Random Thoughts

I’m sitting here this morning listening to the music of The City Harmonic as I process my visit with a parishioner facing major health issues.  Emotions are welling as I remember my mother’s similar struggle that ended 20 years ago this month.  I realize now that I’ve never really dealt with the grief that I felt with mom’s death and I wonder how that has shaped my ministry to the sick and dying in the short time that I have been in a pastoral role.

These thoughts are creeping in as I am trying to finalize my preparations for Holy Week.  Beginning with 2 services on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday at Rising Fawn, Good Friday at Sand Mountain, the traditional Good Friday lock-in with the youth (Lord, in your mercy), and ending with the worship celebrations on Easter starting at sunrise.  Holy Week can be a killer… at least it is spiritually and emotionally draining for me.  So, where do I get the strength to do it?  I wish that I could say that my spiritual life and spiritual practices are so strong and deep that I have a tremendous well from which to draw, but I’m afraid that would be a lie.  I’ve fallen into the trap of my Bible reading to be focused on preparation of the sermon and my prayer life  is nowhere near what I want it to be.  I’ve allowed the “busyness” to overcome the Holy and I am diminished by that realization of truth.

I find that I am “preaching faith until I have it,” and encounters like this morning help to orient me back to the foot of the cross, back to the place where I fall to my knees and ask God to give me the strength, because I don’t have it on my own.  I can never have it on my own.  I am too broken, too prideful, and too much of a doofus to do any of this on my own.  Perhaps that is a place where we all need to be:  Acknowledging our dependence upon the One who calls us and equips us to do the work that He has called us to do.

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My experience at the new Cokesbury

Today I needed to purchase the texts for my upcoming class on the New Testament so I turned to the internet and Cokesbury.com, the online presence of the soon-to-be-closed Cokesbury bookstores.  According to leadership at UMPH (the United Methodist Publishing House), Cokesbury.com is poised to compete with Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  Well Neil (Alexander, President and Publisher at UMPH), I hate to break the news to you, but if my experience today was any indication, you just need to go ahead and shutter the whole works right now.  I would imagine that the property at UMPH headquarters in Nashville, with its proximity to the new convention center, would make a pretty penny for the UMC if we were to sell it in the current market.

The class that I am taking is COS311-New Testament I at United Theological Seminary.  The text books are all common and respected titles.  At Cokesbury.com, I could only find 4 of the titles.  I could only locate 2 of those tiles by their ISBN.  I did not have this problem at Barnes & Noble or at Amazon.  At both of the commercial sites I was easily able to find all of the texts by ISBN without fail.  To top it off, the cost of the 4 books that I could locate at Cokesbury.com came to $133.88 before tax.  The cost at Barnes & Noble was $110.75 and the cost at Amazon was $110.72, both before taxes.  Plus, I would get free shipping at all but Cokesbury.  Needless to say, Cokesbury.com did not get my business.

What can we expect in the future?  If my experience today is any indication, I don’t really hold out much hope that there is much of a future for Cokesbury.  And when the lights are turned off, I have to wonder just what kind of future there will be for Wesleyan theology without a voice.  And that is the biggest disappointment of all.