This has been a year of discovery for me. Discovery about myself, my vocation, my family, my character.
It has also been a year of great challenge, strain, and growth.
Some of what I’ve discovered:
- This was my first full year at St. Stephen’s.
- The rest of my family went to school, including my spouse.
- My Grandfather died. The tall, strong man of my childhood was ravaged by Parkinson’s. The generous Christian, the puckish storyteller was left mute in his last days. But my family’s commitment to loving him and each other; in respecting his dignity and each other’s; was the most powerful vision of love, compassion, and blessed intimacy I have ever known in my life. And I pray your family may know such generosity and devotion, too.
- We attended the Wild Goose Festival and we’re certainly returning in 2016.
- I realized that despite a lack of formal training, I love to teach.
- When I gave up on pursuing an MFA 15 years ago, I also gave up on writing stories. I have resisted the idea of using my life (and my children’s lives) as emotional filler for my preaching. All this resistance has revealed all the more how important telling stories actually is to me. Because I am as interested in the story as I am in the telling. I tell stories.
- I wrote a big series about rediscovering the foundation of church.
- I’ve always thought of myself as an optimist. But I often fall into the bad habit of complaining. And that brings me down. I know that my fits of negativity can make others more cynical and pessimistic, which is far from what I want. I am choosing instead to be me, the believer, the dreamer; not me the complainer.
It would be easy to see the challenge of 2015 and miss the parts that were quite easy. Or to look at all the evil and miss the good. I don’t. This year, on paper, was no different from any other in the last decade. But in my heart, I know it was different. Really different.
All this has led me to see such hope in 2016, such opportunity to stand against the ugliness and disaffection of our culture and its politics. To believe that we can be the ones who, in the midst of deep anxiety and total darkness, come with our candles or LED flashlights and say “nope.” This isn’t really how the story ends. A new beginning. Kind of like a new Star Wars movie.
The Best Posts of 2015
To finish off a big year, here are my best posts of 2015:
- Not the Sacraments, But the Sacramental
- The Next Big Thing for Christianity
- Literal revolutions : The flag, the killer, and a fluctuating view of how to literally “take America back”.
- The Church’s leadership problem and how we can fix it
- The sleeping giant of progressive Christianity
- Of darkness, confusion, and hope
- Casting the Second Stone
- This is the Shift
- How do other people hear our gospel message?
- Nicene Creed
- For Proclaiming the Gospel, Context is Everything
- King David’s Fathiness
- The one acceptable hypocrisy
- What if the church believed in eternal life?
- How to blame youth for injustice
The Best Preaching and Poetry of 2015
My best sermons and poems of of 2015:
- On the Other Side Of the Wall
- Bearing Christ
- Aylan and the Others
- The delicate disposition of the white southern man
- Our Pentecost
- The Storm
- A Poem for Freddie Gray, Baltimore, and all of us
- What is Wrong?
- Other People’s Clothes
I hope you have had an awesome year and I look forward to hearing about your hopes for 2016!