At the time of this story, I was a United Methodist pastor in a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I was sitting in my church office when the phone rang. The caller explained that her daughter, Karen, had recently gotten engaged, and asked if I would perform the wedding. “We belong to another Methodist Church,” she said, “but yours is closer to the site of the reception.” Then she added that Karen, who lived in Florida, wouldn’t be coming home until a week before the wedding. That ruled out any pre-marital counseling. By now I was getting leery of this situation, but the mother assured me that the pastor of her church, my colleague in ministry, was okay with this plan, that the couple would be getting premarital counseling at their church in Florida, and that a professional wedding consultant would handle all the local arrangements. So I somewhat reluctantly I agreed. Fortunately, the preparations went quite smoothly over the next few months, and the bride-to-be called me several times from Florida to extend the proper courtesies and make sure everything was lined up. My worries were over—or so I thought.
“When I was a freshman in college, I fell in love with a tree. Nothing weird, mind you. It was a pure and chaste sort of love. [….] I spent my undergraduate years at Haverford College, a small Quaker school ten miles west of Philadelphia, PA. The campus is beautifully landscaped, and is in fact a registered arboretum, with specimins of many exotic trees and shrubs. One of its most distinctive attractions is the ‘Climbing Tree,’ a gnarly old osage orange that stands just to the left of the entrance ramp to the Magill Library.”
“The students of Seattle Pacific Seminary have now been organized into five “learning communities” (“LC”). This action is in response to the ATS Educational Standard, Section ES 1.1.2, which reads: “The number of students enrolled in any degree program, along with those who have shared investment in the educational goals of that degree program (i.e., those with regular and substantive interaction with the learnings) shall be sufficient to ensure a viable community of learning” (p. 2 of 18).”
“I want to talk with you today about leadership. At the risk of starting things off on a down note, while I considered the topic, my mind drifted toward the presidential race, and I became depressed. [….] [A]s I moaned about this for a while, I was struck by a rather obvious insight: it’s not that we need more leaders; what we need is a very different kind of leadership.”
“On a spring day in the year 203, a 22-year old Christian woman by the name of Vibia Perpetua was arrested by Roman imperial soldiers. The charge against her, to which she very proudly pled guilty, was ‘being a Christian.’ [….] [While in prison,] Perpetua’s baby was restored to her for a time. She [wrote in her journal]: ‘[Arranging] for the baby to stay with me in prison…instantly made me feel better—no more pain and anxiety for the baby’s sake. And so for me the prison suddenly became a palace, so that I didn’t want to be anywhere else.’”
“In just a moment, I’m going to show you a clip from the movie, A League of Their Own, a fictionalized story about the All-American Girl Professional Baseball League. The clip shows a conversation between Dottie Hinson (played by Geena Davis) […] and her manager, Jimmy Dugan (played by Tom Hanks). [….] [In applying Hanks’ famed speech to seminary,] [y]ou are about to discover that seminary is also hard—and I’m here to tell you that the ‘hard’ is what makes it great.”