Nov 13

Getting Ready to Wait



Once upon a time, two young women tried out for their college’s basketball team. At the tryouts the pair quickly discovered that, as good as they were, neither one was going to be the team’s star. Over a couple of weeks, cut after cut happened, and still the women found themselves on the list to return for the next workout. 60, 40, 30, 20: finally the time came to announce the final 15 who would make the team, and there they were—14th and 15th on the roster. They knew they had no chance of ever playing. The team had 5 excellent starters, 5 really good second-string players, and 5 benchwarmers. The two women were not going to run the court this season. Continue reading

Jul 09

Discipleship 101: The Call of Love



He calls to us. “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Will we yield to his call? Will we cross over the wall we have built between him and us? He has come to us eagerly, longingly, leaping on the mountains, bounding over hills: noble, graceful, delighted with us, yearning for us. Not content to wait for us to show up at his doorstep, he has come to our house, he has peered in through our windows, and, seeing that we are still here, he has cried to us, “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” There’s no recklessness in his call; he comes to us with abandon, but he also knows it is the right season for love: winter is past, flowers bloom, figs ripen, cultivated vines show their blossoms. Creation plays peacock while our Lord prances to meet us, but we wait to hear his voice. Will we shy away, or will we embrace his transport and delight? Continue reading

Feb 06

You Have Heard: Blessed Are Those Who Hunger…



A little over three years ago, Clemson University shocked itself and the rest of the men’s college basketball world by defeating powerhouse Duke University. It was just the third time in the last 30 games that Clemson had scored a victory against Duke, and it came just after a humiliating loss to Florida State University. After the game, K.J. McDaniels, star forward for Clemson, told a reporter, “We were just hungry… We were just hungry, honestly.” Echoing McDaniels, teammate Landry Nnoko said, “We just had to eat” (Accessed January 10, 2014; http://www.postandcourier.com/sports/we-were-just-hungry/article_974aef66-1080-5d57-9262-fafe305443bd.html). Continue reading

Oct 06

Your Church Is Too Small



I have good news for you this morning: your church is too small. Your church is too small! Now, I imagine you’ve heard that before, and I’m willing to bet that the last time you heard it, it didn’t sound like good news. Maybe you heard it in a meeting with the district superintendent: I’m sorry, she said, but your church is too small to support a full-time pastor. I’m sorry, but you’re too small to be on your own anymore.

Or maybe you heard it from a visitor one Sunday morning: I love your church, he said. The people here are friendly, and you obviously love to be together for worship. I wish I could stick around, but your church is too small. I’m looking for something bigger.

Or maybe you have found yourself saying it in at church council one night: It would be nice, you said, if we could do more for our community, but we’re just too small. We don’t have the resources.

“Your church is too small.” It doesn’t sound like good news, but today, on World Communion Sunday, at this Community Worship Service, it is the gospel, the good news, we need to hear. Your church is too small, but Christ’s church—ahh, that’s a different story entirely. Continue reading

Feb 15

The Lord’s Prayer: Our Father, in Heaven, Holy



Jesus, the Son of Israel, the Son of God, withdraws to the wilderness, led by the Holy Spirit. He has passed through the waters of the Jordan River, but instead of entering the Promised Land, Jesus goes into the wilderness, the place of waiting and wandering and temptation. The heavens have opened, and the Spirit has descended on him like a dove, and a voice has claimed Jesus as God’s Beloved Son. Father, Son; Son, Father. You might expect something equally wonderful to follow on the heels of that stunning revelation: a royal enthronement, a mighty display of power and gifts, a magnificent show of divine love. Instead, the Spirit leads Jesus into a barren land. There is no royal throne, no display of power and gifts, no show of divine love. There isn’t even anyone else around. No, instead, there is hunger. There is thirst. There is temptation. And there is the devil. Continue reading