#4: Tears

weeping+ Larry’s List of Dark Corners, Holy Nudges, and Faithful Nonsense +

Jesus wept. Much, much later, so did he . . .

The “he” in question arrived at my cramped office adjacent to the sanctuary. He had made the appointment. Just the two of us, each representing the stereotypically taboo subjects to avoid if you want to keep the conversation polite: religion and politics. In the small town where we lived, I was the pastor of a church. He was one of that zip code’s movers and shakers, a guy whose “yes” or “no” meant a project would succeed or be stuck in committee hell.

We both likely knew we were the proverbial “big frogs” in the tiny “pond” of a somewhat isolated community.

I had no idea why he wanted to see me for a lunchtime meeting. Wasn’t he supposed to be at work? Continue reading →

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#3: Queer

queer+ Larry’s List of Dark Corners, Holy Nudges, and Faithful Nonsense +

I am queer.

I suspect you are too.

Why? Well, among other things, the Bible tells me so. Which is not true. And yet is true enough. Jesus, never one to comfort the powerful or those who thought they had the answers, boiled all of the commandments down to two. Simply, his fierce response was:

  • Love God.
  • Love your neighbor (as yourself).

That covered it. That covers it.

The whole darn world. Everyone one you meet. Everyone you don’t meet. Everyone who has lived. Everyone alive. We are all neighbors. Continue reading →

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#2: Death

mortality & death+ Larry’s List of Dark Corners, Holy Nudges, and Faithful Nonsense +

Death has been good to me.

It has been a teacher of faith, and I have (mostly) been a willing student. Though confident more lessons will come—some potentially harder than I can imagine—I remain grateful for my encounters with death.

Did we discuss dying and death and how they’d impact a pastor back in the by-gone days of seminary? Not much. There were, inevitably, arguments over Jesus’ death. But that was theological, a contemplation of differences in the Gospels, and in the whys and hows of myriad Christian traditions. Death was abstract. Odd, though (or maybe not) that I recollect one other glimpse of death when recalling seminary days. A student named Jim died by suicide. He was there for a few semesters. We played chess. Probably discussed Rudolph Bultmann. Possibly shared a beer. He drifted through a few semesters and then died by his own hand.

Sigh.

No one talked about it.

We knew nothing in seminary.

There have been numerous deaths that mattered personally to me in my profession. I’ll mention three, since who has the inclination to read about a thousand funerals? Truthfully, that number is an exaggeration! Except that anyone who has been in ministry for over forty years has witnessed—in literal and figurative graveyards, in hospitals, in living rooms with rearranged furniture, in humbled or trembling or arrogant hearts—a considerable amount of . . . Continue reading →

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