Thursday, May 14, 2015

Don't pay the ransom, I escaped!
That line was invented to be used as a reason (an excuse of sorts) for a long period of no contact, of being out of touch.  I have been doing other things, and am getting back to something I began several years ago, this blog.  Maybe it will be a little less than six years in between this and my next entry.  We shall see!


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Extension Cords

Following my sermon this morning at Mt. Lebanon Presbyterian Church, I have had extension cords on my mind.

From Mark 1: 29-39, we read of how Jesus used the power of prayer to recharge and redirect his ministry. After getting away early in the morning to find a moment to pray, Jesus said, "I know what I came here to do- to share the message!" At the close of the service, I charged the congregation (pun intended!) with this: Find the time and the place and pray. Prayer is our power line to God, our extension cord that connects us to God's will for us. You will get a charge out of it.

Are you plugged in?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Search Engines

I have begun my search for a call to a congregation, posting my Personal Information Form, and checking on Church Information Forms from Churches seeking a pastor. I am aware that finding the place where God would have us serve will progress on God's time, not mine. (So I am praying, "God, give me patience, right now!") I am encouraged because of your support and the presence of the Holy Spirit!

Learning about congregations from on line sources got me to thinking about the need for some special search engines for clergy. Sure, we are fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit, driven by a passion to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, but what if, instead of "Ask Jeeves" we could "Ask Jesus"or we looked to the Gospel rather than Google, or put our faith in Yahweh rather than Yahoo?

Here's two verses that speak to me today, found in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10:

"But, as it is written, 'What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him' - these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God."

Now there is a search engine for all of us!



p.s. I added a couple of sermons to the link- Becky gave "By Whose Authority" good marks, in particular.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I have made two technical changes to the blog. The first is to enable comments, an option that was not previously activated. To post a comment, you will need to type in a word verification, retyping a random set of characters from the screen. This reduces spam comments.
The second change is to the sermon documents link. I have re-saved these in an earlier version of Microsoft Word ( 97-2003) which will make reading and downloading easier if you have that version of Word.

Peace and grace to you!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Certified, and Certifiable

Yesterday evening, January 14, 2009, I was in Cleveland, Ohio for a meeting of my oversight committee, the Committee on Preparation for the Ministry for the Presbytery of the Western Reserve. The purpose of my being there was to engage in a final assessment of my readiness for ordination (more precisely, readiness to be examined for ordination, pending a call from a congregation.)
I have had annual consultations with the Committee since becoming first an Inquirer, and then a Candidate for Ordination as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament (that's Presbyterian for an ordained pastor). Annual consultations allow me to describe what is happening to me in my academic and spiritual preparation ( these are not the same!) The Committee provides a sounding board, a friendly critique, and provides one of the primary mechanisms in the Presbyterian Church (USA) by which we affirm a pastor's call. Particular "callings" must be affirmed by the community of believers because we believe that we come closer to the will of the Holy Spirit when we search together.

Last night's consultation provided something of a summary look at my progress on meeting the requirements for ordination as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament. I had provided them with evidence of academic work, successful ordination exams, and the plan to graduate in May 2009. I gave them a one page statement of faith, a summary of what I believe. I provided them with a draft Personal Information Form ( Presbyterian for resume'), and some other "stuff." I also preached a sermon for them, a sermon built on exegesis of a particular passage from the Bible. (Parables of the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin)

The committee affirmed that I had done what was required and that they felt that I was ready to seek a call from a congregation! This is great news. Hip Hip Hooray!
Getting to Cleveland for this "final assessment" was an ordeal. I am taking a class this January (Pauline Theology) that meets daily from 9am 'til noon. It is a 5.5 hour drive from Louisville to Cleveland in good conditions. January 14th in the Midwest can almost never be defined as "good conditions." I left class early, at 11am, hit the rood with a sandwich lovingly prepared by Becky, and traveled to the frozen north. For the part of the trip from Columbus to Cleveland I was happy to go 50 mph, but more commonly plugged along at 35-40. Roads were very slippery, and I passed multiple accidents. My closest call was when I slowed down for two accidents, with police and tow trucks on both sides our northbound lanes. As I navigated between the two accidents, I looked up in my mirror to see a car gaining on me rapidly. The car was sideways, sliding out of control. God's grace allowed me to hit the gas and actually speed up a bit, and I avoided being rear ended by the passenger door of the car behind. Can you picture this? The good news was that they eventually regained control, and unrestrained by the experience, blew passed me a few minutes later.

I arrived with twenty minutes to spare. After 1.5 hours with the committee, I headed out, stopping for a cup of coffee with our son, Jonathan, who lives in Cleveland. About 9pm I was back on the road toward Louisville. Again, between Cleveland and Columbus 35-50 was the best possible speed. At 1:15 am I reached the north end of Cincinnati, got a room, slept a bit, and got up before 6 to finish my journey in time for my 9am class. So when I say I was certified by my committee, I also admit that I am 'certifiable" that is certifiably crazy to have done this. But again, God's grace works both days and nights, 24/7, and there is no where we can go that God is not already there.

For fun, I have attached a couple of pictures of my truck after the experience. I would wash it but it is 10 degrees in Louisville today, and going down to 1 degree tonight, so this road warrior will wear the road salt as a badge of honor until it either rains, or warms enough for a car wash!

The other picture posted today is one of a watch. This particular watch was one that had been my dad's. I wear this watch on special occasions. I wore it to my first exam at seminary. I wore during my first sermon while at seminary. I wore it during my ordination exams. I wore it when I moved from Inquirer to Candidate status in the church. And I wore it last night. In a small way, it connects my with Rev. G. Raymond Jewel, the first Rev. Jewel in my life. I am honored and humbled on these special occasions to be under "Dad's watch."

Peace and grace to you.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A New Year and a new (well, new to me) means of sharing

Greetings in the name of the Prince of Peace, Jesus the Christ!

This new year has already brought a host of wonders. The wonder of families and friends together during the holidays, the wonder of sharing in the ministry at Mt. Lebanon Presbyterian Church, and the wonder of a daughter who patiently walked me through the steps to establish this blog site.

Much will likely follow, as I learn to make use of this means of sharing; sharing news of Becky's and my journeys, and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.

As I make this post, I am preparing a sermon to preach to my oversight committee, the CPM in the Presbytery of the Western Reserve. My sermon to them will be built on the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin, stories that preface the parable of the prodigal son. The theme is having, losing, finding, and rejoicing in the reign of Christ.

Two days ago, a chance encounter and conversation led me to learn a real life story that had each of these elements. I met the father of Cole Ortega, a 14 year old from Bend, Oregon who was severely injured in July 2008 while surfing in Pacific City, Oregon. His dad, Charlie Ortega, shared with me the story of how their lives were forever changed when his son's arm was completely severed when he was hit by the propeller of a fishing dory. He told the story of the rush to the hospital, the miraculous surgical work that reattached the arm, and the 180 days since the accident filled with fears, angers, and frustrations. As I talked with Charlie Ortega, his son Cole, a world class snowboarder (He had been ranked #1 in the US for his age group), was back on the slopes, for the first time since the accident. This day was a day of rejoicing, rejoicing over the gift of life, rejoicing over the finding of what was thought lost.

The rejoicing in the stories of the lost sheep and the lost coin, and some of what I learned of the story of Cole Oretega and his family, is built on the intense searching and striving to regain what had been lost. And when rejoicing is in order, that rejoicing occurs best in community.

My prayer for you this day, and this year 2009, is that your searching and striving will lead to rejoicing. May your search be with God, strive toward God, and rejoice in God. And if you are searching for God, know this: God is always moving toward you.