From the Desk of the Pastor

Are we there yet?

September 24, 2020

This nostalgic phrase in the American language came into common usage when cars became an accepted mode of transportation in this country. Its been so much a part of my life, it probably made the top-ten list of all-time worst questions to hear from anyone in the passenger seat. There are emojis, memes, gifs, and even a movie made by the same title. These four words, apparently the perpetual question, make frequent appearances in cartoons, books, and yes, even church newsletter articles.

The question implies that the real excitement happens at the journey’s end. In other words, the question is focused exclusively on the destination. It conveys impatience, fatigue, and an all too common tendency to project oneself into the future. These four words have even found their way into business communications as collaborators working on a project ask the question to discover if the goal of the project is achieved. Once again, the focus is on results and not the process that yields the results.

Let us take a moment and reflect on the dreaded phrase that we all love to hate. Well, hate is probably too strong of a word, perhaps dislike strongly might be a better way of speaking. The phrase itself has a place in our collective memory. I did extensive research to discover the origins of the phrase and when it first came into widespread use. The query even stumped Google. Preposterous, unthinkable, yet altogether true. As an informed citizen and occasionally frazzled parent, I wonder if that might not be why Google began to dabble in self-driving cars all the way back to 2009.

One might go so far as to wonder how many of Waymo’s (Google rebrand) fleet of 600 self-driving cars (mostly in Phoenix) have artificial intelligence that responds to that question. Imagine getting on board, setting the destination, putting on a pair of noise-canceling headphones, leaving technology to drive the car, and answer the question. I can tell you that Penny and I have watched this emerging technology closely. Soon this may be the answer to a lot of visually challenged persons being able to live more independent lives.

Right about now, you are wondering how we began with an image of Bart Simpson in the back of the Homer-mobile to self-driving cars? It is part of the way my mind works. I’m a problem solver; if there is an issue to be dealt with, then a solution must be out there somewhere. And I need to find it. There’s a little bit of that in all of us.

If you take the time to be observant, you can almost hear this question in the biblical narrative. Sara must have asked this of Abram several times on their journey from Ur. How many Jewish kids asked their parents that question during the Exodus? In Acts chapter one, the apostles essentially ask this question of the resurrected Christ. He responds like a patient parent, reminding them they are to wait for the Holy Spirit.

Speaking solely for myself, it feels like we’ve traveled for some time toward a post-COVID world. The journey is tedious, and we want so much to be able to get out of the car and stretch our legs in a familiar place. We long for a world with hugs, handshakes, and unfettered human interaction.

Unfortunately, the church can’t call for a ride from Waymo, tell the car where we want to go, and go to sleep until we get there. It may feel like wandering in the wilderness, but it is a part of our Christian experience. One day we will arrive, but let us not forget to be fully present on our journey. To do otherwise is to miss out on formative opportunities that will shape us as human beings and as followers of Jesus Christ. The next time you are tempted to ask “the question,” ease back in the seat, take a look out the window and remember life is about the journey, not just the destination.                                                        
Pastor Kenny                                 


 

The mantle of leadership

September 15, 2020

Passing the mantle

Looking at the book of Exodus over the last couple of weeks, we hear about the actions of God as he delivered the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt. Exodus provides the story of Moses, giving an account of his life from infancy to end of life. God not only saves Moses as an infant, but his becoming an adopted member of the royal family means that Moses receives the best education Egypt could offer. Little does he know how much he will come to need every ounce of educatio...


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Labor Day

September 8, 2020

Looking out of the backdoor, I can see that the September sun is making heat distortion that makes my view of the church look a little wavy.  A slight breeze ripples through the yellowing stalks of a quickly drying field of soybeans. Soon the combines will be stirring up dust in that field, bringing in the harvest for another year.

Saturday, Penny and I went to Stuttgart via St. Charles and State Highway 153, where farmers were busily cutting corn and rice. Tractors pulling grain hoppers wer...


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Reflection

September 1, 2020

Reflection

The call to ministry came as somewhat of a surprise in 2005. God was at work in our lives through a pastor and a small group at Wesley United Methodist Church. Wesley became a place to call home and a place to grow and teach Sunday School and learn about polity be serving on boards and committees. Several people and pastors confirmed God’s gifts for ministry and encouraged us to pursue a vocation in ministry. The clergy cross in the picture was a gift from that sweet little cong...


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School's In

August 25, 2020

For the last week, my son is attending school virtually. Like a good parent, I decided that it would be better for Donovan if he worked from the office with me. Surely with no TV or video games to distract us, we could apply ourselves to the work at hand. Of course, this also means that we have to be in place, online, and ready to learn by 8:15 am. My reaction was, “We got this.” He can come to the office with me, affording me the ability to keep tabs on him and make sure he stays on task...


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Life in a Small Town

July 7, 2020

My family and I have spent an entire year in what might be the sweetest place we've ever lived.  June of last year marked our first appointment in the delta and a new experience for us all. You've all been to a lot of trouble to help us feel at home. If home is where the heart is, then we are at home in Phillips County.

Much of what we've come to love is your natural way of being a community. The Marvell Main Street Festival-Levon Helm Downhome Jubilee was stupendous. Some of my friends from...


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Pastor Kenny Lee


Minister of the Gospel Loving God, and loving people

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