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.
Dealing with loss is something I do fairly often in my work as a minister. I recently looked back at the log book I keep of my pastoral work over the years, and had to sit and reflect a while when I saw how many funerals I have preached or assisted with over the past several years. Most of those were for church members, and most of those died after an illness which had involved me in some way or another. All of those losses were significant, to me and to the families of the ones who died. Last week, though, Deanna and I traveled to Columbus, Mississippi just before Thanksgiving to participate in the funeral of a very good friend. Gay Mims was a bivocational (educator and pastor) pastor in Columbus for many years, and he was my friend. Gay and I worked together in several areas, and in recent years, he had invited me to preach and teach in his church on several special occasions. Being with the good folks at Brooksville and Mt. Zion and spending time with Gay and Martha Jo are some of my greatest gifts. I was honored when Martha Jo wanted me to participate in his funeral. I know we kept folks there way, way too long that day, but all those preachers gathered there to bury one who had meant so much to us and who had taught us all so much took time! Gay's funeral was in the fellowship hall at Mt. Zion, a facility he had dreamed into being and which will stand in that community as a testament to his determination to serve his community. He was one of the finest people I have ever known. I still have much to learn from him. I miss him, but I am happy to have been able to have been a part of the celebration of his life and witness. This world is diminished by his physical absence, but he gave so much of himself to many of us while he was he that he will live on in ways he never imagined. I miss him. He was my friend.