Showing posts from November, 2013

Preparing for the Preparation - On Entering Advent

Advent begins Sunday.   Until last night, I was all hyped up on Thanksgiving and shopping, watching Facebook friends share their Christmas decorating and Hanukkah photos, and, to be honest, not really looking forward to entering into a season of waiting.  In my struggle to get into the spirit, I came across an article I wrote a couple years back for Working Preacher:  " Advent's Absurdity  " , which helped me remember why  we celebrate Advent.  And that it meets us wherever we happen to be when it comes. Today I feel myself slowing down a bit, and easing in. So I thought I would share some ways to enter into Advent.   Advent Wreath -  In my house we light a candle in our Advent wreath each Sunday. week 1 - Hope week 2 - Peace week 3 - Joy week 4 - Love We talk at dinner about what those things mean, where we see them, how we need them in the world. What it feels like when we experience them. Mostly it's a chance for conversation, and the candles remind us

Gratitude (not politeness training)

Deuteronomy 26:1-11 Some of the most authentic and important stuff of relationships, like apologies or confessions or thanks, can come deeply truly from the heart, or they can be manipulation, or forced or coerced, from a sense of decorum or obligation. In our house it often goes like this. Me: “Here’s your toast honey.” Long pause while they walk away with the plate in one hand, nibbling pieces off the edge with the other. Me, with high voice: “Wow! Great looking piece of toast! Thank you, Mom!”   Them, monotone: "thank you mom." And then it's a lesson in politeness that doesn’t really allow for real gratitude to emerge. But gratitude is core to being human, which is to say, being spiritual as well, because it pulls us out of ourselves to see and recognize others, to pay attention to our lives with wonder and reverence. It connects us to the God who made us.   When we give thanks we acknowledge our interdependence, and we seek to live fully in th

Sabbatical Reflections: The Questions and the Bread

Philippians 4:4-9 John 6:25-35 Two weeks ago, I got to hear some of what sabbatical was for you. Today I want to share with you some of what sabbatical was for me. Sabbath and sabbatical, is time stepping outside of working for the “food that perishes,” and instead deliberately seeking the “food that endures for eternal life.”  - w hich is tricky since this food you can’t work for; this food can only be received.    Receiving this eternal food, this life-giving, thirst-quenching, hunger-satisfying food is not something we can work at; it’s not something we can do .   The most we can do is pay attention.   And maybe stop long enough to notice that the God who came down from heaven and gives life to the world is right here in life alongside us.   I am the bread of life, Jesus said.   How can we receive you, Jesus? You all lived in questions this season.   Questions that guided your reflection and gave you a lens to watch your life for signs of God’s presen

Compassionate Communication

My dear friend Theresa Latini, has co-authored a book called, Transforming Church Conflict: Compassionate Leadership in Action , about compassionate communication (also called Non-Violent Communication) - a practice that has significantly impacted me, my family, and the church community in which I minister. The folks over at have been running a series of articles about her book this week, and today's article is a bit of how compassionate communication is shaping me as a pastor, and shaping our ministry together at Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church. You can read the article here: Rooted and Grounded in Love: When a Church Embodies Compassionate Communication

Questions that hurt

Luke 20:27-39 A few years ago I came across something online called “Eternal Earthbound Pets;” pet insurance for the rapture. For $135 for the first pet (and $20 each additional at the same address), a group of well-meaning and well-organized, animal-loving atheists will care for your pet for the duration of its life, if you are raptured up to heaven in the end times.   The frequently asked questions page considered such things as, “How long will it take someone to get to my pet, after the rapture happens?”   “Since we assume chaos will reign immediately after the rapture, we can make no precise predictions as to response time, but have committed certified atheist pet rescuers in a certain mile radius from our clients.   Your animal will be rescued in as timely a manner as possible and after no more than 12 hours.” “What if it turns out a relative of mine is left behind and wants to care for my pet?” “Unless otherwise specified, unraptured relatives will h

Sabbatical Reunion

My sabbatical has ended, and today I returned to worship with my community.   When we arrived at the church building, the first thing we noticed was a brand new bike rack and trash can on a new mini patio, paid for by a grant and installed with the ingenuity and sweat equity of congregants. The second thing we noticed was our littlest friends - babies who had been "in arms" when we left for sabbatical at the end of July were walking - all over the place.  Their gleeful faces and lurching Frankenstein jogging about filled the halls and sanctuary with life. It was a real marking of time passed - three months is  long when it's a quarter of your life! Worship was a lovely easing in - I began the service simply receiving and participating, sitting in the congregation with my family while others led. I then came forward to lead prayers and communion, and ended with the benediction.  It felt so good to bless my people again! The sermon time was a reflecti