These are days of harsh political rhetoric. Political factions insist not only on the goodness of their own ideas but also on the dramatic failure of their opponents' ideas. We might be in Advent, but this is no season for understanding or for mutual forbearance in our civil discourse.
I saw Danny this week. He was walking down Church Street in downtown New Haven, pretending he had somewhere to go. I knew better. Luckily I saw him in time and could slow my pace so that he didn't catch my eye. I didn't want to hear it from him again. Not yet.
Being a pastor for 30 years has given me the chance to see both the gifts and the weaknesses of people up close. This vantage point sometimes makes mine one of the weirdest vocations as well as a rewarding one. My breath has been taken away by joy and by shame. It's the story of talents and tyrants told again and again.
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In Jesus' time, a rabbi's yoke was a set of teachings—that which was required of you. The Lord's "easy and gentle" yoke makes most sense to me in light of our yearning for clarity about what is essential.
The apostle Paul reminds the church at Rome how to live in community inside and outside the church. This is not the exuberant rhetorical surplus we find in 1 Corinthians 13, but love is still Paul's guiding principle.
My wife, our four sons, and I occasionally take family trips into Washington, D.C. We always go in uniform: everyone wears the same T-shirt. We like the visibility of bright orange, and our current uniform is a loud orange advertisement for the West Michigan White Caps, the minor league baseball team in Grand Rapids.