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

The Deacon (Part two of a three part series on the ordained offices of the Presbyterian Church)

STK-many-hands-prayer-sepiaThis past week in worship we reflected on the words of Paul as he speaks about Spiritual Gifts.  Paul writes to the church in Corinth with regards to how the gifts of the Spirit are given:

      “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”          1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Today as we shift our discussion of the ordained offices from Ruling Elders to Deacons, I believe this is a great place to start.  In this passage Paul is encouraging us to remember that the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in our lives is varied and as such enables us to perform various activities.   This is a critical lesson for us to learn when discerning who is called to the different ordained offices.  Each office calls for different gifts.  Yet they are all brought to life in the shared ministry for the common good. Continue reading

Practicing What I Preach or Do As I Say Not As I Do?

     Practice what you preach is one of those sayings that is easy to throw around, unless you’re a preacher.  As one who consistently is called to stand before the assembled congregation and proclaim God’s Word, it can be a daunting task.  Not only does it mean that I have to make sure that I am being true to the sacred Biblical text, but I also must ensure that I am a creditable witness to the text.  This isn’t always easy.  The news has many accounts of preachers who subscribe to “the do as I say not as I do” school of thought. 

      I remember when I was a Chaplain Candidate with the Navy and I was taught this very important lesson.  Each summer I would spend time with sailors onboard a ship or other installation.  The first summer I was stationed aboard the USS Anzio.  The Anzio is a guided missile cruiser. For those of you not versed in Naval architecture, a cruiser is not a large ship.  At only 567 feet long and 55 feet wide, this means that the crew live in close quarters.  A crew of 367 people share every space and find themselves in almost constant contact with others.  This context helped to heighten my awareness of just how important it is to be of a consistent character and to ensure that I am practicing as well as preaching.  You can’t be a fake with people when you share a bathroom.  Continue reading

The Greatest Commandment as a positive rule of faith

Today, I was gifted with the joy of holding Chapel with our preschool. This is a short time with the children in the Sanctuary for religious instruction, story and song. I love the opportunity to speak a few good words to the children, most of whom I have no idea of their religious affiliation. In fact, I suspect that many aren’t followers of Christ or any other religious tradition.

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The Church Should Be A No Eeyore Zone!

No EeyoreIn a recent Facebook status, one of my “friends” posted the fact that she “hates the news.” The status went on to list the litany of negative and downright heartbreaking news stories that aired in a brief segment of a CNN program. Today I was reading the Post and was struck by the same reality. Even stories that were about positive things like a new school year were infused with a negative undercurrent.

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Is God opening a door?

Last nights Ash Wednesday Service has me praying about a sense that the world is seeking out God.  I am amazed at how much I have heard Lenten disciplines come up in conversation, on the radio and facebook.  Perhaps it's in response to the images of turmoil we see each day from around the world.  Perhaps it's a sense that with our economic troubles our sense of worldly security has failed.  I don't know why, nor do I really care. 

I wonder how many others are

feeling that God is providing us with an opportunity to speak a sacred message.   We have been entrusted with a message that will help our family, friends and everyone else find meaning, purpose, and dare we say hope of eternal life.  Lent/Easter is a great opportunity to evangelize and invite.  What better time to ask your friends to experience the reality of Christian life than Lent and Easter.  In just a few short weeks they can experience the deepest reality of our lives through our worship.  Jesus life, death and resurrection come alive in worship at this time like no other time.    This song by Casting Crowns has a passion to it that I believe we are all called to have.  Will you share your experience of Christ with others?