Tuesday, November 24, 2009

God is with us.

When my grandmother pass away last year I thought a lot about the times I shared with her, one memory in particular kept tugging at my heart. Small in stature, with a fire in her eyes, this Irish-Catholic woman, was relentless when she was passionate about something. As one of her grandchildren I had the privilege of being one of the things in life that she was passionate about. However, I didn’t always see the way she expressed that passion as a privilege.

One of the ways that my grandmother would bestow her passion on us kids was with a kiss. Sounds harmless enough, but her kisses horrified me from a young age. It wasn’t until age five that I finally couldn’t take the cold clammy cheeks that resulted from her sloppy kisses and started to wipe my face with my hand when she would turn away. Over time I grew in my boldness and would no longer wait for her to turn away, and in a mix of wit and affection she would say, “You may think your whipping it off, but you’re just rubbing it in!” This scene played out numerous times over the years, until I finally realized what a gift it was to have my grandma love me so much and as I touched my cheek one day after a characteristically wet kiss, as she exclaimed that I was whipping it in, I remember thinking that was what I was hoping to do.

Thankfully I came to a place where I realized the love that was being expressed in her kiss, but there were a number of years when if I could have found a cream or a spray that would have protected me from the messiness of that love I would have used it. As we make our Advent journeys this year, my prayer for us is that we don’t allow the holiday hustle and bustle to be the force field that protects us from the love God wants to express to us in the mystery of this season.

Emmanuel, the name means God is with us. And just as for those connected with that first Christmas, we will meet God in the places we would least expect if make room in our hearts to listen to the Spirit and follow where we are lead. Emmanuel, God is with us indeed, but will we notice or will we just try to wipe off his love? May we recognize God in our midst and take the opportunity this Advent and Christmas to spend some time rubbing the grace of Christ into our hearts.

Friday, May 15, 2009


As you can tell from the topic, this post was written last fall.  At the time I had a new computer and had issues with copying and pasting from my word processor.  Even with the new baby now here I hope to start posting again more frequently.  Thanks for coming back.

Politics are such a mixed bag for me.  On the one hand I love the way the political process works in our country.  Those who put together our government and how it would sustain itself accomplished one of the most brilliant achievements in human history.  On the other hand I hate how polarizing politics have become in our culture.  I can’t stand the way that folks who would normally get along in almost every other way can end up down right nasty when politics come up.

This is the major reason that I play it close to the vest in terms of my political views.  As a pastor I would hate to think that my position as a spiritual leader may be compromised because of differing political views.  That’s not to say that I lack conviction when it comes to my political beliefs, it’s just that communicating the Gospel that transcends politics is my main priority.  Truth be told, I am usually just as disgusted with both our major parties, and feel that with any major election there is a mixed bag of pluses and minuses with the candidates I have to choose from.  I have also seen this reality play itself out in each of our presidencies that I have witnessed since I started really paying attention in the early 90’s.  Each president has accomplish amazing things while in office, as well as failing in ways that hurt our country and the world we live in.  In fact the only reason that I have keep my registration with the party that I initially picked at age 18 is so that I can continue to vote in the primaries.  I may even rethink that since I have yet to vote for a winner in any primary election that I have participated in.  To complicate the process even further, as a Christian as I try and look at what the scriptures point to as important for a government and society to be about it seems unlikely that there would ever be a legitimately electable candidate that would fulfill all those requirements.

The way that I typically handle political conversations with people from my church is to mostly listen.  Rarely, if I am having a one-on-one conversation will I make a comment about an issue if it does not have a blatant scriptural point of view to be spoken for.  This will often put me in the middle of some interesting discussions.  I think that too often we feel the need to share our opinion on a particular subject that someone has brought up and we miss out on what may be some of the most amusing listening opportunities available in life.  One of the things that I have observed in these situations is how many people will assume that if others agree with them enough to worship at the same church then everyone must also be of similar political views.  You don’t have to see the variety of bumper stickers on peoples cars to realize how funny that idea is.  

Over all, will annoying as this all can be, and as sick of it as I am already becoming (with two more months of joy to come), I am glad that we go through this every four years as a country.  It’s a time to re-examine what is important to us.  It gives us a good snapshot of what is occupying the important priorities in our society.  And it shows us that while we may disagree about somethings with every fiber of our being that we can all still get along and live in a country where the democratic provides a vehicle for the peaceful passing of power from one leader to another at least once every decade.  With all it’s flaws we live in a wonderful country.  My prayer is that this political season results in the type of dialog that regardless of who is elected will lead us to a place that makes our country even better.