Heading for Lent in a Tesla?

It’s the first Sunday of Lent.

I read the lectionary. The Gospel lessons. Mark’s words.

And I laughed. I’m a bad boy. I shouldn’t be laughing on the first Sunday of the most serious churchy season of the year. “Be strong, Larry,” I mutter aloud. Hold the chuckles. Resist the mirth. Lose the smile.

Lent is preparation for Easter, after all. Yes, at the end of a six-pack of Sundays, there’s the glory and story of the resurrection. But first, there will be Lent’s traditional forty days of sacrifice, penitence, and reflection.

I giggled.

Badness reigned.

It’s the first Sunday of Lent and I read some of the opening verses of the first chapter of Mark. I’m doing okay until Mark 1:12 (NRSV). It’s immediately following Jesus’ baptism. Good ole John still stood in the Jordan, dripping wet with a befuddled what-have-I-done look on his gaunt face. In less than a handful of verses after Mark 1:12 (starting at your thumb, you wouldn’t make it to your pinkie on the finger count), Jesus met the future first Pope, along with his brother Andrew, and (it can be argued) the start of the Christian church commenced. Continue reading →

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Impending Retirement, Part 1

I plan to retire from the United Methodist ministry this year.

Everything will change; nothing will change.

Earlier this week, with an email quieter than a whisper in the front pew, my district superintendent informed me that a committee approved my request. Their decision would be forwarded to a next person or group and soon—with hands raised or voices murmuring “Aye”—my experiment as an active clergy will conclude in its forty-first year.

Anyone hear the angels singing about my demise? (Yeah, I didn’t hear ’em either.)

I’ve spent long, arduous seconds poring over scripture, seeking the Greek and Hebrew words that might refer to retirement or pension or social security. I’m still looking. Retirement is a modern addition to human folly.

I figure my ministry has all been bonus or a burden since my early thirties. Around the time I departed my first appointment as an associate pastor in an urban church to start my second appointment as a solo pastor in a rural town, I became older than Jesus. Depending on which Gospel you want to place your bets on, Jesus was crucified in his early thirties.

No retirement for the Prince of Peace. His savings plan was far different than mine. Continue reading →

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Edging Toward Lent

Men with blades!

There were men with blades.

Sound dangerous? Well, I suppose so, in the same way a shortstop courts danger while planting his feet by second base when a runner from first goes airborne, hurtling toward the shortstop’s vulnerable legs. Or like a basketball player leaping for a rebound, fighting a rival player for the ball, sharp elbows punching face and chest, as she inevitably plummets, intertwined with the other, onto a hardwood floor.

I recall my first—and still only—professional hockey game. As with any sport, there was danger. Those blades on the skates were sharp. The hockey puck, bagel-sized and stone-hard, traveled at breakneck speeds.

So, yes, dangerous. Controlled and chaotic. But, truth be told, I had no idea what was going on. I was there because my wife and I were invited to attend a fundraiser. The hockey team, bless their community outreach efforts, was sponsoring a local non-profit’s work.

Did I have fun? Continue reading →

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