Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I've been reading John Dickson's new book Humilitas: A lost key to life, love and leadership. I picked this book up because I heard Dr. Dickson speak at the Leadership Summit from the Willow Creek Community church on the 12th of August. Humility, Dr. Dickson suggests is not self deprecation, it is not humiliation, and it is not the Caspar Milquetoast-ey being a door mat kind of thing. Humility, he suggests, is not being humiliated but from a position of strength surrendering one's power in the service of others. Humility is using what power we have in the service of others.

Imagine what might happen if Pastors, Members of Congress, military, civic, educational, business and other leaders decided that their purpose was not the control of others and not their own personal self aggrandizement but we were in the positions we were in so that we might serve others. Serving others would certainly take many forms. Serving others in such a way as to keep them in certain categories or places would not be service at all. Serving others would have to mean making the world a better place. Serving others would have mean helping them become all that God had called them to be. Imagine humble leaders using their power in the service of others . . .


Monday, August 22, 2011

Thinking about the journey

For most of my nearly 55 years I have tended to view life as a series of destinations, weigh stations, rest stops and arrivals. Only recently have I begun to see that a significant part of life is the journey itself. Perhaps I am just a slow learner, or, perhaps, it takes a few years of hanging out in destination-ville to discover that the fun part was usually the anticipation, planning and journey that got me there. When I read the Gospel I find this same kind of strange journey mentality. Jesus seems to always be on his way somewhere (he doesn't not seem to just wander about much) but many of his miracles happen on the journey -- when he is on the way to doing something else. I used to call this the "ministry of interruption" but am  more inclined to think these days that the interruption was just another part of the journey.

I'm not quite up to John Lennon's "life is what happens when you are making other plans". Because even the making of plans is life, and being interrupted is life and actually taking the journey is life and, there are even a few destinations before we hit the road again that are life, indeed.

I am struggling to see my spiritual journey in the same way. I am not sitting around waiting to go to heaven. This journey of faith has profound value all by itself. I am beginning to understand C.S. Lewis who once wrote that "even if there were no heaven, I would still be a Christian because of the benefits in this life." Being a Christ follower on the journey is in and of itself a benefit. The journey is a benefit. The process and experience and knowing Jesus is a great benefit. And, some day, I will be with Jesus. Being with Jesus is not "going to heaven" it is heaven. . . . or so the journey this far would suggest.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Something about Saturday morning

I have discovered (am discovering) that Saturday mornings are becoming one of my favorite times of the week. I can get up early (who gets up early on Saturday?) I can have my office and my desk to myself in a relatively quite setting and I can work hard focus well and get things done with minimal interruptions. Yea Saturday!

There is something about the uninterrupted block of time that is essential to thought and creative work. Is this part of the Sabbath concept? Is there a divinely inspired benefit to just shutting the world out, the noise down, turning away from the distractions of day to day living? What else must I do to "unplug" and refocus? I'm liking the idea of a weekly "reboot" where I turn the juice off and focus on something completely new and different.

There is just something about Saturday morning.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Moving Experience

Shortly after my Epiphany (January 6) post I learned that I would be moving from my home of 27 years (Syracuse) to a new home in the Buffalo area (Amherst/Snyder) on July 1, 2011. In the church administrative system called the "United Methodist Church" I serve "under appointment" that is to say ultimately at the discretion of my spiritual leader, a bishop. Though I did not seek this move I felt strongly that it was where the Holy Spirit was leading me and so, from first of February (when the change was announced) to the 8th of July when I finally moved, I worked at being in transition.

Transition is difficult. I was Senior Pastor of the same church for 23 years. It is hard to leave someplace where you have married, buried, baptized, confirmed and walked through some significant family, spiritual or other crisis with every family in the congregation. I chose to walk slowly through the "good bye's" and to enjoy a long series of "last suppers" with the friends who were family. I felt like I said my good and thorough fare wells (I also gained nearly 20 pounds doing it -- lot of cakes, dinners, special treats).

Here in Amherst where I am now blessed to be serving the Christ United Methodist Church. We are just beginning to get to know each other. I am learning my way around, making new friends, dreaming some big dreams and imagining the possibilities of what God has in store for us here.

The transition is far from over. I'm the "new guy" in an existing place. My wife is still commuting back to Syracuse for her work, we haven't sold our house in Liverpool, New York (HEY LOOKING FOR A REALLY NICE HOME WITH LOTS OF CHARACTER?) and that general feet in multiple places angst that happens in this kind of experience.

But, having said all of that, isn't all of life transition? Permanence is an illusion we cling to because it is familiar and because it is comfortable. Living life as a Christ follower is like raising children. Someone once told me that the goal of raising children is so they will have roots and wings. I like that. My faith in Christ roots me in an eternal, loving and unchanging God. My faith in Christ also sets me free to fly, to try, to become all that God intends.

Be blessed,