04.30.2023 – Here’s to the Chilly Weather

It has been unseasonably cold this past week. We have had frost warnings in the morning and a few brief and unproductive snow flurries in the afternoon. Spring made a brief appearance last week, the trees are budding and flowers blooming, but her coming has slowed this week.

Spring’s late arrival has been a gift.

Everywhere you go – the coffee hour at church, the checkout line at the grocery store, the walk through the neighborhood – people have something to talk about, more than that, something to agree about.

“It’s a little chilly out,” we say.

“Where is spring?” a friend or stranger replies.

How human. How nice. Continue reading

04.21.2023 – Elon Musk, Tucker Carlson and the Little Gods

Elon Musk and Tucker Carlson sit down for a chat.  What could go wrong?

Not being a Tucker or an Elon fan, I missed the interview, but have read about it since.  The news stories have focused on an exchange between the two having to do with artificial intelligence (AI) and its dangers. At one point Musk said among the dangers of AI is that it might become a “digital god.”  Here’s the excerpt from the show’s transcript where the Tesla billionaire makes the comment: Continue reading

04.14.2023 – Doubting (All-In) Thomas

I will not be alone in preaching the story of Doubting Thomas this coming Sunday.  The episode from John 20 is the Gospel text for the day in the Common Lectionary, and it is the “one week later” narrative often used the Sunday after Easter.  Thomas will be preached from many pulpits this Sunday.

You remember the story.  Thomas misses the Easter evening gathering of the disciples when the risen Jesus appears to them. Thomas shows up later, and the other disciples tell him they have seen the Lord. But Thomas says to his friends, “unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

Jesus returns in a week and offers just the proof Thomas has requested. The best translation for what Jesus tells Thomas is something like, “Do not continue in your unbelief, but believe” (New English Translation).  The New International Version, like others, however, reads, “Stop doubting and believe.” The “doubting” translations miss John’s play on belief and unbelief, but hence the nickname. Continue reading

04.07.2023 – Here I raise my Ebenezer

Today is April 7, Good Friday, and by providence or ecclesiastical calculations it is a double anniversary for me.  On April 7, 2003, I received a cancer diagnosis, and on Good Friday, 2003, I underwent surgery for that cancer. Twenty years. The cancer was serious, so serious that the doctor would not allow me to leave the office until I had scheduled surgery. The first available date was 11 days later on April 18, Good Friday. They said they could just as well schedule me for the following Monday, but I said I thought Good Friday would be a good day for surgery.

The surgery went well and was followed by chemotherapy. Twenty years later, I am a long-term cancer survivor.

This week I have been thinking about twenty years ago – I rarely think about that April of 2003 any longer, so having it come to mind twenty years later may be a good thing, for it was a time of grace. Continue reading

03.31.2023 – Our Pursuit of Unhappiness

As one of my presbytery duties, I have been in contact with the leaders of a church whose pastor has just accepted a call to a new congregation.  The pastor is happy with a call that will put him closer to his aging parents, and his now former congregation is thankful for the leadership he provided during his time with them.  All is well. Except that the congregation must now find a new pastor, and these are not easy times for the finding of a new pastor.

As I prepared to talk with the leaders, I did some background work since I know nothing of the church or the town where it is located.  I checked our presbytery’s data on the church, visited its website, and, for some insight into the community, went to city-data.com.  City-Data offers a wealth of information on just about every city, town, and village in America. You can discover everything you could possibly want to know about population trends, the economy, housing, education, healthcare, weather, crime, earthquakes, and tornadoes. Continue reading