Showing posts from November, 2021

Prepare for Advent!

Mimi had a helper the other day as she decorated the Christmas tree. Eloise dropped in for a “working” lunch and to help get the season underway for her grandparents. She was so excited by all the ornaments and decorations in storage bins. Her excitement piqued when she saw so many personalized items. As you can see, she stretched to put her dad’s kindergarten picture ornament up as high as she could reach so that everyone could see it. This is a season to celebrate family and this granddaughter was relishing the opportunity to be decorating together. Our church has also been decorated and the worship space definitely has the feel of Christmas. We are anticipating larger crowds for this season. I believe that many are ready to get back into in-person worship after several months of caution because of the Pandemic and subsequent variants. We need to get back together for fellowship, study and inspiration. While online services have been a blessing to so many, there is still nothing to b

Give Thanks!

Last week, our church small group had its first face-to-face, in-person meeting since the beginning of the Pandemic. Meeting in a local seafood restaurant, ten of us sat around the table enjoying the meal and a lively discussion. It was a precious time of fellowship with old friends that we speak to weekly by way of an audio connection on Skype. However, we have added some new friends to the group since our beginning. This was the first time to actually see some of them in person! I am so thankful for this group of men and women who have weekly shared life with me the past two years! Cornucopia credit: The group spent some time this week just before the Thanksgiving holiday sharing what each of us are thankful for at this season. There were stories told, favorite hymns shared, a poem read along with other expressions of thanksgiving. We have much to fret over in this turbulent world of ours each day, but amazingly, we have so much more for which to be thankful! The Bible enc

The Delight of Giving!

Many years ago, I remember promoting a special offering in our church to raise funds to build a modest educational stand-alone building. This would provide additional space for our young adult Bible study department. During the campaign leading up to the project, we utilized a giving chart, printed on five by seven card stock, that included an appeal letter in the mailing. This is a common approach used by many churches for short and long-term fund raising. Image credit: One day while walking down the hallway at church, I was met by an exuberant custodian waving her campaign giving chart. She blurted out her gratitude, “Bro. Mike, thank you so much for telling us what to give!” I was taken aback by her compliment and quickly replied, “Minnie, I wasn’t trying to tell you how much to give. I was only giving you some ideas that if you gave this much over the next months that at the end of the year you would have given this sum total. I expect that you and Jimm

Reflections on Funerals

On July 1, 2018, I retired from active pastoral ministry. For 48 years, I was privileged to serve as a pastor or staff associate in eight different congregations in both Illinois and Texas. In these last years, I continue on occasion to officiate weddings and funerals for family and friends. I think part of the reason I am still called upon to serve in these ways is that I have considerable "history" under my "ministerial belt!" That is to say, I know the personal stories of family and friends. This enables me to bring a more intimate and familiar dimension to these kinds of services. Image credit: During the last few months, I have conducted three funerals. Each of these services have had similar elements in them that enable family and friends to honor their loved one, process their grief and loss, and bring a witness to others of the realities of God's comfort and His promise of an afterlife.  After all these years, I have had many experience

Kids Need Adventure!

Last week, during a family get-together, Uncle Phil came over from Charleston with a car load of camping gear that he passed along to Dan and Michelle's family. The gear is like new, but he no longer spends his nights in the great outdoors and wanted the next generation to benefit from the experiences he had previously enjoyed. I have observed that camping, hiking and connecting with nature have become even more popular since the Pandemic. Families and individuals have chosen to participate in the original "social distancing" adventures of God's good outdoors. Follow the leader! Our New Mexican family members, Reece and Melissa and "company," regularly take excursions north and west toward campsites near Santa Fe and also to their favorite weekend destination in Durango, Colorado! The kids love to hike and get a firsthand experience with nature! They have their sights set on getting an RV in the near future to make the adventures a little more parent-friendl