This week on Five Things, we’re sharing a rebroadcast of one of our most popular episodes: a conversation with Joe Phelps, pastor at Highland Baptist Church in Louisville. He’s recently announced his retirement after 20 years of service.
After nearly 50 episodes of Five Things, I can honestly say that this is one of the conversations that has most stuck with me.
Here are portions of the conversation, which you can listen to in full in the player above:
On a University of Texas bracelet that was worn by his late son, Bobby:
“This connects me to Bobby, it connects me to Austin, it connects me to both that terrible time and the fact that life goes on. It’s had a life after Bobby and yet it’s connected to Bobby. And to me, that’s the way a lot of life is. It is connections. Life is about connections. If we’re not connected to each other, and something bigger in life, what’s the point? So really all the objects that I brought are about connections.”
When he got to meet The Boss before a show, because of his work with a local food bank:
“We walk into what was the men’s basketball dressing room of this big arena, and there he is. He’s in his underwear, and he’s playing guitar. He’s got a little tape recorder, and he’s just playing. And I just froze. I spent 30 minutes with Bruce Springsteen backstage, talking about theology and music and poetry and writing and truth and — oh, it was amazing. And then he went out and of course killed this concert.”
On his spiritual mentor, writer Richard Rohr:
“He takes the Christian message and liberates it and makes it bigger and makes it more beautiful and truer than it was in the world that I grew up in. One of his lines is ‘Never waste your pain,’ that it’s in those moments of pain and brokenness that we can find our true selves and begin to build a life that’s more authentic than the life that we had before that crisis.”