Do You Know Who Raises Your Pot Roast?

There was a time when I knew where the pot roast (or hamburger, or steak) came from: off the farm. Sometimes we named our beef, but most of the time we did not. Trust me, you really don’t want to make a pet out of your next meal. Now that I am twenty years-plus removed from DeLoach and Son Dairy Publix or Kroger, has been the name of our beef. Somehow this just did not seem responsible. A couple of weeks ago, however, Amy and I met a farmer – Tinks (yes that is her real name) who has a beef farm in Washington. We are now buying our beef from her. I must tell you that it is not convenient and it is not cheaper. We do this for two reasons. First, because the beef is grass fed and therefore better for you. Secondly, we like the satisfaction in knowing that we are supporting a local farmer and by extension a local economy. For us it is a matter of stewardship; being responsible. It is a small step, but a good start. Each of us must evaluate for ourselves how we are being responsible to the earth and people around us. Granted, we may not all go out and buy local beef, or poultry, or Emu (okay I just threw that one in), but we have a responsibility to taking care of all that has been entrusted to us. Stewardship includes what we eat, what we do, how we act, and how we relate. We often hear the church speak of stewardship and too quickly assume it is...

Living the Good Life

Many years and a few pastorates ago I was taught that the proper way to eat an oyster is raw. From the first time I let one slide down with a dollop of hot sauce I was hooked. Is it any wonder that we plan our vacations near Apalachicola, oyster capital of the USA? This year was no exception. One night I sat down and ate two dozen oysters right out of the shell and chased them with a hot dog. Life is good. While on vacation I watched the sun rise every morning, read a few good books, kayaked with the dolphins, laughed with some dear friends and caught up with my family. In spite of my pasty white complexion I managed to avoid getting sunburned. Life is good. While I cannot help but feel a bit melancholy when the time comes to fold up the beach chairs and head for home, it is such a comfort to know of the welcoming embrace of our church family. Here is where I know that no matter how far I go our home is here with each of you. Life is good. Life is good not simply because good things happen, or good circumstances occur. That is hedonism whose promises are empty. Life is good because of the pleasure and joy in relationships – friends, family and community. Thanks be to my good congregation for allowing my family and me time to get away, get reacquainted and get some rest. They help make life good. Are you living the good life? I hope so. … for I have learned to...

The 10th Planet (actually 9th)

Once upon a time our attic served as the archive of a class project completed several years ago by one of my sons. It was of the solar system. Notice my use of the past tense. The planets were made of clay and evidently in the heat of the attic the clay went through a metamorphosis. The class project of a solar system started to look like somebody’s left over school lunch. One would think that Mercury, with its close proximity to the Sun, could have handled the heat of an attic better. It appears that the school project of a solar system was out of date for other reasons. Now instead of nine planets, Pluto was booted off about a year ago, demoted to the status of a dwarf planet. Just before Pluto’s demotion scientists announced the discovery of another planet in our solar system. Instead of it having the cool name of a Greek or Roman god, they gave it the sterile moniker of 2003 UB313. Is it any wonder that astronomers don’t have a reputation as romantics? If I had the say-so I would call it something cool like Bocelli or Lasagna or Frappuccino. There is some debate, however, as to whether or not 2003 UB313 (henceforth to be known as “Frappuccino”) is actually a planet. Even though “Frappucino” is larger than Pluto and made up of the same materials as Pluto, the scientific community is at a disagreement as to what actually qualifies as a planet. For right now “Frappuccino” will just be some big honking object out there in the solar system. My degree...

Spring Fever

…My wife has it. Literally. She is sneezing, snorting and wheezing along with many in our good state who also suffer from allergies. She also has the baseball kind of spring fever. Now that baseball season has returned Amy has commandeered the remote control whenever the Braves are televised. Last week I began having symptoms of spring fever. It started when I glanced at the many empty flower pots around our house. I realized that it was time to go by the nursery and purchase geraniums, ferns, and perhaps even a few tomato plants. While I love where we live, I miss not having a suitable lot for a vegetable garden. In years past I would plant more tomatoes, peppers, and cucumber than I could ever possible eat. There is just something satisfying about watching something grow and bloom. I just finished an autobiography by Nelson Mandela and he shared that while he was a prisoner in South Africa gardening kept him centered and fulfilled even though he was surrounded by reminders of oppression. To be in God’s community, like gardening, is about cultivating one’s life; enriching the soul. Albert Camus writes: “If there is a soul, it is a mistake to believe that it is given us fully created. It is created here, throughout a whole life.” Mirabel Osler compares the soul to a garden and observes, “[with a garden] there is no ‘The End’ to be written…but a garden is always on the move.” As we find ourselves invested in the spring, making plans for the summer and even looking ahead to the next year, may we...

Do You Smell Gas?

I do. It is coming from the back of my car. It all started with a weed-eater, actually a weed-eater that was out of gas. I drove to the gas station and filled up my gas can for the appointed task of tidying up my yard. All was fine and ordinary and such until I pulled out in traffic and my gas can tipped over sideways. The can was riding happily in the back and so by the time I pulled my car over, lifted the hatch, enough gas had sloshed onto the floorboard to power my weed-eater for a week. It is at times like these that I need to come to grips with the fact that my MINI Cooper is not a pick-up truck. Be that as it may, my car has a rather strong odor of gasoline. I have left my windows down and the trunk open. I have scrubbed over and over again the floorboard carpets. All of my efforts have come to no avail. Alas, my poor car smells like a mechanic’s garage. There are just some smells you have to wait out. In an odd way this has reminded me of a saying my grandmother had: “If you hang around garbage you are going to smell like trash.” As the matriarch of the DeLoach clan this was her way of cautioning us to be careful with the company we keep. This is of course good advice for all ages, but with all due respect it is not entirely true. The believing community is also called to leave the safe and sanitary confines of...