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
It 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
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
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
Today 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
I want to personally invite you to a special worship service on October 2nd at 11 am. We will celebrate the love God has shown us in our diversity. A highlight of our service will be a special musical offering in Korean by our neighbor church Light Global Mission Church. Everyone is encouraged to dress in clothes that are native to your country of origin. The service will be immediately followed by an international pot-luck. Bring a dish to pass that reflects your heritage.
Hospitality is a word that we often talk about at Christ Presbyterian Church. A few years ago we studied Robert Schnase’s book, “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations.” As one of the practices, Schnase advocated for congregations to observe radical hospitality.
“Congregations that practice Radical Hospitality demonstrate an active desire to invite, welcome, receive, and care for those who are strangers so that they find a spiritual home and discover for themselves the unending richness of life in Christ. Radical describes that which is drastically different from ordinary practices, outside the normal, that which exceeds expectations and goes the second mile.”
At Christ Presbyterian Church we take great delight in being a congregation that welcomes the stranger. We have worked consistently to develop patterns of being that make that welcome part of our congregational DNA. Yet, as with every aspect of our life, we can do better. Continue reading
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
Every week at the beginning of our worship services at Christ Presbyterian I am called upon to share announcements and highlight activities. While we have an extensive bulletin with a great deal of information and details, it still is expected that I will highlight them. When I first arrived at Christ Presbyterian, we actually passed the microphone to do this. It often took a great deal of time, so we decided that we would only announce a few items that either were impending or missed the bulletin.
Soon announcements were turned into prayers so they could be said during prayer time. I guess there are worse things to have happen than the ministries of the church being the subject of prayers. Yet, it also seems a bit strange. This wouldn’t be a problem if we were a sleepy church that didn’t do much. But we are a vital church with dynamic ministries. Perhaps you have noticed recently that I have made more announcements from the pulpit than I normally have chosen to. Part of this is because we have a lot going on. The other part of it is that it is difficult to choose what needs highlighting and what doesn’t. Inevitably someone is upset if you highlight one thing and not the other. Continue reading