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How I learned to shut up and be quiet

It’s been nearly two months since I retired (and longer than that since I posted anything here).

At first I traveled a bit – to Morocco and Iceland, two countries which could not be more different from each other and which, believe me, required some careful packing. But mostly, since arriving back in the U.S., I have tried to shut up and be quiet.

After 40 years of talking – blah, blah, blah – I was weary with the sound of my own voice. But turning off the noise and easing into a world with little talk has been surprisingly difficult. Continue Reading →

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Saying Goodbye (reposted from October 2013)

saying goodbye

Saying goodbye is never easy.

Even the times when I thought it would be easy, when I was glad to leave, when I couldn’t wait to walk out the door, I realized later that it hurt, that I had no idea how attached I had become. Continue Reading →

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My Swiss Photo Journal

I have tried my best to offer an honest written account of my years in Switzerland, but it’s possible that a few well-chosen photos might convey – in a different way – what living and working here has been like. It’s a deeply visual experience, as you can imagine. And now, toward the end of my time here, I find myself wishing that I had taken my camera everywhere. Pictured above is my office, scene of many thoughtful conversations, plus some hard thinking and praying. Continue Reading →

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The Annual Christmas Letter

 

Dear family and friends,

Continue Reading →

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I miss Thanksgiving Day

The country where I live does not celebrate Thanksgiving Day. They say they do, but they don’t.

They call it the Federal Day of Thanksgiving, Repentance and Prayer, which is a mouthful, especially in German, but it’s nothing, really. It falls in the middle of September, and to me it’s just a day like any other.

I miss Thanksgiving Day, the real one, the one I remember from childhood. I woke up a little sad this morning thinking about it. Continue Reading →

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“How’s the farewell tour going?”

Yesterday a church member said to me, “How’s the farewell tour going?”

I suppose this had something to do with my upcoming retirement, and I will assume (because of my natural good-heartedness) that the comment was meant in jest, but it hit the ear wrong. I found myself tearing up unexpectedly.

It’s true that I am in the last months of my ministry here in Switzerland, and I’ve been thinking that there might be some wisdom that I could pass along – or at least note for my own benefit.

I thought about keeping a journal over these last weeks and months, with a view toward writing my next book Continue Reading →

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Getting to a more diverse church

(At the invitation of NEXT Church, a network of Presbyterian leaders in the U.S., I wrote something about becoming a more diverse church, a subject to which I have given considerable thought. You can find the original here at the NEXT Church website.)

I’m no longer sure what got into me, but at the ripe old age of 59, after serving mostly white and mostly suburban congregations over the course of more than 30 years of ministry, I accepted the call to become pastor of the International Protestant Church of Zürich (Switzerland).

On my first Sunday at my new church, I looked out at one of the most racially and ethnically diverse congregations in the world. On any given Sunday, more than two dozen nationalities are present in worship at my church, every skin tone God ever imagined. There are also more language groups than I have dared to count. Continue Reading →

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“Retirement” and this thing called ministry

I’ve been using the word “retirement” for the last few years mainly as a joke, as though it were some distant possibility, certainly not something that I needed to worry about any time soon.

And then, last week, what had seemed so distant and unlikely suddenly became a reality. I am planning to retire early next year, six months from now. Continue Reading →

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Here’s an Oscar-worthy video about my new book

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Bad timing for my new book? I don’t think so

Timing may not be everything in the publishing world – a few other factors are important too – but bad timing is never good for the launch of a new book.

In the forward to my just-published book, How to Become a Multicultural Church, Wesley Granberg-Michaelson points out that most western democracies are having a hard time right about now with multiculturalism, especially with what feels like a rising tide of refugees, immigrants, and others who are, well, different from the rest of us.

In the recent presidential election, Donald Trump successfully tapped into the fears and anxieties that many Continue Reading →

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