At the end of August of 2017 I retired after 41 years of a teaching and pastoral ministry. Those years offered varied opportunities and challenges of trying to communicate the good news of Jesus Christ to many different kinds of people in various settings. I have always understood teaching to be one of the most important roles of pastors. Judaism is the Mother of Christianity (and you don’t kick your mother!). Pastors would do well to learn from the rabbinic example within the Jewish faith. How can people in the church possibly follow Jesus and live out of the depths of the Judeo-Christian tradition if they do not know what that tradition offers?
Most people in our culture understand their world and their lives through both modern and post-modern paradigms. Modern paradigms emerging from the Enlightenment and the accomplishments of science have been both a blessing and a curse. The knowledge and technology that have come from science have certainly, for the most part, made life easier. But unfortunately there has not been an accompanying increase in wisdom, and knowledge without wisdom can lead to catastrophic consequences. Post-modern paradigms offer a needed correction to the arrogance and limited perspectives of modern paradigms. However, these newer paradigms too often lead to a cynicism and lack of commitment that leaves us questioning any ultimate purpose and grounding in life.
I believe that within the Jewish and Christian traditions there are “bottomless wells of meaning” that can inform, inspire, and guide us in the twenty-first century. I find it so tragic that most people (including most Christians in North America) don’t have a clue as to how varied, deep, and amazing these traditions really are. I have attempted in all my ministry to communicate these depths and am convinced that an appreciation and appropriation of the wisdom from these traditions could provide both the much needed roots we need in our time and place as well as inspiration that could help us find our way in the difficult and challenging settings of today.
All that is offered in this blog is done with the conviction that in Jesus we find both the best revelation of the character of God and the most profound model for what it means to be human. The good news (and it’s unfortunate how in so many ways the church has turned that good news into bad news) of the Jewish-Christian tradition speaks powerfully and uniquely to the human condition. I remain committed to that tradition because I find no other tradition that speaks so truthfully, directly, and with the promise of authentic hope and healing. With each year of my life I become more aware of how redemptive the Jesus tradition is and can be in my life and in a world that is reeling from the consequences of violence, greed, prejudice, and a lack of meaning.
“Reflections for the Journey” covers many different topics. Some of the entries stem from articles and devotionals I have written over the years. Other entries are modified from four decades of sermons and presentations I have given in various settings. And many entries reflect my own continuing growth (at least I hope it is growth) as a human being and less than faithful follower of Jesus. In all that I share I want to communicate the compassion and justice of the One in whom we all “live, move, and have our being.”
For some time church members, friends, and colleagues in ministry have encouraged me to make available my writings and insights. I am honestly not convinced that what I can offer warrants a wider audience. However, at this point in my life as I look back over the years and the mountains of papers that have accumulated from over four decades of ministry, I want to share what I can if in any way these offering can continue my ministry. I leave it up to the reader to decide if these reflections are worth the effort to share.
I want to thank my wife Susan for all the hundreds of hours she has spent organizing and preparing the materials for this blog. Her gift at organizing is what has allowed this project to come to fruition. It has been my greatest blessing to share life with her for the past forty-five years. She has taught me so much about unconditional love and faithfulness. I would also like to thank Mary Boren (Susan’s cousin) for her indispensable help in all the technical matters of setting up and continuing a blog. When it comes to social media I am a Neanderthal. Mary has been the “magician” who has turned a dream into a reality. And lastly, I want to thank our daughter Miriam whose life of love, integrity, and never-failing commitment blesses and teaches me daily. She is amazing in everything she does.