Monday evening, James Goolsby and I had the privilege of speaking as part of an anti-white supremacy rally in downtown Macon to "stand with Charlottesville and walk with Macon." A crowd of some 500 people gathered in a spirit of anger and frustration, but also hope and love. it was good to be there with many members of our two congregations (including Judge Verta Colvin, who also spoke). Here are the remarks I gave:Read More
So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus.
The guiding metaphor in the sermon on Sunday was stepping out of the boat to meet Christ in the storm. Given the conversations we’re having as a church, and the events of the weekend, it turned out to be an especially potent image.
Sunday morning we assembled as the faithful to once again find our voice and the presence of God against disturbing and distressing images of racial violence, this time out of Charlottesville. It was good for me to be in that place with you, as we lifted up our cries of lament for the ugliness we see in the world, but also confessed our own individual and cooperate sins in creating a climate in which that sort of hate would feel so empowered.Read More
Sunday noon around the tables in the Fellowship Hall was a good time. At my table we listened to each other's stories about what we used to believe about gender identity versus how we believe now. Most of us have had personal relationships with people who identify as homosexual or transgender and those relationships have moved us from seeing the situation from an abstract "belief" category to a personal experience.
We came to believe people were more important that abstract categories.Read More
I’ve spent the past 29 years working at Mount de Sales Academy (MDS), a Catholic school located about two blocks from our church. Several years ago an incident occurred there that left me feeling as if I couldn’t continue to work at MDS. A gay teacher on staff was let go because of his plans on marrying his longtime partner. The marriage between the two men was in opposition to the Catholic Church’s teaching.Read More
One of the most difficult parts of preparing the sermon each week is making cuts. There are certainly some weeks where material seems scarce and I’m praying for God to deliver something to me to deliver to you. But it’s more often the case that there is an abundance of things to say, and I’m praying that God would help me be a good editor.
This past Sunday was one of those Sunday’s. The story from Genesis 28 of Jacob and his dream of a “staircase” into heaven is so mysterious and rich that it has inspired much reflection and interpretation through the years.Read More
In his wonderful introduction to the Bible, The Good Book, Peter Gomes writes,
One of the more embarrassing social situations, upon which even Miss Manners and other arbiters of social etiquette have failed to provide a useful strategy, is the one in which you have more than a nodding acquaintance with someone. At the point of introduction you got the person's name, forgot it, asked it again, and forgot it again. Meanwhile you go on meeting this person, chatting and being chatted with, but you have clearly passed beyond the point where you can ask for the name again…What we should know, pretend that we know, and wish that we knew, we don't. Worse still, we do not know, without risk of embarrassment, how to ask about what we need to know.
This, I suggest, is the way it is with so many people and the Bible.Read More
As you I hope you've noticed, we’re making a push to be more intentional about our stewardship at the church, especially giving to support the operating budget.
I’m well aware that giving to the budget is not the most exciting place to direct our resources. It reminds me of a story I heard about two fish who were swimming along one day when an older fish swam by them and said, “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” They shrugged and kept swimming until one fish turned to the other and said, “What the heck is water?”
The operating budget is kind of like the church’s water. It supports so much of what we do here that at times we take it for granted.
I’m still reflecting on the time spent with others from our congregation and friends from First Baptist at Duke Divinity school two weeks ago. It was a rich week of learning that left us inspired to continue our work together here.
The final day’s theme was “Spirituality for the Long Haul.” The work of God is hard and filled with disappointment, set backs and failures. Old and deep wounds do not heal over night, and opposition is never far away. Commitment to tending to the Kingdom of God requires an equal commitment to tending to your own soul.
Unfortunately, this is not something that comes natural to most of us. Neither will we find help from our surrounding culture; true spiritual self-care is at odds with our culture’s self-centeredness.
Tending to our souls is something that requires discipline. As our facilitator pointed out, it requires an inward discipline toward prayer, study and self-examination. But also an outward discipline toward simplicity, solitude and service to others. And finally, it requires a “corporate” discipline of communing with others through worship, guidance and celebration.
This last one struck me: the discipline of celebration.Read More