Why Are We So Different?

umc symbolI suspect we will never agree.

One believes one thing, the other another.

Why?

How can we be so stunningly different? Apart? At odds?

And yet we are.

In this last week, the United Methodist Church joined in a “special session” to discern our denominational policies about our LGBTQ members. Discernment led to votes, led to decisions, led to winners and losers.

Love the sinner, condemn the sin? That’s what some said nearly 50 years ago when the first formal “anti-gay” language entered our United Methodist Social Principals in 1972. Now, these nearly five decades later, the language of separation, judgment, and punishment will be more firmly fixed in our denominational polity.

I don’t get it. But that’s just it. It becomes so impossible to understand, to learn about and learn from, those that have such different views of God, the Bible, Jesus’ path, diversity, inclusion, sin, and a boatload of other words and beliefs. Continue reading →

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Ash Wednesday: What If No One Came?

(Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019)

I am the minister.

And yet also a sinner, believer, servant, husband, son, Jesus-follower, holy wonderer and wanderer, and God-lover.

I am cold.

I am alone.

It is Ash Wednesday.

As the preacher serving a congregation—which has included churches in Wisconsin’s dairy lands, along with urban and rural zip codes of California—I would head for the sanctuary before dawn to prepare the elements. Some would be for a traditional communion, though on Ash Wednesday, I usually chose the dry, brittle matzah bread rather than a freshly baked loaf. Other items were less familiar, an annual nod to Ash Wednesday’s peculiarities. There was literal ash, burned down from the prior Christmas’ pine boughs. Oil. And words. Always words. Always something on a page to read, something ready to say.

I would be the celebrant. Continue reading →

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The Bike Guy’s Advice

Tour de France
Sharing a smoke during the 1927 Tour de France. Really? Really . . .

“Don’t forget to fasten your seatbelt.”

I recall waiting at the red light. The driver next to me had leaned out of his window to give me that suggestion. Or was it advice? Or a joke? He smiled and I smiled and then he made his turn, merging his car into the traffic.

The light turned green and I bicycled across the intersection, still smiling. Fasten your seatbelt, the car guy says to the bike guy. Right. Road humor. (Once, before walking my dog chewed into my exercise time, I oft pedaled the roads of Fresno.)

The driver’s comment was more a joke, but I probably filed it in the advice category because I had recently given my sage advice to another person sharing the road of life and skinny tires with me.

Now, let me preface these next comments by objectively stating that what I provided—free of charge—was excellent advice. Was my advice uninvited? OK, no one had asked to hear my opinion. Am I a qualified expert in the subject? OK, I wouldn’t even be considered an amateur.

But why let common sense prevent dispensing my valuable insights? Continue reading →

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