Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Getting Ready for Minneapolis!

REALLY LIVELY BIBLE STUDY TODAY!! On the future of the UMC! I was advocating for the Centrist Progressive position, and a Traditionalist took exception.

Actually, no. I was taking the Traditionalist position, and a Centrist Progressive took exception. Just ate some pavement while I was taking a walk.

Actually, no. I was trying to take no position and EVERYONE took exception.

Actually, no. A chicken, a possum and Tom walked into a bar; the chicken and the possum used the door (thanks to Sean). Actually: A nose piercing gone horribly wrong.

Actually, no. Here is the real talk: Since my prostate cancer surgery last July 8, I have gained 25 lbs. I used to walk 4+ miles every day, and over 5 many days. Since July I have
walked a total of about 3 no wonder I have gained the weight. But, I feel awful. And so, I have been saying for a number of weeks now: got to get back to walking. This week, for some reason, it happened. Today was my third consecutive day doing three plus miles, and I was within 100 yards of my door when I stepped on the edge of the sidewalk, rolled my ankle, and ate some concrete. Could have been a LOT worse. I did not break my nose or cheek. I do not bruise but will have a black eye, I suspect. I am sore. But, God willing, I will lace them on again tomorrow and head back out.

Which is why I think this does help me with Minneapolis. I think there will be days when we are face down on the concrete. I hope not, but I suspect it will be the case.

Further, today, lying prone on the sidewalk bleeding, two cars drove past slowly, perhaps thinking to stop, but not stopping. Later, as I ambled the last 100 yards to home, a jogger come the other way saw me, bleeding, and kind of sped-up to get past me. I have new insight to Luke 10: it may have been the blood.

In Minneapolis we MUST tend to each other. We have to see the hurt and help. Do No Harm means also not letting the wounds go untended.

In the next few blogs I am going to share some materials I have been teaching here on why I am a Centrist/Progressive. And why BIBLICALLY I find myself in that position. Which is to say: I think part of the impasse of the last however many comes to a stalemate of authority. The Traditionalists have discounted Reason and Experience in favor of a monolithic reading of the text (I use that term carefully and theologically; as in stone tablets, as in the letter of the law; as if the Law is one thing). The Progressives have abandoned Scripture and Tradition (as anachronistic, misogynist, oppressive). What we have not been able to do is find biblical grounds to counter a monolithic reading and provide a LIVING word that retains authority in what has been described as the Quadralateral.

I think the case for a Centrist to Progressive position is thoroughly biblical and I will share that line of thinking in the next few entries.

If you would like to see the whole piece now, email me at and I will send it to you electronically.

Now, another dram of bourbon as I change my bandages.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

No Argument Zone

I am officially declaring this blog a no argument zone.

My goal is to share my best thoughts, deepest prayers, purest love for Christ and his people, for the Church and its mission--in service of my determination to be the best pastor to the folk under my charge (and whoever might happen by here).

I will not debate, will delete argumentative comments.

I will share as I can my reading of Scripture, but in a spirit of humility and love: working out my own salvation with fear and trembling; working to count others as better than myself; doing nothing from selfish conceit...

I take a cue from Jack Lemon, whose priest character in Mass Appeal: "I have baptized you, counseled you, married and buried you; but I have never really cared enough to risk losing you" (his defrocked associate had chided him: "there has to be something more important than what your congregation think of you").

I too believe that "we must be allowed the freedom to shape this thing that has shaped us," and indeed I believe Scripture not only grants that freedom but in fact demands it. When the truth is not spoken, people are kept silent, inactive.

As Richard Hayes said, "Scriptural imagination is the faculty that enables us to see the world through the lenses of the Bible’s images and stories—and to be transformed by what we see. To exercise scriptural imagination does not mean living in a fantasy world where we ignore the daily realities around us; rather, it is to have our eyes opened to recognize that the story Scripture tells is the true story of the world. To look at the world through scriptural lenses is to have our vision corrected so that our illusions are stripped away and we see the world as it really is: created by a loving God but fallen into disobedience and alienation. Through the lenses of Scripture, we also see this real world redeemed and transformed by Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection. With our vision thus corrected, we can join Paul in discerning “that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). Additionally, scriptural imagination enables us to inhabit the story that Scripture tells. We read the Bible not just to find devotional tidbits, “illustrations” of something we already knew on other grounds, or general principles to shape our lives. Instead, we read it to learn the unfolding story in which we too are characters, and to understand the role we are called to play in it." (Duke Divinity Magazine, Spring, 2013)

Those who are in Charlotte are invited to come to our church on February 5, 2020, at 9:45 or 6:45, for a presentation as to the biblical/theological background to the impending "divorce" in our denomination.

On Sunday, February 9, after church we will have a congregational meeting to discuss he administrative side of the question. Again, you are welcome to attend (lunch will be served but you have to make a reservation).

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Ramping Up, Blessing the Parting: hope in the midst of a bad divorce.


It has been a while since I posted. I will soon be posting furiously (I  mean that in terms of urgency and frequency; I hope I do not mean it in terms of anger and frustration) as I anticipate, once again, attending the General Conference of the UMC in Minneapolis this coming May. I will not be there for the whole event, but plan to head-up on Mother's Day, May 10, and stay to the bitter end on May 15.

I am clear that this is NOT the death of Mr. Wesley's church--not substantively or obviously. But it feels like a real end, and also a new beginning.

I keep thinking about Abraham and Lot: when the land could not support both of them, their flocks and herds, and when their servants were quarreling among one another, Father Abraham said to his nephew, "You take the left, and I will go to the right. You take the right, and I will go to the left. Is not the whole land before us? We are kinsmen; we need not be fighting (or, as my friend Talbot Davis said recently, "Life is too short" (

And so they separated, uncle and nephew, and it was painful. As it was painful when Jacob and Laban parted. And when Paul and the elders in Ephesus. As it was painful when Jesus was parted from the Father or, later, from the disciples at his Ascension. Parting is always hard.

But if you can part with a blessing... 

Years ago, almost a decade, when my wife was ready to part from me for a second and final time, we took one more stab at counseling. We had already spent a small fortune on counselors and had tried valiantly--I want to believe--to try to find a way to stay together and flourish (though, in truth, for a long time we brought out only the worst in each other), we would go to the counselor's office and repeat the same tired arguments, say the same damned things, blame the other for a crime we shared, and feel righteous in the fact that other was so recalcitrant... finally, there was no use. No way really to discuss. Only one sad decision left to be made, which was already made, in truth, but had to be said out loud.

It was awful. Terrible. Embarrassing. A blow the credibility of our purported faith in Jesus, forgiveness, reconciliation and peace-making. Our kids suffered SO much, though they were grown. Nothing good about any of it.

Since she left, she remarried--and contracted a horrible disease that will soon take her away from us.

I remained single, grieved and lonely, yet somehow feeding off the loneliness as if it were manna.

One grand-baby has been born. Another is due. We have managed a few more helpful conversations in the last few months--as if to say, I am sorry it came to that, I am sorry, period, I wish it had been different, but I am glad that on the other side of the intractable disagreements and agrievements we have found our way and place, separately, but able to cherish what we had in common...

A mutual blessing after the fact. And so redemptive.

It may have been too much to expect a blessing in the midst of the parting. But on the downside we have managed it.

That is my hope for the UMC, too. It may be too much, now, to expect the RMN, the WCA, Good News, Uniting Methodists, UMNext and whoever to bless whomever, but I believe there will come a time when we can do that, and celebrate all we have shared and the good that came from our covenant and, dare I say, "marriage," despite our differences,

I feel each "side" could arrogantly boast, "They went out from us, but they were not of us, because if they were of us they would not have gone out from us" (I John 2:19). But that helps...what did Talbot say?...No One.

Better to pray for the other, to bless the other, to emulate Father Abraham (if we truly want to be his children and heirs) and bless the parting.

+ + +

In May, I will once again go to the site of the GC and report from there as an interested, engaged, invested observer. I have no special wisdom. Just a love for Jesus, the Bible, the Church (and its self-identifying rituals, Baptism and Eucharist).

In a day or two I will post my thoughts about how to read the texts as regards these matters. I have told my congregation: I love you too much NOT to tell you the truth of where I am, what I believe, where I hope to lead us. Too many of my colleagues are like Jack Lemon in Mass Appeal: I did not love you enough to tell you the truth.

So... here we go. It is a few months out, but I have today made plane reservations, hotel reservations (with a lot of help from a friend). I will be there May 10-15, and I will post many times a day.

Between now and then, a few preliminaries and other thoughts. But you ramp-up too. I offer all of this to you as a gift,

Peace of Christ, Tom

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Out of my depth, but not Habakkuk's

Interesting experience today. I was one of two white folk at a funeral for a man who was shot and killed two weeks ago tonight. The other was our children’s minister, there to sing the Lord’s Prayer—which felt, sadly, pretty hollow as there had been amplified gospel through a phone and amp as we gathered. The Lord’s Prayer is beautiful, and especially a capella, as she sings it, but it did not “play” for this particular service, at least to my ear. No matter.

There were maybe 75 people there, dreaded-out, most of them, and quite a few in tee-shirts with the picture and dates of the deceased. My role was to convene the service, offer a Prayer of Comfort, invite the gatherers to speak as they would, deliver a “eulogy” and benediction.

Jumping to the “eulogy,” it was anything but. I read these verses from Habakkuk, and was glad the lectionary assigned them to me last week…

             The oracle that the prophet Habakkuk saw.
Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
    and you will not listen?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
    and you will not save?
Why do you make me see wrongdoing
    and look at trouble?
Destruction and violence are before me;
    strife and contention arise.
So the law becomes slack
    and justice never prevails.
The wicked surround the righteous—
    therefore judgment comes forth perverted.

12 Are you not from of old,
    O Lord my God, my Holy One?
b] shall not die.
13 Your eyes are too pure to behold evil,
    and you cannot look on wrongdoing;
why do you look on the treacherous,
    and are silent when the wicked swallow
    those more righteous than they?
I will stand at my watchpost,
    and station myself on the rampart;
I will keep watch to see what he will say to me,
    and what he[
d] will answer concerning my complaint.
Then the Lord answered me and said:
Write the vision;
    make it plain on tablets,
    so that a runner may read it.
For there is still a vision for the appointed time;
    it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
    it will surely come, it will not delay.
Look at the proud!
    Their spirit is not right in them,
    but the righteous live by their faith.

I suggested that it was hard, these days, to live by faith, when all we see is destruction and violence, when we cry Violence, and hear nothing from heaven in return. But an act of faith, nonetheless, and especially when we don’t feel faithful, to gather ourselves together; to lean on each other; to say the sacred words and sing the holy songs; to pray the ancient prayers…

And to tell God that, like the prophet, we are watching. And waiting.
When I grew up, I said, I heard a lot about God watching me; but that the prophet Habakkuk gives us permission to say to God that we are watching him, waiting for him to act, listening for him to speak, to answer our complaint about violence and destruction.

Hard to have faith, and hard to have hope, too, I said. When the evil surround the righteous. When justice is prevented or perverted. When God seems to ignore the sins of some who clearly deserve judgment but is silent when the wicked swallow those more righteous than they.

It is hard to love, too, I said, and especially when it is so painful. When it hurts so much to lose someone…who was way too young, and so senselessly, so tragically. But the depth of pain is the best measure of your love, and you would want to pretend it doesn’t hurt.

So, perhaps today we think of another young man who was killed before his time, tragically and violently and unjustly taken away from his mother, his friends and disciples—and from many more who, while loving him, would never get to see him, again or ever.

Like Mario’s children, who will love him without seeing him or enjoying his presence.

But you will tell them the stories, I said to the assembled. Because, while I didn’t know him at all, you did. Enough to remember and share.

I knew him not at all; you knew him well; but Jesus knew him even better…

Mario was created in the image of God and Jesus died to redeem him, and made him and the rest of us promises that we expect for him even as we claim them for ourselves…

Then I read John 14, and I Thessalonians 4:13.

+ + +

I felt good about my part of it. And I told the singer afterwards that while, at the first, I could feel a bit of “Who is this old white man and why is he here? He knows nothing of our reality, has nothing to say” (which would have been entirely justified). And who is this woman singing this white shit?"—I felt that they not only listened to us both but also, eventually, received the word. They were locked onto me from the time I read Habakkuk. It was pretty profound.

Back up: several people stood to speak. One young man in particular remains fresh to my memory. He said basically (and with this vocabulary), “We got to stop this shit.” He noted that Mario was the third of their friends they have buried this year. That this is their world and they have to change it. Something like that. That it can’t go on.

I “met” the two-month old who was the fourth of his four children (three daughters and a boy). 

Throughout the service there was weeping and wailing and a person or two fell out. At the end, Mario’s mother (who works at HLUMC and is the reason I was there), lost it entirely. She had been stoic till then. People kissed the casket and stomped the ground as if running in place. Others took walks or sat down to bury their heads in their hands. There were un-embarrassed tears on the faces of many young men who, you know, have seen and experienced more than most of us can imagine.

One powerful picture and prayer from the service: A tall man, who said he knew Mario through the Northwest School of the Arts (I did not get the particulars of their connection and I did not know Mario when there, if he did)…anyway, he brought, I suppose, his young son to the service. The little boy was three, maybe four. Just a little guy in a blue dress shirt and a black bow tie—who held his dad’s leg, and kept looking up to watch him cry, while the father kept rubbing the boy’s shoulder, and head.

I wondered whether the father was crying just for Mario, or for himself, or for the fact that his son was born into a context where gun violence is expected and “normal.” I wondered if the father feared there was no escape for any of them—for any of them there. And I prayed, especially, for that little boy, and for Mario’s children—for whom there might not be.

I had been worried, early in the discussions regarding the service for this young man, whether I (or our sanctuary) would be in any kind of danger. Who knew but what the murder was drug or gang related. The CMPD assured us, no.  

Today, at Oaklawn, I felt like I was the safest person there. That the young men, especially, are the ones in terrible danger. And will remain so till God answers our complaint.  

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.


Friday, August 9, 2019

A Litany of Thanksgiving

Image result for cherI am thankful…so very thankful…and not least that it is this Friday and not last Friday. While I am sure there are other people who for their own reasons wish they could turn back time a few days or weeks or however long (Cher is their patron, uh, saint), I for one am resolutely grateful to be living now and not then.

In many ways. Would not want to go back to my childhood, which was “melodramatic, disorganized, and emotionally exhausting” (Brooks, 75). I certainly do not want to revisit Jr. High, or High School, where I was, in turn, bullied, bullied again, willfully humiliated by the first loves of my life, betrayed by bandmates and ridiculed by classmates and teachers. I flunked-out of two colleges—not really interested in going there. One let me back in and that was not too bad, and in fact, one of my professors there (Dr. Byrd) changed my life. I still talk to him now and then, and he recently had the same surgery I had, but that is as close as I want to get. Another professor (Dr. C____) was like Byrd’s antimatter.

I could go on, but won’t. Suffice it to say that through seminary, early work experiences, early church positions, trying to get published—not even to mention trying to date, get married, have kids, hold it all together—I was not very good at it and abidingly unhappy. I am sure I made most if not all the people around me miserable, as I myself was melodramatic, disorganized and emotionally exhausting.

GLAD to be where I am. Do not want to go back. And not even a week.

Last Friday about this time I got the good medicine, made by Glenmark Pharmaceuticals in Kishanpura village, on the Baddi Nalagarth Road, in the Solan, Himachal Pradesh District, India. I have thanked God for those (presumably) Hindu saints for their good and merciful works for me, a sick Christian. I am so much better and I am so thankful for the healing, release and relief that those good people via the doctors gave me.

And perhaps that is where it started: this weeks’ deep prayers of thanks. The last two nights I have spent long, focused seasons in prayers of thanksgiving; this, after several nights just remembering before God those who made my medicine (“Bless, O Lord, this ointment and the hands that prepared it”). And the doctors and pharmacologists who researched, developed and manufactured the elixir! Surprisingly, I even thanked God for Glenmark’s investors and the medical regulators for getting the stuff to market.
Image result for prayer emoji

Two nights ago, I began with the people in my church who had cooked for me this last month, offered to take me places, brought me groceries, offered to do laundry and take out my trash. Hawthorne Lane, as a congregation, is well-practiced in its compassion and kindness and I am but the latest sick/wounded pastor to have benefited from their care.

Soon, I was thinking about/praying for the nurses, techs, orderlies, janitors, food service workers and, of course, doctors and surgeons and PA’s who tended to me. And even—I am not kidding—the people who conceived, designed, manufactured, patented, sold all the machines, gauges, gizmos and monitors, the tubes, vacuums, hoses, bags, and needles (that one was hard!) that were part of the healing process.

It was one of those moment (and they come rarely for me) when I was overcome with overwhelming and very focused thanks for all of what secured me a successful surgery and recovery. And it did not stop there.
Image result for the Second MountainI have recently been reminded that “(by) one calculation the mind can take in eleven million bits of information in a second, of which the conscious mind is aware of forty” (The Second Mountain, 113). That factoid has informed my prayer life this week: for everything I know to pray thanks for, there are so many other things that have blessed and attended me of which I am completely unaware. I am oblivious to millions of unseen bits of care every second: behind every meal: planters, cultivators, harvesters, salespeople, shippers, receivers, preparers, servers. (I am reminded of Sideways, when the character played by Virginia Madsen said something to the effect that when she opens a bottle or drinks a glass of wine, she wonders about all the people that had a hand in it—the growers and pickers and such. She wonders if they are still alive. She thinks how grateful she is for them providing such a moment to her. I’m hip).

So, several nights (cumulative First Night): Thanks for my medicine-makers in India.

Second night: Thanks for my own congregation and their care, and all the other caregivers, seen and unseen, that blessed me these last weeks.

Third night, which was just last night: all my many “formal” teachers along the way. I called so many names: Barnett, Glenn, Morris, Greenwood, Rowell and Woods at Crieve Hall. Tatum, Doris, Johnson, Campbell, Mathis at MacMurray. No one at MBA (brrrr!). Williams, Stevens, Karnowsky at John Overton.  Drs. Byrd, Tullock, Helton and Mr. Awalt at Belmont. Drs. Stagg, Polhill, Blevins, Halbrook, Calloway, Tupper, Mueller, Tuck, Leonard, Shurden and Hinson at Southern. Drs. Wood, Angell and Talbert at Wake Forest. Drs. Hackett and Gerkin at Emory.

But again, I did not stop there. I thanked God for their teachers, and for the many who have taught me informally, who were congregants, colleagues, supervisors and supervisees. I thanked God for the authors of books that have blessed and tried to educate me: Baillie, Buechner, Heschel, Dillard, Lewis, Norris, Taylor, Winner, Haidt, Peterson, Benson, Brooks, Ware, Abba Anthony and Abba Joseph, Bonhoeffer, Burghardt, Lamott, Dykstra, Barth (a little; as much as I could absorb and understand). I thanked God for columnists and other writers: Parker, Gerson, Grizzard, Amend, Watterson, Shultz, Jenkins. And so many more that I could not remember or name.

I offered intercessions for counselors, like Larry and Marc, and editors, like Rachelle and Liz and Anne and Jeannie, Bishops Jones, Kammerer, McLesky, Goodpastor, Leeland. For friends like Doris, and Doris; for Paul and Ruth, Mr. Lovett, and others whose hospitality I have never deserved but always enjoyed.

I thanked God for Mr. Sanford, my third grade SS teacher at Radnor Baptist Church in Nashville, TN, who for all else I don’t remember, taught me the books of the Bible. I DO remember that about him.  

So many more I could name and did: my children, of course, my granddaughter and the child on the way, my wider family (including my two ex-wives) and others besides.  

Image result for liturgy of the hoursBut it is so odd.

My prayer life is usually not nearly so focused. I pray the Liturgy of the Hours, which I have on my phone, but those prayers are mostly scripture. These prayers were very different than that. And I wondered why I was prying them. Did I have a sense that my end is near and that I needed to be sure I had said thanks to God for each of these saints and the millions who were saints to them and here we go… to assure God (and myself) I was/am sufficiently aware and grateful? I don’t know.

But I would suggest it as an exercise for anyone: to take a full measure of your indebtedness, to name as many people as you can name, to be as specific as you can to thank God for everyone who has blessed and taught and helped you on your way.  

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Jonathan Swift would be proud

Have been thinking a LOT this last week and a half about Gulliver and the Lilliputians.

Like Gulliver, I made my voyage through deep and dangerous seas with great ease. What might have been a difficult passage from diagnosis to surgery was actually rather routine. And even the matters I was most scared about--the IV, my customary nausea, the cathether--passed quickly and uneventfully. Yes, the catheter was unkind, and I did have to drag it for two weeks, but I was able to negotiate even that inconvenience better than I might have anticipated. Good for me.

And when the doctor said, said again, and reiterated, "No cancer outside the prostate, no further treatments or protocols," I thought, truly (to use another metaphor), I had passed through the valley of the shadow of death and might make a recovery in record time. Only then... My little boat, the SS Recovery, ran aground on the archipelago called The Miseries. 

Somehow, perhaps with some of my post-surgery medicine, I managed to contract some of sort of skin irritation... quite a benign description for the yeast or fungus or whatever it was and the unremitting, well, misery it caused me for 11 days. As effectively as the Lilliputions tied down old Gulliver, I too was held captive, vexed in body, mind and spirit.

Two doctors, one dermatological PA, a steroid shot, two oral meds and later (see to the left), I was no better, and perhaps worse. Think: hamburger. My only recourse at one point last week was an ice pack, in hopes of numb myself enough to sleep. And to wake without claw marks. 

Attempts to see other dermatologists were futile. Two (including my PA) could not see me for another 7-10 days. I was on the brink...

Then, a providence. A church member brought me a meal and stated to visit. She said she had an appointment next morning with her dermatologist and would ask him to see me (I am thinking, no way: these guys are booked-up for weeks on account of giving botox shots).

For her sake, though, he saw me at 1 and prescribed the new medicine, which, he said, would give me pretty quick relief.

I went immediately to “my” Walgreens and, naturally, THEY DID NOT HAVE THE MEDICINE!

They promised to order it and have it next day, Friday. Only, when I called mid-afternoon (when my app showed the Rx as "still delayed," they told me it had not come in and it may be Monday before it arrived. I was livid, pitiful, desperate...told them that it was approaching a medical emergency. They got busy and found another store that did have it.

I had secured the prescription at 5 this afternoon, applied it by 5:15, to find that it burned, I mean. As it has with each subsequent application, though a bit less each time. And in a good way—if that makes sense. It seemed a kind of warm comfort, not least after the ice capades of the previous morning. I was able to sleep for the first time in a week.

Now, a couple of days later, I have definitely turned the corner--though as bad as the condition got, the doctor said and I believe it will take some time to get anywhere near completely well. 

Last night I had a long prayer meeting, thanking God for all the little things that contributed to my finally getting some relief. For my friend, who "happened" to be signed up that evening, and just before her own appointment. For the doctor, God bless him. And Jessica, his assistant--who was so kind and understanding. For the Walgreens that had the stuff (and mercy, I prayed, for those who one way or another broke their first promises). I prayed for the people in Kishanpura, India, who made the medicine: "Thank you, Lord, for the medicine and bless the hands that made it." I  thanked God for the scientists and pharmacologists who developed the medicine in the first place. And if all that sounds silly, it goes to show how despairing I was and how thankful I am.

Challenges remain, of course; but now I am on to the expected, typical challenges that come on the downside of this kind of surgery. The Lilliputions, as it were, have untied me and I can start the next leg of the voyage.   

Thanks be to God, and thank you for your continued prayers.

Monday, July 15, 2019

A Week Out, A Week Away

I’m a week-out from surgery, and a week-in to the kind of uncomfortable indignity that is part-and-parcel of this kind of surgery. Staples, a catheter… this time next Monday, God willing, I will have all of those implants out of me and I will be on the road to feeling more nearly normal.

I am not complaining. Things could not have gone much better than they have. Last week I was worried about 1) IV’s, 2) nausea, 3) discovery, and 4) the catheter.

So, by the numbers…

The nurse who did the IV left the back of my hand alone, thankfully, and found a good vein near my left wrist. It was not too bad a stick. The surgical team installed another in my other hand, which is scarred, but I was asleep. Both IV’s held all week, stayed open and did not have to be replaced. I was thrilled.

Various patches and drugs kept my stomach calm, so that I had no nausea at all—until after I got home, when the only thing on TV was “Christmas in July” on the Hallmark channel. Chemicals can only do so much against such toxins. Still, I had no problem while in the hospital (in the past, over the course of multiple surgeries, I have had my head in a bucket on account of anesthesia), so I am thankful.

The pathology report came back doubly early on Thursday morning: early in the day and early in the process. I did not expect to hear till sometime this week or later, nor did I expect to get the call from my doctor on the hospital phone. Now, if I had been awake, I might have been taken aback and worried: after all, it was my doctor’ early morning call, and unexpected, on the Monday after my Friday biopsy that told me I had cancer. That he called, early, and earlier, could have meant bad news. Quite the opposite, turns out. But I had to be sure… with my hearing the way it is, and the room phones the way they are, I was having trouble getting a clear “read” on what the doctor was saying. Fumbling with the volume control on the phone, getting my hearing aids adjusted, I finally heard him say, “clean lymph hones, clear margins, self-contained, you’re on cruise control.” I said, “Let me say that back to you. Is this what I heard?” He said it was. Great, good news. (Since that moment, which I have not properly toasted as of yet, I have been praying, humbly, for the many others who have heard other than good news. Seems only appropriate to join my prayers to theirs and to the Lord’s).  

              The catheter… well, that is what it is. And will be.

              Come next Monday, God willing, I will be free of these situational, uh, enhancements and able to drive again and begin the real road back.

              Meanwhile, Hawthorne Lane UMC has been so wonderfully gracious to me over these last weeks and months. So many pastors have gone through difficult diagnoses, procedures, recoveries and rehabs without any of the kind of support I have received. I have been so humbled by the outpouring of compassion and care.

              I hope more congregations realize that ministry and pastoral care is mutual. I hope more pastors are able to benefit from the blessing of receiving care. While it may be indeed be more blessed to give than to receive, I am here to prove that it is a real blessing to receive, too—which means others are enjoying the “more” blessing of giving.

Wonderful, God’s economy.

Getting Ready for Minneapolis!

REALLY LIVELY BIBLE STUDY TODAY!! On the future of the UMC! I was advocating for the Centrist Progressive position, and a Traditionalist too...