The tension of the green season

Sunday begins the long season after Pentecost with the green liturgical color. As a young child, I remember that we called it “the growing season.” Which fits both with the color and with the orientation. We call this season “ordinary time,” that is, there is nothing special. No Christmas, no Easter, no Pentecost. No specialContinue reading “The tension of the green season”

The Siren Song of Success

We are driven by success. We dream of it, we strive for it, we sacrifice our families and our friends and our lives on the altar of success. This is no less the case in the church. We strive to be successful clergy. But what is success? If we are successful our churches will growContinue reading “The Siren Song of Success”

Gazing out the window

I have this thing…I need my desk, or wherever I work, to be near a window out of which I can easily see. As I work (read, study, write), I spend a good deal of time gazing out the window. Right now I am looking out of our front window, and there is nothing particularlyContinue reading “Gazing out the window”

The Saturday Demon

It’s simple really. All I have to do is put one word in front of another, types of words ordered in a particular way. As I often do when I am having difficulty writing, I begin gazing around my bookshelf and my eyes stop at Stephen Dobyns’s book, Best Words, Best Order. That’s it, I think,Continue reading “The Saturday Demon”

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Today is January 1st, New Year’s Day. The first day of 2013. My travels for the holidays are over, and I have been able to settle back into my home and to some sense of normalcy (if such a thing can exist for pastors). Although the end-of-year retrospectives are typically over, I am doing soContinue reading “Looking Back and Looking Forward”

Being faithful with my little

I often find myself frustrated. I have been given very little.  I have very little in terms of number of people in my congregation, very little in terms of my facilities, exceptionally little in terms of financial resources, and little in terms of other resources in my congregation and community. I don’t want to haveContinue reading “Being faithful with my little”

When the loss feels more significant than the gain

“I can’t do this anymore,” I told my beloved. “Can’t do what anymore?” she said. “I can’t do any of this — alone — anymore,” I replied. * * * The preaching moment is a fantastic example of the consequences of pastoral ministry. During the preaching moment, regardless of whether the sermon is delivered fromContinue reading “When the loss feels more significant than the gain”

Reflections on One Year of Ordained Ministry

One year ago today I stood in front of the president of the classis, the regional assembly in my denomination.  Behind me sat the members of the classis, and behind them sat family and friends who had come to share this special day. Of particular significance was the part of the service which is traditionallyContinue reading “Reflections on One Year of Ordained Ministry”

When it All Comes Together

Half-way through my sermon, I saw about one third of the congregation sleeping, another third appeared to be present in body only (somewhere else in mind), and the final third appeared to be engaged. After the service, I was told that the bathroom was out of toilet paper. It was full before the service.  This,Continue reading “When it All Comes Together”

Marginalia of a Past Life

Formerly, I had a habit of making notes in the books that I was reading. This was a way for me to reflect on what I had read and would allow me the opportunity, in a way, to engage in a conversation with the author. It was also a time at which I was youngContinue reading “Marginalia of a Past Life”