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.
     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

In times of uncertainty we must remember that in “God We Trust.”

     These are times of great uncertainty. Perhaps I should say that these are times when we are highly aware of the uncertainty around us. I say this not to downplay the seriousness of how many around us feel. In one way or another, we are all being affected by the most recent cause of dramatic uncertainty in our lives, sequestration. Our congregation has many individuals and families that are at risk of being directly affected by the budget cuts. Beyond that, we have the continued concern of the overall economic recovery from recession. We can even see this uncertainty affecting our congregational budget.
InGodWeTrust      I am not going to discuss the finer points of the political situations that have led us to this point. Actually, I am far from qualified to speak of such things. So the question comes, “What am I qualified to speak about in this situation?”
Regardless of the cause, uncertainty is all about the unknown. I have spoken with myriads of people who are awaiting medical test results. Time and time again the refrain I hear is that they just want to know what is happening. We are people who want answers. Knowing what is coming our way gives us a sense of control and power over a situation.
For many years I have wondered about how our national currency still has the phrase, “In God We Trust” on it. There is obvious reasons why some would seek to eliminate this phrase from our money and as our countries official motto. I actually understand others perspective on this, but am glad for Christian’s sake that it hasn’t happened. I’m thankful because for Christians, it makes every dollar and cent physically embody our theological understanding of our lives. We are reminded that it is truly, IN GOD WE TRUST. Continue reading

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 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.

Spiritual Growth… A Journey of Faith and Fun

Today, I have been thinking about the continual need for spiritual growth. This is partially due to the fact that the word “journey” comes to mind when we are talking about Lent. We are not people who live in a journey culture. We live in a destination culture. Our lives are not spent appreciating the view, but are fully focused on the road ahead as we seek to achieve our final destination. Of course, this often leads us to miss opportunities to witness beauty and wonder.

This is not a new problem. The human condition of sin has skewed our view of the world since the fall. Adam and Eve couldn’t see the garden for the tree. The people of Israel couldn’t see the blessings of God in the midst of the wilderness, all they wanted was to get to the promised land. Perhaps spending some time appreciating the view, may pay off dividends in our spiritual life.

So just how can we begin to reorient out lives from destination thinking to sojourners on a wonderful journey? I think there are a few specific things we can do that just might help. Continue reading

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:

Continue reading

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.

An Invitation from Christ… An Invitation from a Friend… Pass it On

    Today is Maundy Thursday when we reflect and remember the way that Christ chose to prepare his disciples for his death.  We also follow his command to “Do in Remembrance.”  My favorite part of the Communion liturgy is the invitation.  I find it freeing to be able to remind everyone that we aren’t the ones who do the inviting but instead are those that receive the invitation.  Celebrating the Lord’s Supper in the Presbyterian Tradition is wonderful because we don’t put up a fence.  We embody Christ call to welcome all. 

    I wonder how often we remember that as Christ Body in the world we are called to be those who pass along the invitation.  Statistics show, (yes I can’t stand that phrase either) that 80% of new people in churches received a personal invitation to attend.  This invitation is just like the one we get to the table.  It’s real, personal and open.  This Thursday of Holy week I wonder how many of us have passed along the invitation we have received? 

Is there someone you are being called to invite to worship this Easter?
Easter Promo – Risk and Reward
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