Thursday, February 26, 2009


I attended a wonderful (can I say that?) memorial service for Myron Nidetz at Temple Beth El tonight. Myron was one of a kind!!! I was privileged to get to know him through Munster Rotary Club, Munster Education Foundation and the Munster Chamber of Commerce. But it was the Arts that were most important to Myron.

At the service the Temple used a brand new prayer book that I am going to have to borrow so that I can "steal" some of the prayers --- it is a beautiful new addition to their worship service. I am looking forward to March 20th when I will have the opportunity to preach at their Friday evening Shabbat service.

Myron's daugher gave a beautiful eulogy of her father, as did Chancellor Dr. Bruce W. Bergland from IU Northwest. His analogy of life being a quilt and when someone dies a part of it being ripped out was powerful.

Myron will be missed by many --- but especially by all who love and value the Arts in Northwest Indiana!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fish Fry

Ridge Church is having the first of three Lenten Fish Fry's this friday, February 27th. Come and join us for this great meal. Tickets can be purchased online or at the door.

Hope to see you Friday night.

Lenten Journey

Today is the first day of Lent, commonly called Ash Wednesday. We call it Ash Wednesday because Christians come to worship and have ashes placed upon their foreheads in the sign of a cross. Why do we do this?

According to the United Methodist Book of Worship:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ: the first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church that before the Easter celebration there should be a forty-day season of spiritual preparation. During this season converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when persons who had committed serious sins and had separated themselves from the community of faith were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness, and restored to participation in the life of the Church. In this way, the whole congregation was reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and of the need we all have to renew our faith.

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to observe a holy Lent; by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word. To make a right beginning of repentance, and as a mark of our mortal nature, let us now kneel before our Creator and Redeemer.

Almighty God, you have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, so that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

I hope that as you begin this Lenten Journey that you will take the time to truly do those things. This year I, and the staff, are going to work through Bruce Epperly’s book Holy Adventure. After one day, I am really enjoying the journey!

Have a great Lent!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Random thoughts

This has been one of those weeks. It is only Wednesday, but I am already beat. Probably should have known it was gonna be one of those weeks when it started with Duke losing on Sunday evening to Boston College --- we're not supposed to lose to BC!

Monday was spent cleaning at home and running all over the place. Monday night, in that amazing sport for the athletically challenged DARTBALL we lost all three games. The other team really didn't beat us. we beat ourselves. It was the classic case of looking past the games and not playing very well. At least no one has been accused of steroid use!!

We have three members of the church very ill with cancer, and a couple of others who have been sick as well. Along with that Sarah's dad flunked a stress test so Nathan and Sarah have headed to Lafayette to be with him today as he has angiogram.

Last night we had a meeting of six churches who are looking at the possibility of coming together in what is known as a cluster. This is the latest, greatest thing from the United Methodist Church. In my 25 years of ministry I can't tell you how many of the latest and greatest things I have seen. My usually response is: "This too shall pass."

There may be some great benefit from this idea, if (and it is a BIG IF) we really are willing to work at it and set aside our territorial natures --- OK, I said it was a big if!

The big issue was who to include? And I will be honest, there are no easy answers. I am inclined to believe that the configuration we have come up with makes the most sense for the future --- one church is a stretch. We are talking with the United Methodist Churches in Dyer, Griffith, Merrillville, Crown Point and Cedar Lake. Yep, Cedar Lake today is a stretch, but 10 years from now, the are going to be more like us than even they can imagine.

Keep tuned in, it is going to get interesting.

Friday, Jessica leaves for Australia. She will be there until the middle of July. I am really excited for her, but really for the first time it feels like she is leaving.

I need to wrap up, I am off to the funeral for Pat Galvin. Pat and I served together on the Jim and Betty Dye foundation board. He is a huge loss.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Darwin & Lincoln

On February 12, 1809, two men --- one near Hodgenville, Kentucky, the other in Shrewsbury, England were born. Two men who would change the world forever.

On this, the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin, I am deep in thought. Which man has had a greater impact on the world --- and 100 years from now, which will be more significant.

By way of press coverage of their birthdays the answer seems quite obvious. Lincoln has had all kinds of press, while many do not even recognize that Darwin was born the same day.

Lincoln has always been a hero of mine --- that is probably the product of growing up in Illinois, and also being a student of Civil War history. I have read numerous biographies on Lincoln, including Carl Sandburg and Ward Hill Lamon (Lincoln's bodyguard). I am currently reading Team of Rivals and am loving it.

Darwin, on the other hand, has always been an enigma. Sure, I learned about his theories in school, and I grew up in a church that had no problems with evolution. But other than watching Inherit the Wind, the rather inaccurate movie about the Scopes Trial, I really know nothing about him.

I keep abreast of the new, and i think ridiculous debate about Intelligent Design (Creationism in sheep's clothing), but I have never read Origin of Species, or any biographies about Darwin. I think it is probably time . . .

What difference does it make? Evolution vs. Creationism is one of the litmus tests for conservative Christianity. The fear that if we begin to believe in evolution, the whole religious house of cards will cave in is a huge fear for many. I don't get the debate because religion and science are not incompatible for me, like it is to so many.

Lincoln will always be revered for his role in the emancipation and the elimination of slavery in America. But as we all know, racism persists even to this day. Getting rid of that taint is a much deeper problem. I am not sure Lincoln would be possible without Darwin and his understanding of our interconnectedness. Slowly, ever so slowly, we are understanding that we are all connected to each other: white, black, brown, yellow, red --- we are all children of the same God.

100 years from now I think we will look back on Darwin as the one who ushered in the new age that is emerging. He has opened our eyes to realities that seemed impossible only a few years ago.

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Five People You Meet In Heaven

I just finished Mitch Albom's book: The Five People You Meet In Heaven. I read it for a book group that I am a part of. I have to start out by saying that I found it pretty sappy. It is a quick read, very predictable, and too cute for me. I think that I would have liked it if the title wasn't THE five people, because I hope I meet more than five!

Mitch Albom is the author of the moving Tuesdays With Morrie which was a powerful and profound book. I think he wanted to do the same in this one (actually I heard an interview with him, and that seems like exactly his goal.) He missed the mark!

The book is about Eddie --- a war veteran, wounded in the Philippians during WWII. Eddie suffers through a debilitating wound, the death of the love of his life and a cruel and uncaring father. Eddie believes that he has lived an unimportant life. On his 83rd birthday, Eddie, who still works at an Oceanside amusement park dies while trying to save a little girl from getting killed in an accident at the park.

Eddie finds himself in heaven where he has to meet five people who have crossed paths with him in his life and help explain his life to him. Like I said, it is pretty hokey! These five people try to show the meaning and purpose to Eddie's life.

It is not a bad read --- you can finish it in a few hours. But it does not live up to the hype, nor the expectations following Tuesdays With Morrie.