Summer is in full swing in Florida. Heat. Humidity. Afternoon showers followed by even more humidity. it's summer! I have been working as Organizing Pastor for a new church start near Amelia Island, Florida. We recently made the decision that this work will not continue, so I am seeking another call and wondering what's next. In the meantime, I am doing some interim work for a congregation that has just begun to search for a new pastor.
Just finished Greg Garrett's The Other Jesus. Everyone probably ought to read it.
In fiction, couldn't put down Welcome to the Fallen Paradise by Dayne Sherman. Read it in almost one sitting. Good southern stuff.
John S. Kloppenborg's Q The Earliest Gospel. Interesting, especially the connections between Q and James.
Douglas Ottati's Theology for Liberal Presbyterians and Other Endangered Species, which I heartily recommend, even for those who will need help getting past that word in the title. I'm with him: either we believe and trust grace, or we don't!
Martin Thielen's What's the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? Turned out to be less than I had hoped it would be, but still helpful. Would be fun to do a short term discussion with a group.
Right now, I'm indulging myself (Yes, I know it's Lent.) by reading the first four years of New Stories from the South, a collection of stories I've been reading at Christmas for years. Finally got the first four years I didn't have and and treating myself.
A friend recently wrote on his own blog about a meeting of Presbytery in which a minister declined to receive Communion because he didn't agree with some positions taken by some during conversation about some issues. Someone else recently came to me with concerns about folks who are deciding they may not continue to worship with our congregation because they don't agree with some positions we take and some practices we follow. Then today, I caught part of the early conversation about the President's nominee for the Supreme Court. That conversation was mostly along ideological lines, and the person (whose name I don't remember and had not heard before) who was opposed to her quoted one line she had written at some point in her career as a reason not to confirm her appointment. These three events all took place in different places and times, but they all concern me for the same reason. It is simply too easy to think we can get through life talking only to people with whom we agree. It is something I'm not sure how to name to assume that those with whom we disagree have nothing to say that we need to hear. Those of you who know me have heard me say a million times that I don't understand why people are not beating down doors to become Presbyterians. Our system of theology and practice make good sense to me, and, better yet, they seem, in my mind, to be faithful to Scripture. At my church, however, people are not beating down doors to get to us. We are growing, as new churches are supposed to, but we are not yet turning people away. I hear from some who call to inquire about our ministry who decide they already know us when they find out of which denomination we're a part. Thankfully, I hear from others who decide to give us a try. We work for some. We don't for others. My biggest concern is for those who decide they can't hear the Gospel here or in any other place that doesn't conform to all the things they've already decided to be true. Something about a God who is alive and active, saying and doing things in the world convinces me that I need to listen to lots of different voices and try to discern where God is in the midst of them. I know it's easier to stay with what we know and understand, but I'm not so sure that easy has much to do with being faithful. Dialogue is always harder than monologue, but unless it's God doing the talking, I suspect dialogue is better. God, I hope so!