A Fork Not Taken and the Calling to Plant
A year ago last night, I stared out at Table Rock Lake far more in turmoil than I can ever remember. Table Rock has always been a place I unwound from the stresses of life, but that night it felt like life’s prickliest bits were staring back at me from the lake. Dominating the briar were two dramatically different paths for ministry in front of me and all the ramifications for life surrounding them. For the first time I can remember, the place I have always said I would love to live at felt alien.
Those of you who are involved with FaithTree likely know that George Haynes, who had been very involved with FaithTree for much of its story as part of the worship team (percussion), a behind the scenes helper and simply a smiling presence, had been battling brain cancer since last fall. While the brain cancer had paralyzed George on his one side and forced him into a skilled care facility, he had continued to be active via online means and was largely physically OK. Sadly, despite his facility going into lockdown towards the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, George somehow contracted it and had spent the past few weeks in the hospital; the last few days his situation had grown worse and — it still feels hard to believe I am writing this — George went into the presence of his Savior this morning.
Jessica Lustig writing in the New York Times:
The few people walking past us on the sidewalk don’t know that we are visitors from the future. A vision, a premonition, a walking visitation. This will be them: Either T, in the mask, or — if they’re lucky — me, tending to him.
Chilling. Praying for her husband’s recovery and for the recovery of so many others.
I have heard a number of wise pastors rightly point out that we need to consider the implications of loving our neighbors as a guide to how we act in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. This quote gets to the point in the midst of a very interesting article:
Collins also spoke about civic responsibility and the importance of selflessness in the midst of a pandemic. “I think we as a nation have to get into a place of not just thinking about ourselves, but thinking about everybody else around us, and particularly the most vulnerable people—those who are older and those people with chronic diseases.”
Unlike ordinary times, loving our neighbors right now may very well involve not being present (physically, at least).
I found out today that my undergraduate advisor, Dr. George Hickenlooper died last week. Dr. Hickenlooper's English Comp I class was my first class on my first day as a college student. I still remember the assessment test he gave that first day and how the very professorial professor described in the reading comprehension portion of that test reminded me a bit of my new professor. He just was a professor. A good professor.
Thank you to everyone who has been praying for my dad over the last two days. My dad had a stroke yesterday morning and after being taken to the nearest hospital, it was determined he needed to be transferred to the regional stroke center for an angioplasty to remove a blockage in his carotid artery; there was also a significant amount of blood clotting in his brain that they removed at the same time. While the surgery was successful, the amount of damage caused by the blockage is still unclear.
The most recent CT scan showed some brain bleed, but the doctor and the nurses did not seem terribly worried about it at this point. He had a fever this morning, but that has cleared up. Right now, he remains largely paralyzed on his left side, but he was able to wiggle his foot, so that was quite encouraging. The biggest challenge that we can see immediately ahead is that he cannot swallow at the moment. The doctor seemed to be optimistic that this too would be temporary.
Your continued prayers are so very much appreciated. I am grateful for them and I know my mom is as well. Thank you.
Several of my friends have pointed out that today, 12/13/14, is the last day during this century in which we will have a date that is made up of sequential numbers. A date may be entirely arbitrary in the grand scheme of things, yet it makes me rather melancholy thinking that most of us will not see another day that has one of the interesting numerical patterns in it that have shown up throughout the year during the first thirteen years of the new millennium.
Enjoy 12/13/14 while it lasts!
I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
One hundred twenty-six years ago, the most influential theologian of the twentieth century was born. Yes, as one of my colleagues put it, May 10 is “Happy Barth-day.” In the spirit of celebrating, I wanted to share the following excerpt from Barth's preface to the English edition of der Romerbrief:
No one can, of course, bring out the meaning of a text (_auslegen_) without at the same time adding something to it (_einlegen_). Moreover, no interpreter is rid of the danger of in fact adding more than he extracts. I neither was nor am free from this danger. And yet I should be altogether misunderstood if my readers refuse to credit me with the honesty of, at any rate intending to ex-plain the text.
Frequently Barth has been denied that credit, unfortunately, and that has meant a lot of the good correctives Barth offers concerning the modern Church have been missed by many parts of that Church. Paying attention to Barth's own care for the meaning of Scripture would help assure many of Barth's “opponents” that there might be more to the Swiss theologian than they wish to admit.
If there is virtually no one on a major highway connecting St. Louis and St. Charles counties, even later in the evening, that probably means most folks have heard the bridge a few miles down the road is closed due to an accident and they are using alternate routes. Not that I am speaking from experience or anything…