Saturday, October 09, 2010


Perhaps, it is the waning of daylight hours and the fading of nature's colors. Perhaps, it is the recent acquisition of a Medicare card. Or, it may be that I attend too many funerals. Whatever it is, I have been thinking about what kind of legacy will my loved ones inherit when I leave my earthly life. It won't be money, but what will it be?

Family remembrances at funerals often include stories of selfless giving, abiding faith and humorous incidents. Each reflects devoted commitment to those we love and certainly are part of my game plan. Yet, what is it that I need to be doing that will prepare future generations, especially four precious grandchildren, to build a fairer and safer world? First, it seems as though I must continue to find ways to encourage them to learn about and to practice their Christian faith. I need to kindle a fire of compassion for those who need acts of mercy and justice. Of course, modeling is the best teaching method. So what is required of me? I think Micah 6:8 says it very plainly -
  • do justice
  • love kindness
  • walk humbly with God

Monday, September 06, 2010

Labor Day

Labor Day is here. College football season is the focus of many conversations. The weather is beginning to transition to cooler fall days and we keep tuned to news of potential hurricanes. A more demanding schedule rules our lives and we notice that the daylight hours are fewer. Soon we will officially say good-by to summer and be left with memories of what has warmed our hearts. For me, family time has been both fun and important. Not only the joy of grandchildren (see picture), but also the renewing of relationships with other family members. The young adults are leading most interesting lives and keeping me connected with our changing culture. Reflections of such family time define unconditional love for me and shape my tomorrows.

As we move into fall, we return to living in community with one another. Our routines name who and what are important to us. The time of personal retreat has ended for now and we join with one another to build a better world. Perhaps, the book/movie title for us should be Eat Together, Pray Together, Love Together as we write the next season of our lives.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Gift of Teaching

The new Sunday school year begins this week. That means all sorts of organizational tasks have been happening, including the calling forth of teachers. The conversation that surrounds this often focuses on the person's perception that one must have all the answers to the hard questions otherwise he/she is not qualified to teach. I realized a long time ago that I am not responsible for another's answers. The real gift of teaching is to be free to risk the questions, to share our faith stories and to recognize that growth comes through the struggle. It seems that those teachers who have most influenced my life were not those who made the faith simple and easy to understand. The teachers who have encouraged me to struggle with the questions are the ones that have been the most effective. The answers come as we live in the Spirit, and hold each other in love. We, the learners, become empowered to define that which is meaningful in our lives and to identify with scripture. We are formed and transformed into disciples of Jesus Christ. As teachers and learners may this year be one of living into the questions.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Hiatus to End

Yes, I realize that I haven’t paid attention to my blog since April and I’m not sure why. But, trying to find excuses has inspired me to try again. It would seem quite appropriate that I reflect on why I use social media.

Last summer a confluence of three events – Facebook, Twitter and iPhone - refocused my life in many ways. It all started when I decided I needed to check out FB and Twitter for its possible use as First Church communication tools. Almost immediately, I was captivated by the wide variety of voices, which were expressing their thoughts and sharing information. It was apparent that we should add this to our methods of communication and thanks to James Sturgeon, the church soon had a FB page and a Twitter account.

Personally, I am not only enjoying social media as a way of connecting with church members, but also with friends and family. Knowing what is happening in their everyday lives gives me a stronger sense of relationship with them. Immediate concerns can be addressed through a visit, a phone call, an e-mail message and/or a prayer. I enjoy being in community with new and old friends, young and old. As we share personal moments, I feel that we allow a more genuine caring relationship to happen in this often disconnected society. Also, for an effective ministry, I have to be in tune with our changing culture that seems often to be revealed through social media. My Twitter world shares breaking news and interesting links to the latest thoughts about technology, politics, religion and ministry. Through well-known to lesser-known voices, I am able to capture a glimpse of important cultural trends and perspectives. However, all of this does consume time and I have to be careful to avoid over-consumption, esp. since my dear husband introduced me to my iPhone. Almost anytime or anywhere I can be connected. Yet, I have neglected my blogging.

For the past five years I have used my blog, A Pilgrim’s Perspective, as a means of sharing my thoughts and reflections on a variety of topics. At times it has served as a forum for discussion and always a learning place for me as it is in the expression of these thoughts that I have been able to crystallize my thinking and name what is important to me. I know that it is my responsibility as a clergyperson to give voice to issues that we as Christians and responsible citizens need to address and this has given me a place to do so. So, why have I found it increasingly difficult to do this? Perhaps, it is because I feel that the thinking about such subjects is shaped for many persons by influential factors other than faith and reason. I have become discouraged in our ability to have productive discussions. But, my call to ministry as a deacon invokes a commitment to connect our faith beyond the steeple. Social media, including blogging, may be an important way. I am willing to try. Blog #639.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A Visit to Berea, KY

Through the years as we have made our north and south trips, we have often visited Berea, Ky. to enjoy its unique culture. This past Thursday evening we once again found ourselves looking at the work of potters, weavers, instrument makers, glassblowers, painters and sculptors in this interesting college town. The history of Berea College reveals a longstanding tradition of preserving the Appalachian arts and providing a commitment to educating those who might not otherwise been given the opportunity of a college degree. This visit we witnessed the weekly jam session of local folks who brought their guitars, banjos, fiddles, etc. to play gospel, bluegrass and country music. What a treat! Berea is named Kentucky’s Folk Arts and Crafts Capital and is certainly a must place to visit when traveling I-75. In fact, I think to truly experience this delightful community, one should name it a destination for a day or two.

I am afraid that too many travelers do not allow time to see, hear and absorb the by-ways and communities that would take them beyond our interstate highways. Robert Frost’s timeless observation - “the one (road) less traveled by, and that has made all the difference” – is an important directive as we seek to know and understand our rich heritage. This is a corner piece of the puzzle as we claim our responsibility of being an informed architect of what is before us.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


My sensibilities have been assaulted and I have been left nearly speechless as the recent political rhetoric has filled the media. Divisive and hateful words seem to be shaping public discourse and the stridency prohibits civil conversation. Not so subtly racist and sexist comments seem to be edging into our public opinions. I am left feeling very sad and wonder what are we teaching our children?

It is also interesting to observe how this political warfare is creeping into our life together in the body of Christ. Health care and immigration reform have polarized us and we treat one another with disrespect. If faith communities can’t accept these challenges with the understanding that all are created in the image of God and are to be offered respect, how are we going to live together in a way that strengthens our nationalism?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Children's Sermons

It’s Saturday night and once again I’m wondering what am I going to do for a meaningful children’s sermon tomorrow. The children will have been well saturated in the story of Palm Sunday by the time they get to me. The text for the sermon (Matthew 26:50-56) is difficult for children to understand. All of this leads me to once again wonder why we do children’s sermons. Yes, it is good to be intentionally inclusive of children during worship, but is there another way that would be more effective? Our children who come forward during this time are usually 3-7 years old and this age span in itself creates a challenge. Time constraints do not allow for dialogue about the thoughts presented and most of us have difficulty remembering that these children are concrete thinkers when choosing our words. Each of us is guilty of being too aware of the adult congregation and encouraging laughter in response to our comments. Of course, this further confuses the children. However, I will carefully craft a sermon that will introduce my little friends to Passion Sunday and Holy Week and hope that somewhere in it they will find the good news that they are loved not only by God, but also by all that know Jesus. I still believe that we may need to revisit this common practice and create a different model for children to truly worship. I would like to know what others think about children's sermons.