When is the last time you ran so fast that you were totally out of breath? Maybe you’re a runner. Maybe you workout and regularly push yourself to your physical limits. That would be a good thing, to keep yourself in shape. But when is the last time your ran so fast because you had to? Have you ever run so fast to save your life or save yourself from bodily harm? [Read more…]
The following is a poem I wrote as the message for the third Sunday in Advent. The Chancel Choir sang the parts in bold, and I recited the poetry in between.
Sing we now of Christmas … Noel, sing we here!
Hear our grateful praises … to the babe so dear.
How often do we praise him?
Between our busiest days?
Well prepared for our shopping
Counting our annual raise.
The gifts under the bright tree
We do wrap and multiply.
For our children’s happiness
Is what we want to supply. [Read more…]
Fifty-two years ago today, November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was shot and killed while riding in his motorcade in Dallas. The Cold War was at its most tense; it was one year after the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. Many people feared the assassination was part of a larger attack on the United States by the Soviet Union. During the first hour or so after the president was shot, the facts of what actually happened were not clear. There was uncertainty about the fate of Vice President Johnson, who was riding just two cars behind Kennedy. The assassination created the most overwhelming sense of dread among the American people since the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. People out for a typical day of shopping gathered around television sets and radios and wept openly with complete strangers. In some places, traffic came to a halt as people stopped their cars to listen to the radio. As it was Friday, schools dismissed students early. Eventually the grief of people turned to anger, as it often does. Some people turned their anger toward Texas and Texans. Two days later on Sunday, the Cleveland Browns hosted the Dallas Cowboys; people in the stadium held up signs decrying the city of Dallas as having “killed the president.” [Read more…]
I was in eighth grade when I first learned about the major types of narrative conflict. We were reading Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, and I remember how frustrated I became when there were different opinions about what was the main type of narrative conflict in the novel. Was it man against man? Man against society? Man against nature? Or man against self? Of course, back then in 1981, we still used the word “man” to refer to human persons in general. [Read more…]
Recently I read a report from United Methodist Communications titled, “What Does It Mean to Be United Methodist?” This report summarizes the results of a survey conducted of 1250 United Methodists, including 400 lay members, 350 lay church leaders (i.e. past or present committee members), and 500 pastors. The respondents were asked in the spring and summer of 2014 to rate 22 values on a scale of 1 to 5, “not important” to “very important to you.” Not surprisingly, there are diverse opinions about what is important to us as individual United Methodists and there is no substantial agreement about core values. However, there are two values that consistently ranked near the top levels of importance across the spectrum of respondents: “Emphasis on God’s grace” and “Open table – Communion open to all.” That should not be surprising to us. If there are any values that distinguish United Methodists or Methodists in general from other Christian groups, it would be these two values. [Read more…]