Unexpected Goodbyes

I attend a Methodist church in the Tidewater region of Virginia, and this past fall, our pastor announced to the congregation that, as she was approaching the mandatory age of retirement in the UMC, she would be retiring from ministry at the end of June, 2018. (This is the traditional time for assigning ministers to congregations in the UMC.)

Of course, she set about accomplishing final tasks and solidifying initiatives that would be her continuing legacy to our church after her retirement–such things as implementing a new, contemporary worship service, strengthening the local anti-poverty organization that she was instrumental in establishing, etc. And she began the months-long task of saying her good-byes to many in the area and in the congregation.

Our church has an e-newsletter, and of course, as pastor, she has a panel in which she writes a small monthly homily or message for subscribers. The February issue was emailed a couple of weeks ago, and this was her message for this month:

PRAYING OUR GOODBYES
No matter what the circumstances, there comes with the act of farewell a feeling of uneasiness. This sense of loss is connected to change. It can be associated with the unknown— of wondering about what is to come. I find myself in a season of farewell now as I prepare to complete a journey as an active clergy after serving over 30 years. This has been a rewarding, fruitful experience as God’s ambassador.

Coupled with the details of the daily operation of the ministry, I find the need to nurture my spirit; and the best way I know for this to happen is in intentional prayer practices. So in the next 182 days, I will be specifically praying for ways of healthy separation. I am asking God to show me the best way through this process of change, and I trust God. In these days ahead, I invite you to join me in praying our goodbyes!

Yesterday, Thursday, after a satisfying and tiring day of work at the church, our pastor made her way back to the parsonage and sat down to rest in her favorite armchair. In the time before her husband came home, our pastor went to be with our Savior, “claiming the resurrection” as we Methodists are wont to say.

Our pastor wrote of feelings of loss and unease, of concern about change. Such is the nature of our impermanent lives. Kermit the Frog said it best in Muppet Christmas Carol: “Life is made up of meetings and partings. That is the way of it.” He’s only right, isn’t he? But between the meetings and the partings are the joys of fellowship. And knowing God assures us that our partings are only temporary, that there will be a grand meeting one day.

So please keep us in mind, our church, as we find ourselves having to say an unexpected good-bye. And pray that we will be comforted in knowing that the good-bye is only temporary.

CSL

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“Salvation Is Of The Jews”

davids-tomb

In my Why A Rabbi? post, I traced how God’s revelation of himself and His way came through Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Mankind’s history has been the story of gods and idols that need to be appeased, cajoled, or bribed in order to get favorable results in one’s life. In essence, magic, myth, and mysticism have been the spiritual legacy of humanity from, … oh, say, the time of Noah?

Judaism’s difference, and because it is from the same root, Christianity’s difference, is that there is one God who is supreme and who has been revealing Himself to mankind in order to draw fallen people back into fellowship and holy, right living. The Shema begins with “Hear, O Israel, the LORD your God, the LORD is one” (Deut. 6:4). And unlike the gods of the universe, this God, this LORD who is one, is not only powerful, He cares for his creation. Continue reading

Sow Where You’re Planted

SSower1

This past Sunday, our pastor spoke on the Parable of the Sower, and told us the story of the illustration, above. She and a friend, about 13 years ago, created the banner to go along with this parable when she was serving as a district superintendent for the Virginia Conference of the UMC. They purposely left the face unfinished, using it as the hook for the congregations she was visiting, telling them that they should picture the sower with their face, as it is every Christian’s responsibility to sow the Word of God in their situations.

As she was speaking about the parable, and as I was looking this banner, the old adage about growing where you are planted popped into my head. Only, it didn’t come to me as “Grow where you are planted,” but “Sow where you are planted.” Continue reading

Why A Rabbi?: The Silent Years?

silent

One of the popular topics of speculation in religious circles, both Christian and non-, is “what happened during Jesus’ Silent Years?” Of course, the silent years being the time in Christ’s life between His twelfth birthday and His baptism by John in the Jordan, when He went off into the desert for forty days.

But here’s the deal about those supposed silent years—while the Gospels don’t give us specifics concerning any particular event in the life of Christ prior to ministry, (other than His youthful visit to the Temple), we have enough historical writings to know what His life was like as He grew, and how He was preparing for His public ministry. Continue reading

“Why A Rabbi?”: A Slight Detour

rabbidetourAs I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am examining the Jewish nature of Jesus’ ministry, and what it should mean to those who fashion themselves to be His disciples. I’m going to begin this post by asking a question, and then following it up into a rabbit trail that actually is quite relevant to this series of posts. Here is the question:

Who has NOT heard the statement “Jesus was born to die”?

No one, right? This is a commonly-used statement that people make to say that the purpose of Christ’s birth was to get Him to Calvary, to die as God’s sacrificial lamb to atone for the sins of the world. Continue reading

“Why A Rabbi?”, part 1

rabbi1I realize that several of my recent posts may lead some to think that I’ve become ga-ga over Judaism, that I might be a couple bubbles off-center in my fascination with the historic background for the birth of the Church due to this one book that’s gotten me all hipped on Jesus the Jew. But I have to say that seeing Jesus in a synagogue and not the cathedral has both answered a lot of questions for me and engendered a whole lot more.

But one basic question that I have been coming back to, over and over, is a simple, three-word question in the second chapter of  Sitting At The Feet Of Rabbi Jesus:

“Why a rabbi?” Continue reading

A Bend In The Journey, pt. 2

bend2

In my previous post, I spoke of the co-traveller that was always nearby as I sought to follow Jesus, the link between Christianity and Judaism. I shared about how early on in our marriage Wife and I spent time learning about Judaism as background for our faith.  In this post, I am going to present some more recent events that are having an impact on my understanding of Judaism, how it relates to Christianity, and how new knowledge is impacting my faith.

In my Apology post, last month on my Curmudgeonly Librarian blog, I spoke of three new “revelations” that I received that have shed new light on what I have believed. (And by “revelation”, I am specifically NOT claiming that God talked with me and gave me new scriptures, etc.) Continue reading

From “Hosanna” to “Crucify Him”?

calvary road

In my last post, I said that I would be writing about realizing that what I know might not be so. This isn’t that post, but I wanted to get this one up in time for Good Friday; it’s just an interim post, but given that this is Holy Week, it is timely. And it is an example of possibly knowing something that might not be so.

Hosanna! / Crucify Him!

Have you ever wondered what could have happened in just five days that would turn a crowd of worshipping pilgrims into a mob calling for Jesus to be executed as a criminal? Yes, I do get that humans are fickle and can be easily swayed, but “Crucify Him!”? Really? Continue reading

A Bend In The Journey, pt. 1

bend

I’m 67, and I’ve been a Christian since I was 19, almost 50 years now. I’ve made some interesting discoveries and surprising turns in my spiritual pilgrimage; raised Catholic, I “got saved” in a Pentecostal Holiness church as a young sailor in the Navy. By turns in a CMA church and in a charismatic church. Previously an ordained minister in a pentecostal church and currently a very satisfied nothing in a Methodist church. Continue reading

A “Method” To Their Madness

cut bible pic
Because of my heretical unorthodox heretical views, for over a decade I’ve found myself most comfortable as a Methodist. After all, anyone who hates John Calvin and Augustine can’t be all bad, right? But the events of the past year in the United Methodist Church have me worried. Did I say past year? How about four decades?

Okay, let’s just stick to the past year. I attend a UMC church in Virginia, which puts me in the Virginia Conference. Last year, for the first time ever, the Virginia  Annual Conference voted to petition the General Conference (quadrennial world-wide UMC gathering) to change the Book of Discipline (the UMC book of faith and practice) to eliminate statements saying that homosexuality is antithetical to the Christian faith. Continue reading