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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No More Dirty Laundry: Turning from Negativity to Life Affirming Messages

dirty-laundryI find it amazing how easy it is to get distracted by the negatives in life.  Truth be told, lately I have allowed some of the struggles of life hold more weight than the positives. Some of this is due to the fact that I have been struggling with a nagging sickness that seems to want to hold on to me more than I want it to.  The reality of the mind, spirit and body connection is one that we often only pay attention to when it’s too late.  Yet we know that when one part of our bio-psycho-spiritual being is off, the rest are surly effected.

I also know that we live in a world that celebrates the negative.  We live life surrounded by bad news.  In 1982 Don Henley released the song, “Dirty Laundry.” Continue reading

“What Colin Has Taught Me” or “A Child-like Faith Role Model”

no prescription cialis=”” width=”300″ height=”165″ /> Last Sunday someone spoke highly of my eight year old son, Colin. This person said, “there is something spiritual about Colin.” I, of course, took this as a complement and was glad to hear that folks have a positive perception on my child. On the other hand, I quickly asked the person if they would like to come to the house at homework time. Colin is not unlike every other child who at times seems to have horns, not a halo. Continue reading

What is Easter? A video reflection

Check out this brief video reflection on Holy Week and Easter I created as a way of sharing a few thoughts on each day of Holy Week including Easter.

Five Reasons Why I Observe Lent

Today begins the liturgical season of Lent and I am looking forward to gathering with our congregation for our annual Ash Wednesday Bread and Soup Simple Meal and Prayer Service. Earlier this month, I posted on the presbytery Facebook group a question about what other churches did for Ash Wednesday. Many of the responses were similar to our activity and those that responded practiced the imposition of ashes. That is except for one retired minister member of presbytery who said simply this, “Observance of church seasons, and imposition of ashes, is a Roman custom and NOT Reformed…” I was taken aback by this blunt and, in many ways dismissive, comment. Another pastor commented back on this statement with this, “…that is true. Do you think that it should remain true? While Ash Wednesday was never observed in my church growing up, when I have led services as a pastor, I have found that people are profoundly moved by the imposition.” This conversation, while a bit annoying, also has helped me ask the question, “Why do we do what we do and what benefit is there in the “customs” we both have experienced and haven’t yet? So here are my five reasons why I observe the liturgical seasons and Lent in particular:

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When I Think of the Nail Prints

As we continue our Holy Week journey I wanted to share a brief video I created. Mary Kay Beall started our Holy Week with her anthem “On That Day When He Rode Into Jerusalem.” Today she provides us with a haunting song about Good Friday. “When I Think of the Nail Prints” provides a mournful reflection on the suffering of Christ on the Cross. Coupled with the images in the video I think you will find it to be a stirring reminder of the price that God was willing to pay for our redemption.

Lord I Lift My Friend to You.

     Recently, I have found myself keenly aware of the struggles that many of my friends, colleagues, and congregants are going through.  Many are experiencing deep valleys in their lives.  I don’t think that this recent spike is actually a spike at all.  I have found that this Lent God has been making me more aware of people’s struggles. Now, I believe that I am a fairly observant and perceptive person but recently I believe that God has led me to moments of divinely inspired vision.  Regardless of the situation it seems that often the only true and reasonable response I can come up with is that, “I will pray for you.”  I have found myself adding a new addition to that response in recent days.  Following the standard “I will pray for you ” I have added, “no really I will.”  Continue reading

The Five “P’s” of Passionate Worship

    Passionate Worship is one of the “Five Practices” that Robert Schnase identifies when talking about fruitful congregations and fruitful living.  To be a congregation or individual who are bearing spiritual fruit we need to engage in worship that has its roots deep within the Spirit.  I will be the first to admit that there are days when worship is difficult.  Far too often the concerns of life crowd out my worship desire.

    Schnase identifies five “P’s” that people who practice Passionate Worship seek to have in their life: prioritize, prepare, participate, pray and persist.  Continue reading

Our Easter Welcome

     Easter is drawing ever nearer.  As it does, my mind drifts to the reality that each Easter churches through out the world see their attendance rise.  Christmas and Easter are two Christian holidays that are wonderful draws for both believers and non-believers.  I am encouraged each year to see many faces that for one reason or another are often missing.  I used to think negative thoughts about those whom we would often term “Christmas and Easter Christians.”  For many, life is such that regular attendance in worship is a challenge.  It is easy for those who are able to attend regularly to sit in judgment. 

     This year I wanted to shed a different light on the subject.  Continuing the idea from my sermon this past week, I believe that it is high time for our “Christian” communities to start acting Christ like.  Christ looked at the world with a very different eye.  When he saw those who were outside the community, he sought to figure out what was separating them and alleviate that burden.  Each week in the declaration of pardon we hear this echoed, “Who is in a position to condemn, Christ, and Christ came into the world to forgive sinners.”  Continue reading

Led By The Spirit?

Each month the Session of Christ Presbyterian Church meets to conduct it’s stated meeting.  Nine women and men selected “by God through the voice of this congregation” meet to hope, dream, listen and lead.           

I have been involved with Sessions for over twenty years.  I first served as an Elder in my home church at the age of sixteen.  I remember going to my first Session meeting with no illusion as to what we were to be doing.  This was a board that was supposed to make management decisions for the church and we met for the purpose of oversight and budget accountability. Continue reading