Category Archives: Discernment

A Season for Everything

Looking out on the Zambezi River in Zambia

The book of Ecclesiastes is perhaps best known for the writings of chapter 3:1-8 with its focus on “a season for everything.” After all, the Byrds made it a pop culture hit in 1965; I was five-years-old when Turn, Turn, Turn came over the airwaves.

But the verses that follow don’t fall off the tongue or memory so easily: 

I know that there’s nothing better for them but to enjoy themselves and do what’s good while they live. Moreover, this is the gift of God: that all people should eat, drink, and enjoy the results of their hard work. I know that whatever God does will last forever; it’s impossible to add to it or take away from it. God has done this so that people are reverent before [God]. Whatever happens has already happened, and whatever will happen has already happened before. And God looks after what is driven away. 

Ecclesiastes 3:12-15 (CEB)

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a post here. The past few months have tasked me with doing those things that need to be done, including those I do not want to leave “left undone.” This little-known verse from Ecclesiastes have taken on new meaning for me recently. You see, I am officially “retiring” on February 1, 2020. I’m not in denial; I’ve been planning and ready for this for some time now. But as the calendar changed to 2020, suddenly the reality hit. 

Continue reading A Season for Everything

Confirmands & Faith

This past Sunday, the confirmands in my home parish shared their “faith statements” to parents, mentors, and Vestry members. With twenty-three confirmands (all about to graduate from 8th grade), it was an interesting “listening session” to hear how those who have spent a year in preparing for confirmation shared what they believed – and what they did not believe. All appropriate for this developmentally “searching” phase of adolescent life. Lots of “I’m not sure of all this Bible stuff.” “I feel closest to God when …” “My favorite experience has been …” “Even though I am still questioning …”

Then this piece came across my screen this week. Tim Schenck, rector of St. John the Evangelist in Hingham, Massachusetts and known as the creator of Lent Madness, posed a question on Twitter that one of his parish high school confirmands asked him: What difference does it all make?

Continue reading Confirmands & Faith

About those mentors . . .

A confirmand and his mentor from Trinity Episcopal Church, Menlo Park, California

As noted in my previous post, I gave a workshop over the weekend on “Best Practices in Confirmation Ministry.” Several asked for my handout as well as my presentation slides, so they can be found here:

As I introduced the group to the Confirmation Collaborative. Basically, anyone who is gathered to discuss best practices of confirmation as well as share stories and struggles about making this catechetical time a catalyst for ongoing faith formation in our congregations. One of our discussions centered around having mentors for confirmands. What does this entail? Who does the choosing? What do mentors actually do?

Gail Sheehy, the author who did pioneering work about the various passages of life, recommends some tasks to consider during the fifth decade of life. She said that some of the most important work is in having and being a mentor. Will Willimon writes in Making Disciples: Mentor’s Guide:

Continue reading About those mentors . . .

A Holy Week Reflection

This Lent I have been following along with the journal, Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John; I have been struck by how the themes of John speak to what is going on in the world today. It hasn’t escaped me that this past weekend’s #MarchForOurLives occurred the day before Palm Sunday, the day that Jesus marched into Jerusalem to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of God and challenge the status quo. The words that have spoken to me in the readings (and nightly news) these past weeks have been: testify, witness, declare, action. Jesus is among us again as a high school student.

“We declare to you . . . what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.” ––1 John 1:1

I live a pretty privileged life. While I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth and put myself through college while working some pretty tough jobs, I haven’t had to march for my life. I have had my share of participating in demonstrations, holding signs, and chanting with the crowd––but then I’ve had the luxury of going back home to a roof over my head, food in my belly, and a family to surround me with love. Continue reading A Holy Week Reflection

Calling Teachers to Teach

We all have gifts, graces, and talents given to us by God. As Christians, we are called to serve God and use these gifts, graces, and talents. Congregations would not be able to offer its programs or opportunities for ministry without volunteers. Leadership is often “tasked” with finding volunteers to serve a variety of roles, including that of teacher and mentor for children and youth. It’s not about recruiting warm bodies, it as about an invitation into ministry. Here are some tips and pointers to invite others to share their gifts through the ministries of teaching and learning in your congregation. It is a call to ministry.

The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Matthew 9:37

vol·un·teern. one who chooses freely to do something vt. To offer or give of one’s own free will. vi. To offer to enter into service of one’s own free will.

Why do people volunteer?

  • They want to be needed
  • They want to help others and make a difference
  • They want to learn new skills or use skills they already have
  • They want to belong to a caring community and feel accepted as members
  • They seek self-esteem and affirmation
  • They want to grow in their faith and share their God-given gifts
  • They want to keep from being lonely
  • They want to support causes they believe in

When seeking to involve people in ministry: Continue reading Calling Teachers to Teach