Death and Deviled Eggs

A few years ago, I was on my way to a funeral. An in person, non-masking, church member funeral with a receiving of friends, a service, and committal. Funerals remind me of funerals, the same way this Christmas will remind you of last Christmas. So many of the practices are the same. At this funeral, […]

Holy Week Fragments: 30 Seconds at a Time

Here’s a link to today’s lectionary text – John 13:1-17, 31-35 The commentaries for today’s scripture remind us of a couple things. 1) There is a meal in John, but it is not the Lord’s Supper in the traditional sense but it connects to it. 2) The foot washing is something crucial to community to […]

Holy Week Fragments: Palm Sunday

As the Scholar in Residence at First UMC, Newton, I challenged the congregation to read the gospel lectionary text for each day of Holy Week and to sit with it. Of course, I am doing this too. I wanted to provide my first thoughts on Holy Week from a rural theologian and Christian educator. Here […]

Rural Bible Readings: Psalm 50:1-3

I regularly teach the course “Engaging the Bible in Rural Ministry.” Throughout the course I work to instill the understanding that the Bible is a rural text. Rural communities find themselves in the text through the patterns of life, the imagery, story, and prophecy. When rural communities connect their story with the biblical story they […]

Can these Porch Lights Still Glow?

There’s a saying from that annals of rural southern mythology that goes something like “If the porch light’s on, come on in.” I think this statement is designed to promote the idea or heritage of rural hospitality. The idea that country folk will welcome anyone in need need into their homes. I can, with some […]

This is my song, this is my story…

I’m in the process of relocating to a new office on a different floor of the church where I serve as the scholar in residence. At first, I was hesitant to agree to move. I wanted to be closer to the rest of the staff, and, let’s be honest, the microwave. But, I’ve warmed up […]

Learning to “Sit Watch”

This pile of used surgical masks is my reminder that in the past month, I’ve clocked more hours in hospitals than in my office. A family health issue—one that I won’t go into too much detail here because of privacy and the reality that it is still ongoing—has me coming and going from a 5 […]

Honest Hope: A Lens for Viewing the Future

One thing I see rural (and not so rural) church folk struggle with in this pandemic is the fear that when church life emerges post-pandemic, they won’t recognize their church anymore. Many sources will tell you that rural churches are anchor institutions in communities that regularly experience seasonal, industrial, and cultural shifts. The church building […]