Around ten years ago, I participated in a week-long writing workshop at Washington DCâ€™s National Cathedral with three powerful authors. Each had influenced me.
Nora Gallagher, Lauren Winner, and Barbara Brown Taylor are insightful writers. Their essays, sermons, memoirs, and novels have dived deeply into the Christian faith. And yet, I also private dubbed them my . . .Â â€œBond women!â€ Am I suggesting they could starâ€”scantily clad and cleverly deviousâ€”in a film where the iconic British spy might seduce them?
As with every story, sermon, or parable, itâ€™s the context that matters. But, before I contextualize, let me tease. Near the conclusion of this wild caper, one of my â€œBond womenâ€ and I will eventually rendezvous with a Pakistani-American. In a taxi. On the way to an international airport. (Cue the menacing soundtrack.) Continue reading →
Luke 1:68-79 – The Second Sunday of Advent – for December 6, 2015
â€œBecause of our Godâ€™s deep compassion, the dawn from heaven will break upon us, to give light to those who are sitting in darkness . . .â€ (Luke 1:78-79)
In the song of Zechariah, the stunnedâ€”but not speechlessâ€”father of the future John the Baptizer announced, â€œThe dawn from heaven will break upon us, to give light to those who are sitting in the darkness.â€
But Iâ€™m not so willing to abandon darkness.
Maybe Iâ€™m thinking about the dark because of Barbara Brown Taylorâ€™s â€œLearning to Walk in the Dark.â€ With questions and curiosities, Taylor wonders why Christians (and others) dread the dark. She writes,
[W]hen we run from darkness, how much do we really know about what we are running from? If we turn away from darkness on principle, doing everything we can to avoid it because there is simply no telling what it contains, isnâ€™t there a chance that we are running from God?
Can Advent, a journey toward light, also be a journey of divine darkness? Continue reading →
I wonder . . . what makes visiting church members so difficult?
Maybe visiting is easy for you (and therefore I’ve already begun to resent you), but it drove me batty. Hospital and emergency visits? No problem. Follow-up on the first-time worship visitor? Easy enough. But it was the general visiting, the checking-in with people that was like soap scum on my to-do list. Iâ€™d try to clean the list up, but more visiting lingered.
Was e-mailing an appropriate â€œvisit?â€ Was a phone call sufficient?
If you’re not a pastor reading this, and therefore on the other side of the door/computer/phone, what do you think? (Don’t worry, your pastor never reads this blog…)
In every church I served, large or small, I could identify folks I â€œshouldâ€ regularly visit. Some things worked for a while . . . I made a database and tracked my progress . . . I had my secretary call and make appointments. But most things never succeeded. I know one reason why visiting seemed a struggle. In Barbara Brown Taylorâ€™s LEAVING CHURCH she reflected on people she never knew at the last church she served. At a farewell party . . .
I wound up with a couple I had always thought I would enjoy but whom I never really got to know since they did not serve on any committees and were never, as far as I knew, in crisis. â€¦ I did not wonder why I had not sought them out earlier because I already knew the answer. By my rules, caring for troubled people always took precedence over enjoying delightful people, and the line of troubled people never ended. Sitting there with corn stuck between my teeth, I wondered why I had not changed that rule sooner.
It was the same for me. How do we balance the never-ending â€œtroubledâ€ visits with the â€œdelightful?â€ Or can we?Â What do you do?