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Showing posts from November, 2010

some kind of king

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Christ the King & Advent 1 (Isaiah 2:1-5) Colossians 1:11-20 Luke 23:33-43
The cross is an ugly image. A heartrending image. The crown of thorns: horrifying.We’ve made them palatable with oversaturation or profuse glorification, but they are not an easy thing to behold.And to base your whole religion around it is kind of grotesque, actually.Especially when Advent starts today and we want to start thinking about a cuddly baby laying in hay, the irony of the last Sunday of the Church year last year - which we missed because of the ice storm - stands starkly before us.We’re at the beginning of the story now, we don’t want to hear how it ends…
We like happy endings. The finale of the church year should be optimistic, conclusive. But instead of glorious depictions of might and strength, of magnificence and authority, we end the whole church year with talking about our leader hanging foolishly, weakly, dying on the cross.Then we go immediately into longing for his birth as a helpless baby. How…

Gratitude's Perspective

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Our Thanksgiving table will be beautiful, (I know this because I am hosting).  It will be covered with things I love to cook, surrounded with people who love to praise my cooking.  We’ll have all of our favorite holiday foods and the house will be filled with yelling cousins, laughing sisters, football games, parade watching and delicious smells.   But it wont be perfect.  Even though there are lots of family members in town, there are some who couldn’t make it because of work.  My grandma will be there but my grandpa wont – he passed away earlier this year.  And there are certain topics we can’t discuss, things better left alone, if we want to enjoy our time together.    Around our table tomorrow there will be broken families and families just beginning; there will be job struggles and health struggles and the struggle to really connect across some generational lines.  And some regrets or longings just seem to surface more when we are with our families than at any other time.
But when w…

Eschatological Imagination

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Isaiah 65: 17-25 (Isaiah 12:1-2)
There was a big hoopla this week in preparation for the presbytery meeting.  It was over the new vision statement for the presbytery.  Ready to hear the controversial statement? “We fearlessly follow the Holy Spirit into a changing world.”  Guess which word caused so much anxiety for people on every end of every conceivable spectrum?  Fearlessly.
We sometimes act as though anxiety equals faith; that if we are worried and fretting over situations that is somehow faithful.  Or we think faith needs some humility attached to it, some good, old fashioned fear mixed in, in order to keep us in check.  Whatever the reason, fearlessly made some people fearful. 
Part of it is the audacity of the word. It is a reckless word, daring and caution-throwing. Fearlessly. Shamelessly. Brazenly. Take your pick.  Also, it’s a word that holds our feet to the fire. It’s no half-way word. It’s an all-out, no holes barred word. Fearless.
But the visioning team chose the word deli…

Where God resides

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Haggai 1:15b-2:9 Psalm 145: 1-5, 17-21

Our memories and imaginations mix up some powerful cocktails.  Reality pales next to an experience percolated in the flavorful bath of nostalgia, amnesia and hindsight.  Kodak photo paper costs more than the generic brand, because it produces brighter, clearer pictures, “brilliant true color” they say.  But in development Kodak tapped into research that indicated that people don’t remember things as they really were.  The idea of rose-colored glasses is real - our memories store things brighter, more colorful than things really are. So a photograph on Kodak paper does not show the scene as your eyes see it, as they saw it when you snapped the photo, instead it saturates the paper with deeper color, makes the lines crisper and the colors brighter.  Ahh, we think to ourselves, now that is what it was really like!
And once the memories simmer into the lore and sink into storyline of a people, once some prophesy is thrown into the pot and the people’s h…

It's (not) about money

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(A letter to my congregation)

The Big Question
A friend of mine realized that she only had one friend who went to church. As someone who cares deeply about the church, she wondered why it was. And so she began to ask them, “Why don’t you go to church?”  The answers startled her. It wasn’t what she was expecting at all. The number one answer that she received was, “I can’t afford it.” Carol Howard Merritt, pastor and author of Tribal Church shared this in a recent blogpost.  As we enter again into “stewardship season,” where we take time to reflect on what we will pledge to the church in the coming year, I am reminded of her words. She goes on to say that young people, with student loan debt and most of their money going to rent and taxes, don’t have much to spare, and many see church as something that requires money.  A pastor friend of mine heard a similar sentiment coming from her confirmation class. A couple of kids said they didn’t want to join the church because it would cost them t…