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 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.
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
Jesus Calms the Storm was the title of today’s Preschool Chapel Time. I selected that story early yesterday prior to the destructive storms that struck Oklahoma. Today I had planned to write an article on membership. It was going to be a well-thought-out theological work that talked of commitment and testimony. Then I turned on the news and was inundated with the horror of lost life and property. I have to say that when talk of third graders losing their lives began, chills and tears were the only reaction my body I could muster. The thought of sending Colin to school, and something like this happening immediately bought up a visceral response. Continue reading
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.
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
This past week has been a hard one for our country and the world. While violence is ever present in our lives and we see daily reminders of how shockingly horrible we can treat each other, the events of Friday in Newtown shone a spotlight on just how deep our sin has cut us. In the aftermath of these tragic killings and many like it, there is always an over abundance of talking heads who seek to use the death of others to advance their positions. “Gun control” advocates come on and talk about how new laws would may have prevented this event. “Gun rights” advocates are on the other side of the split screen talking about how if the teachers had guns they could have stopped the gunman.
I agree that in the midst of this tragedy there is a calling to have deep conversations about guns, violence and the mental health system. Some of my colleagues have chosen this time as that time. Roy Howard, Pastor of St. Marks Presbyterian in North Bethesda, Maryland for one, made an impassioned response and a call to action against violence and calling for more Gun Control. Please email me and I can pass along his Facebook post of what he said to his congregation. Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, has chosen to use this situation to draw attention to his beliefs about abortion and homosexuality. For many Pastors, their judgment led them to use this event as a springboard for what they hope will be meaningful discussions about deep issues.
I had more than one parishioner say to me prior to Sunday’s service, “I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes today.” Continue reading
This past Sunday I took what I hope was a different yet faithful approach to the story of the woman at the well from the fourth chapter of the Gospel of John. During our worship at Christ Presbyterian I asked the congregation to consider the division that is present in this story. Throughout the text we are continually reminded that this world is torn asunder by the various notions that we have towards people. Continue reading