Holy Week is a crazy time in the life of a church with extra worship services during the week and preparations for big Easter Sunday celebrations. I know that it is easy enough to get wrapped up in all of the “to-do’s” and to feel rushed during these crazy weeks. During Holy Week of this year, I had an interesting encounter that called me to slow down and to remember the gifts of the week.
On Maundy Thursday morning I officiated at a funeral. As we left the funeral home to head toward the cemetary we began creeping along at funeral procession pace. It wasn’t long before I was struck by something that I saw up ahead. There were cars, facing toward us, that had pulled over to the side of the road while the procession passed. I’ve done a number of funerals in the Chicago area over the last 5 years and this was the first time I remember actually seeing cars pull over out of respect for the deceased. I was touched and inspired; I told myself that I wanted to make sure I took the time to slow down and stop the next time I saw a funeral procession approaching.
On Good Friday morning I decided that I was going to run out to the hospital to visit someone before our worship service at noon. I knew that time was going to be tight, but that if I could get down to the hospital, spend some time with the person I was visiting, have a prayer, and head back, that I’d have plenty of time. I hopped in the car, pulled out of the parking lot, and then I saw it, a funeral procession coming toward me. I looked at the clock, knew that I’d be rushed for time, but I pulled over to the side of the road to let them pass nonetheless. As they passed I thought about my life, about how grateful I am for all of the blessings, about what a gift each and every day is.
And I made it to the hospital and back to the church in plenty of time for worship, thankful for the opportunity that I had that morning to pause and reflect upon life.
In May I’m going to be ordained.
In July I’m to start at a new church.
In November I’m going to be a dad. Yeah, 2008 is going to be a huge year!
Heather and I will be keeping everyone updated on the pregnancy at The Family Website. To follow the updates you can subscribe by using this feed – http://web.mac.com/theclingerfamily/Site/Blog/rss.xml
It was officially posted on the Kansas East website today. Starting July 1, I will be serving as an Associate Pastor for Congregational Care at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection (COR). I will be the primary pastor for one of the pastorates and work as a part of a team for pastoral care.
I served as an intern with the Middle School youth ministry at COR in the summer of 1999 and am excited to have the opportunity to work in this exciting ministry environment.
On this Easter morning, I am so grateful for the life that I’ve been given.
I am reminded daily of God’s goodness and grace.
I am challenged daily to live more and more as Christ would have me live.
I am inspired daily by the beauty of God’s creation and the wonderful people that surround me.
May you too, this Easter and always, be reminded of God’s presence, challenged by the risen Christ, and inspired by the Spirit.
We are hosting a family website on .mac. We registered the domain with domain.com and have it set to forward from .mac to our domain. This works out well, but I haven’t been able to figure out how to set up the RSS feed so that people can subscribe to the blog on our site. Anyone know how to do this?
I posted a little something on the family website tonight. Just click on the blog link at the top of the page to read up. I’ll be using this sight more and more in the coming weeks for updates regarding the transitions that are currently unfolding in our lives.
On my way to the hospital this morning I caught part of an interview that J.D. Crossan did with Terry Gross on Fresh Air in 2004. Does anyone know where I could find the interview in it’s entirety?
Nearly 15 months ago now I began changing the way I eat and live and exercise. I wrote here quite a bit about the early months, but haven’t much lately. Search weight or health or fitness if you want to read some of my story.
I am pleased to say that I feel like the changes in eating habits have stuck. I have my routines, I know what my body needs, and for the most part I do a good job providing it with the fuel it needs.
Through this particularly cold winter I have not worked out as much as I would have liked, but have still managed to stay in decent shape. Over the last couple of weeks I haven’t snacked much at all in the evening and have noticed the big difference that this makes. This morning the scale read 187, the lowest it has in all of these months (and probably since 8th grade or so). This reflects a weight loss of 69.6 pounds in these 15 months; more than 27% of the total body weight I started with. And over these months my heart health calculations have all improved too – total cholesterol down, HDL is up, LDL is down, Triglycerides down, blood pressure down.
According to the official BMI calculators I am no longer overweight, I am healthy or normal. A year and a half ago I never thought that this would be possible. I owe a great deal to the high protein/low carbohydrate lifestyle and the work of Dr. Atkins, Dr. Vernon, and others.
As the weather warms again I will get back into my routines and will run at least one 5K this summer/fall. I’m even contemplating upping my distance to a 10K. Only time will tell. If you have weight loss/fitness/health goals, they are possible! I know that if I can do it, anyone can.
I did a funeral this morning for a woman who recently died after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. As I sat and visited with the deceased’s family last evening one of her daughter’s said something to the effect of, “It is a terrible disease and, in the end, the Alzheimer’s won.”
This statement really hit me as I drove home last evening and as I prepared my remarks for this morning I found myself coming up with something along these lines:
But the Alzheimer’s continued to advance.
It is, as Jan named last night, a truly terrible disease. There is no way to argue with that. But Jan, there was something else that you said last night that I do disagree with. You made the comment that Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease, that there is nothing that can be done, and that though medications could be tweaked from time to time and treatments experimented with, that ultimately the Alzheimer’s won.
The Alzheimer’s did not win. The final word was not and will not be had by this terrible disease. We are in the midst of Holy Week, today is Maundy Thursday, tomorrow is Good Friday, admittedly these are days when it feels as if death is all there is, as if death has the final word. The good news though, is that we are Easter people, that God’s love trumps death, that new life is real. The Alzheimer’s did not win. God’s love, that was surrounding and filling Esther through her entire life and sustaining her in her most difficult days, continued to be with her through and beyond the Alzheimer’s. God’s love wins.
What do you think? Are these words helpful to address loss in the midst of this Holy Week? How would you have addressed this situation differently? What would you want/need to hear for comfort in a time like this family is experiencing?
During Lent this year I had the privilege of leading a group of fine folks at Ridge Church through a six week study of Marcus Borg’s The Heart of Christianity. It is a wonderful book that I have now read three times and thoroughly enjoyed each time.
One of the things that stuck with me the most these last couple of weeks is what Borg calls the three A’s of our American culture; things that we think will lead to our happiness: Appearance, Affluence, and Achievement. Borg asserts that the Christian life is, among other things, to be about providing true meaning that is found in relationship with God. As we seek to be transformed by God the pursuit of this true meaning takes the place of these three A’s.
It was a true blessing these last weeks to journey with a great group of people ranging in age from their 20′s to their 80′s. I was blessed to watch these folks wrestle with faith and life as we met and talked and prayed together these last weeks. Being a pastor is a great joy and teaching this class was a true blessing.