Odd Being a Pastor During a Pandemic

Odd Being a Pastor During a Pandemic

That was odd.

A feeling of oddness was about the only one I could muster after watching myself preach and lead our Easter Sunday worship. It was odd being able to worship with my family who, admittedly, were either half awake after being up all night with our newborn or were too interested in the tablet to watch. It was odd seeing myself preach on Facebook. I hate the sound of my own voice, by the way. That was odd being at the cemetery, before the sun came up, to prepare for our sunrise Facebook live feed.

This whole thing has been odd.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it is like to lead during a pandemic. Odd is about the only word I can use to describe what it is like, for me, to be a pastor this moment. There is no rule book or guidance on how to do what we are doing. We’re all trying to make the most of it and proclaim God’s name through new and unique means, which I believe is taking place. Continue reading “Odd Being a Pastor During a Pandemic”

Quick Fixes Don’t Always Happen

Quick Fixes Don’t Always Happen

I went to McDonald’s yesterday. It was a fundraiser for my son’s school. Proceeds of every purchase would be donated to his school to be used throughout the year.

As always when I go to McDonald’s or any other fast food establishment, especially when I am just going in and out to get my food, I spent more time in the parking lot than I did in the actual restaurant. I was in and out of the store in two or three minutes, even with teachers running a system they did not have complete knowledge of and a crowded restaurant.

It was a quick experience.

We all know that story, right? We go to a fast food restaurant wanting quick service and results. A quick fix, if you will, to our desire to end our hunger with a hamburger, fries, and a drink. (In my case, it was fries and a drink for my son.) We’ll grab the meal and eat it in our cars, the parking lot, or anywhere else for the convenience of having a fast meal. As a result, we are spending nearly $300 billion a year on fast food in the United States. This is up from $187 billion in 2004.

There are a lot of reasons for this. We have reduced the family meal to being unimportant to our belief that every minute of the day needs to be planned out. We look for convenience when we are tired. Sometimes, though, we just want something quick for comfort and ease.

I’ve been thinking about if any of this relates to the local church. How often do we desire a quick fix to whatever issue or struggle that we face as a community? We expect an instant turnaround and immediate results, because that is what we have grown accustomed to in society. Need a meal quick? Go to McDonald’s. Need to find out about something? Go to your phone. Need directions? There is an app for that.

Is the attitude of wanting a quick fix and instant results helpful in the church? I think it is a mixed bag. Continue reading “Quick Fixes Don’t Always Happen”

What Will We Do?

What Will We Do?

One of the highlights of my ministry has been to go to the Holy Land. I’ve gone twice now either with the encouragement of the church, or this last time, with 20 people from my previous church and community.

Each trip has been holy and have included some breathtaking moments. They have included teaching adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea and on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, preaching sermons in Israel, and offering communion to pilgrims in Jerusalem. They have also included some hilarity in what I call my classic “Clark Griswald” moments. I had a stress fracture during my first trip for stepping off the bus wrong. In February, I spent the entire trip with both food poisoning and asthma issues.

And I want to go back. I want to go back, because every time I have gone it has opened my eyes more to the life within Scripture. The pages are no longer just words, but are lived out places of life, hope, and struggle. My preaching is better because of my experiences in Israel.

Our passage today, from Luke 10:25-37, is among those that I have a different appreciation for after visiting the Holy Land. The story takes place somewhere between Jerusalem and Jericho. This is same area Jesus would travel throughout the majority of Luke’s gospel on his way to the passion. These two historic cities are separated by almost 20 miles and a vast arid desert.

That desert includes the Valley of the Shadow of Death. The same valley cemented in our minds through the words of Psalm 23. It is a rocky and desolate place, but also features several meandering roads. Those roads were regularly traversed by people wanting to go between Jerusalem and Jericho. It was a dangerous road, because robbers and bandits would hide in between the valley’s ridges waiting to attack unsuspecting travelers. It would not be uncommon to see someone lying on the road left for dead.

So, with all of that, and knowing all of that, what would you do? Continue reading “What Will We Do?”