A little journey through this topsy-turvy journey of joys and sorrows and hopes and dreams with plenty of grace from God along the way.

It was on this day (June 19) in 2016, that Cleveland shocked the world…but in a good way. Their hometown professional basketball team pulled off one of the sport’s most improbable comebacks, defeating the nearly almighty Golden State Warriors in a seven-game series after falling terribly behind 3-1. It was this night that the (in)famous LeBron James shouted for all of northeastern Ohio to hear: “Cleveland! This is for you!” Since then, some fan(atic)s have fallen out of love with their Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary high school phenom after a couple departures to, perhaps, more glamorous coastal cities. Some insist on following him as he continues to impact the NBA from the City of Angels, as the debate will forever ensue on whether he is, in fact, the greatest to ever play the game.

A couple days ago (June 10), marked the anniversary of the deceased Prince Phillip’s birthday, which brings me back to the Netflix series, The Crown, which Sarah and I spent way too much time consuming. In Episode 7 of Season 3, entitled “Moondust,” Prince Philip is fascinated…no, obsessed, with the American astronauts’ mission to the moon in the summer of 1969. However, as he’s hanging on every word of Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin in a televised press conference leading up to the launch, the Queen reminds him of worship the next morning, leading to the Duke scoffing under his breath, knowing he’s about to endure yet another Sunday listening to a rather…veteran priest, the Dean of Windsor. As Prince Philip is sitting next to the Queen in their usual front pew, he remarks, “It’s not a sermon, it’s a general anesthetic” (of course, whether he said such a thing is up for debate, but it’s wonderful writing by the people behind the scenes, nonetheless!).

This past Saturday (June 1) was our Northeastern Ohio Synod (ELCA) Synod Assembly with a theme emphasis on “Waiting & Watching: The Spirit Speaks.” Recognizing people’s even busier schedules, while also being aware that not all voting members who regularly attend are overly thrilled with the synod business portions that feel like go on forever and a day, this year’s rendition was just one day with a fair share of worshiping and prayer station-ing. However, one aspect of any church operation that cannot be avoided spending some time on is the lovely and wonderful budget.

It was this time of year that I would plop myself down in the living room while my dad was working on adulting nonsense: paying bills and catching up on the mail and what-not. I would turn on the television to watch the professionals on the basketball court, as they gradually faded out round-by-round in their respective playoffs to determine the champion. It was then that my father encouraged me to cheer for the underdog (maybe that was more so his Cleveland pro teams fanatic complex of not winning too many crowns in his lifetime, but minor detail). So, as much as I probably didn’t realize that I was witnessing epic greatness in His Airness (aka Michael Jordan), I gravitated towards plenty of underdogs who didn’t seem to stand a chance. However, what made those summer evenings all the more enthralling was Bill Walton.

The Festival of Homiletics has become one of the standards for many clergy in their continuing education (as if we didn’t get everything quite figured out by commencement day at the end of seminary). Homiletics is just a fancy word for preaching, and even though I only participated online, I could tell there was a bit of fanciness, to say the least, in the two beautiful sanctuaries used in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, to host the hundreds who gathered in-person. From the pulpits of East Liberty Presbyterian and Calvary Episcopal, emerged some preachers who have some vibrant prophetic game, to put it mildly.