slaves.

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Sometimes I don’t have the right words to talk about something important.

So today, I’m inviting you to check out this website:

http://slaveryfootprint.org

This is a very cool interactive survey, produced in 2011, that will help you assess how many slaves work for you.

WHAT?!

That’s really what it does.  It’s not necessarily easy, but it’s effective.

There are more than 21 million slaves around the globe.  Some of them are in the sex industry, and some are in the labor industry, and whether we realize it or not, it’s very likely that some of what we have comes from their efforts.

It’s a terribly distressing thing to think about, I know.  But it’s a real thing, and it happens both in our communities, and around the globe.  We should be talking, praying, and acting out about this crisis.

After you’ve finished (or if you’ve previously taken the test) I encourage you to visit this page to read more about the United Methodist understanding and response to this crisis.  https://umc-gbcs.org/issues/human-trafficking

May we all find ways to reduce our slavery footprint, and may this terrible practice be brought to an end.

God, you, and I willing.

Have a good week,

Mitch

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Father McKenzie

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I’ve been wondering…

Am I Father McKenzie?

I hope not.

I’m built to be a preacher.

Writing and preaching sermons is my favorite part of ministry.

I look at it as a spiritual art form.

I may not always score a bulls-eye with my sermons, but it’s what I do and who I am.

I don’t think I’ll ever want to stop.

And that’s a problem.

You see, apparently, Millennials tend to hate sermons.

So, 20 years from now will this be me?

Father McKenzie, writing the words
Of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near.

–The Beatles, “Eleanor Rigby”

Gulp.  I hope not.

My anxiety is this:  Am I part of a dying industry?

Are sermons on their way out?

Am I Father McKenzie?

I hope not.

I’m willing to change.  I’m willing to grow in my craft and my calling.  To find new ways to proclaim the old, old story.

I’m willing to listen, to share space, to adjust my words so they might best be heard.

I’m willing to do the hard thing, because I love God, and because my heart longs to make a connection.

But with whom?

Maybe with “all the lonely people”.

No matter the age.

All the lonely people who are searching, who feel disconnected from God and from other humans.

20 years from now, I hope these are the people I am preaching to.

Romans 10:14 says,

 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

I don’t want to be Father McKenzie, wiping his hands as he walks from the grave, where no one was saved.

So I am committed to preaching the Word the best I can,

to children of this new century,

and every Eleanor Rigby.

Have a great week,

Mitch

P.S. Eleanor Rigby on Youtube

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The Grudge

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I’ll admit it.  It bothers me.

It bothers me to think that there may be people out there who hold grudges against me.

Who could they be?

*Maybe that couple I did a baptism for and almost dropped their baby.

*Or the high school girlfriend I abruptly broke up with.

*Maybe that person whom I made a really awesome joke about, but at their expense.

*Come to think of it, as someone who preaches without notes on a Sunday morning, there could be countless people who may have been offended by something I said or did.

Just think about it.  Out there in the world, there may be dozens of people who hold a grudge against you.  Some you may know about, but some are a mystery.

Doesn’t it just make your skin crawl?

It’s not just the idea that people may think this way about you.  It’s the idea that you have caused pain to someone else, perhaps even unintentionally.

It can weigh on you.

Almost as much as it does to hold a grudge against someone else.

Can you make a list of the people you hold grudges against?  An old teacher, a college roommate who let you down, a coworker who stepped over you on the ladder to success?

I’ll bet there are a few there, on your list.

Funny things, grudges.  It’s no fun to be on either side of one.

In Leviticus 19, God says,

“‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

God knew, way back then, of the pain and damage grudges could cause.

And indeed, we see it play out time and again, amongst brothers, between parents and children, and would-be-kings.

Everything from bruised egos, to betrayal, to hurt feelings, to malicious intent.

One of the most famous grudges of all is the one that Esau bore against Jacob.  The grudge was well deserved, as Jacob had stolen Esau’s birthright.

Something miraculous occurs, though.

As Esau’s troops advance upon Jacob’s position, and Jacob is certain his brother will strike him down, Esau offers a surprising response of grace and reconciliation to Jacob.  The brothers are reunited, and peace is restored.

It’s a remarkable scene of love and forgiveness in the midst of a world that didn’t always function that way.

You, like Esau, have the power to dismantle the knot of pain and betrayal that led to the grudges you hold. Forgive.

You also have the power to apologize to those you know you’ve hurt.

As for the faceless people out there who may bear you ill for something you aren’t aware of, all you can do is follow God’s advice, and love your neighbors.

The Grace you help bring into the world can be much more powerful…

than any disgrace you may have caused.

Have a great week,

Mitch

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