Pastor Darian

Author's details

Name: Pastor Darian
Date registered: June 5, 2012

Latest posts

  1. Pastor Darian's Musings: Why Not To Go To Church: Life’s Better On a “Bicycle” — October 30, 2014
  2. Pastor Darian's Musings: Why Not To Go To Church: Is This Pew Taken? — October 23, 2014
  3. Pastor Darian's Musings: The Gospel According to Monica: Dipping Our Toes Into the Past — October 16, 2014
  4. Pastor Darian's Musings: The Gospel According to Chandler: When One Part Suffers — October 9, 2014
  5. Pastor Darian's Musings: The Gospel According to Joey: “Cool” Changes — October 2, 2014

Most commented posts

  1. Pastor Darian's Musings: The Gospel According to John Coffey — 1 comment
  2. Pastor Darian's Musings: The Duties of a 1913 Preacher in Cleveland, MS — 1 comment

Author's posts listings

Oct 30 2014

Pastor Darian's Musings: Why Not To Go To Church: Life’s Better On a “Bicycle”

Original post at

In the days of yore, I rode a bicycle, and I took it very personally when people chose long bike rides over church on Sunday mornings.

A local cycling group had a Facebook page where the administrators would post information about upcoming group rides: where to meet, what kind of pace, and how long the journey would be. Since I was a fan of Facebook way back when, I kept up with the pedaling opportunities but never attended. I preferred cruising with a friend around the neighborhood to the “moderate pace” of a 20-mile journey across the county.

One Saturday afternoon, a post appeared about a ride that would begin at 10 a.m. on Sunday morning.

What?! I said to the computer screen. That’s when you should be in church!

I typed a long, Scripture-filled response. I re-read it and realized how un-cool it was. I deleted the response. Then I typed a snarky, short sentence about how everyone should just ride on over to my church since worship began at 10 a.m. I re-read it and realized how angry it sounded. I deleted the response. Responding in religiosity and condemnation would only make people pedal further away at a faster speed.

I called a friend and vented about people choosing to ride bikes over worshipping God, and his response was only silence –until he confessed that he, too, planned to go on the bike ride.

When I hung up the phone, I realized that frustration had become hurt. Why was I taking it so personally that people, many whom I didn’t even know, were going on a bike ride instead of going to church? I didn’t know their stories. Perhaps they were Roman Catholic and attended mass on Saturday evening. Perhaps they were going to attend an early worship service.

I didn’t care where or when they worshipped. I just wanted them to choose worship.

Years have passed. I’m no longer on Facebook. The only part of the bicycle I still own is the helmet (Who would seriously want a used helmet?). I no longer yell at the computer screen when I read about activities scheduled at the same time as worship services.

While a lot has changed, the desire I had for all of those cyclists to be in church has not. I still long for people to worship in community.

I also understand why we choose bike rides over worship. Many cyclists declare, as I once did, that life is better on a bicycle. The mind and body have to work sharply with each other to stay safely balanced on two wheels. The wind on one’s face awakens our breath. Movement through Creation testifies to a magnificent Creator. The riders are comfortable with a fellowship of silence. There is indeed a “high” we experience after physical exercise that makes everything feel right in the world.

So often church services leave us with the opposite feeling. We feel closed in rather than free. We are uncomfortable with each other. We leave feeling no different than when we arrived. The Holy Spirit has the power to leave us with a feeling that far surpasses a “runner’s high.” Our congregations have an awesome yet difficult responsibility each week: to take a ride through the greatest story ever told.

Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus….
Let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith…
Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering…
Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds…
Let us not neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some….

Neglecting to meet together with the body of Christ can easily become a habit. It is so important for us to have our different communities of friends and family, our “bicycle groups” with whom we enjoy life and participate in activities. Let us be careful not to let any other group replace the fellowship centered in worship of God.

How can we truly enjoy creation if we don’t praise the Creator?

How can we find balance in a chaotic world if we don’t depend on our Savior?

How can we appreciate the air we breathe if we don’t listen for the Breath of Life?

Life may be better on a bicycle, but life is best on the wings of the Holy Spirit. May we be open in our worship services to be changed, and to be better, than we were before we gathered. May our congregations be places of such life, love, and joy, that the choice of where to be is an easy one come Sunday morning.

all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian

*(excerpts from Hebrews 10:19-25, New Revised Standard version)

Permanent link to this article:

Oct 23 2014

Pastor Darian's Musings: Why Not To Go To Church: Is This Pew Taken?

Original post at

Disclaimer for Members of St. Luke UMC and Shipman Chapel: This musing arose from a comment I heard outside of the church earlier this week. This comment was not about a specific congregation or a particular pew. It was a general observation. I will not ask you to change seats this Sunday. I will not institute assigned seating. This is the first in a series of posts intended simply to make all of us, in local churches and beyond, think about why so many people choose not to attend church.

“I know how churches can be. I wouldn’t want to take anyone’s pew.”

I hear a lot of reasons why people don’t go to church: everything from theological differences to work schedules to football games to a desire to sleep late. What I did not expect to hear was this statement: a fear of entering a new place with new faces and sitting somewhere that someone else regularly sits. Many of us churchgoers probably have stories of being on one or both sides of the pew: as the person uncomfortably sitting where someone else is staring or the person uncomfortably staring at the person who is sitting.

Why do we in the church care so much about where we sit and stand?

Some of our answers to that question are practical. Those with hearing difficulties want to sit closer to the speakers. The person who has to leave during the final hymn to help direct traffic in the parking lot wants to sit towards the back for a less disruptive exit. The parent with a young baby in the nursery wants to be close to the aisle in case the nursery worker comes looking for him or her.

There are also sentimental explanations. The grieving widow wants to sit in the place where she sat for 50 years with her late husband. The great-granddaughter of a charter member sits on the pew given in memory of her relative. We want to sit with our longtime friends, some of whom we only see on Sunday morning.

We also love “our” pews because they are as familiar to us as the Apostle’s Creed or the Doxology. To sit in the same spot with the same people and sing the same songs can be spiritual comfort food. The world may be rapidly changing, but on Sunday morning we discover familiarity in our traditions—which come to include our seating.

All of this to say: I understand why we love our pews. The explanations are as complex as we are because human beings are complicated. But….

Do we love our pews more than we love the people who sit on them?

Are we more concerned with familiarity than we are with hospitality?

I am immensely grateful for the honesty of the non-churchgoer who told me why she didn’t go to church. We laughed about the way we can be about “our” pews. We confessed to the ways that both of us have been territorial about “our spots” in classrooms and churches. But there was a deeper truth in her observation.

She was afraid of causing a disruption.

She halfway expected rejection.

She saw herself as an outsider.

We in the Church have an awesome and difficult responsibility to counter these preconceptions of fear, rejection, and exclusion.

Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him. (Mark 4:36, New International Version)

Just as he was: A weary Jesus gets in the boat with no façade.

Just as he was: The disciples welcomed him and organized their journey.

All Jesus needed to be was “just as he was.”

The church needs to be a place where we can be just as we are—and welcome each other just as we are. Through worship, God transforms us to be more than we could be on our own. Worship is not about our power but rather God’s power imparted to us as his hands and feet in the world.

There were no pews on the disciples’ boat, but I do wonder if they had their favorite spots. I wonder if they argued as much about who got to sit where as they did about who would sit at Jesus’ right hand.

A storm arose. Jesus told it to be still. The wind ceased. The water obeyed him. A powerful stillness settled around the boat. The exhausted man who had been sleeping next to the disciples was now the same voice that spoke the water into being at Creation.

When they reached the shore, I doubt that they discussed who had been sitting where.

all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian

Permanent link to this article:

Oct 16 2014

Pastor Darian's Musings: The Gospel According to Monica: Dipping Our Toes Into the Past

Original post at

In season 4 of Friends, one of Monica’s dreams comes true: Chip Matthews asks her out on a date.

Chip and Monica went to the same high school where Chip was the “it” guy. Good-looking and football-playing, Chip was the guy the girls wanted to date—including Monica, who ran in a different circle from Chip. More than a decade after graduating, Monica and Chip run into each other in New York City. He asks for her number. He calls her. He asks her out. She giggles and claps her hands. And we’re less than five minutes into the episode! How different would our lives be if we moved at a sitcom pace?

The night of the date arrives. Monica gushes about Chip’s motorcycle and giggles at everything he says—until they sit down for dinner. The more Chip talks, the more Monica begins to wonder how old he actually is. He talks about pranks he and his friends recently pulled. Monica grows weary and tries to change the conversation.

Monica: Enough about high school Tell me about you. I don’t even know where you work.
Chip: You know where I work. The movie theater.
Monica: You still work at the movie theater? (cue audience chuckle)
Chip: Yeah, why would I quit such a good job? Free popcorn and candy! (cue audience laughter)
Monica: (pause) You don’t still live with your parents, do you? (cue audience chuckle)
Chip: Yes, but I can stay out as late as I want! (cue audience laughter)*

Ten minutes later, Monica shares with her friends that she dumped “the most popular guy” after dinner. In the course of trying to go back to a high school dream, she realizes how good her current life is.

During the month of October, the Old Testament lectionary on Sunday mornings has focused on Moses. Physically, Moses had to lead and organize a throng of people on a trip across seas and deserts. Spiritually, he had to serve as a mediator of God and the people. Emotionally, he had to listen to the regrets and “what ifs” of people who wondered what it would be like to go back to Egypt. When temptation would arise to turn around and go back, he had to help the people see how much better the present was than the past.

Monica had to dip her toes into the past to see how blessed she was in the present. She discovered that what had once seemed so glamorous was actually a turn-off. Sometimes we have to do the same in order to learn. God is merciful to us just as he was to the Israelites in all of their hindsight wonderings and wanderings.

When we find ourselves dwelling on a world that used to be or might have been, let us take a moment to look around at the beauty of today. For what are we grateful that’s right in front of us? If would could bring a Chip Matthews of our past into the present, would we really want for him to stay? Let us look back in gratitude and look forward with anticipation—especially when we have an eternal “Friend” sharing the present with us.

all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian

* YouTube clip of Chip's and Monica's date:

Permanent link to this article:

Oct 09 2014

Pastor Darian's Musings: The Gospel According to Chandler: When One Part Suffers

Original post at

Every decade has its most memorable moments in television.

Some of us may remember when little Ricky was born on I Love Lucy. Or when Lucy ate all the chocolate. Or when Lucy crushed the grapes. Or anything associated with the redheaded Lucy.

For the soap opera inclined, there was that big wedding of Luke and Laura on General Hospital.

More recently, there was the final season of Breaking Bad. Since I know nothing about the show other than it was popular, I don’t know what happened in the series finale. Apparently, though, it was something as “big” and “memorable” as the show itself.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Friends had many such moments. The first post I wrote in this blog series was about the budding romance of Ross and Rachel. Season 2 found them hopelessly in love, and season 3 found them hopelessly annoyed with each other. As memorable as their first kiss was their breakup. As memorable as their breakup was the sudden change in dynamics of the close-knit friends.

The most obviously affected “friend” was Chandler. He started smoking again. Monica, Phoebe, and Joey reprimanded him for resurrecting such an unhealthy habit. When they asked him why, his response was more drama than comedy.

“This is just like my parents’ divorce, when I started smoking in the first place.”

The change in his friends’ relationship reminded him of his parents’ divorce. With the revival of those emotions came his same attempt at coping—the bad habit of smoking. Even though Chandler was not the one “suffering” like Ross and Rachel, their suffering caused him to suffer, too.

If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part gets the glory, all the parts celebrate with it. You are the body of Christ and parts of each other.

1 Corinthians 12:26-27 (Common English Bible)

When Paul preached to the early Church about their connectedness, he addressed a larger body of “friends.” He had painted for them a timeless metaphor of their gifts being a human body. After describing how their gifts might complement each other, he also reveals how affected they will be by each other. Like Chandler, many of the Corinthians were upset. There was division among them. There was fear of the future. There was reversion to past habits surrounding immorality and idols. To those who were backsliding, Paul sent this warning: your behavior affects more than just you.

In our churches and communities, conflict is inevitable. Disagreements will happen. Some friendships blossom while others deteriorate. We feel the effects of one another’s pain. Another person’s pain reminds us of our own hurts. How do we move forward?

Paul responds with one word: love. The very next chapter is 1 Corinthians 13. This is not a love confined to the romantic love a couple getting married. This is a detailed, complex love that spans brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, husbands, wives….. and friends.

Find a way to love each other even if you are hurting.

Find a way to love even if you have to draw new boundaries.

Find a way to love even if relationships have to change.

Find a way to love.

As Ross and Rachel saw their friends suffering, they realized that they would have to find a way to love each other in a new way. Their friends helped them and each other to do so. With time, Chandler quit smoking again.

In the body of Christ, we can lean on one another to move forward instead of letting each other’s hurts draw us backward.

In the family of God, we can draw from his love to learn how to love each other—even when it hurts.

all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian

Permanent link to this article:

Oct 02 2014

Pastor Darian's Musings: The Gospel According to Joey: “Cool” Changes

Original post at

The TV show, Friends, reminds me of how quickly what’s “cool” can change.

In season 2, Chandler and Joey get into a petty fight that ends with Joey moving out. Since he is now a working actor with a regular gig on a soap opera, Joey moves into a “fab” apartment. The friends, minus a moping Chandler, come over to see his new “digs.” After a tour of a living room filled with statues of animals and leopard-skin rugs, Joey insists on showing them the bathroom. Apprehensive, the friends follow him. On the wall beside the toilet is a telephone.

Someone declares, “Joey, there’ a phone in your bathroom.”

Joey replies, “I know! Isn’t that so cool?”

Monica says, “Promise me you will never call me from that phone.”

Nearly 20 years have passed since Joey moved into an apartment with a landline in the bathroom. If that same apartment were “cool” today, it would need a Bluetooth speaker for a cell phone and a charging station. Joey would have the option of talking on the phone or listening to music or hearing the weather report. There may even be speakers built into the walls and a waterproof case for the phone to go in the shower. Joey’s boxy phone on the wall would no longer be “cool” by most standards.

The day that I graduated from college, the father of one of my friends asked about my plans for the future. When I told him about graduate school and a ministerial career, he nodded and said, “That’s rad.” As in a shortened version of “radical.” As in another way of saying, “Cool.” I remember thinking to myself, “That is so 1990, but at least he’s trying to speak my language.”

There’s a season for everything
And a time for every matter
Under the heavens…*

Ecclesiastes is wise in its simplicity: everything changes. Nothing stays the same. Cultures shift. Phones become computers. Computers talk. Language evolves. What’s “cool” changes and how we describe something’s “coolness” changes, too.

Like any other organization, churches find themselves with a difficult dilemma amid cultural shifts. Where are the boxy landlines in the bathrooms that need to be uninstalled? What sacred pieces of our history do we need to maintain?

The gospel of Jesus Christ is timeless. The message of salvation does not change. Much of worship services do need to hold on to some of the traditions that connect us to our past. What does need to change is how we communicate that story so that we can be relevant to different generations. Where many of our churches have stumbled is in speaking only the language of Leave It to Beaver when we’re trying to reach folks who prefer translations of The Big Bang Theory. We can also err on the side of ignoring listeners of The Andy Griffith Show and only talking to How I Met Your Mother linguists.

Followers of Christ have to be multilingual and adaptive to seasons. We can get very comfortable in certain times and seasons to the point of complacency. Complacency causes us to get stuck in a rut. If we’re not careful, churches will find themselves on a landline in a bathroom, oblivious to new ways of communicating the good news.

Let us be willing to grow with the changes of life. May the wind of God’s Holy Spirit keep us in the “cool” as disciples, as churches, and as children of God.

All good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian

* Ecclesiastes 3:1 (Common English Translation)

Permanent link to this article:

Sep 19 2014

Pastor Darian's Musings: The Gospel According to Phoebe: Telling the Truth

Original post at

This is the second of a four-part series inspired by the TV show, Friends. While every character has their perks, the one who has taught me the most is Phoebe. Here is just one gospel lesson from her.

In the world of Friends, all you need are a guitar and an idea to become a musician. You don't really need to know how to play that guitar. And the songs you write don't have to make sense. If Phoebe Buffay can land a regular gig at a New York coffeehouse, you believe that all of us can, too.

Phoebe is the free-spirited massage therapist who keeps  patrons of Central Perk "entertained" with unconventional songs about smelly cats. In an episode that aired after the Super Bowl in 1996, Phoebe has a big break. A local librarian asks her to sing for a children's reading hour.

Phoebe composes some songs on kid-friendly topics: grandparents, making good choices, and barnyard animals. The music is catchy and simple, but the lyrics are more complex. The following song about a cow is a perfect example.

In Phoebe's world, songs about grandparents include aging and death. Songs about animals include what happens when they disappear from the farm. Songs about good choices include thoughts on dating and adult relationships.

The parents are not happy, and Phoebe finds herself back to the one gig at Central Perk. The forward-thinking and handsome librarian loves what Phoebe tries to do. He tells her that the kids love her because she tells them the truth. Of course, in the world of TV, he also kisses Phoebe and takes her on a date.

At the end of the episode, Phoebe steps up to a microphone when a little boy runs into the coffee shop. He yells, "Excuse me! Is this where the lady who tells the truth sings?" Phoebe waves and says, "Yes, that's me." The little boy runs back outside, whistles, and says, "She's in here! Come on!" All the kids from the library then run into Central Perk to listen to someone brave enough to tell them the truth in song.

Educating children is one of life's greatest challenges. We love their innocence, yet we don't want them to be naive. We want to protect them, yet we know that they sometimes have to learn life lessons the hard way.

I write to you, children,
Because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
Because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young people,
Because you are strong
And the word of God abides in you,
And you have overcome the evil one.

(I John 2:14, New Revised Standard Version)

The apostle, John, recognizes the different maturity levels of his readers. Some are more like children, some are more like parents, and some are more like young adults in the faith. He wants to teach all of them through this letter, but such instruction is a challenge. How much should he "water down," and how much should he say forthrightly?

In the Church, I think we're often guilty of watering down truth to the point of flooding. Like Phoebe's young listeners, we want to know more about the cow and the chicken than just what the song, "Old McDonald Had a Farm," taught. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut of reading the same Bible stories and talking about the same topics that we overlook deeper truths of God's Word.

If we listen closely to children, and if we truly pay attention to their questions, we may be able to gauge how much to say and when. There are no simple answers or timelines that work for everyone. Children often lead us in what to teach them and when--when we listen, when we pay attention.

Phoebe and the handsome librarian paid closer attention to the curiosity of her young fans than their parents. As a result, the children trusted her to tell them the truth in song. May our homes and churches be havens where children know they will both hear Truth and feel protected at the same time. May all of us as children of the Heavenly Father nurture a spirit of curiosity that keeps us learning and growing together in the Truth of his Word.

all good things to each of you,
Pastor Darian

Permanent link to this article:

Older posts «