Who am I? I am foremost the father of two accomplished children, who have grown, married, and have children of their own. Give me a few minutes and I will show you photos of my two beautiful grand-children.
I have spent most of my adult life in North Carolina, though when you meet me you won’t detect a southern twang. I was raised in Western Massachusetts and moved to the South when I left home for college. I eventually moved to the Pacific Northwest where the United Methodist Church is welcoming of LGBTQ clergy.
What do I do to unwind? Exercise has always been a passion. I swam competitively in college, but I am more devoted to distance running. I have qualified twice for the Boston Marathon, but competition is not a motivating force. When I run, I meditate and think about my vision for the church and the message I will give on Sunday. I also love to read, my favorite authors being Marilyn Robinson and Ann Lamott.
As a pastor, what drives me? It is the Gospels. I am driven by the four New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Within them are the life and teachings of Jesus. Many of Jesus’ words have become embedded in my life and memory. And while I have kept them close these many years, they continue to resurface with new meaning.
You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket….
…[H]ow often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.’
Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you….
‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’… ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these … you did it to me.’
I find myself asking, how do these words apply to congregational life? What do they say about how we related to one another and our outreach to the world? How does a congregation that claims Jesus as Lord confront the disparity between the wealthy and the poor, gun violence, and fear of the other? My role as a pastor is to lead the congregation in answering these questions.
In a world beset by stubborn evils and difficulties, our story of Jesus’ trial, death, and resurrection reminds us that our hope will not be squelched. The Spirit that gives each us life and breath will not be denied, and love will eventually win the day.
I hope you will join us at First United Methodist Church in Medford and see more of what we are about.