Tuesday, October 28, 2008


On Sunday, I'm scheduled to give my inaugural sermon in our new church community. That's right, two days before the American election, a fellow who's spent more time in Canada than in the US over the last 30 years gets to offer a final word from the pulpit here in Chicago. I doubt that I'll be able to match the rhetoric ormedia interest of Jeremiah Wright. Nonetheless I have been looking forward to this opportunity, working hard in hopes that my "inaugural" would somehow be noteworthy.

The lectionary text is Joshua 3:7-17, Israel crossing the Jordan. God instructs Joshua to have the priests lead the way, carrying the Ark--the place of God's presence in their midst. The primary point seems pretty obvious: it's not about Joshua or his leadership, it's about God opening up the way before his people come what may (in this case a very flooded river).

One might think I'd have taken the lesson to heart, realized that my goal should be to stay in the background so that the Word could be foregrounded, etc. Alas and alack ... many of us, and certainly I, am a vain creature. Thinking ahead to the event I regularly found myself imagining my presence, voice, leadership in this "first exposure" event.

God thought otherwise.

Over the past few days, I've been struck down with a bad head cold/flu. I'm full of mucus. My nose drips incessantly. It's ugly and off-putting. Even if I wanted to, I shouldn't shake people's hands, embrace them in greeting, or get near them.

By Sunday, I hope to at least be able to preach without coughing too much. To accomplish that, I'll need to forego pulpit theatrics and passionate vocal outbursts and just voice the Word in more ordinary tones and speech. All I will be able to do is let my voice carry it out there.

As always, it's best if God does the rest.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Getting Out and Wading In

These are times of great turmoil.

At the time of this writing, world stock markets have plummeted 30%, a $700 billion dollar bail out plan--more money than I could hope to comprehend, seems a bit trivial for being too little too late, presidential candidates are "taking off the gloves" and getting nasty at one another, Al Quaida and other extremist groups are growing, gas prices have sagged a bit but are still way higher than we would have imagined even a couple years ago, pirates are seizing ships (not in the movies but out on the high seas again), hurricanes and floods have wiped out homes, towns, counties and whole regions, the almanac is predicting a very cold winter!

So what better time than now to get outta town!

For some, of course, the best way to get outta town is to escape to some sheltered resort, where the sun shines on white beaches and glistens across azure waters. In times like these, there's deals to be found for escapades like this. And for people who are in need of sabbath rest and renewal, gettaways like this just may be the right ticket about now. I've never done that kind of holi-days, though I hope to some day.

In the midst of the turmoil of these times, I'm just as excited about another reason to get outta town. This weekend, my wife and I head out for a quick trip to Austin. We probably won't stroll down 6th ave, take in the night life, or dine on the cliffs overlooking the scenic waterways. No, we're all hyped up about going to church.

On Sunday our granddaughter will be baptized. We--individually and communally--will claim the promises of God on her life, witnessing her descent into the turbulent waters of the deep and God's raising her to life everlasting. I don't know if the tradition of the local church is to dunk people or sprinkle them; and I don't really care. What I do care about is that this little girl, along with all the rest of us, will once again dare to wade into the waters of our world with all its chaos and destruction and death because we know that God's saving promise is sure and we will live with him forever.

This weekend, we're gonna get outta town, and with a group of God's people once again wade further and deeper into the promise of God amidst of the turbulence of our world. And I reckon that we'll return both exhausted and refreshed.