Difficult Conversations, Difficult Decisions – Part 1

It’s a common scenario for too many pastors.  We’re called to the Hospital ICU to meet with a grieving family – grieving not because of a death that has happened but because of the death that seems immanent.  The patient, generally elderly and with a terminal illness, is being sustained by machines and tubes.  There is no practical hope for earthly survival beyond the confines of a weak and comatose body in a nursing home or care facility.  Adult children experience the gamut of emotions – from anger to guilt – as they consider “what mom/dad would want.”

Continue reading Difficult Conversations, Difficult Decisions – Part 1


Physical Health & Spirituality

A painful ear infection sent me to the doctor a couple weeks ago. While I sat on the exam table, my doctor looked back through my medical chart with a perplexed look on his face.

“When was your last physical, Mr. Kirbach?  I’m not seeing it in your chart.”

Sheepishly, I confessed, “It was in 2001 when I began college.”

Apparently, even for a young person, 15 years is too long to go between physical exams.  And after the doc pointed out my marginally high blood pressure and growing waste line, I anticipated a lecture. But instead, he confronted me with a challenging question: “Isn’t physical wellness part of the Christian tradition?” Continue reading Physical Health & Spirituality

A Baptist Ash Wednesday

February brings a variety of special traditions.  For St. Louis Cardinals fans, we anticipate this month knowing pitchers and catchers are reporting to Spring Training in Jupiter, Florida.  Romantics remember Valentine’s Day with candies and flowers.  (To a historical theologian, by the way, St. Valentine’s Day is a day of intrigue; how did a Holy Feast day for Valentine of Rome who was martyred in the 4th Century become associated with roses and romantic hallmark cards?)  And another significant religious day takes place in February: Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of the 40-days of Lent.

In my own religious experience I’ve never been too fond of being called a sinner.  Continue reading A Baptist Ash Wednesday