Warm Weather & Raised Spirits

As I feel the longer days, the warmer weather, and the abundant life of birds flying and people walking their dogs I can’t help but feel…lighter, happier.  Even in the midst of miscarriage, Carrie and I were able to go camping one evening in mid-May and have been taking the dog on very enjoyable, long walks.  Although we found ourselves in the midst of a struggle, the season lightened our load, I think.
I suspect that it wasn’t just the weather.  It was also activity.  This is confirmed by the CDC, which reports:
…Regular physical activity can help keep your thinking, learning, and judgment skills sharp as you age. It can also reduce your risk of depression and may help you sleep better. Research has shown that doing aerobic or a mix of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities 3 to 5 times a week for 30 to 60 minutes can give you these mental health benefits….
When I’m feeling upset, depressed, or just a little bored or sad, my body tricks me.  My body ‘tells me’ that I want to sit in front of the tv or eat my feelings or mope about, but what my body wants will just make my mood worse.  I have found that if I get up off the couch and take a walk, even the shortest little walk around the block, my mood will improve and I will feel mentally, physically, and spiritually better than I did before.
My hope for all the people of this church is that we would take advantage of the beautiful weather, but not just watch it through the window.  Let’s find safe and age-appropriate avenues for holistically strengthening our health with a little bit of activity.
blessings,









*This blog has been reprinted from the Normal First United Methodist Church’s June Newsletter.

Confused about Race.
I grew up in a small town which was very insulated.  It was a predominately white town in a predominately white county.  Actually, not just predominately…overwhelmingly: the county is currently a little over 97% white and I’m guessing that figure is down from when I lived there.  I am proud to say that my parents, in that environment, tried to instill tolerance for people unlike me.  In the process of attempting to instill tolerance, I heard statements like, “There is no difference between us and black people.”

When I arrived in Carbondale at Southern Illinois University I was confronted by  evidence that proved those statements fallacious.  For instance, the suitemates assigned to share a bathroom with me and my roommate were big, black guys from the South side of Chicago who sold drugs out of their room.  These people were not the same as me and they were reinforcing every stereotype that my parents had discounted.

During that first year of college I began to experience race in a different way.  It was uncomfortable and troubling.  At times, it seemed, the things I had been taught in childhood were lies told out of ignorance.  Fortunately, these uncomfortable new truths were not the only thing forming me.

During the course of that first year, and all of my college career, actually, I also met black folk and people of many other ethnicities/cultures who were different in good exceptional ways.  I became close friends with a strong black woman who was a single mother who had come back to school to work on her PhD.  Not only was she caring for her own daughter, but she had taken in her infant nephew who did not have a stable home.  She was a hard-worker, she was dedicated to her family, she was incredibly smart and she was compassionate: I could understand those things. Another friendship that developed over time was a man, about my age, who is also, now, a pastor in the United Methodist Church.  But, unlike me, he was black, from the South, from an urban area, and had sweet dreadlocks.  He was so much unlike me in several ways, yet when together we could stay up half the night, with a group of friends, talking about culture, politics, church, and theology.

These relationships were teaching me that I could experience, and, even, celebrate cultural differences and find meaningful commonalities.  It isn’t about being the same or different, it is about growing in relationship and celebrating who we are and how we are in relationship with other people.

blessings,
Two Words.


Meet Gene Larson!


Gene Larson is a lay person and the Chairperson of the Worship Committee at First United Methodist Church in Normal, IL.  I have found him to be a very capable in engaging both theology and Bible.  He graduated from Kansas State University (Manhattan, KS) and found his way to the Bloomington-Normal area where we worked for State Farm.  My first meeting of Gene was with his dogs.  He is a dog lover and is as dedicated to his canines as they are to him!

I welcome Gene back to my blog and invite you to read another perspective on Resurrection and New Life.


Mark 16:1-8
When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

The Gospel of Mark contains my favorite Easter story.  Why, you may wonder?  Simply put it contains two words that I relate to.  Before I tell what they are, it is helpful to understand just what Mark’s gospel is.  Most Bible scholars believe that it is, if not the actual dictation of the apostle Peter, it is very closely based on his testimony.  It is brief, it gets right to the point.  It is not flowery or verbose.  Simply, it reads like something written very quickly, with a deadline; just the facts; just the salient points.  


I have always liked Peter.  We’re a lot alike.  We’re both impetuous, often acting without enough thought.  We’re often in trouble with those we’d rather please than offend.  But, Peter’s heart, hopefully mine also, is in the right place most of the time.  


On the first Easter morning, I’d bet that Peter was more beside himself with more than grief, he blaming himself for failing Jesus in His hour of need.  He’d tried to do something in the garden, but Jesus had stopped him.  Now he shudders to think of what he did in the courtyard outside the house where Jesus’ captors had taken him.  It was a tough time for him and I’m convinced that he was planning how to best leave the disciples and slink away.  Jesus was gone and there was no way to make meaningful amends to Him.  


Then, those two words lifted Peter out of the hell he had created for himself.  The angel outside the tomb said to Mary, “…go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.”


The words, “…and Peter” said so much to him that he knew he was still part of the grand plan.  He was forgiven the impetuousness, the failures, and the cowardice which he had convicted himself of.  Well, I suffer from those same faults as Peter and many more to boot.  If Jesus can invite Peter to Galilee, I have faith that he can invite me too.  There is still much to learn and Jesus wasn’t easy on Peter on the lakeshore.  I don’t expect him to be easy on me either.  Jesus asked Peter three times (once for each denial?) if he loved him.  And, his threefold instruction to Peter after each question was the same—take care of the flock.  


We are the hands, feet, voices, and hearts of God on earth right now.  Jesus empowers us by his resurrection to be followers of his teachings and doers of his Father’s will.  Jesus said to Mary, “…and Peter.”  The power of the resurrection is released to each of us when we realize Jesus says, “…and [our name] to each and every one of us.  

Where Have All The Students Gone?

Listen to this song with Spotify
or download on iTunes

This song has been in my head most of the afternoon.  Not sure why this song popped in my head on this day…but, then, as I looked out my office window I began to think about the emptiness of our campus.  With classes out and students on break, it is eerily quiet in the student center, on the quad and even around town.

I have occasionally heard ‘townies’ (as we used to call them when I was in school and I guess that includes me, now) complain about the students.  I have experienced some of those frustrations, too, for sure.  There were times during move-in and move-out weekends that I sighed with disgust as I navigated traffic.  My wife and I, while living in Pontiac, once made the mistake of going to Station 220 on a parent’s weekend and found ourselves crammed into a noisy dining room.  And, yes, I have felt disdain when I find nowhere to park or students walking on a street or through a parking lot in a way that leaves it impassable.

Yet, the experience of being on campus is predominately a good experience, for me.  Walking across the quad takes me back to my own days of going to class (or not going, as the case might have been).  When I go to lunch at the Bone Student Center and see the students and feel the energy of the place, it energizes me.  When I meet with students over in the Campus Café at Heartland I am amazed by the depth of community that exists there.  Most importantly, being on these campuses makes me feel younger than I really am.

I suspect that having a major University and Community College has had a profound affect on this community in ways we will never even know.  I think, though, it keeps us young and vital (and thinking) in ways we wouldn’t be otherwise.  First United Methodist Church, I am very sure, is affected.  Perhaps we are affected, because of our proximity, even more than most of the surrounding community.   For this pastor, I am most impressed by the possibilities that exist here on campus in communications, programs, and worship: for which most United Methodist Churches would be envious.

I am thrilled to live in Normal, to be in a community with Heartland, Illinois State, and nearby to Illinois Wesleyan (in Bloomington).  I think that the students and faculty (and wider community) have enriched me already and I look forward to the ministry to come!  So, today, as I look outside my window and listen to a Peter, Paul and Mary song playing on a loop in my head,  I wonder with longing, “where have all the students gone?”

blessings,

The Eastern Gate

Meet Gene Larson!


Gene Larson is a lay person and the Chairperson of the Worship Committee at First United Methodist Church in Normal, IL.  I have found him to be a very capable in engaging both theology and Bible.  He graduated from Kansas State University (Manhattan, KS) and found his way to the Bloomington-Normal area where we worked for State Farm.  My first meeting of Gene was with his dogs.  He is a dog lover and is as dedicated to his canines as they are to him!

Today I welcome Gene to my blog and invite you to read his perspective on Resurrection and New Life.

One of my re-discovered musical groups is the Statler Brothers.  I have always enjoyed country music, at least the form it took 30 and more years ago.  As country music changed, I moved away from it and lost touch with some of the great artists that contributed much to  my enjoyment of it.  The quartet that I enjoyed most had its roots in gospel music and throughout their long career always included some of it in their concerts and shows.  Recently, I was searching iTunes for some new music and ran across a gospel compilation of the Statlers.  One of the songs included was entirely new to me—“The Eastern Gate.”  


This song is referring to a gate on the eastern side of the wall around the old city of Jerusalem.  It is the gate that is closest to the Mount of Olives and it quite likely the one most frequented by Jesus on his comings and goings to the city.  It is almost certainly the gate He used on Maundy Thursday to visit the mountain garden to pray after the Last Supper.  It is very likely the one through which the captured Savior was returned to face the ultimate persecution, prosecution, and execution.  


If you are not familiar with the gospel song, its message conveyed in several verses and repeated chorus is that Jesus will meet us “Just inside the Eastern Gate over there.”  It is an up-tempo piece, at least in the Statler’s rendition of it.  Other gospel artists tend to be less so.  Once you hear it, if Southern Gospel music is to your liking, it is a tune and lyric that is hard to put out of your mind.  As I’ve listened to it numerous times over the last few months, I’ve come to understand what its message might hold for me and, perhaps, for you. .  

The Eastern Gate is a song that at first blush seems to dwell, as much of the related music also does, on our individual deaths and the condition of our souls at the time.  Perhaps one of the reasons the genre’s following is limited is because so much of the music seems to dwell on this singular and personal topic.  The songs we like to sing are more uplifting than the rather somber idea that ultimately we will die and whether or not we will meet the test of the Judge who sits inside the gate.  


The insight for me into this song and others is that it is not just about the end of our human lives, but about the process we go through as we live each day of our lives.  In twelve-step parlance, life that is lived in fear of tomorrow or haunted by the past is far less likely to make it successfully through this day, today.  So my contention is that The Eastern Gate is not one to be avoided or circumvented as we go through life.  Rather it is a place, a process that will lead us to answers about ourselves that will be important to understanding what we need to do to wear the mantle of a disciple.  


Let’s be honest, we are less likely to look closely at what we’re doing with our lives if the only ones we’re trying to please is ourselves.  If however, the person we will meet “…in the morning, over there,” is a wise counselor and friend who can help us understand what the better part might be for us to pursue.  When Jesus said to Martha, “Don’t worry about Mary, she has chosen the better part,” He was telling her that life is more than being a perfect hostess, the best cook, the one with the cleanest house.  He was telling her that choosing to love and care for another is more important than the clothes on our back or the possessions we take so much pride in accumulating.  

The process of self-examination is not easy and most likely is not something we can pull off by ourselves.  We need the independent and yet compassionate advice of someone who cares for us and wants us to succeed even more than we to do.  That presence in our lives is interested not in our stuff but our souls.  That helper, guide, and friend is looking out for us for our sake not for what they can get out of it.  We, on the other hand, tend to look out for “…numero uno” and that is where the problems start.  

When the Ottoman Turks controlled Jerusalem they sealed the gate to prevent the return of the Messiah.  Jewish tradition has it that the Messiah will return to the city and restore the temple via the Eastern Gate.  How like the Turks we are.  We seal off the advice and counsel of those who have our best interests at heart by refusing to look at our lives from any other perspective than our own and by worrying constantly about avoiding the inevitable.  There is nothing we can do about the inevitable.  What will happen will happen and it is up to us to prepare the way as best we can.   That may sound quite final and even judgmental, but I think it is the basis of faith.  Living life for the best result today is what will do the most for us in preparing for any eventuality.  My, our, ultimate salvation is by the grace of God, not the by the works of our hands, feet or money.  The result of life is not what we attain or accumulate.  It is what kind of memories we leave with those whose lives we have touched.

As long as there are free people anywhere on this planet or in this universe, names like Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, King, Jr. and others will never be forgotten.  The memories of what they did and how they sacrificed to make the world a better place for others is the basis for immortality that cannot be refuted.  Even a person who has no religious bent at all can name for you the persons in their past that has given them strength to get up each day and go on to achieve whatever they could to make the day worth living.  It is without doubt the Way on which we can build a legacy that will carry us into whatever form immortality may take for us.  To be sure, there are others whose presence in this world will also be remembered, because forgetting the atrocities they perpetrated is to allow them to fall into places from which those lessons from the past cannot be resurrected.  

Let’s go inside “The Eastern Gate” and see what the words of this song might say to each of us.  

“I will meet you in the morning.  Just inside the Eastern Gate.
 Then be ready, faithful pilgrim,
 Lest with you it be too late.
Refrain: I will meet you, I will meet you, Just inside the Eastern Gate over there.
 I will meet you, I will meet you, I will meet you in the morning over there.
If you hasten off to glory,
Linger near the Eastern Gate,
 For I’m coming in the morning;
So you’ll not have long to wait. [Refrain]
Keep your lamps all trimmed and burning;
For the Bridegroom watch and wait.
 He’ll be with us at the meeting.  Just inside the Eastern Gate. [Refrain}
O the joys of that glad meeting
 With the saints who for us wait!
 What a blessèd, happy meeting
Just inside the Eastern Gate! [Refrain]”
These verses lead us from where we would take ourselves to where our God, our Higher Power wants us to be.  The urgency of not putting off our faith journey is where we start.  The reality of the uncertainty of this life is underscored and the request is for us to not linger, but for our helper and guide to be just inside the gate when we get there.  The allusion to a parable of Jesus concerning the preparations of the wedding party for the main participants is reinforced.  And, finally, the joy of our welcome to the immortality of our friends and family who shaped, led, admonished, and cheered us to victory over the world.  A world that would just as soon have torn us to bits and scattered our remains so as to put whatever good we possessed in a place where our lives could be of no use to anyone else.

That is not what the God I put my trust in is going to do with my life.  He waits for me to come to Him for that advice and counsel that will turn me from who I am to who I can be.  And, the people who will benefit from the change wrought by God in me are those people who I fed, clothed, visited, healed, and loved in the same way I have been treated by the power that has sustained and will never forsake me.  Jesus came to save the world, not to condemn it. He has no need to condemn anyone, we are perfectly capable of doing that to ourselves.  

The Eastern Gate beckons and calls to each of us to pass through and converse with the love that will never let us go.  

Amen.
Resurrection & New Life: The Waiting Game

Meet Rev. Cynthia Wilson

Rev. Cynthia Wilson is the Dean of Students at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. The Rev.Wilson is a native of New Orleans, LA. She is an Ordained Deacon in The United Methodist Church, a graduate of Dillard University and Southern Methodist University Perkins School of Theology and studied Liturgical Studies at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.  She is a sought-after worship leader, gammy-nominated musician, and preacher and I am honored (and humbled) to have her share with us, here on my blog this Easter season!






The Waiting Game
In the workplace, from Monday through Thursday, most employees anticipate the weekend. Then finally, TGIF!! Thank God it’s Friday!! Yet, for Jesus’ followers, Friday brought with it a sense of utter dismay, rejection, abandonment and hopelessness. Jesus had promised to be with them always. Later, he would announce his departure…but had given no indication that he would be murdered… lynched! So what was so “Good” about this Friday?  And then there was Saturday! How would they get through this in-between day? Would Sunday EVER come?
According to John’s gospel (14:18), Jesus had already promised to send help in his absence; a Comforter/ Mediator, the Paraclete. However, after his departure, the disciples were to do one thing and one thing only: WAIT! Have you ever been put on hold? How do you respond when asked to hang on, holdup, take pause, be patient? It is a grueling period of time; a delay when one is expected to be on the lookout for something or someone to arrive. The disciples are instructed to wait for the Promise. What was this promise? “John was baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”(Acts 1:4)
In retrospect, we know that from Crucifixion Friday to Resurrection Sunday, the disciples stood on the threshold of a new harvest. Yet, they still had to play the waiting game. It would be 50 days after Jesus was killed at the hands of the so-called powerful elite that his followers would truly recognize how good Friday had really been, and how Saturday had actually served as a bridge to a whole new dispensation. However, THIS time there would not only be the Feast of Firstfruits: Passover. Additionally,the Promise would yield a harvest providing power for those whom Jesus had called to help establish the Christian Church. This power would help produce the ultimate crop! In conjunction with the Feast of Passover, the Feast of Pentecost would call for a new table where “creators of justice and joy” could sit together irrespective of culture, creed, race, gender, economic status, doctrine, creed, pedigree, or political persuasion. This power would radically transform the world.
The disciples finally discovered how absence and presence are intricately woven together in God’s kin-dom. It is in the waiting game that God’s conspicuous absence efficaciously reveals God’s Divine Presence in our lives.
Let’s call an eyewitness to testify: “….we also have the Firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. For we are saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Rom. 8:23b-25
I don’t mind waiting……how about you?
…………to be continued!
Immigration and Private Detention Centers


I will never forget standing in Nogales, Mexico watching Wackenhut busses. Tired, hurting, hungry men women and children would make their way- sometimes needing the assistance of a friend, down off the bus, across a bridge, international boarder, and finally to the No More Deaths Aid station where I worked. I would brace myself so that I would be ready (but how could anyone ever be ready), to offer them soup, water, first aide, to hear their stories, and document the abuses that they had survived.
The migrants would often arrive at our aid station in terrible shape. We met people with raging infections, in serious dehydration, with broken bones, in diabetic shock and having heart attacks; none of whom had received medical attention while in custody. They would tell us of the days they spent in the desert, and then even more days in custody often with no food or water. Moving from my sheltered suburban upbringing to the border I was not prepared to hear these stories of people who had sometimes spent 3 days in custody and yet received no food, water or medical attention. Men bore the bruises of physical force abuse, women told of sexual harassment and assault, children cried as they looked for their families from which they were separated. Sometimes this happened in the desert, at the hands of smugglers or the elements. Often, this happened in custody. 

We listened. We bandaged. We documented all of this, but that documentation often seemed pointless. When not at the border, I would spend days logging these handwritten documentation forms into our data base. There were thousands- an unending avalanche of abuse. We would try to follow up, but who was going to bring complaints? The migrants who survived the abuse had too much at stake and were too disenfranchised. When we did file complaints it was often difficult to know against whom they should be filled as the migrants were disoriented. After days in the desert, when taken into custody they entered a chain of confusion. Sometimes they would first be stopped by vigilantes, arrested by Border Patrol and handed over to Wackenhut. They could be moved through multiple detention centers, kept up all night. At whose hands then did this abuse occur and where? We didn’t know. What did quickly become evident was that with abuse as pervasive as we saw, there was not one or two individuals to blame. It was clear that what we were facing was a culture in which such behavior was commonplace and accepted. 


When we privatize prisons, detention centers and transport; and when we further and further convolute the chain of custody we also make accountability more and more difficult. The year I spent on the border working with No More Deaths as a Young Adult Volunteer with the Presbyterian Church (USA) taught me many things. I learned about myself, about the border and about God. It was also that year on the border that shaped my understanding of the nature of evil more than anything in my life ever has, for it was that year that I so starkly looked into the face of evil.
I had grown up believing that we were called to do good and avoid evil. These choices I thought were simple, and clear cut. I was wrong. Even in the process of doing good we participate in evil. The work I was doing with No More Deaths was good work. We were living out Christ’s teachings in Matthew 25. We were however also trapped in a system of evil and exploitation. We were observers to the abuses that occurred in custody, we were used by the smugglers as we bandaged people only so they could cross again with the smugglers who circled the aid station like vultures. We were aware that we were caught up in this web of sinfulness and exploitation. We were also aware that we were called to be present in the midst of such evil. So we prayed, and we had discussions and we worked with God to discern the best ways to navigate that precarious call. And, we held each other accountable. 
The world is not an easy place. The border and our current immigration system are broken. That brokenness causes immense damage to creation, the Kingdom and thousands of God’s Children. We are called to fix that broken system, but that will take years if not decades. We can all disagree on what a fix to that system might look like. In the mean time, however, we can seek to minimize the pain that that broken system causes. One way to do that is to name the pain so that we may all be accountable to the ways we participate.
Through privatization, we incentivize participation in the broken system. We increase the number of people who profit from the victimization of increasingly vulnerable people. In so doing we feed and strengthen evil. We also decrease levels of accountability. The longer privatization of prisons, detention centers and transport continues the more ingrained the culture of abuse becomes. In 2006-07, when I was working in Tucson we saw the beginnings of this privatization and the worsening of abuses as time went on.
When Wackenhut began transporting migrants, we would be allowed to board the busses and provide food, water and first aide. As time went on, cooperation decreased. Secrecy increased, we were no longer allowed on buses. Officers refused to speak to us and would not accept our aid kits. Treatment worsened. 
When I sit at home in Pontiac, IL this issue of the privatization of detention centers seems small and remote. It doesn’t seem as though this affects me, or could even effect that many people. But we try not to see the numbers. During my year in Tucson, our Nogales Aide Station served an average of 1000 people a day all fresh off the buses. That’s in one small border town. This issue affects thousands of people every day. This issue causes increased suffering and pain to thousands of God’s Children. 

But the migrants aren’t the only ones affected. I pray for them, I get the most upset because their suffering is the clearest to me. We also need to pray for those private prison guards. As they are assimilated into this culture of abuse and dehumanization they too are effected. They too are dehumanized and victimized for the perpetuation of such treatment strips away at them as well. 
That’s the thing about evil. We act in sinful ways, believing that we are in control. Soon, the monster we have created is chasing us perpetually across the globe and we find that we know longer can control the monster we have created. It now controls us instead. 


Looking Inward.
Yes, this is my MRI from two months ago and that is my tumor.
We still don’t have a proper name for it.

In just a few hours (at noon) I will be undergoing a special MRI.  The doctors are going to be placing small sensors all over my head and doing a scan that will let them see what they are doing during the surgery.  If you’ve ever seen Dr. Shepherd on Grey’s Anatomy doing a TV version of brain surgery, I imagine it will be a lot like that: without all the distractions, sex and death.  This MRI will be loaded into their equipment on Monday morning and they will be able to see what they are doing inside of my head.

What we were not aware of, until Friday, is that these sensors are kind of like green lifesavers.  That’s not the good part.  Wait for it.  They stick them on my head before the MRI at noon on Sunday and I have to keep them on until (and throughout) the surgery.  Okay, I know that in the grand scheme of things that doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but we planned a big dinner out with some of our family Sunday night.  You know, a last nice meal before the surgery.  Now it appears I’ll be going to a nice restaurant in Saint Louis looking like some sort of Star Trek alien.

Well, at least I won’t actually see anyone that I know.  That’s the upside.  Oh- and it’s the Super Bowl, so we’re likely to be alone in the restaurant, so no one may see me anyway!

On a related note I learned something else recently.  One of my mother-in-law, June Berry’s, friends had a brain surgery and had a stressful experience as she was coming out of anesthesia. As she woke up she found that she was being put into an MRI.  You can imagine that it was all very disorienting for her!  It was a very stressful experience and June’s friend wanted me to be warned about it, especially because it was a similar surgery with my same surgeon at the same hospital.  I have good news.  Well, they do it differently now.  This is the cool part:  They now have an MRI right in the operating room so when they are finished with the surgery and I’m still on the operating table (and still knocked out) they will do an MRI right there and then to make sure there is no swelling, bleeding, and to make sure that no part of the tumor remains.

Isn’t it remarkable that we live in an age where my surgeon can scan my brain and see what he is doing as he operates?  Isn’t it remarkable that we live in a time when we can have MRI’s, which were on their own so rare even just two decades ago, right in the operating room?

Anyway, I just wanted to share a quick update. I hope that this note finds my friends and family doing well and I will be praying for all of you!  May God’s blessings be evident o you all on this Sunday morning!

I am especially praying for those of you at First United Methodist Church Pontiac who are working through the Fruitful Congregations material in my absence.  I pray for the Holy Spirit to be upon you all in this discernment process, to show you a way forward, and to build up your passion and excitement for ministry in our church, community and the world!!!

Blessings & Peace!

Scott