Pastor Note #55 — The Joy and Humility of Pastoral Ministry

  Last Fall, I passed my thirtieth anniversary in pastoral ministry.  At one of its meetings around that time, our presbytery recognized those of us who were marking anniversaries in multiples of five –tenth, fifteenth, twentieth, etc.  They started with the smaller anniversaries and worked up.  It took them a little while to get to … Continue reading

Pastor Note #44 — Coffee Mugs and Robust Coffee, Churches and the Powerful Presence of Jesus

There are several steady coffee mugs in my life.  In our kitchen cabinets at home, we have quite a stable of coffee mugs.  Coffee mugs seem to just accumulate over time.  Recently, we cleared some of them out because we were running out of room on the shelves.  I’m willing to drink coffee out of … Continue reading

Pastor Note #35 — Ministry in the Tangle of a Complicated, Broken World

“Gary, I thought maybe you should know that there’s someone passed out on the front steps of the church,” he said as he sat down with his bag lunch at the table in the fellowship hall.  We were gathering for our regular mid-week, lunch-time Bible study.  Folks were gathering around the table with their various … Continue reading

Prayer Note #26 — A Pastor’s Sunday Morning Prayer

Lord, my emotions are squirming around in me in a very uncomfortable way.  I know that that is caused by a wide range of pressures, stressors, foolish thoughts, genuine problems, and a real sense of overload, of having more things in my mind than I can keep track of.  Important matters are slipping through my … Continue reading

Prayer Note #25 — A Pastor’s Prayer for Sunday Morning Worship

Father, we gather today to worship you.  That is our identity not merely an action that we take.  We are the people who worship you, O blessed and singular Trinity.  Nurture that identity in us.  Enter our being as a people and as persons and by your Holy Spirit infuse that true identity deep within … Continue reading

Pastor Note #26 — After His Dad Died

{The following post is the text of a letter I wrote to a man in his early fifties shortly after his father died.} Dear F., There is an ache and strangeness that comes when our parents die.   I don’t think it really matters a lot how old we or they are when that happens. I … Continue reading

Pastor Note #25 — Words of “Wisdom” from One of the Old Guys

Today, I received an e-mail from my seminary alma mater, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.  It was sent out to all of their alumni, inviting them to share some “words of wisdom” for those who will be graduating in about a month.  Since that sounded like a lot more fun than what I was supposed to be … Continue reading

Prayer Note #16 — A Pastor’s Sunday Morning Prayer

    Lord, I know less than usual what to expect during worship today.  Help me to trust you more than usual.  Pour your Spirit out in fullness on our worship.  Quiet the fears the people may have at your Spirit’s coming upon us, and instead open us to receive him in all power, grace, … Continue reading

Prayer Note #15 — A Pastor’s Prayer before Worship

I look to you, my Lord and my God.  I look to you.  The worship of your people and my part in it all hangs on the working of your Spirit.  Be gracious and patient with us, because we do come here full of sin and self-centeredness.  We are idolatrous people, because much of our … Continue reading

Pastor Note #16 — “Sex With a Purpose”

  What is sex?  And what is it for?  And is your answer any of my business anyway? For all our modern western  society’s fixation on sexuality, I don’t see any evidence that we are any less confused about it than our great grandparents.  So many books are being published on how to deal with … Continue reading