Even When I Saw It Coming

There are a few moments in life in which I am blindsided by an emotional reaction.  When I tell a story in a sermon in which I have an emotional reaction I actually read it or speak it over and over so I can get the “emotion” out. The story is still moving, but when I’m preaching I need composure to be able to move on. I don’t have the option of breaking down for a few minutes (although this has happened and it’s okay when it does, but it can’t happen EVERY time).

Yesterday I was having a conversation with a friend and I was telling him that I cry at the same moment in baptisms.  The “Thanksgiving over the water” as I touch the water for the first time with (most of the time) a baby in my arms, I cannot help but be moved. Is it the deep seeded promise of the baptism? Is it the beautiful baby? Is it the energy of the room and the overwhelming love that is felt? I don’t know, and can one really be separate from the other?

But even when I know it’s coming, I can feel it, I can see it ahead of time and try to stop it, the emotion still rushed forward.


This happened to me yesterday.

A week or so ago a parishioner texted me and asked permission to quote part of the benediction I use (you can find it here, embedded in my statement of faith) in her Christmas/New Year’s Letter. Of course, I said. The words are not mine (and even if they were you could have them anyway), but are associated with me.

So when I took the mail out of the mailbox yesterday and saw the card with her return address I knew what was coming. I knew she was ending the letter with the quote.

So I read the letter in the kitchen while warming up dinner, knowing her family well, smiling at their successes and her pride and love for them. Yet when I reached those words, the words I say every week and knew were coming… when I read them, I began to cry.

“Those who you love, and even with those whom nobody loves”

Even when I saw it coming, I cried.

I thank God for these moments that remind me that my faith is not just in my head, some say we cannot always trust the emotional reactions, but I say, for me at least, they are a reminder that faith is more than words, faith is felt, held deep inside, a place that can be touched even when my head anticipates and tries to block it.

Statement of Faith


Today I was talking with my friend Jeff Richards who is being examined for ordination today in the Presbytery of Sacramento. Being “examined” on the floor of presbytery is daunting, just about anything is game- faith, theology, church, life, whatever, anything. I’ve been teasing him that my first question was about the second coming, you know… no big deal… Anyway, I thought I would share my statement of faith, (you can read Jeff’s here). The majority of it was written in seminary.  When I went to change calls and re-wrote it about 2 years ago I really didn’t have much to change, a few words here and there. It’s not that I or my connection with God hasn’t changed, it’s just that the core of my faith (which is essentially what a statement of Faith is) hasn’t. It is based of the benediction I give each Sunday, enjoy. (also, there’s no mention of the second coming- I’ll let you decide what to do with that).

I believe in God and in Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, who lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, both now and forever. This Triune God is to be worshiped and praised in our coming in and our going out.

THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST-I believe that Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God. I believe that God revealed God’s self to humanity through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe Christ has atoned for our sins in his death and resurrection. Through Christ’s earthly ministry he revealed the kingdom of God and brought us into a right relationship with God.

THE LOVE OF GOD-I believe that in life and in death we are never separated from God’s love. This is because of the abundant grace and mercy that God has shown us and toward all of creation through our Savior, Jesus Christ. I believe God calls all people into a life of service as shown to us in Holy Scripture. Scripture is the unique and authoritative witness to Christ and God’s word of love, grace and redemption to us.

AND THE COMMUNION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT- The Holy Spirit is our advocate and our guide, through the Holy Spirit we are empowered for the work and ministry that God calls us to do. We come to know God in all God’s forms through Holy Scripture, which is revealed to us through the Spirit.

IS WITH US ALL- I believe that God’s redeeming grace is offered to all people. God adopts us into the convenantal family through our baptism, which is corporate and individual. I believe the baptismal covenant that my parents established for me in my infancy and that I affirmed when I became an active member of the church, this encouraged me to look at my life and say “what love God has for me that I am called as a child of the God.”

THOSE WHOM WE LOVE- The church is our family in Christ and as the church we are the body of Christ. It is through our faith community that people experience Christ in the world today. In the gathering of the church community we are to listen to God’s word, to baptize and participate in the Lord’s Supper and to pray and to have fellowship with others. In the celebration of the Lord’s Supper we are to be mindful of whose body we have become members. As the gathered church communes together we are reconciled with God and with one another.

AND EVEN WITH THOSE WHOM NOBODY LOVES- We live in a broken world and through baptism and communion Christ calls us to be Christ’s body for our world. I believe that Christ called us to work in the world to bring about God’s justice, especially for the oppressed.

THIS DAY AND EVERY DAY- I believe that God never leaves us and that the Peace of Christ is always with us. We may feel alone or afraid in the world, but that God is with us even when we feel empty. We are a community and that even when we cannot affirm our faith for ourselves, the church exists as a community of faith to support us and affirm our faith on our behalf through the power of the Holy Spirit.