All Curses Are Dead

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What a time Caleb and I had in Omaha for the College World Series. We promised each other that we would stay as long as Carolina was still in the hunt. Well, we’re home and the Gamecocks prevailed. USC has its National Championship, and the “Chicken Curse” is over! But, wait a minute – as a person of faith, hasn’t the Curse been over for a long time? Yes, it has! No matter what the problem or who the opponent is – The Curse is over! I think what made this USC team special is its non-superstar journeymen (Michael Roth; et. al.) and fun approach (Nick Ebert, Scott Wingo; et. al.) to being a team. These guys enjoyed each other and it showed. They broke the Chicken Curse through their relationship with something/someone(s) bigger than themselves.

I hope that I can live into that belief this week as I reconnect with folks in the UM Center, Columbia District churches and clergy, and continue to encourage our piece of United Methodism. I’m a bit tired after all of the Omaha and back driving; and then this past weekend, staying with Narice and Mike and having a blast with Enoch and Evy. They’re great, and Narcie is doing so well though our anxiety lingers. I just saw Caleb after being with him non-stop for 2 straight weeks. I’ve missed him and told him so. It’s good to reconnect with those that you love. Caleb has been living at home these past 4 years in Columbia and just graduated from USC. It’s been a saga and we’ve tried to maintain healthy distance in his personal life, but our 2 weeks in Omaha was absolutely wonderful. Sure, Narcie stayed on my mind, and Josh is great; but it was so good to just “be” with Caleb. It was good for our relationship.

Someone said you have to be relational to be relevant. Isn’t that the truth. If one wants to make a difference in a life, a country, or a community – you have to be connected, relational. As a family we have felt that through Narcie’s illness. I felt it in Omaha with Caleb and new found friends. I want to feel it in church, too, but I have to admit that’s a bigger task as a District Superintendent. I think it’s one of our biggest challenges for Christianity. Thanks to being a DS I think I kind of get it about those who stay home on Sundays because they’re so beat up by the work week. We have to make church a relational family, not an entertainment center or a dull dirty monument to yesteryear.

Personally, you guys are winning the battle for relational Christianity when it comes to me and mine. Sure, I don’t have one church or a church home, it’s more like 70 of them, but after 4 years of quality time with each clergy, multiple charge conferences, UMM Retreats and Events, UMW Events, and myriad meetings of every ilk; I feel connected to the entire Columbia District; and through the Connectional Table, SC Annual Conference, and the Worldwide UMC Study Committee, I feel as close as a phone call or email to our whole denomination. I am grateful for how relevant you all are because you have chosen to be relational with my family. Thank you! Thank you!

I am very grateful for Caleb choosing to reconnect and relate to his old man for 2 solid weeks of baseball and camping in Omaha, Nebraska. And, of course, we now relate to a bigger Gamecock Nation. There’s a lot of truth in the saying: There’s strength in numbers, and the song that says “reach out and touch someone” is playing in my head. Here’s to us on this Fourth of July weekend: E Pluribus Unum, “Out of Many, One.” You have to be relational to be relevant!

Relational to be Relevant

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You have to be relational to be relevant – that’s my observation. I’m in the midst of spending 3 hours with each of the clergy in the Columbia District, doing whatever they want to do. It’s fantastic. We get to know and appreciate one another on a level that goes well past anything with me behind a desk either in my office or at a charge conference. Yesterday I spent the afternoon feeding Bison that were a bit disconcerting in their size and demeanor. I’m sure that’s a feeling that happens with people interacting with District Superintendents. Well, maybe that’s stretching it, but I can say this. You get to know the bison and share some food, and all is well.

Last night we had an Introductory Visit with a new pastor and new church. It was my last visit of maybe 19 in the District. Those visits have gone well as people were authentically Christian and open to new relationships. What I heard last night was so refreshing as this particular church and new pastor want to Rethink Church and get outside the walls. The overarching theme: You have to be relational to be relevant. Frangelism works. You know: Friends, Relatives, Acquaintance, and Neighbors are invited to the Gospel Feast. I dare say we need to reach enemies, too. Anyway, people are as open to Jesus as we are open to them, meeting them where they are and exuding Christ enough so they want to know, “What’s up with _______?”

Well, what’s up with you today? I pray for a great day spent with laity and clergy in the Columbia District. I’m headed out in a few minutes to spend the day relating to people all over the place. That’s the only way I can even dare to be relevant to a hurting world.