Category Archives: Leadership

Living Forwards

There is a quote attributed to philosopher Soren Keierkegaard that says: “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” I think this is a very apt saying in these days. In my pastoral visits and talks with people over the past few days, the conversation has often paused around current events for a time. Top among these events, of course, is the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, and it’s related happenings:
– Should school resume? If so, how? In person or online?
– When will we all be able to come back to church? As it used to be?
– When will this (virus, time of caution, etc.) be over?
– What will life (ministry, work) look like post-virus?

Many of these questions are forward looking. But they also carry a yearning for understanding that may only be available in hind sight – that is by looking backward. This makes me ponder the relationship between the choices we make to move forward, and how they will be judged when at last we can look backwards. Do you follow?

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Filed under #change, Christian Faith, COVID-19, Family, Hope, Leadership, Ministry, Spiritual Formation, Uncategorized

Staying Vigilant in Loving Others

Note: My day began with a news report that 31 states in the USA are now seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases. Thankfully, Indiana is not among them. However, cases here remain steady and could always spike again. All of this has me thinking about what is asked of us as followers of Christ in doing our part to keep the virus from spiking? This blog post attempts to address that question.

I have often thought that pastoring a congregation is something like trying to herd cats. Cats, in my observation, are some of the most independent mammals on earth – next to human beings that is. As an American Baptist I have long respected the individualism of our faith heritage. Baptists, in general, are a people who talk about freedom. We champion the religious freedom we enjoy in our nation, and we also champion the soul freedom of each individual to directly connect with God through Christ Jesus. We generally do not like to have our freedoms curtailed or imposed on by others. If you do not agree with that last sentence, I’d like to invite you to the next Baptist congregational meeting where any substantive change is being proposed.

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Filed under Christian Faith, COVID-19, Leadership, Ministry, Pastors, Spiritual Formation

A Time to Mourn

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die. . . . . a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn . . . Ecclesiastes 3:1-2,4

This past week our nation surpassed the 100,000 mark of persons who have died from the COVID-19 pandemic.  This morning I listened to a New York Times podcast that marked this awful milestone by sharing the names – and a little of the story – of 100 of those individuals.  I was moved by this memorial effort.

It is important that we remember and mourn these lives.  We may say, I don’t know them, how can I grieve?  To which I would say, you likely do know someone who has suffered a loss to COVID-19.  Our congregation mourns the loss of two of our members to date.  Our community has counted thirty-four deaths due to the virus.  In the future both of these numbers may rise.

Others have lost income, jobs, and security.  Many are living with a heightened sense of anxiety and have lost innocence, independence, and peace of mind.

Loss has a way of adding up, over time.  Loss not acknowledged or mourned can overwhelm us as its toll accumulates within our person.  If not processed, it will come out as anger, frustration, stress, or surface in other ways.

My own temptation is to press on, push down those feelings of loss, and not dwell on the bad news.  But that only works for a little while.  Each day something eventually reminds me that we are not in a normal time. There are visual cues everywhere, auditory ones as well.  The loss is often palpable.   

So, despite my first thought to not listen to today’s The Daily podcast, given its topic; I’m glad that I did.  It gave me permission to sit for a moment with the reality of those 100 lives, representing over 100,000 lives and over three times that world-wide.  

It helped me process some of what I’ve been feeling. It interrupted my day and my avoidance, pulling me back to simple faith amidst the uncertainty of life.  Faith, that now and in the end . . . . “all shall be well, and all shall be well” (a quote attributed to Julian of Norwhich which comes out of her arguing with God regarding the presence of suffering and death in the world).

Grief processed, mourning permitted, loss acknowledged, and – yes – prayer argued helps reset our mental outlook and reorient us under the care of the Good Shepherd, whom we follow even through death’s dark valley. 

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Filed under Christian Faith, COVID-19, Ministry, Pastors, Spiritual Formation

Hybrids

A “hybrid” is defined as “a thing made by combining two different elements, a mixture”.  Hybrids exist in nature – the offspring of two plants or animals of different species.  For example, a mule is a hybrid of a horse and donkey; a tangelo is a hybrid of a mandarin orange and tangerine.  Apparently, strawberries are hybrids – I didn’t know that, did you?

I used to own a hybrid bicycle – it was a cross between a road bike and mountain bike. And there are many varieties of hybrid cars on the road today – in this case it’s the engine that offers the hybrid quality of gasoline and electric. 

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Why the current Diaspora is not a Displacement

The term “diaspora” is both a historic and religious term used to describe “a large group of people with a similar heritage or homeland who have since moved out to places all over the world.” (source: vocabulary.com) The Old Testament diaspora describes the exilic period when the Jewish people were deported and scattered from Judea to Assyria, Persia and Babylon over several generations.

A similar diaspora of the followers of Jesus took place after Pentecost, as the Christian movement went from Jerusalem into Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). The word has subsequently been used to describe the scattering and migration of refugee populations across the globe. As these phenomena occur, language and culture are also dispersed with the people.

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