Posted tagged ‘Lent’

Baptist Pastor (Retired) Confessional

March 9, 2019

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                        March 9, 2019

                       

Last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday, that day where the sign of the cross marked up the forehead of a number of folk. It also marked the beginning of the Season of Lent, a journey that takes the Christ-follower to the cross of Christ. 

Many a Christ-follower give up something for Lent. My friend, Ron McKinney, gave up meat for Lent one time and overloaded his bean consumption. A wise person stayed upwind from him until Easter Sunday. I was confined in a small space with him one afternoon and my nasal hairs were pulverized!

Confession is something that happens often during Lent. People seem to be more willing to have “Come to Jesus” moments where they admit their shortcomings and temptations, kind of like Peter’s sobbing after he denied Jesus three times!

Since I retired from pastoring three years ago the focus of my confessions has changed somewhat. I no longer have to repent of thoughts of certain “thorny people” from my church being duct-taped to one of the sanctuary walls, or wanting words of correction to come to my mind to convince a couple of folk that “bitchiness” is not a spiritual gift.

My confessions are usually now uncovered from any churchiness, and more connected to typical daily life patterns.

For example, I love John Sanford novels, especially one of his main characters, Virgil Flowers. They are laced with Minnesota law enforcement humor…and a few “f-bombs!” One day this week I was reading my daily passage in the “One Year Bible” about Peter denying Jesus and then picked up the latest Sanford novel where a man vehemently is denying he killed someone…complete with profanity! I felt the Baptist guilt coming my way! I confess, but it’s due back at the library so I’ve got to finish it.

I confess that I’ve avoided the supermarket recently until after 8 P.M. so I can miss the Girl Scouts selling their cookies. The sale ends tomorrow so, beginning Monday, I can shop earlier. 

I confess that I love fried foods. After all, I was born in Kentucky, where the common cuisine understanding is “If you can eat it, we can fry it!” I’m specifically drawn towards fried fish, about the worst thing, health wise, you can eat, but ummm-ummm-ummm!

I confess that I’m prone to using the same facial tissue to blow my nose more than once…okay, more than twice! It’s disgusting, but I justify it by saying I’m being “cost conscious!”

I confess that I wasn’t chagrined by the fact that we cancelled Sunday morning worship last week due to the weather. I was almost giddy! I’m not sure what that says, but please do not feel that you need to analyze me…or judge me!

I confess that I’ve recently been using sermons that I preached 25 years ago. The theology hasn’t changed, but I’ve had to revise some of the illustrations and references like “visiting the Oldsmobile dealer, K-Mart, and the latest cassette tape I purchased.” 

I confess that I often dream of slam-dunking, being the author of a best-seller, and fried scallops! 

I confess that I had planned on giving up putting sugar in my coffee for Lent. I got through the first day…and then backslid to the sweetening! 

And finally, I confess that I so often take the blessings of God for granted, the grace of God as a given, and the love of Christ as an assumed right! I fall short in reaching my God-given potential and habitually forget that he walks closely by my side!

Fasting From Being Fast

February 23, 2015

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                         February 23, 2015

                                            

Some people would say that I don’t have to give up “being fast” for Lent. I’ve naturally migrated to that place of slowness. There’s some truth in that…okay, there’s a lot of truth in that. We used to call it “the painful truth.”

But in this season of Lent I’ve been trying to slow down in regards to other areas of my life. Basketball season is always the most hectic, chaotic time of the year for me as I coach two teams, officiate high school games when I’m available (which, my game assignor, this year informed me was not very often!), lead our church’s Buddy Basketball program, while beginning a new year as pastor of a church that is always challenging.

Going fast is a condition for me…kind of like dandruff! A few years ago I took two weeks off after Easter and on Day 14 I finally was slowing my pace.

So I’m intentionally trying to not be fast in the weeks leading up to Easter. How do you do that? I eat soup!

Say what?

I eat soup! It is hard to eat soup fast, especially tomato or chicken noodle. I can’t keep the noodles in the spoon if I try to eat them fast. Soup is a slow food for me…a reminder…to take my time.

I’m also pausing a few times each day to…do nothing…to just sit. I’ve been reading Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. One small detail hit me about Abraham Lincoln. He would often sit in a chair in front of the fireplace with his long legs crossed and ponder…think…for long periods of time.

Lord knows, Lincoln had more things to worry about than I do, but he still slowed his pace to just sit for a while.

“Sitting for a while” brings back pictures of days gone by back in Oil Springs, Kentucky, where my grandfather…Papaw Dewey Helton, would sit in the swing on the front porch in the evening and watch the cars go by. There were also a few cows in the pasture across the road to look at, but it was a slow pace…a time to sit and jaw jack, tell inflated stories, and respond with amazement at other fish tales.

Soup and sit. Two things to remind me to not be fast. You might call them “simmering moments.” A good stew always needs some time to simmer.

I realize that there are other people around me in hyper-mode, who want to speed me up. I was officiating one of our Buddy Basketball games for the youngest age group Kindergarten through 2nd Grade). They run up and down the court like excited puppies at play time. I don’t move much during those games. As I said to someone, “I don’t have to run after them, because any moment now they’ll be coming back in this direction.”

I’m seeking to stay…not rush after what to others seems urgent…not rush to judgment.

Let me tell you! It’s hard. There are certain decisions that need to be made quickly, but most are saturated with the urgency of personal agendas.

I’m letting things simmer…eating the chicken noodle soup of life…and just sitting for a while!