It was late and one chair sat empty when I got an uneasy feeling in my stomach. Looking at the panelists seated up front, I knew the speaker from the Jewish tradition, the Islamist, and the Buddhist were present. By process of elimination, I figured the other two occupying their chairs were the Hindu and Baha’i speakers. Which left a lone seat empty for the Christian.
It’s been one year since I left my position as pastor of a lovely rural congregation to lead The Project F-M, a ministry that delightfully defies easy categorization but could not be called a church. It’s been one year since I’ve preached regularly, presided over the sacraments, led funeral services, visited shut-ins, taught Sunday school, been to the hospital or responded when someone said “Pastor.” One year.
Pastor friends often ask me, “Do you miss it?” It’s a complicated response.
Much of the tension in the second season of Downton Abbey has to do
with the fact that the great house has been turned into a respite care
center for army officers. This novel use of the space, coupled with so
many new people about, provides a wonderfully entertaining storyline. In
a weird way, it’s spurred me to reflect on the use of space for
At last week’s Republican Presidential Debate hosted by CNN in
Jacksonville, Florida, a wonderful question was asked of the candidates:
if elected, how would their religious beliefs affect their decisions as
One of my more conservative friends posted this picture on his
Facebook page recently, shared under the headline, “It’s funny, because
it’s true.” I get it. Ironic, right? Maybe so. Yes, the captions make a point,
but it’s not one I find compelling.
This week’s Theology Pub, a gathering of 20/30-somethings The Project FM
hosts at a local bar to talk about God and life, tackled the topic “Is
my truth better than yours?” Though it came out a few days too late,
David Brooks’ NY Times Op-Ed this week, “If it feels right,” would have been great pre-reading.
Leading a church that isn’t a “church,” doesn’t meet regularly, and
has a loose version of itself is all rather tricky. It’s also a lot of
fun. I’m four weeks into my position at Mission Developer with The Project F-M,
and I’m discovering new joys and challenges each day.
The Bible gets four shots to tell Jesus’ birth — well, four gospel writers plus Paul and the other epistle writers, so at least four.
But the manger only appears in Luke. For many current-day Christians,
the Christmas story would be incomplete without the manger scene:
little baby Jesus wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.
Our local ministerial association met recently to flesh out
the details of the annual community Thanksgiving service. The meeting is always
a riot, but it deals with some tense theological questions too.
Does my pastoral role call upon me to edit the Bible?
On most Sundays, the call to worship printed in our bulletin
is taken directly from liturgical resources from the denomination. Usually it
adapts a psalm so that the leader (a liturgist, not me) and the rest of the
congregation alternate speaking the verses.
"Should I call you 'Reverend'?" someone asked me recently. I
paused for a moment, thinking a million thoughts at once. I'm not much of a fan
of the "reverend" title, in part because of its problematic grammar but mostly
because I don't want to be revered.
My local Starbucks—and
probably yours too—has a large sign on each door that proclaims, "Take comfort
in rituals." When I'm being cynical, I read it as a multinational company
preying on our cultural longing for meaning by suggesting we can buy happiness
with a $4 cup of coffee.