Showing posts from May, 2015

An Invocation for Trinity Sunday

God of our vast and marvelous universe, Christ of incarnation and resurrection, Spirit of life and power, we take time to remember and celebrate the many ways you make yourself known to us. As your presence encircles us in the diversity of your person, form, and function, we gather as a community discerning our own response to your love for all that you create, redeem, and sustain. Be newly known to us as we worship, as well as in all relationships, work, and leisure in which we participate and to which we return after our time together has concluded. Amen.

May 2015 Pop Culture Roundup

Five items for May...

1. The final episodes of Mad Men aired this month and last, during which many of the characters experience big changes leading up to the finale. One of the biggest is perhaps the firm's complete absorption into McCann-Erickson, the agency that Roger negotiated to give 51% ownership of at the end of last season. This change is more favorable for some than for others, but many of the SC & P staff really don't cope well with the transition, and many either don't make it to begin with or bolt soon after. The finale, which aired on the 17th, tied up some stories while leaving others much more ambiguous. I, like many others, was especially curious to see how Don would end up. The corporate shift almost immediately sent him on a long road trip out West, which seemed strange and meandering at times but also inspired him to reflect on his history and identity. And then, in the finale, he seemed to have either a breakdown, breakthrough, or both, culminating…

"Our Means for God's End" at The High Calling

I've written a piece for The High Calling, a website that offers reflections and resources for integrating faith with daily work.

The article that I've contributed is entitled Our Means for God's End. It's part of their series for the week, which explores the theme of what sort of work people of faith should accept. Mine features a little-known story from early in my ministry and some thoughts on discernment from Ignatius of Loyola.

An excerpt:
The question came after several conversations with a trusted mentor, during which I hinted at dissatisfaction with where I was and what I was doing. The programs I’d attempted to start didn’t seem to be producing much, and I wasn’t sure I was making a difference. I had been pastor at a small rural church in northeast Ohio for nearly three years at that point, and for these reasons I didn’t have much of a sense that things were going in a positive direction.I was considering the possibility that it was time to start over someplac…

Vintage CC: Ohio Grown

A few weeks ago, I read that the elementary school I attended in Michigan no longer exists. The building is still there, but the district has been dissolved and the town is majorly hurting. Even after so many years, I grieved reading that news, as I recall that community being vibrant and warm when I lived there. It brought to mind this post from May 2012, about my visit back to another childhood residence that came with mixed results and feelings. You really can't go home again, but you can at least be thankful for where you've been.

Late last week, I took a trip out to the church and house that I knew in elementary school. I've been collecting pictures of all the churches I knew before graduating high school--five in all--and this was the last one that I needed. It's also the only one whose picture I can't find anywhere online. Fortunately, since I don't live that far away from it, I decided to drive out and snap some pictures of it myself.

For those who have…

I'm Writing a Book

I am incredibly excited and grateful to share that I have signed a contract to publish my first book through Noesis Press as part of their "Intersections" series. I'll be writing on spirituality and spiritual direction, and what that might look like in the everyday. It probably will reference coffee at some point, too.

It's too early to project a time of release, but I'll provide updates as I go through this process. I'll be working vigorously on the manuscript all summer long, which might put a slight damper on the reading list I posted last week. If posts seem to appear less frequently at any point over the next few months, you can probably assume that this is the reason.

This blog and you, dear reader, are a big reason for this happening. I have been able to hone my craft, find my voice, and claim my identity as a writer thanks in large part to this space and to those who have stumbled upon it for over 10 years and counting.

Stay tuned as I take each step…

Overly Ambitious Summer Reading List

Summer is approaching, and I've been building up the stack on my nightstand in anticipation. It's not really that my ability to pick up a book is seasonally dependent, but things do slow down at the church during these months and I have some vacation time coming up, so the prospect of tackling such a list seems a little easier.

Here, then, is what I'm hoping to read this summer. Honestly, If I make it through 3-4 of these, I'll call it a win.

Facing the Music by Jennifer KnappZen Guitar by Philip Toshio SudoIf These Walls Could Talk: Detroit Tigers by Mario Impemba and Mike IsenbergBeing Mortal by Atul GawandeBatman: The Killing Joke by Alan MooreThe Dark Knight Returns by Frank MillerThe Walking DeadVolume 23 by Robert KirkmanSabbath as Resistance by Walter BrueggemannFiddlehead by Cherie Priest
So: a memoir, music theory, baseball, end-of-life issues, a few graphic novels, spirituality, and steampunk. I like variety. And there's always the potential for more to b…

Five Pithy Phrases That Describe Ministry

Here's something I've been playing with for a while. We've all heard the sorts of phrases listed below. I even use a couple of them. They're the sorts of sayings that have been around forever, such that we may not even think about their origin, meaning, or our use of them. We might even find a few of them irritating because we've heard them so often or because they seem too trite to be useful.

Well, I'm out to reclaim some of these for the sake of those who minister to others. For quite a while, I've been tallying a few of these that seem to apply to ministry in some way, and thought it might be fun to list a couple and briefly explore that application for each.

Here, then, are five throwaway phrases that might not be so throwaway after all. At least, when it comes to ministry.

1. It is what it is. Typically people use this as sort of a verbal shrug of the shoulders. Whatever is happening, just accept it and move forward. There come plenty of ministry situa…

Small Sips Yells, "Fix It, Jesus!"

A funeral for a friend. David Williams gives his eulogy for the emergent movement:
Emergence was a thing, for a while, a decade ago.   It rose out of two simultaneous threads. In the old-line denominations, emergence was a reaction to the stultifying institutional inertia that can makes denominational ministry such an awkward, lumbering, graceless thing. Be open to the new! Don't crush everything under the weight of bureaucratic anxiety management processes and protocols!   For those who'd been brought up in the corporate dynamics of the megachurch world, emergence was a reaction to the synthetic falseness of business-model Christianity. Be flexible! Be organic! Be less like a JeezMart, and more like a gathering of creative friends!   The spur to emergence in both of these milieu was the advent of new and dynamic media, which seemed to offer the promise of communities dynamically being amazing on the interwebs together. It had the potential to stir the oldlines to new …

The Tipping Point

I've been thinking a lot lately about public figures, and how pure they need to be in order to earn or keep my support. If you've been reading the past few months, I've been processing a situation involving some of my favorite authors. If you haven't, or need a refresher, read this and then read this.

In light of this situation, I've been considering how closely the words, actions, and viewpoints of an author, actor, official, or athlete need to line up with my own in order for me to consider them a voice of influence in my life. Another more recent example might be Michigan's new head football coach, Jim Harbaugh, who recently said during an interview for Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel that football is "the last bastion of hope for toughness in America in men, in males." 

By itself, I didn't think much of it when I read it. But then someone with whom I don't agree on much of anything weighed in:
This is where conservative radio show host Ru…

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