Living to Serve

I retired two years ago.  Like many retirees I have found a plethora of things to fill my time.  “Fill” is not really the correct word.  I have discovered many ways to “fruitfully use” my time.

I’ve been mentoring a young man preparing for ministry, mentoring people at the Homeless Intervention Shelter, helping distribute food at the Food Pantry, and working in the Shelter’s Thrift Store called Charity’s Closet.

One of my most passionate commitmentsJ1024x680-43672 has been working with Habitat for Humanity.  For the past four years I have been organizing teams of men and women to build homes with Habitat for Humanity in other countries.

In 2016 I will be leading two trips.  In June our team of 14 will be building a home for a needy family on Prince Edward Island.

In October, I’m organizing a team of 15 that will be part of Habitat for Humanity’s Big Build in Viet Nam.  This will truly be a life changing event as we participate with groups from around the world to build adequate housing.  If you are interested in joining me, contact me and we can talk more about that possibility!VBB Volunteer Flyer (1)

So, now I’m an author

THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE HOLY: Stories and Musings From a Lifetime of Ministry

It tookBOOK COVER me thirty seven years to write this book.  Or, more honestly, it took me thirty seven years to experience what I wrote about in these pages.

Writing has always been a way for me to process my thoughts and feelings; a way to see more clearly the life I am living.  These short pieces come from my journal, from my work as preacher and teacher, from letters I sent and from materials prepared for special programs and projects.

In all of these pages I try to share the spiritual struggles that many people, including Christian pastors go through.  I wrestle with meaning, faith, vocation, goodness and evil, the presence and absence of God.  I hope that readers will use these stories to stimulate their own thinking, praying, and wondering about life and God.

You can find this book at Amazon paperbacks and Kindle

How BIG is your Christmas?

giana and Santa

 

 

My 19 month old granddaughter had her first encounter with Santa Claus.  Sitting on her mother’s lap she looked at the department store Santa with growing anxiety.  “Santa, scawy, big, no like!” and then she released a full throated wail and real tears.

Isn’t it ironic what Christmas has become in our culture?  Huge bargains, loud music, gaudy lights, frantic shopping, over eating, over spending, and over doing….all of this supposedly in response to the birth of a homeless refugee baby in a tiny corner of an occupied land.

My granddaughter is no grinch.  She knows how to laugh and celebrate and love.  But she touches on something true and I agree with her.  When I look at the way our society does Christmas I often want to say “Scary, big, no like!”

The miracle and mystery of Christmas is how small and unobtrusive our God was willing to become.  The only “bombast” was a brief angel chorus sung to a few shepherds stuck on the night shift out in the Bethlehem hills.   The only “spectacle” was a star that only those trained in sky watching noticed and appreciated.

This Christmas ponder the lines from O Little Town of Bethlehem: “How silently, how silently this wondrous gift is given, when God imparts to human hearts the wonders of His heaven.”  Find a quiet space and some quiet time and ponder the amazing small and wonderful gift of Emmanuel!

 

 

 

 

Living in Exile

For Christians, the four weeks before Christmas are a time of spiritual preparation.  We call it the “Advent Season” One of my favorite Advent hymns has these words, “O come, O come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lonely exile here….”

Last week when 14 people were killed in San Bernardino I couldn’t help but think that we are living in exile too.  Even though most of us are living in our “native land” we are far, far away from what our land could and should be.  We as a nation languish in a reality where hateful rhetoric burns ever hotter and violence and death explode in unexpected places.

But I refuse to surrender to this hateful, divisive spewing.  I refuse to allow fear to control my life.  Though I may be in exile, I am not lonely.  Friends, family and congregation–people who share grief and longing with me, people who are willing to shout hope and compassion against those who peddle paranoia and hatred.

So I start these mornings of Advent thanking God  for the day, for the opportunities I  have to speak and show kindness.  And I sing that yearning song….O come O come Emmanuel….