Posts

Prayer

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Friends-I apologize. I have been really remiss in blogging. Ever since entering into Holy Week, I feel like I have been fighting an uphill battle just to stay on top of the daily things that need to be done. Unfortunately, this blog too often slips to the back burner.

I was in a Worship meeting this week and a question was asked about its purpose: Why do we meet? This person felt that we were doing a lot to preserve the traditions, but no forward thinking. There is more than a little truth to that statement, but we need to go further than pointing out that something is not functioning as it should. We need to enter into solution.

Our conversation went on and I asked him what he thought we should be doing. In the Presbyterian denomination there is a lot of room to be creative with our worship and I'm always looking for ideas. What should this committee be doing that would be more helpful? Well, the long and short of it is that this person had no suggestions.

I want to encourage him…

Sabbath

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Friends-I had lunch with Michael and his wife today at our community lunch. We got talking about a variety of things and they ended up scolding me. You see, my life is scheduled so that taking time for a sabbath--an intentional break--is a challenge and something I frequently neglect.

Recognizing that, we talked about books that we had both been reading. In my case it was a work by Walter Brueggemann about Sabbath. Brueggemann writes that our culture has lost the concept of Sabbath. The world revolves around speed, accomplishment, busy-ness. In our culture our importance is marked by the number of emails, texts, and calls that we receive. In this framework there is no room for rest. When we face a problem we expect an instant solution and struggle to tolerate that liminal time of working through things.

Slow Church by Smith and Pattison is another book that takes on what they call the "cult of speed". These two authors share Brueggemann's perspective on our culture, but t…

Lenten Challenge

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Friends-I love Easter. I think that holds true for most of us. We even recognize that those folks who don't attend worship all that often show up for Easter Sunday. It is great to sing those Alleluias! and shout He is risen! I look forward to John Smith and his bell that Presbyterians find so interesting.

Yep, Easter is great! The thing is, Easter isn't a stand alone holiday. The resurrection was not a single event of God's presence in the world. I'm writing this on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, the eve of the start of Lent. It's always been my thought that we do a disservice to our faith if we skip the Lenten journey.

My friend Landon Whitsitt is the Synod Executive for the Synod of Mid-America and he also writes a bimonthly blog called Two Good Spies that I recommend. I was reading his blog and found a quote by theologian Richard Rohr-"Resurrection takes care of itself, it's getting to the tomb that's the hard part". This is the cha…

The Institution

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Friends-I have a lot of conversations about the church, but last week two of those conversations stood out to me. One chat was with a group of people who are attempting to define the role of the church in the faith development of Millennials, The other discussion, just last night, touched on the role of the institutional church going forward.



First, I have to point out that for many Christians, it is very difficult to separate the church from faith. By virtue of our investment in that institution it has become nearly inseparable from faith and, as I found last night, to suggest differently borders on heresy. Even though Christians acknowledge that faith is found though God, it is hard for us to consider that the church as it is is not part of that journey in a central way.
Curiously, my conversation with people who are seeking to be faithful but are not part of a church see little use for the institution. In fact, revelations from the Roman Catholic Church and, recently, the Southern …

Chronos

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Friends-Steve and I were talking a couple weeks ago. Somehow the subject shifted to Christmas and Steve described this image he has of Christmas Eve. For him, Christmas Eve is a concentrated and dense event. There is this one point to which the church spends weeks building up and and then it's over. But it's not really over... We spend the rest of our lives living into/out of that event.

The church celebrated the Baptism of the Lord the same week I had that conversation with Steve. Again, this is an event that is full of meaning, but that the church moves past so that there is little space to unpack the meaning behind it.

All of this leads me to think about time. I know that my life, and I suspect yours, is governed by time. We mark our days with hours, minutes, and seconds and those demarcations dictate our activities, location and relationships.
Even now as I write this I am at the mercy of time. I gave myself an amount of time to get this done before I have another meeting …

a New Year

Friends-I hope your holiday was as enjoyable as mine. It was wonderful to spend time with friends and family, as well as having some time off work. Even better, there were no books I had to read or papers to write. I even got to worship rather than lead for the last Sunday of the year. Truly a good holiday.

However, today marks a return to my routine. In my morning meditation I was greeted by this poem:
Things to Think
Robert Bly
Think in ways you’ve never thought before
If the phone rings, think of it as carrying a message
Larger than anything you’ve ever heard,
Vaster than a hundred lines of Yeats.  Think that someone may bring a bear to your door,
Maybe wounded and deranged: or think that a moose
Has risen out of the lake, and he’s carrying on his antlers
A child of your own whom you’ve never seen.

          When someone knocks on the door, think that he’s about
           To give you something large: tell you you’re forgiven,
           Or that it’s not necessary to work all the time…

From a place of abundance

Friends-I am sitting at our kitchen table in the house in Niles. Ross is at school and Fran is away at a retreat so I'm alone with the dogs and cat. Looking out of the window, I'm presented with a beautiful snowy day and I can watch the birds in their winter skirmish for food while my neighbor, Lou, works to shovel the path around his house.

I'm doing all of this from a nice warm house with a well stocked refrigerator and no fears that I'm going to lose all this tomorrow. This is a place of abundance that most of us inhabit. A lot of us have not had to worry about making ends meet or where we were going to get food. Unfortunately, this is not the case for a lot of people in DeKalb County. There is a number of people who struggle to get by financially every day. In our county there is a poverty rate of between 9 and 13% with a rate of food insecurity (people who don't know where their next meal is coming from) estimated at 12%. There is not a lot of data about worki…