Slow and Abundant Faithfulness

In the mid-2000s, I served two small-membership United Methodist churches in small towns in West Virginia.  One of those churches served as a pilot congregation for the CFI process.   About 15 people in a church of 45 active members committed to a two-year engagement with the CFI material.  Of the five pilot congregations, ours was probably the least educated, and we were Read more

Leadership Lessons

Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Deuteronomy 34:1-12

Let’s give credit where credit is due. I had never read the stories about Moses in light of what it means to be a leader of God’s people until I heard Lillian Daniel preach at an Ekklesia Project Gathering many years back. As a good seminarian I had only thought of Exodus as a witness to God’s preferential option for the poor or as a testimony to the fact that the people of God have always been whiny. Lillian delightfully re-narrated one of the Moses stories and suggested that if he were to be an effective leader he might need to take a course in anger management. Read more

Family Ties

Genesis 1:1-2:4a; Matthew 28:16-20

One of our church members, Sally, is serving a sentence in a regional jail.  She joined our church on Pentecost last year, and though she had been baptized as a child, had never been brought up in church.  She’s had very little Christian formation, so she set out to use her incarceration to engage in an intense study of the Bible.  The growth that she is experiencing during this time is phenomenal.  As they say in my neck of the woods, “The Holy Spirit has really gotten hold of her.”

When I visited her this week, in a very excited voice she said to me right off the bat, “I finally understand what family is all about!”  Read more

What’s goin’ on?

Luke 24:13-35

“Are you the only person who doesn’t know what’s been going on for the past few days?” Apparently Jesus had not been reading Facebook. Or listening to NPR. Or reading the newspaper.

Seriously—how could this guy not know what’s been happening? In the last few days the whole world has been in an uproar over the death of one man. Some people thought he should be killed. Others mourned his loss. Others didn’t know what to think.

Sound familiar? One man, killed at the hands of the government, whom many religious people were glad to see murdered. Read more

Valley Girls (and Guys)

Exodus 24:12-18; Psalm 99; 2 Peter 1:16-21; Matthew 17:1-9

Growing up just north of Los Angeles, I was hyper-aware of the San Fernando Valley.  Neither suburban nor Hollywood-cool, the Valley boasted its own style of dress and peculiar language.  Like, fer shure.  Living in the Valley had its difficulties:  stop-and-go freeway traffic during many hours of the day and an oppressive layer of smog bearing down upon the residents most of the year.

Our denomination had nine summer camps scattered all over southern California, and all of them were located in the mountains.  Kids from that Valley and the one I grew up in (the San Gabriel Valley) could get away for a week to find God and a little fresh air.  We hiked among towering pines, sat on rocks to sing songs around a fire, and when we did give in to sleep, did so in log cabins.  Lasting relationships were forged for campers, both among themselves and between them and God. Read more