It may seem crazy that after having been “on the job” for only four weeks I am leaving for two weeks of vacation! These days camping reservations must be made 6-9 months out and we will be camping at Cedar Breaks National Monument and Great Basin National Park. We made our reservations long before I had any idea I would be serving as your pastor. Last summer our family started a new tradition of coming together each summer to visit a national park. Victor and I relish the fact that our grown children enjoy vacationing with us!
Coming of age in the south as a transplant from California was an experience that shaped me like no other. I was stunned when my Episcopal Sunday school teacher used the Bible to justify the segregation that still existed in 1969. If you were a person of color, you could not eat in certain restaurants downtown. I, at the tender age of 14, challenged her. She told me to go home and read my Bible. I did, from cover to cover, and I was shocked at some of the things I found in it. Seeking to make sense of the things I felt were not just, I went to the priest who simply told me “You can’t pick and choose.” While I continued to attend church to keep my mom happy, I checked out of organized religion. Yet I always maintained a firm belief that God was interested in the well being of ALL of creation and that the owning of other human beings was not God’s law, but the culture of the time. When I left home, I also left the church.
Dear Members and Friends of Klamath Falls First UMC:
“To everything there is a season,” the writer of Ecclesiastes says, “and a time and purpose for everything under heaven.”
When Laurie and I arrived here last August, we were overwhelmed by the love and support with which you welcomed us. As I began this year of transitional ministry here, your kindness and generosity in forgiving my mistakes, in patiently suffering through my learning curve as your “interim pastor,” and in providing an environment in which my ministry could be affirmed and nurtured is something for which I will be eternally in your debt. Indeed, Laurie and I have said to each other many times in the past year that we could happily be a part of this faith community for the rest of our lives.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
One afternoon in 1953, a crowd had gathered at Chicago’s railway station awaiting the arrival of the 1952 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. There was great excitement and anticipation in the air. The train arrived at last and off stepped a giant of a man – just over six feet four inches tall, erect in posture, with a thatch of bushy hair, a large moustache, and dressed simply in a khaki suit and tie.
Cameras flashed and city officials pressed forward to present the man with the key to the city and to tell him how honored they were by his visit. He expressed polite thanks and then paused – seeming to see over their heads something that concerned him. Excusing himself, he walked quickly through the crowd to the side of an elderly black woman who was struggling to carry two large and heavy suitcases, completely ignored by the throngs all around her. Nodding to the woman, he picked up her suitcases in his big, strong hands and followed her on to the train, helping her into her seat and then stowing the suitcases in the luggage rack above her.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
As a special Easter treat, I will sometimes buy my wife, Laurie, a box of Easter eggs. But not just any old Easter eggs – I like to get her the ones she likes best, “Cadbury’s Easter Cream Eggs!” Especially the caramel ones!
Now, I know I’m not the only husband who ever liked to buy his wife Easter eggs – many of you reading this article have done that, too. But I doubt that any of us have ever gone as far with egg buying as did Czar Nicholas of Russia. He undoubtedly holds the world’s record for presenting his wife with the most expensive Easter eggs of all time! You see, the Czar presented a Faberge Egg to his wife every year at Easter to show his affection. Every jewel-studded masterpiece contained a certain surprise within: a thimble-size palace, or a gilded carriage, or an entire train! The most famous Faberge Egg, the Resurrection Egg, unlike the others, contains no surprises. The clear rock crystal egg simply features Christ rising from the tomb, flanked by two angels in gold.
Football, Lent – and “The God Story”
The Super Bowl has come and gone – and the 2018 football season is but a faded memory, leaving some with the satisfaction of victory and triumph, and others – well, not so much. For those of us who live and die with the Green Bay Packers, last season began with visions of triumph and celebration, but those visions soon turned out to be mere pipe dreams. Hopes of glory eventually turned to the despair of defeat.
Truth be told, I think what I just described about Green Bay Packer football fortunes is in some ways reminiscent of how some people approach the season of Lent. Instead of approaching Lent with a spirit of hope and optimism, they view this significant season of the Christian year almost with a sense of dread – a time of somber self-denial not to be enjoyed or appreciated, but rather to be merely endured.