Why are you writing this blog?
It is a question that merits an answer. I am writing it for myself, first of all, because I find I need to. And because I wrote and then preached sermons every week for more than thirty years, the sermon form is the one in which I write most comfortably about the subject that concerns me most deeply—my relationship to Jesus Christ.
I am calling my blog entries “holy essays” partly because I need to call them something, and they are not sermons. A sermon is a spoken event, first and foremost, something that takes place between a preacher and a hearer. These are intended to be read, and that’s what essays are.
I want them to honest, as painfully true my own experience as I can make them. They are “holy” not because I intend that they should in any way be sentimental and “churchy.” They are “holy” because ultimate reality—the Really Real–approaches us here and now, between our birth and our death, not in an airless void above the messy world of everyday living.
They are essays because they are beginnings. That’s what an essay is—a start, an attempt at something. An essay is never an end, a summary. And there is no end to following Jesus either. The road just goes on and on.
I don’t want to bore you with a lot of autobiographic details beyond simply introducing myself as the voice behind these words. I am an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. I served in the parish ministry for thirty years before retiring in 2010. I served—for the most part joyfully– congregations in Maryland, Florida and Georgia.
I graduated from Augsburg College (Minneapolis, MN) and The Lutheran Theological Seminary (Gettysburg, PA) and earned a PhD in English Literature from The Catholic University of America (Washington, DC). That long education is always influencing how I think and feel.
Because no one can escape his or her past. I was born William Henry Roen in Williston, North Dakota and was raised on my parents’ ranch in Alexander. People from that remote time call me Billy. But now I am just plain Bill, retired and living with my wife Penny in Tarpon Springs, Florida. We have two adult children, Paul and Elisabeth, who have given us abundant reason to be proud.
And now off we go….