The End of the Road

May 18th, 2021 by Carl Buffington

Barb and I were packing for a few days at a beach. So when we reached the end of the road or destination, we figured a T-shirt, bathing suit, and flip flops was about all we needed.  Our dog, Sammy, even less, a water bowl and food bowl.  And I packed my newly purchased book, Chess For Dummies.  

We, along with several others at New Covenant Church, have been mentoring at Orange County Academy in Bithlo on Thursday mornings.  Erik, my 11-year-old mentee, clobbered me in a game of chess this past week.  Hence, the beach reading material.  (Barb’s brother, Walter, was an honest to goodness for real chess master, and made a living playing Backgammon. I would love to have him as a coach but he’s now with the Lord).

Sad But True Story

Here’s a sad, but too true story, I’d say parable, from Annie Dillard’s essay, Teaching a Stone to Talk.  She tells of the ill-fated Franklin expedition to the Arctic in 1845.

“The odyssey was a turning point in the arctic exploration because of its well-publicized failure. The preparations were more suitable for the Royal Navy officer’s club in England than for the frigid Arctic. The explorers made room on their ships for a large library, a hand-organ, china place settings, cut glass wine goblets, and sterling silver flatware instead of additional coal for their steam engines.

Lent, Temptation, and Fruity Pebbles

February 24th, 2021 by Christopher Caudle

A Bowl of Fruity Pebbles.

Saturday Morning cartoons sometimes had accessorizing cereals, and one of the most deliciously disgusting is Fruity Pebbles. These colorful rice smushings have been sugared and marketed with great success for over a generation.

You can read more about them here, watch how they are made here, and find out where to buy them here (as if you don't know). 

I thought about Fruity Pebbles yesterday after Mark’s gospel account of Jesus’ temptation. Temptation is by definition tempting, and it presents itself to us in a variety of colorful, sweet, immediate ways. 

And, unlike Jesus’ successful refusal to turn stones into bread, temptation’s victory over us can leave us feeling as though we’ve just eaten a bowl full of rocks.

An Ashes Perspective

February 17th, 2021 by Carl Buffington

Mammon thinks it rules. 

Money and the lust for it, and the power of it, sure seems to be king in our world.  Listen to what is important news:

“Elon Musk passed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos as richest man in the world last week.  Musk’s net worth this week stood at $183.8 billion, $1.4 billion ahead of Bezos.” 

Makes you want to say “Alleluia” doesn’t it?  Except in Lent, of course.

Hope in Ugly Places

January 26th, 2021 by Erica Stephenson

Anger. Hopeless. Trust.

Despair. Hope. Confusion. Trust.  

For most lament is rarely a straight path. It is a wandering towards God in the midst of pain.

And Then...Begin

January 12th, 2021 by Christopher Caudle

Do you feel like you're in the wilderness?  Have you completely lost your bearings?

Are you in the ocean depths—overwhelmed and under pressure?

Are you floating in an open sky—feeling disconnected from everyone and everything?

Why Didn't You Tell Me? Lessons From Pelicans

January 6th, 2021 by Carl Buffington

For the past 5 years, Barbara and I have made it our gift to each other to go to a beach a few days after Christmas.

So, it’s a sunny and seventy-five degree New Year’s Day 2021. We’re mostly shaded by our umbrella. Barb’s caught up in a murder mystery and I’m watching the pelicans fish.

I’m also reading a book, it so happens, on fishing. It’s about fishing for folks like Jesus called his disciples to do.

A Spiritual Check-Up

January 4th, 2021 by Sara Buffington

“Wait a minute...that’s what I weigh? Is that right?”

“That’s what the scale says, sweetie. Don’t feel bad, that’s everybody this year.”

I knew 2020 had been a year of stress eating.  My daily dose of stress relief during quarantine was anything covered in cheese dust (popcorn, Cheetos, Pringles, chips, goldfish, etc.).  

And yet I was still slack-jawed in the doctor’s office, staring at that number.   I just wasn’t prepared to see exactly how much I had gained.  

That was a week ago, right before Christmas.  And now...to plan.

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