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Showing posts from January, 2010

Journey of a Congregation

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The church that I pastor is a very small Presbyterian congregation in South Minneapolis.  So much is happening in the life of our congregation and we are learning how to understand and tell our story.  This is one attempt to put words to part of our unfolding journey.



Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church has been in a period of radical reflection and change over the past year. We determined to allow ourselves to break free from the ruts of habit while honoring our traditions, becoming open to new experiences and possibilities. We began by striving to put language and actions to the concepts and values that had been bubbling up within the congregation for years.
The three central practices that we have named and are using to guide us as we seek to meet God in our humanity are:
Worship - encountering the Triune God as we gather in community to explore who God is and what God is up to in scripture, our lives and the world around us.
Hospitality - living in God’s abundant welcome and welcoming ot…

Body Talk

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Preached January 23, 2010 at Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church


1 Corinthians 12:12-31



Which part of your body don’t you like? This was a real conversation I heard the other night between twenty year olds.  “My legs are too big,” one said, “I don’t like my stomach, it’s not flat enough.”  said the other. And while we probably have outgrown having these conversations outloud with others, we could each immediately answer the question in our heads: I’ve never liked my ears, they stick out too much, my nose is too big, that flabby part under the arms, or the neck area…I’ll give you a moment to answer the question inside for yourself.

 I once had a massage from a nun at a retreat center run by nuns. It was the chattiest massage I had ever had – the woman did not stop talking the entire hour.  But as she rubbed each limb she talked about how strong and healthy it was, my fingers, how nimble, how they move and lift and grip and point.  She rubbed my back and spoke blessings into me, raving about …

What's with the wine?

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Preached January 17, 2010

Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church
(Psalm 36:5) John 2:1-11



When I was 16 years old, I went to a wedding, in Haiti.  The bride and groom from the tiny village couldn’t stop smiling. The small cinderblock church building was hung with flowers and greenery and packed to overflowing with people.  The bridesmaids wore flowers in their hair and had found somewhere buried in the collection of donated T-shirts we’d brought along, the ones the church ladies had hidden in horror after we arrived – six matching pink shirts with an image of a guy in a boat and expletives across the bottom about rather being fishing.  They had dug them out and, not knowing the English translation of the symbols and words they were wearing, proudly came down the aisle in matching pink.
Everyone waved palm branches like it was Palm Sunday, as the wedding party danced in.  There was singing, so much singing, and laughter, and joy.  And after the ceremony, we turned the pews towards tables and we …

Baptized Beloved

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We are finding, in our new way of being church, that we want to get better at understanding and telling our story.  We have these wonderful experiences of worship - or awkward choppy ones - and wish we did a better job of recording and sharing what they were so we can learn and grow from them.  And there is no way to capture the spirit of the other night.  But for the sake of growing in our ability to tell our story, here is a picture of our worship on Saturday, Jan. 9.
Last night we held our Sabbath service around the theme of baptism.  We used Isaiah 43:1-7, God’s words to a hopeless and abandoned Israel, and Luke’s version of Jesus’ baptism. Before Jesus can begin his public ministry, just before he is sent into the wilderness and struggles against temptation, and in his first appearance since his childhood disappearing act in the temple while his frantic parents searched for him is this moment: this moment that defines him, that sets the trajectory, starts his vocation, affirms his…