Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dealing with Darkness

Alaskans may be a hardy people but we are vulnerable to the winter effects of darkness.  How much darkness in your part of Alaska depends of course on your latitude.  Folks in southeast Alaska may not have as much darkness as Fairbanks and parts north, but they have lots of cloudy days that block the sunlight. 

How do you deal with darkness?  Many of us schedule a trip south to a warm climate in January.  Any trip outside gives us something to anticipate.  That helps us deal with darkness in a positive way.  Some get outside to enjoy winter sports such as skiing, snowshoeing, ice climbing, sledding, etc.  There is a snow machine in my garage that I use to get out into the Alaska back country.  It helps me cope with the darkness.

Advent is a season of anticipation of the Light of Christ coming once again into the world and into our lives.  There are dark forces that conspire at times to make our lives difficult.  The invitation to each of us is to invite the Light of Christ into our lives again.  We must open the door of our hearts to this Light.  Darkness tempts us to keep it closed while we huddle in our depression and despair. 

Isn't interesting that the winter solstice comes near the same time as Christmas?  By the time we hold candles in church singing "Silent Night," we will witness a gain in sunlight with each new day. 

May the God of Light find its way into the dark places of our lives.

Grace Always,

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

21 Years!

Twenty one years ago tomorrow our family of six arrived in Soldotna, Alaska, to begin what we thought would be a four year adventure.  Little did we know!  Little did we know that we all would fall in love with Alaska, its people and the land.  Little did we know that we would love the people of Soldotna UMC so much that we stayed there nearly 8 years.  Little did we know that we would get the chance to serve St. John UMC for ten years.  And little did we know then that I would get the opportunity to continue to serve the Alaska Conference as superintendent.

We left Lima, Ohio in November of 1991 and drove west packed in our Mitsubishi Montero.  I had to install an extra seat in the back or else leave someone behind.  For the most part it was a grand adventure of a drive.  We discovered that Nebraska is one lengthy and flat state!  We bought tire chains before venturing into Wyoming, but never used them even in Alaska.  Thank goodness we had the foresight to choose motels with pools!  Our kids were 3, 4, 6, and 9.

Over the years we have tried to leave several times.  Many Alaskans have thoughts and conversations about moving south during the months of December, January, February, March, and even April.  But each time God whispered to us that we belonged here.  And we are so glad to still be here.  As an itinerant UM pastor I am grateful for the fact that all four of our children graduated from the same high school.  I am deeply grateful that Kim has been able to flourish in her vocation as a school nurse.  And I am still thankful to be serving in the Alaska Conference.

Our kids are now 24, 25, 27, and 30.  And I just became a old geezer of 60.  This Thanksgiving we will give thanks to God for the blessed lives we all have.  This Thanksgiving we will be reminded of how we can give to others.  This Thanksgiving we will reminisce about the amazing journey of life and faith God has given us in this great land of Alaska.

With Gratitude,

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Global Climate

Do you think the United Methodist Church at times fails to lead on some issues?  I am thinking of climate change around the world.  With all of the scientific data revealing to us that our planet is warming why are so many in a cloud of denial?  Or if denial is not the reason, perhaps inaction is a better term.

The recent super storm Sandy on the east coast is forcing some leaders to acknowledge the reality that something is going on.  We are experiencing too many severe weather events to ignore the fact that our climate is changing.  Perhaps this storm is the direct result of climate change but the data does not fully support such a direct causal effect.  As one scientist said, "I cannot say this storm was the direct result of global warming.  But global warming is increasing the odds of such extreme weather events."  (This is a loose quote as I saw this interview on TV.) 

God calls us to be stewards of creation.  Don't you think it is time we in the UMC ratchet up our rhetoric and alarm about the dire effects of global climate change?  Are our clergy planning a sermon on the topic?  Are we encouraging Christian education classes to study this phenomenon? 

United Methodists encourage the use of reason as one leg of the quadrilateral with scripture, tradition, and experience being the others.  It is a balanced way to seek God's will as we face the issues of human existence.  So let's use our minds, look at the objective data, and talk about the issues of creation care in our families and our churches!  Together let us seek the will of God and be out front as leaders.

Grace Always,

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day Advice from John Wesley

If you are on Facebook then you have likely seen this quote from John Wesley regarding how Methodists should view elections.  Isn't it amazing when we come across wisdom from the saints of the Church past speaking to the issues of today?

Please exercise your right to vote today!

Grace and peace,