Sunday’s Palms are Wednesday’s Ashes (Originally Posted 2-2013)

Today, I wanted to repost this article on Ash Wednesday from 2013.  Join us tonight for our supper and service at 6:30 PM

   Ash-Wednesday-for-web-2014 I don’t know if many know that I am a cradle Presbyterian. That means I was born a Presbyterian and for the most part have always worshiped as a Presbyterian. Beyond that I was raised in a Presbyterian Church that was influenced by a Dutch Reformed mindset. As such we were less than liturgical. The only liturgical traditions I remember were Maundy Thursday and Advent. I don’t recall growing up with any traditions around Ash Wednesday and Lent in general. That’s not to say they weren’t present, I just don’t recall them being very important in the life of the congregation.
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REPOST: God’s Love Poured Into Our Hearts, Overflowing Into the World

 This post is from 2013… May it help you as you consider; life, death, despair, mental illness, hopelessness and those you love.Suicide-Prevention-Hotline

   Yesterday was Memorial Day in our nation, a day to remember those who gave their lives for the cause of freedom and to ensure our safety.  Over the weekend a few of the news programs did stories about the struggles of veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the high number of suicides.  The accounts of hopeless struggles that many silently go through were heart breaking.  Beyond those who have served our nation in the military, this week I had a pastoral colleague who was preparing for a memorial service for someone who committed suicide.  He sorrowfully expressed that this was the fifth such service he had led. Continue reading

Advent Already?? (Original Post 11/23/2010)

Advent side barIt is hard to believe that Advent is upon us. The name Advent is derived from the Latin term Adventus meaning “coming”. The season of Advent in the church is intended to help the believer become filled with expectancy as we wait for the coming of Christ. As a believer we are called to use this time to rekindle our faith in the promises that arrive at Christmas and to prepare for the coming of Christ.

I’m sure that you’re expecting the usual, “turn from the secular Christmas,” Advent reflection. I have challenged myself this year to try and have a more peaceable understanding of modern Christmas traditions and even try to have a better relationship with Santa. This isn’t because I am willing to surrender to the cultural pressures, but instead I thought this year I would see if I could bring more meaning to our traditions. Continue reading

Stewardship and the Abundant Life (with video blog extra)

We live in a culture that is full of messages of scarcity and excess.  These two ideals seem to be in conflict when looked at on the surface.    Yet, our sacristy mentality leads us to act out in excess.  The old adage, “the one with the most toys wins” is the embodiment of that reality.  The basic message is that the supply is limited and thus you need to hoard as much as you can.

This, of course, is in fact precisely the opposite of the Christian view of the world.  As a Christian, we are called to live a life that is situated in the power and providence of God.  The world’s view of life is that of a beginning, middle and end.  This is a limiting view of life.  As a Christian, we have gained a powerful insight into time and space. We know it is infinite.  There is no way to overstate what this knowledge does in our lives.  To know that God is infinite and our lives are eternal reorients our understanding of life, death and all that is involved. Continue reading

Further Conversations on the Rowboat and Sailboat Church

It is hard to write blog post that both fully expresses your thoughts while also being short enough that people read them.  Yesterday’s post Setting Sail “Is the Church a Rowboat or Sailboat?” has sparked some pretty good conversation.  As such I thought I would follow it up today with a bit more about what Joan S. Gray says in her book, “Spiritual Leadership for Church Officers: A Handbook,” says are the differences between Rowboat Churches and Sailboat Churches.  One part of this is expressed by the images below.  When I read her descriptions of the two I am more apt to think of the rowboat church as a galley ship rather than a dinghy.  That makes the oarsmen slaves not a crew.  More than once I have felt that the Church (Universal) has treated people in this way.

I think that at the heart of it all is where the starting point for our ministry and life is found.  She reminds us that we need to be dependent on the power and will of God.  Like it or not, many times the Church (Universal) has often thought of itself as the master of the mission of the church. Rather than seeking to discern, follow and work towards the “Missio Dei” or the Mission of God. Continue reading

Unity Overcoming Estrangement (Government Shut Down and World Communion Sunday)

Chidlren of the worldToday we are reminded of the reality of our two citizenships and the struggle between our earthly and heavenly commitments.  Jesus was confronted with this question in Matthew 22 when he is asked about taxes.  Jesus reminds us that God and civil authorities have their claims on us, but we should not forget what part of our life belongs to each.  Current events highlight the struggle to govern and the way that our brokenness has real consequences.  The government shutdown shows us just how hard it is to find ways to find unity in the midst of divergent world views.  Continue reading

Reflections on Balance and Rejuvenation

work-life-balance    It’s hard to believe that I have served as the Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church since March of 2007. It seems like only yesterday that I was interviewing with the Pastoral Nominating Committee. I remember a conversation I had with the committee about my philosophy of ministry. In that conversation I told them that I believe that I am called to live a life that is a positive example. One area that even before I came to northern Virginia I knew I would need to model positive behavior was in the area of self care. I knew that our area was one of the most competitive and demanding climates in the country. The DC Metro area was and is an area that is engaged in the struggle to balance family, work and faith. Continue reading

Unity in the Holy Spirit and the Pentecost experience

 

Each year as Pentecost rolls around on the church calendar I try to ensure that we do our best in worship to embrace the day.  The account of the coming of the Holy Spirit to the church is a powerful story about how the Spirit worked in the past as well as today.  In more docile traditions of Christianity, of which Presbyterians are part of, the Holy Spirit has not always been given the attention it deserves.

For many the Holy Spirit may even be something that they have a fear of.  One popular conception of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is the “Holy Roller” on the ground, shaking with convulsions, having been seized by the Holy Spirit.  Even a peripheral experience of this type of experience can strike fear into the most firm of a believer.  Fear also comes from the fact that when we read Scripture, we  continually read of Holy Spirit experiences that cause trouble for the one interacting with the Spirit.  People who are in the midst of a Holy Spirit experience have their lives changed and often are given a new mission from God. Continue reading

The Holy Spirit and The Shepherd of My Soul

shepherd  losttop       During worship this past Sunday I testified to the fact that I love and am amazed by the Holy Spirit on a regular basis.  As has been the case in far too many instances than I can count, when an issue or situation in the world needs to be responded to in worship, the Holy Spirit has made it happen.  “Our regularly scheduled programming”  as television networks say, have consistently provided the worshipful response to even the most challenging issues. 

       This time, in the shadow of terror, I believe that the Holy Spirit spoke deeply to our needs.  One of the great blessings we have developed in our staff is that we push each other to prepare as many of the aspects of worship in advance.  In order to give  ourselves the appropriate time to rehearse choral music, pick suitable hymns and make a bulletin that doesn’t distract, we like to have as much done well in advance.  Continue reading

The Not So Low Sunday

easter season banner    The Sunday following Easter is traditionally known as Low Sunday.  This name has theological origins and is used to illustrate the contrast with Easter Sunday.  While there may be these theological and liturgical reasons for the name, history also shows that it is a good summary of attendance.  Frequently, the Sunday that follows Easter is one of the lowest attended Sundays.  This low is highlighted by the stark juxtaposition to  the often swelled crowds of Easter Sunday. 

    For Christ Presbyterian Church I believe we bucked the Low Sunday trend.  This Low Sunday was anything but low for our congregation.  Our congregational meeting and Worship were not only well attended, but also rife with the reality of Jesus’ Resurrection. Continue reading