Time for Graduation …

In this time of Graduations it seems appropriate to revisit something I wrote just 3 years ago in our season of Graduations …


Preparing for the Unknown …

It seems cliché but really where does time go?

It doesn’t seem that long ago that our son Riley was heading off to school for the first time.  Every year we would meet with the teachers to plan goals for the year.  I would make a passionate speech: “Your job is to get him ready for the next year of school—no more, no less.  Don’t make decisions about his future that are not yours to make. Keep him on course and on track this year.  It is not for you to decide what his future holds. It is your role to help him take steps in getting there!”  Sherry called it the “Papa Bear” speech.

This June our little boy graduates from New Castle High School. We plan to celebrate as a family on Sunday June 7, 2015 all the work that Riley has done to reach this day.  He has overcome obstacles, lived though constant change, and succeeded.

But now there are no more teacher meetings to attend … just a future that remains unknown.  And that is somewhat daunting because the work is not done, but rather it is just beginning … again.

Riley’s future still lies ahead, but the work that must now be done will be vastly different than the past years and in some ways it will remain the same.  What now? is the question we ask as the future as seemingly arrived.

I have come to realize that Riley’s journey is very reflective of our journey as United Methodists and as a church. We are on the cusp of great change.

Our General Conference will convene in one year in Portland, Oregon.  There is certain to be change that will result from that Conference.  Our own Indiana Annual Conference convenes this week to elect delegates for that conference and to potentially vote on proposals to send to General Conference.  And this too will be the next to last Annual Conference that our Bishop will preside over as he will retire in 2016.

One thing is certain for our Denomination and our Annual Conference — change is coming!  What change is hard to say and that is what makes it scary – the unknown.  The same could be said for our church – the unknown is scary.

Change is coming.  What exactly that change will be is unknown, but we are past the time we can simply look at the year ahead and say, “Get us to next year and that will be OK.”  The time has come for us, as a church and as United Methodists, to grasp the future amidst our reality and plan accordingly.  The world is not the same, nor will it remain as it is.  We must plan now to meet the future unafraid.

Amazing things are a part of our history. Amazing things are happening all around us in places we work together. Many more amazing things are waiting for us in the future.

Need proof of what can happen with a bit of planning and hard work?

Stop by the New Castle Fieldhouse and I will introduce you to my son, Riley Frieden, class of 2015.  The future has arrived and it looks great (and not as scary as we once thought).


It seems as much as we want to believe that things are changing – they are also very much the same.  Three years after this … we still are looking ahead to the future.  And the future is still unknown.  Riley is thriving and growing into a wonderful young man.  He will be taking part in our work internship this summer in hopes of finding a meaningful place of employment (that’s scary and very unknown).  And yet with all the unknowns … we have found peace and joy.  And in that peace and joy we also know that there is much work still ahead for all of us.  And BTW, we still couldn’t be more proud of the person that Riley has become!





Back Home Again …

I have always been a wand’rer 
Over land and sea 
Yet a moonbeam on the water 
Casts a spell o’er me 
A vision fair I see 
Again I seem to be 
Back home again in Indiana 
And it seems that I can see 
The gleaming candlelight still shining bright 
Thro’ the sycamores for me 
The new mown hay sends all its fragrance 
From fields I used to roam 
When I dream 
About the moonlight on the Wabash 
Then I long for my Indiana home 

Every Memorial Day weekend those words are sung at the start of the Indianapolis 500.
I grew up with them, but they took on greater meaning the first time I was living out of state. I watched the ceremonies at the start of the race from a place far away from home  and found myself in tears as the words were sung.

What was it about Indiana and home that had me longing to be there?

Now that I am back home in Indiana, I am still stirred by the words of the song.

What is it that I am still longing for?

My Father’s house has room to spare. If that weren’t the case, would I have told you that I’m going to prepare a place for you? When I go to prepare a place for you, I will return and take you to be with me so that where I am you will be too.  John 14: 2-3 CEB

Perhaps finding peace at home in this life and peace in the next life stirs my heart for all those who have yet to discover that which their heart longs for … How about you?
Waiting on the edge of your prodigal heart
Wanting for someone to save you from yourself
Out there on the edge dangling somewhere in the darkness
Doubting if anybody really cares
But when Love reached through the shadows
Whispering your name
And nothing will ever be the same again
For when Love calls you home
Forgiveness embraces a past you once owned
And all the mistakes that carried your name are gone‘Cuz that’s what happens when Love calls you home
Craddled in Your mercy that has no limit
I’ve finally found a place where I belong
Now I can’t imagine one moment without you in it
It’s hard to believe I tried to make it on my own
But You picked me up from the ruins of my broken life
And when every chance was spent
You gave me one more try

written by FOSTER, MICHAEL sung by Commissioned

On the way to Sunday: What do we know?

We live in a world filled with unclear messages. 

It would be good to gain some clarity when the message is unclear. 

The undisputed champion of muddled messages is Yogi Berra, Baseball Hall of Famer and former manager of the NY Yankees. Who at one point or another is quoted as having said: 

– It ain’t over ‘til its over
– Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical.

– Nobody goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.

– You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.


Sometimes things that get said are rather confusing, aren’t they? But our confusion doesn’t always stem from what someone says.  Sometimes we become confused simply because of our busy schedules and inadequate communication.

Take for example the story of a photographer for a national magazine who was assigned to get photos of a great forest fire. Wanting to take some aerial pictures, he asked his home office to hire a plane. They made the arrangements & told him to go at once to a nearby airport, where the plane would be waiting for him. When he arrived at the airport, there was a plane warming up by the runway. He jumped in with his equipment and yelled, “Let’s go! Let’s go!” The pilot swung the plane into the wind & they were soon in the air.

“Fly over the north side of the fire,” yelled the photographer, “and make 3 or 4 low level passes.”

“Why?” asked the pilot.

“Because I’m going to take pictures,” cried the photographer. “I’m a photographer and that’s we do!”

After a pause the pilot said, “You mean you’re not the flight instructor?”

We live in a time when our television screens are filled with competing political advertisements and disagreements about the economy and healthcare. Add to that competing and conflicting messages about deodorant, laundry detergent, and the best prices on groceries, we can be left to wonder – “Just what do we know for sure?”

In this day and age, sometimes it is difficult to know what is true and what is false. Surely there are some things we can count on, some things we can know for sure. Leads me to ask, when it comes to faith what do we know for sure?

We have grown up with theological ideas that fit well on the magnets on our refrigerators or the needlepoints hanging on our walls, but we have twisted the meanings to fit our lives.

Picture1.pngWhat if the bumper sticker faith we have chosen isn’t what God intended?

Join us on Sunday mornings for the next few weeks as we explore some common  misconceptions in our theology that we can blame on the magnets and can change by simply reworking the message we put on display in our lives.

See you Sunday …