Thursday, December 7, 2017

What Your Pastor Wants for Christmas

Note: Some of the things below are true in my situation, but some are not; some are from things brother pastors have told me and that I know they are going through.

Do you know the story of the man who has been working so much and has spent little time at home? One night he brings home flowers for his wife. She appreciates the gesture. They're nice. But it's not really what she wants. What does she want? She wants him. For him to be there for her. To spend time with her.

Well, do you know what your Pastor wants for Christmas? You.

Cash, gifts, cards, they're nice. They are appreciated. But what he really wants is you.

For you to come to the Bible class he has prepared. (Not interested in the topic? Tell him what you are interested in!)

For you to come to church every Sunday (did you know he writes a different sermon every week?), or to the midweek service, especially if it is online and you don't have to go out - just log on with your computer! Or maybe leave work a little early once in a while to come?

For you to forgive him when he is having a bad day. Did you know pastors have bad days, too? And pastors mess up - maybe more than you know.

For you to bring a friend to church.

For you to be a friend. Pastors get discouraged sometimes. They get an awfully lot of bad news and bears the sorrows, griefs, and struggles of a whole lot of people. That can be a really heavy load, in addition to their own guilt and struggles and worries.

For you to pray for him. A lot.

For you to read what he writes. It takes time, effort, and care to compose things for you. But if you don't care enough to read them . . .

For you to hug him once in a while. You might be surprised what that little gesture might mean.

And maybe you already do all of the above for your pastor. If so, THANK YOU! It means more to your pastor than you know.

But now, if you've read this far, I ask you: What do you from your pastor for Christmas? I know not many people read my little blog, but if you would, add a comment on what you want. (Be anonymous if you want.) I have some thoughts - maybe I'll share them another time. I'd rather hear from you right now. What do you want from your pastor for Christmas?

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

What Advent Is All About

The season of Advent is usually the time we also receive Christmas cards - although not as many any more. Just as email has replaced snail mail, so too has Facebook (though I'm not on it) replaced the Christmas letters that come in Christmas cards as the preferred method of updating folks on what's happened this past year. But we still get some and yesterday we received the card that is almost
always the first one each year, from some friends in Philadelphia. Opening the card and the letter, I immediately remarked to Laurie that the letter was shorter than usual. Well, turns out that was because it was all this now widow could manage to write as she told us of her husband's stroke and then death two days later . . . just one month ago. Sadness. I had even thought to myself last week that something must be wrong since we hadn't received their card yet!

Christmas letters have often been called brag letters, telling folks how great the kids are and all the accomplishments of the year. But a sad Christmas letter in Advent . . . well, it seems to me, that's what Advent is all about. Jesus coming for us. To save us from sin and the wages of sin, death. So a letter like this . . . it's why we celebrate Christmas. And it's the greatest gift this grieving widow will receive this year - the gift of knowing that her dear husband is celebrating this Christmas with Christ. And knowing that she will, too, someday. With him again.

So yeah, letters like this - this is what Advent is all about.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Don't Let Christmas Ruin Your Advent

This is one of my favorite phrases that I have coined (at least I don't recall hearing it from anyone else!): Don't let Christmas ruin your Advent.

I like that because most people tend to think the other way around - that the Church, with the season of Advent and its focus on repentance and holding off singing Christmas hymns until Christmas, ruins the Christmas season. Its a giant downer when the rest of the world is merry and bright.

But perhaps there's another way to look at it . . . That if we let the merry and bright of the world's Christmas overshadow Advent and make us miss out on it, that we are missing out on something beautiful in its own right. For Advent is a beautiful season. A season of yes, repentance, but also of waiting and rejoicing in the gifts of God, especially the gift of His Son who came, is coming, and will come again.

And then there's this, too: this holiday season with all its demands can make the month of December a quite busy, hectic, and difficult time - a time people just try to get "done." But Advent helps us stop and rest and take a breather in the midst of it all; a time to hear the Word of God speak to us in the midst of busy life; a time to pray and focus on more than just merry and bright. So that when Christmas does come, our joy is not ending but just beginning!

So don't let Christmas ruin your Advent. Enjoy Advent and Christmas both this year. :-)

Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving

A couple of pictures . . .


With my Dad earlier in the day.


Around our table just before we dug in.

And if you're interested, a link to the sermon I preached for Thanksgiving Eve.

Hope you are yours had as nice a day as we did!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Tired. Sore. Done!

This was my project that I completed yesterday:


I've been trying to improve the drainage around our house. Many of the downspouts simply go into the ground and I never knew where they came out! One day, I found one that didn't - it just dead-ended into dirt! So I fixed that one. Then I checked out this one and found it going into a "T," which I realized is the output of the sump pump, which I never knew where it actually went. (Was glad to find it!) Sadly, though, when I dug a little more, I found this section of pipe severely compromised. Some by roots (the culprits of which I dug up), but also but careless contractors who had crushed sections with their spades when they were digging. Argh! The section below the picture also has a spade intrusion into it, but I wasn't going to go digging that far, and the water seemed to flow okay past it. I think there may also be one farther up the line, but chose to leave that one as well for now. Hopefully, this will do the trick and all the water will happily flow away from our house. :-)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Retraction

mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa

I apologize. I was wrong.

I wrote a rather snarky post yesterday about a news article on the doors at the new Museum of the Bible. The journalist wrote that they were "the first 80 lines of Genesis written in Latin in reverse," which I thought was an absurd thing to say. I thought a better explanation was that they were probably Hebrew, the original language of Genesis, which does read "in reverse," or right-to-left.

But they ARE, in fact, Latin written in reverse. They are supposed to be replicas of the printing plates  of the Gutenberg Bible.

So it turns out I am the stupid one.
I am the one who should have spent a little more time checking.
I am the one indicted.

I have deleted my snarky post and herewith take my shame. Hopefully I have learned something and will do better in the future.

And my apology to that journalist.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

An Open Letter to My Brother Pastors

Dear Brother Pastors,


I heard some stories again this week of pastors being (overly) critical of their brother pastors. I am sure that I have fallen into this as well, and for when I have, I ask your forgiveness.

I am kinda dense, so it has taken me a while to learn this, but brothers, we need each other! It's not easy being a pastor. You have demands, struggles, failures, get pulled in all different directions, and more, and who else can understand that best but your brothers in the office? We should be able to count on each other when we struggle - not have the added burden of worrying about what will my brothers think of me or say to me! And those critical words you spoke to your brother the other day? You might think them justified or not so bad, but they might have hurt worse than you imagine. 

I know we have disagreement about theology and practice. Those are important and I don't think we should minimize them. But why can't I love and support my brother that I have disagreements with? Why can't I help him through a rough patch? Why can't I be there for him when no one else will? I can. I need to. He needs me. I need him. And you know what? Maybe, just maybe, that kind of support will enable us to talk about the other stuff better.

So please, I plead: be there for your brothers in the office. Support them in their struggles, absolve them when their failures are weighing heavy on them, sympathize with them, be a friend. We can't afford not to, brothers. 

Please.