‘Think pieces’ offer spiritual lessons

December 7, 2017 GMT

John Yeager, a commissioned ruling elder in the Presbytery of West Virginia and pastor of Eleanor Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Putnam County, has published

“Called to Love: Connecting the Lectionary to Real Life,” the first of three softbound books following the denomination’s three-year lectionary cycle.

Yeager draws from authors such as Karl Barth, C.S. Lewis and Mother Teresa, as well as his own experiences in the secular world, his pastoral work and the help he has offered to alcoholics and other addicts. Originally written for those who teach adult Sunday school classes, his “think pieces,” which come with questions for discussion, are usually three or four pages long — material that can be photocopied at the last minute and be distributed to classmates.

Two examples will suffice — one for contemplation, and one for humor:

• In a meditation titled “Cheer Up,” citing Mark 10:46-52 (NIV), Yeager describes a day that was not going well as he was writing the book. He had to take Rex, his 13-year-old malamute/shepherd mix to the vet for surgery, and the vet warned him the dog might not survive the anesthesia.

He was edgy about the surgery. Then he couldn’t find scraps of paper upon which he puts sermon notes. He was irritated and jittery. Then a woman who needed food called on him for help, which he finally was able to arrange. Another woman called and needed him to verify her employment history.

“So I decided to to stop everything and relax and meditate or contemplate or pray,” he writes “Just close my eyes and breathe.”

He thought about the disciples obstructing blind Bartimaeus from coming to Jesus by telling him to hush. About how they were ever so slow in learning from their Master. About how they had not yet received the power of the Holy Spirit.

“Then it dawned on me, in the course of an hour, that God had used me to help make disciples by meeting the needs of others,” he writes. “Isn’t that what Jesus did?”

That cheered him up. And he says that will cheer us up, too!

By the way, Rex survived his surgery.

• n In a meditation titled “What Is The Use,” citing Mark 10:35-45 (NIV), he uses an illustration from Greg Laurie.

“A little boy went over to a pastor’s house, where the pastor was doing carpentry in his garage. The boy simply stood there and watched him for quite a long time. The preacher wondered why this boy was watching him and was finally so curious that he stopped and said ‘Son, are you trying to pick up some pointers on how to build something?’ The little boy replied, ‘No. I am just waiting to hear what a preacher says when he hits his thumb with a hammer!’ ”

The book sells for $14.95 and is available at Empire Books and News, 30 Pullman Square; by calling the author at 304-360-1198 or sending him an email at yeagiyogi@gmail.com; or by calling Publishers Place, 304-617-1292, or sending an email to publishersplace@gmail.com.

Bob Withers, a retired reporter and copy editor for The Herald-Dispatch, is pastor of Seventh Avenue Baptist Church in Huntington.