Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland’

Just as God broke open the tomb on Easter morning and raised up Jesus,
God can break open your tombs and raise you up, too! 

Did you catch David Brooks’s impressive closing keynote speech at the Knight Foundation’s 2019 Media Forum? If you missed it, you can see it online. Brooks is a conservative columnist who writes for the New York Times which, he jokes, makes him feel a little bit like the “the resident rabbi at Mecca. It’s a very lonely position”.

I was quite moved by Brooks’s thoughtful presentation which citied biblical passages and even the great twentieth century theologian, Paul Tillich. One of the things from Brooks’s speech that has stuck with me was his understanding that in our individual and even national times of division, darkness, or crisis, “we can either be broken, or broken open.” (more…)


Like the Old Stone Church bandana affixed to my pack, I carry your prayers as a reminder of who I am, and as a way to sustain my sensitivity and compassion for you even though we are an ocean apart.

Every day I swing a 20-pound pack over my shoulders. Its filled mostly with water to hydrate me for a long day of walking, I’ve got a small first aid kit in my pack, too. I also carry a few other things like a change of socks, a raincoat, and Nordic walking poles to help me up the steep climbs of Spain’s coastal mountains and to maneuver down rocky river beds into valleys and across small streams. But I carry something far more meaningful than my back pack.  (more…)

God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 4:19


Hanging out with singer-songwriter, Johnny Mercer in Savannah’s Ellis Square.

Dear Friends:

I pray that you are having a restful and restorative summer, and that all is well back at the Old Stone Church and in the great city of Cleveland, Ohio! As you are aware, I’ve been off campus on sabbatical since May 15 experiencing some restorative time of my own. That doesn’t mean I’ve been on vacation, though. In fact, I’ve been very busy doing some of the sorts of things that are reinvigorating my thoughts and my spirit for my ministry among you. Here’s the “dirty” details and more photos! (more…)


RICK MORANIS, THE CANADIAN COMEDIAN SAID THAT HE TOOK A SABBATICAL FROM ACTING because shooting movies was stealing him away from his young children. “Keeping in touch with them from hotel rooms and airports wasn’t working for me. So I stopped.” Some take sabbaticals because they need to spend more time with their kids. Others, like myself, take sabbaticals because we need to spend more time with ourselves.

Too often pastors are very good at taking care of everyone but themselves. If you’ve been following my blog, you already know that this summer, I’m taking a long-overdue 12-week sabbatical from my ministry in downtown Cleveland – almost 16 weeks when I throw in a few weeks of vacation, to do something wonderfully countercultural: take care of myself. But “Where, O where is my pastor going?” you ask.


It’s a scary video to watch. My friend, Scott, caught quite the scene on his camera at the CAV’s hometown victory celebration in downtown Cleveland yesterday. In the video, you’ll see a young girl who had climbed-up to a very high second story ledge with her boyfriend to get a good view of LeBron James and the CAV’s parade below but, then, didn’t know how to get herself down.

What impressed me about the situation is how many people were hoping and praying that the girl didn’t fall and seriously injure herself. In fact, after a group of people caught her, the crowd roared with delight that she was safe.

It seems to me that there a lot of people in America today who are on the edge, too. They’ve lost jobs and opportunities. They’re struggling to keep-up in an unstable and uncertain economy. And more and more, America’s losing its once proud and successful social safety net. People are falling and there are fewer resources to help catch them.

But what Scott’s video reminds me of is that if we’d just stop listening for a minute to the media and the politics of fear, which tend to blame or demonize those who struggle, you’ll find that people are essentially good-willed and don’t want to let each other fall. In fact, turn off the television or computer and tune-out the political rhetoric and social-media vitriol and you’ll find that even in a crowd of 1.3 million people, the estimated attendance in downtown Cleveland yesterday, most people want and will do some very generous things if you let them. It’s in our godly DNA. As Russell Simmons, Def Jam records co-founder and humanitarian once said, “compassion is the ultimate expression of your highest self.” Give people and chance to express that highest-self, the divine self, and they will.

I pray that in the thick of this election season, no matter who wants to build walls, cut taxes, make deals, close schools, decrease care, blame the poor for being poor, or leave any friend or stranger out on a ledge, that we might remember the image of a crowd of good people in downtown Cleveland who would not let a young girl perish.

I was honored to have been the invited invocational speaker as Rotary Club of Cleveland and Rotary International honored Cleveland Mayor Frank G. Jackson. 

Acts 2:1-21 RMG Translation


When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together at the Old Stone Church. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind off of Lake Erie, and it filled the entire church where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Republicans, media specialists, security forces and protesters from every State in America visiting Cleveland. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Clevelanders? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Californians, Texans, Arizonans, and residents of Oregon and Washington, Kansas and Nebraska, Indiana and Pennsylvania, 10Alaska and Hawaii, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee, and visitors from New England and New York, Jews and Muslims, Christians and seekers, atheists and agnostics—in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of love and power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”

But others sneered and took photos with their cell phones. Some posted: “These Christians are drunk on the new wine.” Others Tweeted, “Look at the Old Stoners!”

But standing as one in Christ, the Old Stone Church raised its voice and addressed them, “People of America and all who live in Cleveland, let this be known to you, listen to what we say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning and the party really doesn’t get going ‘till sometime after noon.

No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel who said: ‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Even upon my servants, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. Then everyone, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.


May 15, 2016

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I’m feeling just a wee bit proud today, Earth Day 2016! Click here to read 2 important articles from the May/June edition of Presbyterians Today, our national magazine.

The first is called Windmills Optional (pp10-11), which I wrote. The second, Greening Our Cities (p16-20), offers some great accolades to the Old Stone Church in downtown Cleveland for the work we are doing in the city in the area of planning and eco-justice.