Saturday, April 30, 2005


For forty days he wandered... no food... no drink. Any other person would have been crushed by the forces of nature that the desert brought- exhausting heat by day, wind storms and cruel cold at night. And if nature didn't bring you down- the absense of water and food would.

But by grace he withstood the elements- physical, and spiritual... but he hadn't even seen the worst of it yet.

He aw0ke early. Something was stirring in the cool morning's sunlit breeze. It took him half an hour to open his eyes. Movement had become slow by now, he was barely able to function. But once his eyes opened he began to focus on what seemed like a very large reptile slithering slowly toward him. Exhausted he thought he was halucinating. It wouldn't be the first time in the 42 days that he'd been in the desert.

Little did he know that the easy part was behind him and the hardest temptations lay ahead of him- looking into his eyes- temptation slithered closer and closer to him..... all the while the sun went from cool and comforting to hot and unbearable....


A Pertinent Quote

"How much energy do we modern Christians put into condemning sexual sins compared to avoiding the judgmental, Pharisaical attitude of those with rocks in their hands? Who killed Jesus, adulterers or Pharisees?" Brian McLaren

Friday, April 29, 2005


When I got to the church this morning there was a wonderful surprise in my mailbox. Someone has anonymously left me the book: Saint Francis: A Model for Human Liberation by Leonardo Boff.

Wow, not only is it Friday, sunshine, but a new book on St. Francis, AND it's by Leonardo Boff!!
This day rocks!!!

Boff and Ratzinger

Thursday, April 28, 2005


So I got my syllabus for the Summer class I'll be taking in a few weeks. RADICAL ORTHODOXY!!! SWEET!!!

I don't know a lot about this theological movement- but I do know that the main contributers to this movement are: John Milbank, Graham Ward, Daniel Bell, Will Cavanaugh, Catherine Pickstock, and Stephen D. Long (a United Methodist).

Here's the reading list- it's gonna be gooooood!!!

Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post Secular Theology by James Smith
The Postmodern God: A Theological Reader, by Graham Ward
Radical Orthodoxy: A New Theology, by John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock, and Graham Ward
Augustine and Modernity by Michael Hanby
John Wesley's Moral Theology by Stephen D. Long (a united methodist)

If anyone has read any of these books and wants to let me know what they think- FEEL FREE TO!!

So class is the same week as the Emergent Convention, but class will be at night, 6-10pm so I can leave the convention, go to class. If I get out early I can make it back for a late night option.


What A Time To Be a Follower

"Revival of church life always brings in its train a richer understanding of the Scriptures. Behind all the slogans and catchwords of ecclesiastical controversy, necessary though they are, there arises a more determined quest for him who is the sole object of it all, for Jesus Christ himself."
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer from The Cost of Discipleship

I appreciate revival of church through generative friendships in the emergent movement...

I appreciate liberal and conservative perspectives of faith and theology- but especially the faces behind the theology with whom I have friendships. It is through the ecclesiastical controversy that as a Church we continue to grow into God's dream for the world...

I am thankful for to be in ministry in a time as this when it seems that the quest to follow Jesus has brought me into contact with quakers, mennonites, nazarenes, baptists, evangelicals, anarchists, homosexuals, homophobes, rich, poor, homeless, pastors, priests, russian orthodox, catholic, methodist, non-denominational, jewish, islamic, young and old. In each I have seen the face of Christ and that face was love.

What a great time to be in ministry... to be a follower of Jesus...

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

An Evening with Jim Wallis

This is going to be GOOD!!!

Edgehill United Methodist Church, one of our very progressive congregations of Nashville, is hosting an evening with Jim Wallis, founder of the Sojourner Community and author of "God's Politics" at the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville TN, May 24.

Wallis will be joined by Ashley Cleveland and Jars of Clay, who will be singing old hymns in new ways.

Tickets are only $10 and like I said- THIS IS GOING TO BE GOOD!!!

For more info on tickets- call 615-254-7628

Monday, April 25, 2005


Incarnation: A bodily manifestation of a supernatural being.
Acts 17:22-31
22 Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed God is not far from each one of us. 28For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said, “For we too are his offspring.” 29Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. 30While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’

Today this was the scripture for my morning prayer time. I did a meditative reading of it and the phrase that I left with was "God is not far from each one of us".

All day today I thought about the fact that no matter where I was- God was not far from me. Maybe God was sitting in the booth next to me at Arby's with her 3 children, or perhaps God was at the bank standing in line in front of me getting his paycheck cashed. God was definitely not far from me when he asked me to go out in the back yard and play with him this afternoon.

Today I was challenged to keep my eyes open and look for God in the most unlikely places. But I was also comforted to know that God was not far, keeping an eye on me.


Sunday, April 24, 2005

A Prayer for Forgiveness

Hit the Back Button to Move Fwd: desert thoughts

Lord forgive us for we don't know what we're doing...

to the land, our land
our children's land
our children's children's land
oceans, waters, earth, soil, air, animals...

Lord forgive us for we don't know what we're doing...

we consume, and sleep... sleep and consume
taking what we want...
turning our eyes away from need
lifting hands to fill our pockets
fill our dreams
fill our desires
sending our souls into bankruptcy

Lord forgive us for we don't know what we're doing....

we want revenge when we are hurt
we want an eye for an eye
sometimes we want a life for an eye
or at least an eye for a life
whatever it is- we want something to be done
to erase the pain, the hurt, the violence, the bloodshed
but peace does not send me to that place...
of healing, wholeness... peace is too hard.... to impractical

Lord forgive us for we don't know what we're doing...

we've forgotten our stories
we don't look at the family pictures anymore
we forget Your story
the redemption that followed
the peace that you offered
the healing that came
you changed our names but we forgot how to spell them
forgot how to say them
still going by the same names...
it's just easier that way

So in this day of
hate and violence
spiritual and social amnesia

Forgive us when we stray or fall or do harm to you or neighbor....
and continue to use us as blessings, despite ourselves.


Saturday, April 23, 2005


According to our United Methodist Social Principles:

"We believe war is incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ. We therefore reject war as an instrument of national foreign policy, to be employed only as a last resort in the prevention of such evils as genocide, brutal suppression of human rights, and unprovoked international aggression."

I've had time to digest some thoughts and get a bit of a handle on how I feel about the issue of war and peace and the Christian's response. I realize from my previous post concerning this, and from the conversations that come out of that post that this may not be a reasonable argument, or at least maybe I approached it wrong (which I believe many Christians often do when it comes to social issues).

Do I believe that war is wrong? Quite simply- yes.

Why do I believe that war is wrong? I believe that Jesus taught against violence- to the extent that he lived the teaching out by going to the cross, AND, I am a follower of THE WAY of Jesus.

Do I think that a nation ought not use violence to settle disputes? Quite simply- yes.
As a Christian, I cannot condone the use of violence because it does not follow the teachings of Christ and the way he paved for HIS followers.

Do I expect a nation to follow THE WAY of Jesus? I expect THE CHURCH to follow the WAY of Jesus; to embody the teachings and ways of Jesus. I'm not sure it is realistic to actually expect a country/nation to abstain from war. Afterall, a country is much more than the Polis called "Church". For those outside of the Church it is impossible to understand the ethical commands of Jesus and to embody those teachings.

So maybe, just maybe, my expectations and hopes lie not with nations being non-violent, but just THE CHURCH. How can one expect nations to learn to play nicely with one another if there's not an example. Christians have an example because Christ taught and lived out his ideas. Maybe the world would have an example if all CHRISTIANS laid down their arms, walked away from military service, quit arguing and began listening to one another's disagreements, and welcomed "the other/stranger".

I know that some will disagree heavily with my statement that maybe Christians ought not serve in the military. But I remind you that the early church was pacifist. Prior to A.D. 170-80 there are no records of soldiers in the Roman army.

But if The Church takes seriously that It is the social embodiment of Christ then how do we live that out? I know that my "Just War" friends will say that God works through war (even if it is an undesirable action) to bring about the most good.

But let me entertain the notion that God calls God's people not:
1. to be the winners
2. to "make the kingdom happen" by all means necessary
3. to choose the option that makes the most sense

But God calls God's people to:
1. Be the Church
2. Live out the teachings of Christ in a real way
3. Love mercy
4. Seek Justice
5. Be the Church
6. Be the Church

Wednesday, April 20, 2005



"The system in The United Methodist Church by which pastors are appointed to their charges by the bishops. The pastors are under obligation to serve where appointed. The present form of the intineracy grew from the practice of Methodist pastors traveling widely throughout the church on circuits. Assigned to service by a bishop, they were not to remain with one particular congregation for any length of time." Source: A Dictionary for United Methodists, Alan K. Waltz, Copyright 1991, Abingdon Press.

I knew that it would happen sooner or later but I was really hoping for sooner. I received a call from my really good friend and mentor- Michael Williams. "Jonathon", he said, "I don't know if you are interested but my church, Blakemore, is looking for a part time youth pastor. I know that you are in full time youth ministry, but I had to lay it out there."

Things had not been going well at my church. I had said at one point that if the opportunity to work alongside Michael came available, that I would jump at it.

So I left the 1400 member church in the suburbs for a 250 member church in the city. I was pleasantly suprised at the casual nature of this church- the people were friendly, eclectic, and diverse. Michael, a story teller, writer and poet, fit in well with many of the artists who attended. I found myself as a song writer and poet to feel very much at home at Blakemore, this quirky- semi-traditional-but-open church.

Over the years there have been many rocking chair chats in Michael's office- ranging from displeased parents, gang related youth in our youth group, hospitality, to visiting monastaries and praying the hours.

Michael has been more than just my senior pastor or mentor. He's been a deep friend, the kind of friend that makes you want to be more than you are, but by the time you realize it, you've accomplished being more. He's like a dad- that helps me face the truth in myself but does so in a way that I don't ever feel like I've let him down. He's like a sage that I want to sit at his feet and soak in as much as I can because it always seems like whatever I find interest in- he already knows about it, has resources on it and guides me to it in profound ways. But mostly he's simply Michael- my good friend whom I have a special kindred spirit with. It is rare to have a friendship/ professional relationship such as that.

I knew that it would happen sooner or later, but I was hoping for later rather than sooner. Last Sunday, Michael and I were hanging out after a meeting and he informed me that the Bishop was moving him from Blakemore UMC to
1st UMC Hendersonville
. I think I took it well, but it hit like a ton of bricks. My first thought that went through my mind was, "What the hell am I gonna do now? It won't be the same."

But then after I slept on it I became thankful for our system of itenerancy in the methodist tradition. Someone else is going to benefit from the gifts that Michael brings to a church. And Blakemore will be pulled and nurtured by a pastor who brings differnt unique gifts. And I will remain at Blakemore working towards developing our congregation as a "practicing church", a church rooted in practicing it's faith- or what Mr. Wesley would have called the Means of Grace.

Michael, I will miss walking upstairs and sitting in your rocking chair, but I look forward to driving across town and finding the same rocking chairs and having the same rocking chair chats, just in a different location.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Philadelphia Inquirer: "Episcopal priest leaves for Druids."

An Episcopal priest who resigned from a Downingtown church last fall after his ties to a Druid society were made public has renounced his Episcopal ordination and become a Druid priest.

W. William Melnyk, former rector of St. James' Episcopal Church, has formed the Llynhydd Grove of the Druid Order of the Yew, which he is leading under his Druid name, OakWyse.

In a phone interview yesterday, Melnyk called his move "a joyous occasion."


This simply opens the door for me to pursue my desire to be ordained a garden gnome... whoo hoooo!!!!

Saturday, April 16, 2005


A brother asked, "I have found a place where my peace is not disturbed by thebrethren; do you advise me to live there?" Abba Poemen replied, "The place for you is where you will not harm the brothers."

A couple of months ago I went to one of my favorite retreat centers to “get away” for a day. When I got there I was so excited for a break- a break from life. I brought my Bible, and a couple of books that I had planned to read while there. After a few hours the excitement began to wear off. I felt kind of alone, a little lonely and my mind began to wander to thoughts of things that I had left undone back home.

Something that I realized was that as much as I desire solitude and silence in my life- I also need the voices, stories, love and affirmation of friends and family. With that comes conflicts, stress, and disagreements. That’s the part I wanted a retreat from. But one can’t have a retreat from the conflicts without retreating from the affirmation and love of others.
When I left the retreat center I left a changed person. I was ready to be back with those I cared for, and minister with- I was ready for both the stories and affirmations and the conflict and stress that life brings.


Sorry I've been out of pocket for so long. After Connection (the united methodist youth workers conference that i took part in various leadership roles) was over I just found myself swamped with lots and lots of "stuff"- youth work, a writing project and family things. Sooooooooo, I've just not been gotten back into the routine of blogging.

I really didn't want to post until I knew that I was ready to come back on a regular basis. If you checked on my blog once or more while I've been on blog-o-batical, then thanks for checking in. I promise I'm back now.

Thanks especially to Shane Raynor from Wesley Blog for checking up on me. That meant a lot.

Some of the upcoming topics that I plan to dive into in the coming weeks and months are:
1. continued discussion on UM's and War
2. a conversation on the Eucharist
3. Living the Christian Calendar as a practice in Cultural Identity

Peace y'all,