In the Deep End With Grief: Thoughts On Pastoral Care to Those Hurting Most 

As the previous year comes to a close, I’m reposting some articles from 2014 I wrote elsewhere on the web. This is a post I wrote about grief that originally posted on the blog Antioch Session.

I find it hard to carry the weight of my own pain, let alone the weight of another. I have found that the grief we carry is sometimes so heavy, so disorienting, even – sometimes – so embarrassing (how could I let this happen me?) that it is hard to share that weight or let it out. The weight of grief is compounded by the inability that we all experience of isolation and being unable to see beyond it. Grief is a lot like floating out in the middle of a deep lake, nothing close by to grab onto. Unable to see the bottom, I tread water and try not to panic.

Even as a pastor, facing these painful moments with others can often be scary. Realizing this, I recently shared some of my fears and questions with a friend who is a retired therapist. His response to me was not what I expected. “I was afraid too,” were the words that fell from his mouth.

Continue reading In the Deep End With Grief: Thoughts On Pastoral Care to Those Hurting Most 

15 things I learned in 2014 (or at least tried too)

  1. Taking risks is worth the unknowns that follow.
  2. Progress can be made. Keep working to engineer a new kind of engine.
  3. You can expect to find either a door (or a window) in an unlit room, you just have to keeping search for it.
  4. Conflict is not as scary as it seems prior to the confrontation. There are some really helpful ways to work through conflict (audio).
  5. Hard work pays off. Hard work doesn’t pay off.
  6. Sometimes action is discernment.
  7. If you swing at a bee’s nest expect to get stung.
  8. Pastoral ministry is a lonely position to hold in the world. Friendships are hard won and easy lost.
  9. In a heated situation, take a deep breath and breathe. be slow to speak. results will be far better when you stay as calm as you can in the moment.
  10. Slactivism is bull@#$^.
  11. Let’s be independent together.
  12. The theological and political are not synonymous with the pastoral. In most cases, I find the pastoral more challenging and far more interesting.
  13. If all of your attention is up on the system you will have blindspots down below.
  14. A frozen bell pepper makes for a great mug.
  15. Do more of these things: write more. draw more. play more. read more fiction. play more with my kids. listen and make more music. walk more.
  16. I feel better when I pay attention to what I eat and exercise (I’ve found this app really useful lately).

We Are The Stargazers (Matthew 2:1-12)

Herod and The Theologians

Our passage this morning presents two contrasting groups of people discerning the will of God. King Herod and the Theologians on one side and the “three wise men” or Magi on the other.

The arrival of Jesus makes for a very real, very large scale, as in cosmically-sized, conflict that is introduced into the human narrative and these two parties are the first to go head-to-head over the matter.

This baby, of divine royalty, the one people were waiting for as the messiah or new moses, has managed to slip almost completely under the radar. How humiliating then that this all happened right under Herod’s nose. And to add further insult to injury it takes three pagan Astronomers from the East to come and point this out to him. Continue reading We Are The Stargazers (Matthew 2:1-12)

Learning the Art of Sketchnote Preaching

Many of you know I love “Sketchnote Preaching.” If you’re not sure what that is here is where I was interviewed on Sermon Smith and another one on Sketchnote Army.

Below is a post about how I got into doing this, what it is and how you can to started yourself.

Two years ago I spent the month of September writing the majority of my dissertation, “A Convergent Model of Hope: Remixing the Quaker Tradition in a Participatory Culture.” 

During the third of my four weeks off I hit a major wall. I had written three chapters and was at the point that I needed to bring together a variety of key ideas and thinkers and I just couldn’t figure out how they all wove together – not exactly where you want to be this late in the game but that is where I was with it. My advisor, Ryan Bolger (Fuller Seminary), told me I needed to take a day to pray and meditate. This was a time where I needed an “aha” moment and I couldn’t force that to happen. This was not the advice I wanted! I had a week and a half left of the mini-sabbatical the church gave me and I needed to keep working, but he was right, no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t make it happen.

Continue reading Learning the Art of Sketchnote Preaching

Outline for a Candlelight Christmas Eve Worship Service

Immanuel Print from Emily L. Daniels

 Immanuel, God With Us.

I enjoy putting together meditative worship services. A couple years back I posted this resource for using with a Christmas eve Candlelight Service. I have been working to make an updated one and since it’s just about complete I wanted to post it here for those of you who might be helped by something like this.

This is being shared under the creative commons license “Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International” so please feel free to use it, remix it, and make it work for you.

The Angel of No Going Back or the Day of Visitation (Luke 1:26-38)

“Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:26–38 NRSV)

The day of visitation

Our text this morning gives us a glimpse into what early Quakers would call “a day of visitation.”

“The basic idea of the Day of Visitation is that there is a period of time in everyone’s life when they are open to hearing the voice of the Divine and acting on it. If they are attentive and obedient to this Divine Seed, it will grow and flourish in them and they will be led into a greater and stronger faith. If they ignore it, if they push it down and trample on the seed, eventually it will stop growing.” (William Taber – Link )

Continue reading The Angel of No Going Back or the Day of Visitation (Luke 1:26-38)

On Being Exiled, Trains and Belonging

This is my sermon from this past Sunday:

I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited parts of the land. I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.” (Ezekiel 34:13–16)

The Snowpiercer

I saw a poignant illustration of what Ezekiel is talking about recently in the film Snowpiercer, which I might say is really all about the theme of exile. Front and center in the movie is this impulse of empire to preordain some to the front of the train and some to the back. Continue reading On Being Exiled, Trains and Belonging