Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene…

A person stuck at home has lots of time to think, unless of course, the person is binge watching Tiger King or Ozark (no, I haven’t watched either–I’ve been thinking!). Historians say that Shakespeare wrote Antony & Cleopatra, MacBeth and King Lear while quarantined for the Plague. I’m not Shakespeare, but I thought I might share a few of the random thoughts I’ve had while staying at home.

Social media is the place to go for shaming, especially if you have an alternative opinion. And, Twitter is the worst.

Speaking of alternative opinions, there is less and less of a place for one in our world today–even if you’re “an expert.” People on social media (and the main stream media) will shout you down (see paragraph above).

Speaking of which, did you notice how easy it was for the government to limit freedom? Do you wonder if it will be the last time?

Would you like to wager how many people will shame me on social media for asking the two previous questions? I would also wager I’ll have a few people question my faith because I asked those questions. I’ll get accused of not loving my neighbor, or of being more concerned with the economy than I am with human life.

Toilet paper. I still don’t get the run on toilet paper. Of course, I shouldn’t tell you that I have my own supplier now. No! I won’t tell you. You might get there before I do, but if you go to this particular place early on Saturday morning, you can score a 12 roll pack of Angel Soft because the truck runs on Friday evening and the clerks don’t put the TP on the shelf. They hide it in the back like a dime bag and dole it out to savvy folks like myself who are smart enough to ask. So, if you get in a bind (no pun intended) (and you haven’t shamed me on social media), give me a call. I can hook you up with Angel Soft.

According to the World Health Organization, there are approximately 1.35 million deaths due to road traffic accidents. Aren’t all road traffic accidents preventable if we simply stay at home?

Did I tell you what I’ve come to love about Saturday since the COVID-19 outbreak? It’s the first day of the week that my retirement account is not likely to decline.

Don’t you love all the conspiracy theories circulating during the pandemic?

  • Dean Koontz predicted it in his 1981 thriller “The Eyes of Darkness.
  • It’s Bill Gates‘ fault because he owns the lab in China where the virus originated and it got its foothold in the U. S., in Seattle–which is where Bill Gates lives.
  • The Democrats are responsible because they couldn’t convict Trump after he was impeached. You can also insert “deep state” in place of “Democrats.”
  • We’re locked down because it’s actually chemical warfare unleashed by China on the United States. The US government is not telling us everything.

Conspiracy theories flourish when trust is absent. There is certainly a lack of trust in our culture today.

The pandemic has produce a few good memes:

  • Our grandparents were called to go to war. You’re being called to sit on your couch and watch TV.
  • I was lonely until I glued a coffee cup on my car. Now everyone waves at me.
  • If a diarrhea virus hits us right now, do you think people will buy up all the nose spray?
  • Some peoples aren’t shaking hands because of the Coronavirus. I’m not shaking hands because everyone is out of toilet paper.

I’ve already got plans on how to spend my Trump check. Can I call it my Trump check? Someone suggested calling it the “Trump Bump.” I might get social media shamed for that one.

We will get through this pandemic. Every previous generation has experienced some hardship or challenge–most, if not all, worse than this one. One generation survived the Revolutionary War. Another generation survived the Civil War. Another generation survived World War I AND the Spanish Flu. Another generation survived the Great Depression and emerged to survive World War II and the Korean Conflict. Another generation survived Y2K and 9/11. I do think we can manage sitting on the couch and watching TV (although my yard has never looked quite so good).

Church will forever look different when this is over.

Those are just a few random thoughts on the passing scene. I have more, but I don’t have time to write them. I’m blessed to have an employer who lets me work from home, so I better get to work (and, I need to watch Narcos Mexico).

Until next time, keep looking up…

Gone Too Long…

129It’s been one year and three days since I last wrote a blog. There have been a lot of changes in that year and three days, some for the better, some not so much. The biggest change in that year was my stepping away from full-time pastoral ministry in July. Many have asked about that decision, and I’ve been reluctant to dive deeply into the conversation simply because it is a deep conversation, and I’ve discovered most people just don’t want to engage in deep conversations.

I won’t lie. I left the General Conference of the United Methodist Church in February, 2019, with a broken heart. I also left angry. I was angry with the United Methodist Church, with our episcopal leadership, with many colleagues and friends, and yes, I was angry with myself (mostly for being so angry!).

St. Louis was a watershed for me. I saw the Church at its worst, and I knew that I was as responsible for the Church being at its worst as anyone else present. I began to doubt my ability to lead the body of Christ, and as doubt increased, desire decreased. Great doubts and diminished desire. The Church deserves better than that, especially in the face of an impending separation.

There are more reasons behind my ultimate decision, and perhaps in coming months I’ll unpack some of those reasons here, but suffice it to say for now, that I’ve been gone too long…gone from writing…gone from engaging…gone from ministry. So, I suppose this is my way of saying, “I’m back!”

Just what does that mean? Well, as I’ve told many people since July, I haven’t left ministry, just vocational ministry. I felt called by the Lord to step away from vocational ministry and get what my children called “a real job.” I will never leave ministry because my call to ministry was given to me at my baptism, not at my ordination.

So, just what will ministry look like? First, I’ve had an absolute blast filling the pulpit for friends and colleagues in ministry. Current circumstances with the Coronavirus has put a damper on that, but that’s okay. I’ve had an absolute blast watching friends and colleagues be in ministry in new and challenging ways. I’ve got to hear friends and colleagues preach that I never had the opportunity before (for obvious reasons), and I love it. Once we get past this crisis (and we will!), I’ll be available for pulpit supply and revivals.

In addition to pulpit supply, I’m also pursuing writing as a ministry. Yes, I know I’ve been writing sermons for years, but I’ve got a couple of book ideas that have been percolating for years, and I’m going to spend some intentional time writing in that regard. And, you’ll be getting a lot more blogs. I thought about doing some video devotionals, but lacking adequate equipment and the abundance of pastors who are on-line right now, I figured who needed one more voice, so I’ll stick to writing for now.

One more thing I’m pursuing is founding a new non-profit ministry called The Clergy Care Network. The Clergy Care Network will be just that–a network of resources to help clergy and their families who may be struggling in vocational ministry. I know from personal experience the toll pastoral ministry can have on people, marriages and families, and this ministry will be centered on extending help, healing and wholeness to those in struggling in pastoral ministry. Be watching in the months ahead as we get this ministry off the ground.

Oh! And, I’ll be doing “marketplace” ministry as I serve Peoples Bank as their Vice President for Business Development. That’s turned out to be really fun!

Whew! That feels good. I do believe I’ve been gone too long…

Until next time, keep looking up…