Friday, September 17, 2010


Tomorrow I am officiating a wedding at Pax River Naval Air Station. Going through the gate this afternoon, showing ID and passing through security made me exceptionally nervous! It took me a couple of minutes to figure out why.

[Insert *back in time* sound/video effect here]

In February of 2007, I helped put together the examination retreat for our Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. Part of my responsibility was to set up at the hotel so that everyone knew which meetings were in which rooms. So, I had signs made up that I hung outside of each room. At the conclusion of the retreat I put all the signs in a cardboard box, closed the box, labeled it so I knew what was inside and threw it in my trunk.

In late March of 2007, my son Joshua and I were on our way to his first baseball game of the Spring. It just so happened that the game was scheduled to be played on base at Fort Detrick in Frederick, MD.

When we pulled up to the gatehouse that Saturday morning they were on high alert. Following directions we opened all the doors, popped the trunk and exited the car. Everything was fine until the security officer looked in the trunk.

Inside was my box from February clearly labeled B.O.O.M.! A rather unfortunate abbreviation that we use for the Board Of Ordained Ministry. Needless to say security went from high alert to HIGH ALERT.

It was a long, tense few minutes while I tried to explain.


I can laugh about it now, but it wasn’t very funny at the time. Two lessons looking back. One: always check your trunk! Two: we have to come up with a better abbreviation than BOOM. We just have to.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Hinge Events

Historians call them “hinge events.” Events that become so pivotal that major movements of historical importance hinge upon the moment of their happening.

For America, there have been a number of such hinge events. The American Revolution. The Civil War. The Great Awakening. These are examples of hinge events that extended over years.

The assassination of JFK or Abraham Lincoln. The bombing of Pearl Harbor. The resignation of President Nixon. These are hinge events that happened in a moment. A single moment in time that had tremendous consequences.

Its hard to tell what its long term (100-years from now) effect will be, but in the short term 9/11/2001 has all the earmarks of a hinge event.

I had only been at Christ United Methodist Church a few months. I heard the news of the first plane crashing into the World Trade Center on the radio as I drove to the church. We spent the morning getting as much information as we could online – when the ‘net wasn’t crashing because everyone else was doing the same thing.

The rest of the day was spent counseling worried family members who couldn’t reach loved ones working in DC. Answering questions that none of us had the answers to. Trying to think of some way to respond as people of faith that made some sense in the face of tragedy.

That evening the church had a community time of prayer. People from the neighborhoods around the church crowded into our fellowship hall to draw strength from one another.

Nine years later, some of the same questions remain. How do people of faith find meaning in the face of tragedy? How do we remember those who’s lives ended far too soon? How do we “celebrate” (If that’s even the right word) Patriot’s Day?

Whatever 9/11 holds for you, I hope there are at least a few minutes when you stop and remember those moments nine years ago. It was certainly a hinge moment. In significant ways, I think it continues to be.