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Final goodbyes

It’s a precious gift to be there to say goodbye. But when the actual moment comes, it can be hard to know what to do or where to start. Maybe we are thrown by the beeping ICU screens. Or maybe we don’t know how to begin unwinding a conflict that has been years in the making. Sometimes there’s plenty of time to say all that is needed, and the words flow with ease. Many times, though, we struggle for words in those precious moments. As Stephen Jenkinson, who has written extensively about grief, observed: We often stumble into our dying as amateurs.

Golden calves lurk everywhere

Any recounting of the journey of the children of Israel must include the story of the golden calf. It’s an important story because it reminds us of our own ways of traveling the journeys God has set before us. We want to claim our place among God’s chosen, and yet we cannot do so without owning our own failures as followers of a leader. We, too, have often found our spiritual leaders “up on the mountain” awaiting a word from God and, like Moses’ followers, have tired of waiting for epiphany that will provide us the answers we desire. We know what happens next.

A duffer finds grace in golf

My tee shot gained altitude, a rare outcome and hopeful. But then it started to curve, bending more and more to the left. This was during the decade of my life when I played a little golf.

Spiritually stitching what is torn

In just the same way mending can repair a damaged garment, we can spiritually mend relationships that are in need of repair.

‘Ordinary Time’ is extra-ordinary

A recent cartoon in our Sunday newspaper depicted an exhausted mother, sprawled in a chair surrounded by typical birthday party chaos: torn wrapping paper, balloons, toys spread everywhere. Standing next to her, a little boy with a party hat tilted on his head asks, “When’s the next birthday?”

For everyone born, a place at the table

Who are you passing by today as you hurry to get to your next destination? Christina Cosby, mission specialist for the Middle East and Europe with Presbyterian World Mission, remembers a few months ago she was watching a TV documentary about the refugee crisis in Europe and a camp, Moria, better known by its nickname “Hell on Earth.”

Practicing forgiveness in a judgmental world

When I was a pastor in Montgomery, Alabama, I was in a meeting with several community leaders and civil rights advocates talking about justice issues in the city and the state. We were gathered in one of the Sunday school rooms of a small Baptist church. Early in the meeting, I looked up and noticed a small poster on the wall that read: “What if God released his tapes on you?”