January 2011

Confessions of a Grieving Pastor

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I wish somehow I could go back across the years and take back the insensitive things I said to grieving members of the congregations I pastored. It took the death of our son, Denny, and my subsequent descent into the pit of despair to even begin to understand the many ways grief can affect a person. If I had known, before Denny's death, what I know now, I would have been much more effective in helping grieving people deal with the horrible pain they experience after the death of a loved one.

Here are some of the things I wish I had known:

Open Altar Communion

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God changes lives. Sometimes decisions for Christ seem superficial. Other times decisions make real differences in everyday living. What aspects of the worship environment might foster deeper decisions for Christ?

Consider opening the altar during Communion time.

A Weapon of Separation

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Haze Motes had an odd way of reading the Bible.

Haze is one of the most objectionable and puzzling characters an author ever created. He is the main character in Flannery O'Conner's Wise Blood (1952). Though truly bizarre, Haze saw himself as pure and the rest of the world as distorted. That's why O'Connor gave him the name Motes. He had motes in his eyes.

A Covenant of Kindness: Come, Let Us Reason Together

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The Church of the Nazarene offers a message of hope and reconciliation to a world deeply divided by political, theological, and cultural differences. Too often, however, our communication has reflected the divisions of our cultures rather than the unity we have in the Body of Christ.

We unite to urge those who claim the name of Christ to "put away ... all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:31-32, NRSV).