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.
Those of you who grew up outside the South (You define it wherever you think it is; some of us know!) may not understand how devastating the flood damage in Nashville is to those of us who love that city. Though it is not my favorite category of music these days, I grew up in an environment in which Nashville music and church music were the only two kinds I knew there were--and sometimes they overlapped! Some of my best friends live in Nashville. Maybe it's the self-serving side of me that all of us eventually have to admit we have, but the images of people I don't know trying to find anything worth saving from flooded homes in Bellevue and downtown and other parts of Nashville are heartbreaking. I continue to care about the people of Haiti who also lost everything and the people of New Orleans, some of whom will never recover. But, even though I've never lived there, Nashville is one of my places, where people I know and love are struggling. I know it makes me sound like a bumpkin, but to see the Grand Ole Opry stage under water is a big deal. I never forgave Gaylord Entertainment for closing Opryland and opening a shopping mall, but I wouldn't have wished this flood on them. I know that the Opryland Hotel has hosted more than its share of redneck receptions, but it was a beautiful place just to walk around. To see all that underwater, and to think about the people who worked there being out of work for most of the summer is a big deal. There is a part of me that wants to run up there and bail water out of somebody's house, probably that same part that wanted to do the same thing in Haiti not long ago. I'll be in Nashville in a couple of weeks for a preaching conference. That group is already encouraging us to do what we can to help while we're there. I'm not sure what I'll be able to do, but I invite you to join me in praying for those who have lost so much and for those who are trying to help them. Some of those who are helping have lost things too. Pray for Nashville and for Clarksville, and for everywhere else where people are hurting. Pray for the beautiful Gulf Coast as people there confront their worst fears. Pray, and trust that God is at work in all kinds of ways in those places and everywhere. I don't know what else to do. Paul reminds me that I don't even always know how to pray as I ought. I know it's selfish to pray for the people I know. But I'm doing it anyway.