From Danny: Unsung Heroes- An Unnamed Woman

Unsung HeroesHave you ever felt like you didn’t belong?

I remember walking into the large classroom on the 3rd floor of Bishops Hall at the Candler School of Theology on my first day of seminary for my first class, OT 501. I spent most of those two hours wondering if I could cut it at Emory after being out of school for a few years. Could I make it in the church, did I have anything to offer the church that wasn’t already being offered? Continue reading “From Danny: Unsung Heroes- An Unnamed Woman”

Driving the Train Rather Than Jumping on the Bandwagon

GatheringThe church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The bandwagon to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse in South Carolina has filled up. I also understand that Wal-Mart is going to discontinue selling items that have the flag on them. Frankly, I can’t believe Wal-Mart still sold such items, that in itself seems unfathomable to me in this day and age.  Continue reading “Driving the Train Rather Than Jumping on the Bandwagon”

Lament and Challenge in Charleston

As a nation and as people of faith, we find ourselves in lament, remembering the Psalmists who shared laments many years ago. The tragic act of terror that took place in the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston shakes us to our core. From the location in a historic church to the racism exhibited by the suspect this tragedy touches on our worst fears as a nation. A house of worship and prayer is not safe, most especially from the sin of racism and our addiction to violence. We grieve for the nine families who have lost loved ones and for a faith community.

There are so many questions, many of which will not be answered. Why in the world does the Confederate battle flag still hang over the statehouse in South Carolina? Why did a father purchase a handgun for his 21 year old son who struggled with pill addiction and possessed an overtly racist worldview? How can we have so little concern and respect for human life and the dignity of all people?

People often ask where God is in moments of tragedy. I believe that God’s heart is the first to break. God’s lament is stronger than any lament we can offer and God’s tears run like a raging river compared to ours. God is also in the healing that will come to families and loved ones through the prayers, the hands, and the feet of God’s people who show care and concern. I also believe that God is in the hard questions that we must ask ourselves. Our collective failure to explore these difficult questions continues to lead us towards the systemic sins that ails our culture still today. We must look in the mirror as a collective and confront the ills of racism and our addiction to violence, most especially gun violence.

The Christian faith is rooted in the life of the most courageous human ever to have walked the earth, Jesus. Jesus spoke prophetic words and did prophetic deeds that challenged the status quo. I believe Jesus would have us confront the sins of racism and violence so that we as a culture might repent and collectively seek a better path.

Our faith is not a faith rooted in death, but rooted in life; the fullness of life for all people. We are people who believe strongly that it is the love of God that is the center of all things. Sisters and brothers may we find the courage to speak and live as people of hope and life so that all may experience God’s justice and God’s peace.

Finding Your Voice

Unsung HeroesIn the best picture winner The King’s Speech, we are invited into the story of King George VI and his unlikely rise to the throne. I say unlikely because he felt it was unlikely because of a speech impediment that he felt disqualified him from leadership of the United Kingdom. Then he met a speech therapist who help him to overcome the limitations he placed upon himself. In short, the king, with help from a friend, discovered his voice.  Continue reading “Finding Your Voice”

Things I Learned at CYF Conference 2015 (or Summer Camp 2015)

CYF 2015I had the great privilege of being the co-director at our camp for our older high school youth in Middle Georgia last week. In our tradition its called CYF Conference and I thought I would share some things I learned last week.

Youth plan moving worship services- I felt like we have moving worship services each and every night, planned primarily by the campers. Our Friday night worship, planned by the graduating seniors, was particularly moving.. Can you imagine people praying with one another for close to 40 minutes? It is powerful!

You can have a sandwich every day for lunch- You may expect some variety in your daily lunch choice at camp, however a sandwich is on the menu for each day. I am not sure I can look at a sandwich for a while

Youth ask the right questions about faith- Our youth have amazing courage in their willingness to ask the difficult questions. They are asking the questions that over time shapes a strong and convicted faith. They also make camp a safe space where people feel comfortable exploring and expanding their faith.

There are some amazing adults who work with our youth- I could not imagine a better group of counselors and co-director to work with than I did last week. Special shout out to our keynoter Rich Voelz who inspired and encouraged all of us last week. He can bring it! Our youth are fortunate to be ministered to by such a caring and talented group.

Everyone likes Cracker Barrel except me- Who knew? Everyone does. Like, everyone. Couldn’t find one person willing to join my side

Youth are accepting of others- I am inspired by and encouraged for the church by the accepting nature of our youth. They completely understand the grace thing (although they could extend it to themselves a little better) and are willing to forgive each other and be vulnerable with one another. When we talk about a “come as you are” community, this sets the bar for me.

Camp Christian has species of bugs no one has seen before– I am beginning to think Camp Christian is Jurassic Park for bugs. There are species of bugs that even native and lifelong Georgians have never seen before.

Youth are concerned about the global community- our youth are deeply concerned with issues facing us and deeply interested in what Jesus might say or do around some of these issues. They have a sense of shared responsibility for others and for creation. Justice is important to them.

You should not drink milk that expired on June 8– It probably shouldn’t be served either. Just sayin

Youth care deeply for one another– They understand the purposes of Christian community. They realize it takes a village and no person is an island unto themselves. They are not only willing to work together, but they are willing to care for one another in life-giving ways. They embody the concern God has for all of humanity

Camp Skit Night is still really funny– You want to see creativity mixed with humor mixed with talent, head to your local camp skit night. You never know what may happen.

Counselors still beat campers at volleyball- It’s the truth. Tailgate Tuesday was awesome topped off with the crafty veteran counselors winning the volleyball tournament. It was good to get back on the sand this year thanks to SSCC.

The church and the world are in great hands– Not in some distant future, but now. Sometimes we (me included) just need to listen to and follow our younger generations. They inspire me in my faith and to be more authentic to God’s call upon my life.

Unsung Heroes: Jairus

Unsung HeroesEven though it has been six years, I vividly remember walking into the retreat center for my first Bethany Fellows clergy retreat. Walking into a group of people who are some of our church’s best and brightest young clergy can be intimidating. I felt the self-inflicted need to have it all together so that people would know that I was a great pastor and brilliant preacher while being the perfect father and husband.  Continue reading “Unsung Heroes: Jairus”

We Have a Problem

I’m spending the week in the beloved community we know as church camp and we try to stay away from the news as much as possible while here, however several of us caught the video of a pool party in McKinney, Texas. The images of a police officer pointing a gun at a group of teenagers and then using excessive force on a 14-year-old female. By most accounts, there was ongoing tension between white adults and black teenagers and the situation came to a head. Continue reading “We Have a Problem”