February 26th, 2017

his friend Jesus

Preparing for Annual Conference

So, I thought I'd have a t-shirt made to wear at Annual Conference this year. On one side, in a posterboard kind of font, I'd have the words
RETIRED UNITED METHODIST CLERGY
On the other side, I would have a statement or slogan relating to that status. Here are the various statements I've been considering:
Getting out
while the getting
is good.


Ask me what
I really think.


I have kept
the faith.


The best is
yet to be.


A priest forever
after the order
of Melchizedek.


Free at last,
free at last.


Ask me about
my grandchildren.


No more meetings.
No more reports.
Now, I can do ministry!


Henceforth,
let no man trouble me,
for I bear in my body
the marks of the Lord Jesus.


Your complaint
has been referred
to a higher authority.
He doesn’t care, either.
Then it occurred to me that I could print these up as iron-on transfers. We could offer them to people at Annual Conference for a small donation to one of the Pathfinder's causes: the NAUMS Bible Fund; the Larry Richert Fund for high adventure scholarships; the Congo Scouting Ministry Fund.

We have a large number of people retiring this year, plus a lot of retirees from previous years who attend Conference. Ya think these would be popular?
hound of heaven

The Wordsmith's Forge

My newsletter column for March

‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
‘To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax -
Of cabbages — and kings -
And why the sea is boiling hot -
And whether pigs have wings.’
— Lewis Carroll, “The Walrus and the Carpenter”
The very first sermon I ever preached was in the fall of 1974. I had recently announced my call to the ministry in the church we had joined. I was soon asked to speak to the boys and girls in children’s church, which was conducted in the chapel of Terre Haute First UMC. In my talk to them, I attempted to explain that even if, per impossibile, God were not all-powerful, he would still deserve our worship because he is all-good. And then, to make the point, I tossed off the phrase, “And if pigs had wings, we’d all eat flying pork.” Later that day, little Tommy Clayton was asked by his parents what Art had said in children’s church, and all Tommy could remember was that one odd phrase.

And now, I am looking ahead to my last sermon. Oh, it probably won’t be the last time I ever preach, but it will be the last sermon I preach under full-time appointment; certainly, the last sermon I preach as your pastor. I’m thinking about calling it “The Last Word.”

For, as you are probably aware by now, I announced my impending retirement earlier this month. I mentioned it off-handedly as part of an announcement about our Venturers’ trip to Switzerland. Journalists call that “burying the lede.” It has caused a bit of confusion, I hear. But I really didn’t want to kill the service stone-dead with a great big stopper on what should be a day of celebration.

There is still the greater part of five months of ministry to share with you before the day comes for me to lay down my responsibilities. That’s a long time to say good-bye. There’s time to get some important things done before then. Still, the time will come, and soon enough. There will be some things I will need to say to you, and things you will need to say to me, and I want to be open to that: words of appreciation, of forgiveness, of love. But if I don’t get everything said to you that I wish, or you don’t get everything said to me that you wish, then let these lines of Art Garfunkel say this for us both:
But the ending always comes at last
endings always come too fast,
they come too fast, but they pass too slow,
I love you and that’s all I know.

Love and prayers,

— Art Collins