Speak the Name?

nameJesus!

I’ve joked about Joseph and Mary’s son. But in a good way.

I’ve mentioned Jesus’ name publicly and privately. I have used his name in prayers, speeches, and intimate conversations. As a preacher, I’ve quoted words from the Bible that I believe he said. I’ve also quoted Gospel verses attributed to Jesus, likely crafted decades after the resurrection, that a writer/follower thought Jesus should have or could have said . . . but did not. (Now I’ve irked those who take the Bible literally . . .)

Of course, I’ve uttered and muttered his name. I’m a Christian clergy, ordained in word, order, and sacrament, Jesus is #3 on my list for the reason for my lifelong journey as a born again and again and again person of faith. And a person of foolishness. And I might as well add as a person of big sins and little mistakes, ah-ha moments of clarity, and the pre-retirement daily trudge through dreary meetings or filing denominational paperwork. Continue reading →

What the Heck is Your Sermon About?

pewsI slipped into an unfamiliar pew. A while back, in a church exploring mood, I worshiped in a new-to-me congregation at 8am. As with a previous visit to a different church’s early service, musicians were prompting questions. As in, where were they?

Don’t musicians like to rise early?

One service I attended had someone (I’m being nice here) half-heartedly playing the piano . . . and for only a few moments. This church had no music. No choir or soloist. No one tickling the ivories. If you know me, and know my singing voice, you will possibly breathe a sigh of relief. You might think: if there wasn’t music, there wasn’t singing, and therefore no one near Larry had to suffer with his limited (I’m being nice here) musical range.

Music-less. The early birds don’t get the worm or the hymn.

And (I’m being nice here), this was another church that offered thin, tasteless, machine-processed wafers for communion instead of REAL BREAD. Hear our cries, O Lord, and deliver us from the ubiquitous wafers.

But enough of me griping. Let’s get to some serious complaining. Continue reading →

Dangling Over the Edge of #MeToo

sitting togetherIn my early twenties, midway through seminary, I spent an hour or afternoon with a woman who was not my wife.

I’ll call her Sophie, not her real name. (However, I do recall her name.)

She too was married.

We chatted.

About life. About studying. About God (hey, it was seminary). About futures. About pasts. About just about anything is what we talked about.

Side by side, Sophie and I sat on the second-floor balcony of the seminary’s student housing. Though we could have been anywhere. My legs dangled over the edge. Minutes seemed like seconds, with an hour passing in a fast-forward sprint. At some point, which may have been before our spontaneous talk ever started, I was attracted to her. And I think she was to me. But that’s a guess. I just knew my excitement. My wondering. My fancy words on the surface may have been discussing a new twist of theology just learned in a seminar, but my interior thoughts were tinged with . . . lust.

I wanted her. Crude, eh?

Did she want me? Continue reading →