A New Way Instead of the No Way

Though years ago, I still recall when my routine and well-deserved afternoon nap was interrupted by a call from China. Maybe you get those all the time . . . not me!

My wife had joined other university colleagues for an educational adventure to the land of terra cotta warriors, Tiananmen Square, and cities like Shanghai with its population of a gazillion (officially now over 24,000,000). Before departing our little village of Fresno (with its paltry 500,000 residents), she promised to call—at least to try—while tramping along the Great Wall.

And so, the phone awoke me. Continue reading →

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Fruit and Friends: On Visiting in a Church

A dog may be around to share a bite with you…

When considering what I don’t miss about life in the church, visiting hovers near the top of the list. Visiting also has a spot in the top 5 of what I do miss.

Hmmm? Call me Contradictory Larry?

Tucked within the monolog-like words of Jesus to his disciples (John 15, the Gospel lesson for the upcoming sixth Sunday of Easter), the Nazarene said of his disciples, “you are my friends.” He continued with, “I appointed you to go and bear fruit . . .”

Whether planned or spontaneous, in a hospital before major surgery or at the kitchen table offering a chance to work with youth (such a deal!), visiting could nurture a sharing of faithful fruit. Continue reading →

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Retirement Beckons, Part 2

Once I never thought about retirement, other than being a good lad and salting away some rainy-day dollars each month for a distant future.

How could I ponder retirement when, on a pre-dawn Sunday morning, the sermon was still making demands? In a few hours the sanctuary seats, cradling innocent-appearing adults and cute children, would be occupied. Every member was a mix of dreams and disappointments. They’d all felt loss (of faith, of loved ones, of a future). And a few, with clenched jaws or fake smiles, hoped today the preacher would say something that made sense.

Or, they were present from habit or the football game was on later or the kids should go to church or the wife had given “the look” and it was far better to get your butt to church after a quick bowl of Cheerios rather than protest.

No, early on Sunday mornings, with an unfinished sermon (and it’s never truly done until the “Amen” hours later after the good news was cast before the beloved, beleaguered, bored, bereft dwellers of the pews), retirement was never a thought.

It is now.

The proverbial fat lady sings in June 2018. Continue reading →

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