The End of the Semester

It’s hard to believe, but it’s almost the end of my first semester here at ONU.  And the greatest thing about it is that I don’t have any final exams to study for!  This is unlike all the students I work with, who are busier than ever getting ready for final projects and final exams.  As a consequence, I have had my own workload reduced (somewhat), with the anticipation that it will decrease even more after everyone goes home for the Christmas break.

This is normally the time of year when everything gets really busy for a pastor in a local church, so it’s come as a welcome gift to me that I’ve been able to sit back a bit and be more reflective on the upcoming Advent and Christmas seasons.  It’s a shame that more pastors (or for that matter, more lay folks, too!) don’t have the chance to reflect more during Advent.  Instead, we’re often moving from one busy event to another, trying to get it all in before the big day and the end of the year.

Not unlike the students around me who are running around getting ready for finals.

But what if we could all just call a “time out” and sit back and reflect from time to time?  What if we didn’t fill our lives with “busy seasons,” but just lived life to the fullest all the time?

I remember Zig Ziglar (who, incidentally, died just yesterday) speaking once about a basketball game where someone forgot to turn on the timer.  Instead of the players holding back until the final minutes of the game, they played their hearts out throughout the whole thing, never knowing when the game might end.  That’s life for you.  We never know when it might end–the timer runs out at different times for each of us.  Instead of cramming all of our living into short seasons of celebration, why not celebrate life every day?

Then, we could let our pastors really celebrate Christmas.




Some Haiku for Thanksgiving

Let us give thanks now,
for all that God has given.
And forgiven, too.

I end each message
with a word to all– “Blessings.”
I should start with that!

Gathered at table,
Our family can give thanks.
In the world, also.

Pilgrims, verse 1
We are all strangers,

pilgrims in this world of ours,
we should all give thanks.

Pilgrims, verse 2
Thanks for our safety.
Thanks also for daily bread,
and those who bake it.

Pumpkin Pie (for Daniel)
Such a tasty treat,
it fills you with memories
of pies (and love) past.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving from the MacDonalds!

I’m Choosing to Honor Veterans…Here’s Why

Let me be very clear about one thing–I am against war.  I think that war and violence are destructive to the human family.  I think  that war scars the psyche of combatants and non-combatants alike, in ways we still don’t understand.  As the 17-18th century archbishop and theologian Francois Fenelon once observed, “All wars are civil wars, for all men are brothers.”  If I truly believe that God created all humanity in God’s own image, and if I truly believe that Christ calls us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, then I must ultimately be against violence and killing of all kinds, including war.

Having said that, I must also say that I have been working hard over the last couple of months with a wonderful group of people getting ready for this week at ONU, which has been dedicated to honoring veterans.  And here’s why:

Though I am a pacifist at heart, and against war, I am not against the people who fight in wars, or who prepare for wars, or who put their lives on the line for what they believe in.  I could never do that, because that would make me a hypocrite of the highest degree.  I believe that it is possible to say “I support the troops” and “I don’t support war” in the same breath.

The veterans I have met during my ministry, and particularly as we have been preparing for this veterans week, have all been dedicated, respectful, prepared, and responsible people.  Their military service has, in part, made them who they are today.  I admire and respect them, even if I grieve over the fact that they had to serve in the military in the first place.

Now, I am enough of a realist to admit that a nation needs a military in order to protect itself–I will grant that (please don’t flood my inbox with angry arguments in favor of “just war”–I’ve heard them all before).  But I also believe that it is possible for peace to exist between very different points of view.  Why?  Because I read it in the Bible, that’s why– in Isaiah 11: 6-9.  Speaking of the coming reign of the Messiah, Isaiah wrote:

6 The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
9 They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

Peace is possible–the possibility dwells within the hearts and souls of every human being, because we are all created in God’s image (though we don’t always recognize that fact!).

And yet, we live in a fallen world–a world which we have tried, time and time again, to re-create into our own image–and as a result, we have wars, and a military, and fighting between nations and cultures.  And so, I pay respect and honor to those who do what others cannot, or will not, do.  And I thank them for their service, even as I pray for the day that such service will no longer be needed, when human beings have moved beyond our need for violence as a way to solve our problems, when the wolf and the lamb truly do lie down together.

Happy Veterans Day!



A Faith That Both Thinks and Feels (Part 2)

Last time, on “All Shall Be Well…”  I wrote about people who are primarily thinkers (Adam, Noah, Nathanael, Paul, St. Augustine, St. Ignatius, Martin Luther–there are others…) and people who are primarily feelers (Moses, John the Baptist, Mary of Bethany, St. Francis, Julian of Norwich, John/Charles Wesley).

Today, I want to ask the question– Is Jesus a thinker or a feeler?

There are many scriptures that would support Jesus being a feeler:

Luke 13:34-45, where Jesus laments over the city of Jerusalem, and wishes to gather his people together “as a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings.”

Luke 18:15-17, in which Jesus embraces the presence of children, and encourages his followers to have faith like children.

John 11:32-44, the story of Jesus’ righteous anger as he cleanses the Temple of the money changers and animal sellers.

and, Mark 15:33-34, the words of Jesus on the cross– “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

On the other hand, there is just as much evidence that Jesus is a thinker:

Luke 2:41-49 tells the story of Jesus as a young boy of twelve, getting separated from his parents as he sits in deep conversation with the scribes and teachers in the Temple.

Mark 2:5-9, when he reasons whether it is easier to heal a man of his paralysis or forgive his sins, thus silencing his critics with his wisdom.

John 3:1-8 (Really, all of John 3), in which Jesus has a conversation with Nicodemus about being “born from above” or “born again.”

and, John 8:1-11, the encounter with the woman caught in adultery.  In this scene, Jesus uses a keen understanding of the minds of the men around him, and into human nature in general, as he proposes what is practically a riddle– “Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone at her.”

There are many examples of scriptures where Jesus is a feeler, and many scriptures where he is a thinker.  There are also many scriptures where he is both thinker and feeler.  This “both/and” approach to seeing Jesus is exactly as it should be, as God is rarely, if ever, “either/or.”

God, the Creator of all, is “both/and”–Thinker and Feeler.

And you and I, who are created in God’s image, are also “both/and”–Thinkers and Feelers.

Some of us are more one than the other, but that doesn’t negate the fact that we are still created in God’s image, and have the potential to be “both/and,” if we would allow ourselves to go outside of our comfort zones and accept that we can be something other than what we (or others) have defined us to be.

So, are you a thinker or a feeler?  Or are you “both/and”?

If you are a thinker, think about how you might feel your faith more deeply.

If you are a feeler, feel yourself thinking more about your faith.

Either way, you will grow–and grow to be more like the God who creates, redeems, and sustains you.