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 →
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 →
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 →
Each year as Pentecost rolls around on the church calendar I try to ensure that we do our best in worship to embrace the day. The account of the coming of the Holy Spirit to the church is a powerful story about how the Spirit worked in the past as well as today. In more docile traditions of Christianity, of which Presbyterians are part of, the Holy Spirit has not always been given the attention it deserves.
For many the Holy Spirit may even be something that they have a fear of. One popular conception of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is the “Holy Roller” on the ground, shaking with convulsions, having been seized by the Holy Spirit. Even a peripheral experience of this type of experience can strike fear into the most firm of a believer. Fear also comes from the fact that when we read Scripture, we continually read of Holy Spirit experiences that cause trouble for the one interacting with the Spirit. People who are in the midst of a Holy Spirit experience have their lives changed and often are given a new mission from God. 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 →
I 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 →
Holy God, today we seek to remember your faithfulness in the midst of our memory of deep loss. Each year we are transported back to that day in 2001, a day when lives were lost and a day when lives were changed forever.
We pray once again for your blessings to be upon all who lost their lives and pray that your eternal peace surrounds them.
We pray for those who lost loved ones and ask for your comfort and love be with them today and every day. Those lost were mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends and colleagues. Their loss still leaves a hole that is filled with memories. Keep those precious memories alive and filled with eternal hope.
We prayespecially for the children of September 11th who lost mothers and fathers.
We prayfor those who struggle daily with health concerns as a result of this tragedy. For some the scars of this attack are visible yet for many they are invisible. Grant that your healing Spirit would be present and alleviate the physical and mental suffering which effects survivors and our nation.
We pray for our nation and it’s leaders. May our nation continue to seek to be a blessing in the world. You and you alone are able to guide our leaders as to what is good, right and just.
We pray for those who serve our country around the world. Lord, protect and guide our military and diplomatic representatives throughout the world.
We pray for our enemies. This perhaps is the hardest call we have from Jesus, “But I tell you: Love your enemiesi and pray for those who persecute you,” Matthew 5:44 Establish in our hearts a desire to build peace and understanding in the world.
We pray for peace. Sometimes the idea of world peace is more a joke about beauty pageants than our sincere hope. Today, we ask you to establish in us a keen desire to be peacemakers. May our lives reflect the hope and promise of the hymn we sing,
“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me; Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be.”
At last night’s Session meeting, the Session endorsed Christ Presbyterian’s participation in the Acts 16:5 Initiative. In previous Tidbits I have given some insight into the content of the Initiative and shared some of my esteem for its leader, Stan Ott. I believe that our participation in this program will assist our congregation in developing a solid vision of what God is leading us to. Stan affirms that, “the Acts 15:6 Initiative does not propose a simple checklist of things to do. Rather, it suggests a wide variety of practices and practical “next steps” that a congregation may take.” I’m excited to see how God works through this program to address our unique issues and achieve our congregation’s specific God-given mission.
I’m sure that most of you are wondering what this entails. Here is an outline of the Acts 16:5 Initiative. Continue reading →
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 →