The One Whose Mark We Bear

Last night, I conducted my eight Ash Wednesday service. I still feel like an utter novice at it. It feels like I am playing make believe, engaging in rites and rituals that I have no business attempting. Last night, incredibly, I forgot my lines (“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return… […]

When No One is Watching

Often when people find out that I’m a pastor for the first time, they will gradually, at some point in the conversation, summon the requisite courage or boldness or curiosity to ask some version of the question, So what do you actually do all day? I will usually “um” and “ah” and “well, you see” for […]

Free Booze: A Lenten Reflection on Customer Satisfaction

I heard an advertisement on the radio while driving around today. A restaurant was offering one free glass of wine per person for every visit over a certain period of time. After frantically altering my lunch plans and stampeding down to this restaurant for an 11:00 lunch snorting derisively at the moral decay and transparent […]

You Don’t Know What It’s Like

One day, three conversations. 1. I’m at a function where my job is to give a short devotional and prayer before the meal.  Pastor-y stuff.  You know.  I’m trying to be witty, disarming, light.  I make some throwaway comment about how I know we’re all hungry and that the soup smells good, but please won’t […]

On Disappointment

There aren’t many good radio stations in the city I live in. Like, roughly zero. But for a few glorious moments this morning the heavens opened, the clouds parted, and a shaft of wondrous auditory light suffused my little Volkswagen Jetta as I flitted about, running errands on a windswept prairie day. U2’s “One” was […]


It’s mid-afternoon and it’s been one of those scattered, disjointed days.  Office equipment malfunctioning, the seemingly constant pinging of email, several conversations about how to do this or that better, and what the church ought to consider doing, and what a healthy church looks like, and not getting my sermon done, and thinking ahead to a funeral […]

Ashes, Ashes

I led my first ever Ash Wednesday service today. Actually, scratch that. I participated in my first Ash Wednesday service today. My Mennonite Brethren background was decidedly low church and we didn’t really observe Lent or Advent or the Christian year in general. It was Christmas and Easter and that was about it. Everything else was high-church […]

Two Ways of Waiting

Lent is a time of waiting—something we are all, in various ways and to varying degrees, familiar with. During Lent our waiting is oriented towards Good Friday and Easter Sunday, the high points of the Christian calendar. But “waiting” is a theme that extends far beyond the period of Lent.