Monthly Archives: December 2009

Longest Night

On Thursday night churches everywhere will be filled with happy people.  The lights will be on, the poinsettias arranged, the sweaters will be bright, the smiles will be wide.  People will gather in the pews and sing the traditional carols, hear the Christmas story as told by the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, and light candles.  Millions on Thursday night will rise and sing “Joy to the World.”

Many of those same people that will rise and sing on Thursday night will go to bed on Monday and face the longest night of the year in despair.  There will be many that lie down wondering, “Where is the joy?” 

The bills have not been paid, the credit debt is mounting, and work is hard to come by.  The night is so very long.

My mother died at this time of the year.  Christmas won’t be the same.  I miss her smile.  I miss her words of wisdom.  I miss her so much, and the night is so very long.

For the last 53 Christmases I have been with my husband.  He held me in his arms as we watched the children, then the grandhcildren, open their presents.  He made hot cocoa every Christmas morning.  I do not even know the recipe, and the night is so very long.

The onesies I got for Christmas last year are put in a box in the attic.  Never worn.  Never held.  I miss my child and I never held him in my arms, and the night is so very long.

The night can be so very long.  The night can be so very dark and cold. 

Some say that everything happens for a reason.  God is in control, and has a plan.  But what kind of God could plan such things?  Is this the God that I am supposd to celebrate?  Is this the God that I am supposed to worship?  How can I sing “Joy to the World,” when there is none in my own heart?

Christmas does not mean everything is okay.  Christmas did not end the sadness, the pain or the despair.  For those that are hurting at Christmas, I hope you know that you are not alone.  I do not offer you simple platitudes.  I do not offer you easy answers.  All I can offer you is my love.

I don’t think that everything happens for a reason.  I think there are terrible things that happen everyday that God did not plan. I also think that God gives us the power and the grace to overcome even the worst that can happen.  God gives us the chance to heal and be healed; to feed and be fed; to love and be loved.

The longest night can be so very long.  Christmas does not end the night, but it gives us hope for the dawn.

If you are in the midst of the longest night, I invite you to come to Chenoa United Methodist Church on Monday, December 21 at 4 p.m.  The service will end just before sunset of the longest night of the year, and hopefully it will help you to know that you are not alone this Christmas.


Filed under Christianity


“And the sign said, “Everybody welcome, come in, kneel down, and pray.”

I had a religious experience with Tesla, a couple of buddies and a couch.  I had never heard of Tesla when we sat down there that night.  I had never heard this song, but we listened to it on repeat about a dozen times.  I didn’t know it then, but that moment was informing the rest of my ministry.

At the time I had no plans on being a pastor.  I had no inkling of going to seminary or studying about John Wesley.  To be honest, I probably didn’t know what a  seminary was.  Yet listening to this song shaped the way I felt about church.

I never had long hair, and never felt compelled to trespass on someone’s property.  I never belonged to any club with membership cards.  Yet I understood what it meant to be unaccepted.  I understood what it meant for people to build walls that God would not want built.  The song claimed a piece of my heart, and it is still with me.

Once I became a pastor I decided it would be really cool to put that on the church sign.  Now I’ve got my fancy seminary education and I can tell you all about John Wesley and ecclesiology and neo-orthodoxy.  I have studied the New Testament and the Hebrew Bible.  I have analyzed Jesus’ parables, and I’ve written Bible studies and sermons.   All of it still leads me to this song.  I still think it summarizes what  church should be about.

It is about invitation to all.  It is about opening hearts, minds, and doors so that all are welcome.  It is about offering the grace of Jesus Christ to the least, last and lost.  It is about tearing down those walls that humans are so good at building.  I’m not sure why it has taken me so long, but here it is:

"And the sign said, 'Everybody welcome.  Come in, kneel down, and pray'"

When I was done putting up this sign, I got chills. I think the next one will read, "Thank you Lord for thinking 'bout me, I'm alive and doing fine."


Filed under Christianity

Things that taste good

As I have been making a better effort to eat well, I have realized that there are three things in the entire world that taste good: fat, salt, and sugar.  It seems like everything that is worth eating has at least one of these things.  I’m starting to think that there is nothing healthy in a typical grocery store.  If something claims to be low fat, it will inevetably have a lot of salt or sugar.  For example, today I wanted to get some Bisquick, then noticed that there was a healthy version.  It claimed to have no fat and lower calories.  That was true, and it even had lower sodium than regular Bisquick.  I was just about to get it when I noticed that it had signifcantly more sugar than the other.  Its so frustrating.

Health tip of the day:  A guy at the gym gave me this tip, and I am starting to use it: Put spinach on everything.  He told me it is a natural steroid.  I’m not sure what he meant by that, but I know it is really healthy, it tastes pretty good, and goes great on almost every lunch sandwich I make (except for PB & J).


Filed under Fitness

Keep Christ in Christmas

This is the time of year when people start to talk about the war on Christmas. It is a popular slogan to “Keep Christ in Christmas.” There is nothing wrong with that sentiment, unfortunately for many the battleground for the war on Christmas is in slogans, names and semantics. It’s just a matter of time before someone targets a store to boycott because they have the atheistic gall to put up signs that say “Happy Holidays.”

Keeping Christ in Christmas is about more than how you greet someone or what the sign at JC Penny’s reads, or what you call the decorated tree on the lawn at City Hall.

If you want to keep Christ in Christmas, do something that Christ would actually care about. Feed the hungry, cure the sick, share the good news of Jesus Christ, invite someone to church, pray for others, read your Bible. Those are the things that we can do to keep Christ in Christmas.

Here’s one way Chenoa UMC is trying to keep Christ in Christmas: by giving food to kids over Christmas break. We are trying something new at our church. It was an idea that started in a small group Bible study. Inspired by the call to Risk-Taking Mission, the group decided to try and make Christmas Lunch Boxes for elementary school students that would not have lunch over Christmas Break.

So they started collecting food, and telling others. In a matter of a few days a few hundred dollars and a table full of food has been donated. The principal of Chenoa Elementary was contacted, and a letter is going to go out to every student inviting parents to either make a donation or to call the church to get a Christmas Lunch Box.

We don’t know what is going to happen next, but we feel the power of the Holy Spirit in this mission. We know that there is going to be a child that wakes up on Christmas morning, and might not know a thing about Jesus or the Bible, but they will also not know hunger. That child will sit down at a table and eat a sandwich and Christ will be there – right smack dab in the middle of Christmas.

(If you would like to help with the Christmas Lunch-Box program, please call 815-945-7155, or send checks payable to Chenoa United Methodist Church, and mark them “Lunch Box.”)


Filed under Christianity

Advent Poem

I wrote and posted this poem last year, but only a few people were following this site back then.  It has a sort of Dr. Seuss rhythm that works better in some stanzas then others, but here’s my first try at poetry in over ten years:

“Established, Unfinished”
by Robb McCoy

Established, unfinished; at hand, yet to be.
For the Kingdom of God, we are waiting to see.

Where’s the Prince of Peace in the midst of such war?
Made the image of God, yet corrupt to core.
It is peace that we seek, for peace do we yearn.
While cities and buildings and children still burn.

Dividing walls built in hearts and with brick,
By people who hold onto Bibles so thick.
Telling us who we can and cannot love,
Like Pharisees all, they strangle the dove.

Through the darkness does break a beacon of hope.
In midst of rough waters a life-saving rope.
Lo a child is born in a manger so rough,
Letting us know that, YES, love is enough.

Love your neighbor, Love God, there is nothing more.
And at once the seams of the curtain, they tore.
In the midst of fighting and chaos and doom,
We know our Creator is saving a room.

The Kingdom of God is still unfulfilled,
We continue to struggle for what God has willed.
Love mercy, do justice, walk humbly with God.
Eat dinner with sinners, the poor and the odd.

Though sometimes the Kingdom comes painfully slow,
Together we struggle, together we go,
to the Kingdom of God, our victory won
Established, unfinished, our stuggle not done.

Another poem.  This one is called “Invitation (or Evangelism)”


Filed under Christianity