Archives for the month of: August, 2011


This guy is the light of my life. Today we have been married 37 years, and I thank God for him today and every day.  He tells me I’m beautiful (yes he is somewhat visually impaired), he loves my cooking, and he still says coming home to me after work is the high point of his day. What did I do to deserve this? Absolutely nothing. It makes me believe in God.



Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” As I reflect on what is going on in my little piece of the church these days I am reminded of a comment Rick Warren* made on this text. He said that we have generally chosen to forget that Jesus said he was the way and the life, and instead we have focused mostly on “the truth.” Warren  hit the nail on the head by concluding “We have become one big mouth.” No wonder the world looks at us and laughs.

We will never really know Jesus as truth or life unless we are willing to walk in his way. This is the way of the suffering servant; the way of loving each other as he loved us. It is easy to exercise our big mouths in shouting out our read on the truth.  It is exceedingly difficult to walk  in the painfully humble way of the One who counted sinners as more worthy of saving than he did his own life.

My prayer for the meeting this weekend in Minneapolis is that somehow people will turn off the big mouth for a while and commit to the hard work of walking and living together humbly in His way. This is powerful stuff and if we tried it, who knows what might happen.

* I heard this quote in an excellent sermon preached by my friend Ruling Elder Jane Hubbard.

out of the rock

Every pastor has favorite parishioners.  We try hard not to let anybody know it – or at least if we are smart we do –  but we have them.  Geraldine Patrick was one of mine. We celebrated Jerry’s life a few weeks ago.  She died “old and full of years” as the Bible says, and lived a rich life.

I loved Jerry for several reasons. First, she let me in. Jerry’s husband Joe was my Clerk of Session when he dropped dead on the golf course after sinking his putt on the 18th hole.  We both grieved him terribly in our own ways.  I started stopping by Jerry’s house after work to visit with her.  It became a more frequent  thing after she confessed to me that she and Joe often indulged in a glass of wine about that time of day but that she would not pour one for herself.  I was happy to take on the job of pastoral pourer, and so it went.  Jerry let me see from the inside what it was like to go suddenly from wife to widow.  During those happy hour visits I grew to love her dearly.

Another reason I loved Jerry (and Joe too) was that though they had significant financial means and supported the church generously, they never used their money to control.  I knew enough even then to know what a rare thing that is. Since then I have seen much more of our  sad old world and know that this kind of restraint is almost unheard of. For them it was just who they were- humble, balanced, generous.

And generous brings me to the last part of this love letter.  Jerry knew that pastors are only human.  She was an encourager and supporter.  And she also knew that we need to get away sometimes.  Her condominium on Hilton Head became one of my bolt holes, places I knew I could go when things just got to be too much, or when Bill and I needed to reconnect.  She offered it freely just because she liked to share what she had with those she loved.

Jerry Patrick was one of the Great Ones.  May her tribe increase.


Geraldine Patrick


I had the pleasure of seeing the latest- and last – Harry Potter movie last week, in 3D and IMAX no less. If they had told us they were going to roll it again immediately I would have sat there and watched it twice.

A couple of weeks ago in an article in the Wall Street Journal I was tickled to find that Rowling is not only a Christian but a member of the Church of Scotland – a Presbyterian ! The theological strands are very clear in this film for those to have eyes to see and ears to hear.

In 2007, Rowling described her religious background in an interview with the Dutch newspaper the Volkskrant:[170]

I was officially raised in the Church of England, but I was actually more of a freak in my family. We didn’t talk about religion in our home. My father didn’t believe in anything, neither did my sister. My mother would incidentally visit the church, but mostly during Christmas. And I was immensely curious. From when I was 13, 14 I went to church alone. I found it very interesting what was being said there, and I believed in it. When I went to university, I became more critical. I got more annoyed with the smugness of religious people and I went to church less and less. Now I’m at the point where I started: yes, I believe. And yes, I go to the church. A Protestant church here in Edinburgh. My husband is also raised Protestant, but he comes from a very strict Scottish group. One where they couldn’t sing and talk.
Rowling has occasionally expressed ambivalence about her religious faith. In a 2006 interview with Tatler magazine, Rowling noted that, “like Graham Greene, my faith is sometimes about if my faith will return. It’s important to me.”[19] In a British documentary, JK Rowling: A Year in the Life, when asked if she believed in God, she said, “Yes. I do struggle with it; I couldn’t pretend that I’m not doubt-ridden about a lot of things and that would be one of them but I would say yes.” When asked if she believed in an afterlife, she said, “Yes; I think I do.”[171] She further said, “It’s something that I wrestle with a lot. It preoccupies me a lot, and I think that’s very obvious within the books.”[172] In a 2008 interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais, Rowling said, “I feel very drawn to religion, but at the same time I feel a lot of uncertainty. I live in a state of spiritual flux. I believe in the permanence of the soul.”[173] In an interview with the Today Show in July 2007, she said, “…until we reached Book Seven, views of what happens after death and so on… would give away a lot of what was coming. So… yes, my belief and my struggling with religious belief and so on I think is quite apparent in this book.”[174]                       copied from Wikipedia


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