Thursday, April 12, 2012

ERNIE BEAL: Reciprocal Grace

Our Hebrew scriptures tell a fascinating story about a God who loves a people who fall into infidelity quickly and often.   The text tells also how the people's experiences with God end falling short, at least insofar as life working out as they would wish.   Jesus sums up this reciprocal disappointment in a fascinating way: with the admonition that the people should love God as God loves them.  One should appreciate the irony in this admonition--God loves the people though they have acted badly and the people must love with an equivalent sense of grace.   In other words, whether merited or not this loving relationship must exist with equal intensity--i.e. with an unlimited capacity for foregiving and forgetting the errrors, missteps, and misdeads now history.

Jesus offers also a special twist--an added admonition.  People must love their neighbors (everyone else) with an intensity equal to the way God loves them and they love God.   This special spin produces the Christian challenge:  getting over and getting past someone else's mistakes and bad behavior by maintaining a loving relationship with everyone in the present moment.   It takes great effort to set history aside, to hold that what someeone once did or who they once were maintains no place in our "this moment" relation.   Too many folk find it hard to get beyond events now past and sins once committed.   More often than not folks point fingers, remain hostile, alter behavior, and make harsh judgments about what someone once did.  Unconditional, in the present moment, love and grace are not within their grasp.

This problem is not restricted to folks outside the Christian tradition.  It affects many people who attend worship regularly and consider themselves "good Christians."  Of course, they rightfully know that God continues to love them in spite of this weakness.  Yet one wonders why applying that lesson eludes them.

As I work with faith-based service organizations I find this difficulty extends to the organizational level.  Agencies driven by a mission where they ask others to accept or disregard historic failings by the clientele served have difficulty "walking the talk" insofar as their own agency's practices are concerned.   That point smacked me across the nose recently while consulting with an agency committed to helping former criminal offenders find employment post-release. To my astonishment no one on the managerial team accepted the hypocrisy implicit in asking other companies to grant "grace" (ignore records) when they refused to do likewise with highly qualified candidates who sought agency employment.  

I think faith-based enterprises have a special obligation to lead the way by embodying grace in all that they do, including their human resource practice.  All of us, of course, ought to do better in this respect too.   That goodness God loves us even when we fail to do so.

Ernie Beal

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

ERNIE BEAL: Terror, Sex, and the Bible

These video excerpts provide, in three parts, the text of a sermon preached in Elkhart, Indiana on the topic "homosexuality and the Bible."   The message emerged in response to adult religious education conversations and responded to inquiries arising in the church's "search and call process.

ERNIE BEAL: Terror, Sex, and the Bible

These video excerpts provide, in three parts, the text of a sermon preached in Elkhart, Indiana on the topic "homosexuality and the Bible."   The message emerged in response to adult religious education conversations and responded to inquiries arising in the church's "search and call process.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


For the most part we know only "sound bites" about one another.  Events we have heard about, rumors passing our way, and highly selective (sometimes unflattering) comments in both the online and real world conspire unconscously to create an image wholly incomplete about a person, organization, cause, or event.   Getting out the full story for our lives and strivings takes much effort in a "sound bite" world.  Fortunately, social network media is maturing to the point where you can put forth "the rest of the story", as Paul Harvey used to intone on radio as I was growing up.

I have been experimenting with a site called  It offers a chance to pull the online fragments of your life into a single place where the best of who you are and what have done become more fully available.   For a sample, check out my new site at:

If you elect to use this tool drop me a note via the links provided in that profile with your new site name.  I would love to get to know you better.

~  Ernie Beal

Saturday, March 10, 2012

ERNIE BEAL: Sermon Examples

Folks curious about my preaching style sometimes ask for examples.  Video recordings do not exist.  However, sound recordings were made for messages offered across several years at Faith UCC Fort Wayne.   Two representative examples are:

The Road Less Traveled

This, Too, Shall Pass

Feel free to download and listen.  

                                                                                                                    ~ Rev. Ernie Beal

ERNIE BEAL: Recovering our past

Between 1980 and 1992 my professional focus involved representing people who claimed their civil and human rights had been violated in some particular.  Within this period I handled several hundred lawsuits filed in federal courts and many more administrative claims.  My practice ranged broadly, in both geography and scope of claim.  Though most cases concluded via settlement several went to trial with verdicts favorable to the folks I served.   Among the most notable were:


Keehr v. Consolidated Freightways

Reeder-Baker v. Lincoln National Corporation

Moffett v. Gene B. Glick Company

Smith v. Stoner

Schafer v. Parkview Hospital

Reflecting on this period of my life I am reminded strongly that every life story contains many events, successes, and mistakes no individual one of which tells the whole story.  My legal career reflects my desire to work with folks who have been abused, to apply my skills to great achievement, and to work successfully in contexts not ordinarily receptive to the cause I pursued.  Those qualities continued to be evident in later professional work, even when making mistakes or falling short of a desired goal.   

I recently had an opportunity to talk with an agency providing housing supports to individuals who had experienced multiple life challenges and for whom the present "story" of their lives had very little positive detail.   Thinking about my past, present, and future compelled to realize the importance of working with those folks to uncover, recover, and retell the full story of their life.   I suspect we can all benefit by remembering the great moments, the good work, and the pleasant memories associated with every person we know.   Such action on our part makes a great antidote to the modern tendency to reduce people to "sound bites" and one-dimensional characterization.

~ Ernie Beal



Sunday, May 09, 2010

From the depth of my heart.....

When the unexpected happens in our lives an extraordinary thing happens: people known and not sweep you into their hearts, offering up encouraging words, powerful thoughts, and awesome prayer. Having experienced this grace far more often than may be deserved, I am amazed by the capacity of the human heart for unheralded, unforeseen, and usually unknown capacity for love and kindness. To those who have lifted me in this way, “thank you” seems inadequate. Know that I think you are incredible and am truly pleased our paths crossed at some point.

Please feel free to reach out to me directly at (260) 452-7707 or Your prayer, support, and presence in my life continue to be important especially over the next few weeks. Again, thank you from the deepest reaches of my heart.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


We all need time to recharge our batteries and to rekindle the spirit within us. Do you have plans to do so this summer?

In a few weeks Jan and I will be traveling to the Northern coast of Spain where we’ll be journeying to cities and outposts along what is known as the “Camino de Santiago.” Since the Middle Ages religious pilgrims have traveled across Spain from several points, including a few along the French-Spanish border to the town of Santiago de Compostela where the Cathedral is said to have the bones of the disciple James in its relicry. During the past few years more than 100,000 people have made this journey each summer on foot, bicycle, horseback, and car. On foot, this journey typically takes 2 ½ to 3 months.

We will be traveling by car, stopping at monasteries, visiting churches, and enjoying the scenery along the Spanish coast and throughout its’ mountainous countryside. Jan and I will be taking lots of pictures and I’ll be posting some of them on my personal blog (you can find it at Please feel free to join us via the internet as we complete our summer pilgrimage.

You don’t have to leave home to find spiritual renewal, of course. Perhaps you get recharged reading, writing, spending time alone, or working with others. Whatever works for you ought to be made central to your daily activities. As one whose public role (pastor) requires a constant outward flow of energy on behalf of others—in prayer, counseling, and worship—I know the pain and hunger that emerges as our battery cells approach empty. Sometimes I am able to increase my energy with simple things.

But whether it is a journey afar or a trip within, you should do what you can to find refreshment and renewal as often as possible. Summer time provides many opportunities for a wide array of recharging experiences. At most work locations, the pace slows as the weather improves. On the occasional rainy day, there is nothing wrong with curling on the couch with a good book. Grab chances as you can to find a peace within so that you are able to work for peace without.