still getting to know people and to hear their stories. The spirit is so good and everyone is happy to be there.
We are really a church community in formation - very diverse and it is again a blessing to me to be making new friends at this point in my life.

Good Sunday!