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Showing posts from January, 2013

"Innovative Children's Ministry Happens Where..."

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The following is an article I wrote for the Winter 2012 APCE Advocate, "Trends and Innovations."

My children’s summer highlight is vacation Bible school,when 100 children and 70 adult volunteers come together for a memorable week of exciting activities and experiential Bible lessons.  My children sing the VBS songs  practically daily clear through Christmas. The only thing is they can never participate in the closing worship the weekend after VBS is over. They are nine miles away in our own little Presbyterian congregation, instead of
at the large Lutheran church where they attend mid-week choir and summer VBS.
We are not unusual in this. In my neighborhood, kids might be signed up for several VBSs in a summer, weaving them in between swimming lessons, Little League and multiple week-long day camps. Children are now often as booked, scheduled and programmed as their parents, if not more so. And there is little loyalty to one congregation—or even denomination— as families “shop …

Beginning Beloved

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Isaiah 43:1-7 Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
Tonight we are baptizing Soren, Svea and Sigrid.  In the mystery of this moment of baptism, God claims us and marks us as Christ’s own forever.  Our journey to discover what this means in our life, how we are meant to share in God’s plans for the world, begins here at the font.  Here the Spirit indwells us and beckons us to follow.
There is nothing magic about baptism.  Pouring water and speaking words doesn’t save us or change us.  We come here as people who doubt and argue, who suffer pain and fear, who betray and let down those who love us.  And let’s be honest, we leave the same way.  But we baptize anyway.  Why?
   Because baptism is not about our attitude, or worthiness or our earning anything, it’s not about the words said or water used; it is about God.  It is about God who created the whole world saying, You are my beloved, and you belong to me, and have I got some plans for you!  And for this reason, who we are, and whose we are – as a commu…

2012: A year in the life of a congregation...

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Last week I had one of THOSE kinds of days - several times in a row.  Hard.  Frustrating and discouraging.  I was carrying inside me a knot, tightly wound of several conflicts and situations of sadness which I could not seem to let go of.  One evening I sat down to begin writing my "annual report" - something that feels administrative and dreadful at the beginning, so I inevitably put it off to the last minute.  But once I began, I spent a couple of hours swimming in memory and thankfulness, marveling at God's faithfulness as I reflected back on the year in our life together at LNPC.   At the end of the night, when I stood and stretched and closed my laptop, I was astonished at how different I felt.  The anxiety I had been gripping had been completely released, and in its place was gratitude.  With joy and peace welling up inside me, I opened back up the computer and posted on Facebook, "Gratitude is a mood-altering substance."  
I am so grateful for this little …

Incarnation, Phase Two (been there)

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(Isaiah 9:2,6) Luke 2:41-56
So you may be wondering what happens between the time the little baby Jesus arrives in the manger, and when he is a full-fledged, fully-grown Messiah, teaching and healing, all self-sufficient and confident?
Well, this happens. 12 year old Jesus gets left behind by his parents. On an annual road trip with his family. And not accidentally left at a rest stop when the caravan pulled away.  But apparently deciding suddenly that he had a different agenda, that he was on a different journey from his friends and relatives, and simply bowing out of the group thing.  And perhaps he figured it would be better to ask forgiveness than permission – mom would NEVER let me stay behind and hang out in the temple! – or perhaps he didn’t think of his parents at all.
But no matter which way you slice it, nobody comes out looking great here.   How could you lose the Messiah? I give you one job… the most important job in all the earth, and you mess it up? How long had it taken Mary t…