WHY CHURCH? To Give Order and Structure in a Chaotic World
You probably expect me to pray for you. That’s fair. And I do, even if I keep a fairly open definition of prayer. I think about you all the time. I fret over you and on your behalf. If I know your current dilemma or your current blessing, I worry or smile accordingly. As a clergyperson, I try to do the old Levite thing, which …
Tags and categories: Orchards, Why Church?
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September 12, 2019 at 01:25PM
One More Thing about Crosses
I suffer from FOMO. This stands for “Fear of Missing Out” and describes the phenomena of checking social media obsessively. One does this to not “miss out” on a funny or important post from your friends, your favorite news site or your favorite media outlet. It is automatic most of the time. When my conscious mind re-emerges, I usually feel horribly wasteful and vain. Also, …
Tags and categories: Orchards
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September 11, 2019 at 02:44PM
I remember whining to Rick about my inability to sustain a running habit. He said to me something like ‘just make sure you start over one more time than you quit’. I can’t say I’ve started over with running again, but I have taken advantage of Daylight Savings to be up walking early again. It is nice to start the day with 5,000 steps to …
Tags and categories: Orchards, Lent
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March 11, 2019 at 05:28PM
Praying for GC2019 Pt. 4
Dear Church, I want to begin by apologizing for missing last week’s post. I had a post begun, but in the chaos of life it languished in the draft folder and never got out in time. I want to continue asking you to pray for General Conference 2019 which is only 3 weeks away. This is the most consequential meeting of United Methodists since our …
Tags and categories: Orchards, GC2019
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February 06, 2019 at 07:39PM
Praying for GC 2019 Pt 3
Dear Church, Sorry this is a day late. A month from today, the United Methodist Church will be almost half-way through General Conference 2019, the process whereby we will determine our church’s position on matters of human sexuality. That position will be consequential. In my research to understand the deep ramifications of General Conference 2019, I came across this article about the various petitions that …
Tags and categories: Blog, Orchards, general conference, GC2019
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January 24, 2019 at 04:55PM
Praying for GC 2019 Pt 2
Dear Church, Last week I asked you to begin praying for General Conference 2019 every Wednesday through February 27, the day after the Conference closes. In my original invitation in our January Sower article, I confessed that I really didn’t know what to pray for. This is still a murky issue for me. But as I’ve tried to model the way for you as a …
Tags and categories: Orchards, GC2019
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January 16, 2019 at 06:06PM
Praying for GC 2019
Dear Church, As I shared in last week’s Sower article, I am asking us to pray for General Conference 2019 taking place in St. Louis February 23-26. This General Conference will address the church’s stances on issues of human sexuality amidst a climate of serious division. It’s hard to pray in the darkness of ignorance and I am aware that this may seem very new …
Tags and categories: Blog, Orchards, GC2019
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January 09, 2019 at 06:29PM
The Church in a Strike
Dear Church, What shall we as Christians think and do regarding the ongoing controversies between teachers and their employing school districts? I offer these principles and practices for your consideration. Principles Traditionally United Methodists favor strong public schools and the rights of people to bargain collectively. Specifically, we have adopted the following social principles and … Continue reading The Church in a Strike →
Tags and categories: Orchards, Uncategorized, schools, strike
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August 27, 2018 at 06:04PM
Note: I realized that inadvertently identified the Florida school shooter as Victor Cruz. His name is Nikolas Cruz. Apparently, Victor Cruz plays football. My sincere apologies for the error.
They built a “non-echoing chamber” in Minnesota that is the quietest place on earth. The walls absorb almost all sound. The only sounds left are your heartbeat and your digestive track and your pulse. After about 45 minutes in this chamber you start to go crazy.
Most of us live with the opposite problem: so much noise that it is hard to discern important sounds from unimportant sounds.
I have some hearing loss due to loud music as a youth. Sometimes I cannot hear my own kids in the store and fear that I’ve lost them. Mostly though, I crave silence. I need space and tranquility. That’s why I like the bell. I don’t actually like the sound, but I like the invitation to silence. If you live with a lot of silence already, it makes sense to me that you would crave MORE voices, not less.
What’s striking to me about Jesus’ baptism is that he was then immediately sent into the desert to wrestle with the devil. I like how Mark leaves both the baptism and the temptation very stark. Jesus hears a voice of affirmation, the same God in spirit form sends him to boot camp.
And I think that is how we ought to think of Jesus’ temptations and Lent…it is training. It’s not like temptation only lives in the desert. The reality is that temptation lurks around every corner.
For me, I have a bad relationship with food. I know where every convenience store is in Clark County. Lent calls me into a silent space…not to drive me crazy, but so I can hear the madness of my actions.
I really wish [Nikolas] Cruz had been given the opportunity to healthily confront the madness within his own plans to shoot people at school. It sounds like people tried to hear his voice crying out but either couldn’t or wouldn’t before it was too late.
I think it might be wise for the nation to listen to the wails coming out of Florida. We would have to confront the fact that we’ve allowed the cries from Columbine and Newtown and so many others to fade into the ether.
But that’s how God figured out the first murder. “What have you done?” God cried out to Cain. “Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!” That is when Cain understood the madness of his murdering his brother. I wonder if all killing is some replay of that original sin. God begged Cain to listen, to be silent, and to hear what God was hearing. Cain then cries.
I don’t want to paint Lent as a magic wand to wipe away all issues. But Lent reveals a strategy for dealing with the madnesses within and among us. While often we are called to be the voice of the voiceless, I think we are in a season of intense holy listening. We cannot confront any madness unless we allow that madness to be heard. We cannot heal or console anyone unless we hear and enter into that person’s anguish. This Lent, above all else, let us soften our voices, even to silence. Let us become better listeners: to our neighbors, our community, our friends and our enemies. We cannot proceed with good news until we know what’s true and what’s just noise. For the next 40 days, let us follow Jesus into the desert place and wrestle with the tempter.