What’s Inside? – 8/1/21

A little while back, Kathy and I decided to take a night away.  Pax stayed with my mom, and we stayed at a hotel.  We went out to dinner and watched a movie.  And I looked forward to a very restful night of sleep.  But around 11:30, I was awakened from my slumber by a loud banging.  When I looked out the peephole of my door, I could see a group of about 10 guys standing outside the room.  They were talking, but I could not decipher what they were saying.  What I did see was that they were taking turns trying to kick down the door of the room located next to ours. [Read more…]

Why I . . . Am a Progressive Christian” – July 18, 2021

As most of you know, I grew up in a very fundamentalist church.  Even from a young age, there were things said from the pulpit which did not fit with how I viewed God.  I remember hearing sermons which spoke against interracial dating, sermons which attacked the LGBTQ community, sermons which basically said everyone who didn’t believe as we did was bound for hell.  And I knew in hearing those things that the manner in which these sermons degraded people who were simply different was inconsistent with the ministry of Jesus.  That the love which was central to the way I understood what Jesus taught was being obscured. [Read more…]

Why I . . . Practice Hospitality – July 11, 2021

While it may not be good form to admit as a minister, I don’t like having houseguests.  I’m not referring to having people over for dinner or spending an evening with someone.  But the joy of having company significantly decreases when it comes to overnight guests.  I’ve always admired those people who are able to do things like take in a foreign exchange student.  To me, having a stranger stay in my house for an extended period of time sounds like torture. [Read more…]

Why I . . . Value Communion – 7/4/21

Whenever there is a birthday in our family, we get together for a meal.  I was hoping some of this would diminish as we got older.  Going out to eat or cooking every time my parents, my sister, her children, her husband, me, Kathy, or Pax got another year older started to feel like overkill.  And there are those inevitable annoyances when you gather with your family.  For one thing, there is a certain member of my family who is not a very good cook.  Kathy and I still talk about some of the dishes that have been served at these meals – pies made with beans or salads of carrots and pineapple.  And then there is the family member that chews with his mouth open very loudly – so much so that I always try to sit a few seats away from him to keep the noise down.  The table conversation is sometimes painful as well.  Certain members of my family have very different political views than I have.  Rather than engaging in heated political arguments, I just bite my tongue and roll my eyes. [Read more…]

Why I Pray – 6/28/21

Today we are starting a new series of reflections entitled “Why I . . . .”  Each week we will be looking at a different spiritual practice or aspect of spirituality, and I will be sharing how I find meaning in them.  By no means am I seeking to assert that my approach or understanding is correct or the only way to understand it.  However, I hope my own perspectives will be a starting point for others to share their own understandings, and perhaps be a means to begin looking at these aspects of spirituality in a new way. [Read more…]

The End of Exile – June 6, 2021

The experience of the pandemic was one of, if not the most, significant global event to reshape our society in recent history.  It is an event which has done more to attack our sense of complacency than any since at least September 11, 2001.  While the events of that date helped us to recognize that the horrors which occur in other countries can happen in our own as well, COVID hit each of us more personally.  In my own life, nothing has occurred on a global or national level which has brought a greater sense of disruption, fear, and despair.  Facing the real possibility of losing those I love most, not knowing when or if life would ever return to normal, gave me a new sense of urgency to embrace the moment.  And it opened my eyes in a profound way to the pain and suffering of others. [Read more…]

Opening the Gate – 5/30/21

Besides the fear that accompanied the pandemic, the area of my life which was most affected was my relationships.  Having left the church I was pastoring the previous July and begun my residency, I was already experiencing some sense of isolation.  So much of my life had been devoted the relationships in that community, and I felt a deep sense of loss.  Because I frequently worked on Sundays, I did not start attending a new faith community. And then the pandemic hit.  It was no longer possible to interact with a new community, or even see my existing friends or parents. [Read more…]

Coming Out of Our Caves – 5/16/21

I remember the day everything changed as the pandemic descended.  I was doing my residency at BroMenn, and my supervisor called me before my shift telling me to meet her in the atrium.  When I arrived, the hospital was eerily quiet.  There were very few people present, no patients walking around, no volunteers present.  There was a tension in the air, a sense of foreboding.  My supervisor told me I was not allowed to see patients for the time being, that more information would be coming. [Read more…]

Spiritual Mothers – May 9, 2021

Just before my final semester in seminary, I took my first unit of clinical pastoral education.  It was a difficult time for me.  I had been struggling spiritually and was increasingly unsure whether I wanted to be a minister.  I decided I would use that summer to discern my path ahead, to complete this hurdle before making a decision.  My supervisor for this unit was a woman named Mary. [Read more…]

Waiting – April 25, 2021

 

Patience is a virtue, but it is not a virtue that I often possess.  I have difficulty waiting for anything, but especially something that I care deeply about.  Long waits filled with uncertainty can be grueling.  When I thought of times of waiting, I immediately thought of the bar exam.  The test was two days long.  The first day was multiple choice and the second day was essay.  I, along with my classmates, had spent the entire summer preparing for the test.  I had memorized boxes of flash cards.  I had attended study groups.  But even after all preparation, when the time came to take the test, needless to say I was very anxious. [Read more…]