CCblogs Network Posts

Recent content from around the network. See featured posts.

The CCblogs network is a community of independent bloggers exploring the Christian faith. The Christian Century facilitates the network but does not edit posts or take responsibility for them.

__________________________________________________________


  • Romans 8:22-27When inward groaning anticipates the cry of new birth the joy anticipated is the hope that endures even if the labor is long and difficult. Even in our weakness, when confused and conflicted our patience wears thin and we know not what to pray, God intercedes for us. Sighs too deep for words match our deepest need breath for breath so that fed by the first fruits of the Spirit our hearts are lifted from despair. In that way the future adoption that is the redemption of our mortal bodies can be known in the present even as a kick in the womb allows expectant parents to imagine the life of the new born they await. Here and not yet – that is the nature this pregnant pause before we know fully the full fruit of the eternal tomorrow.

    ______________________

  • The Blue Room

    My brother posted on Facebook today: I sometimes feel like a juggler who is barely keeping up, but is constantly having bowling pins thrown at him. Or perhaps they’re chainsaws. I wrote about that sense of overwhelm (yes, that’s a verb that needed to be nouned) in a recent post, Failure to Adult. Yesterday I had […]

    ______________________


  • Reports are that the courts have ruled in favor of the Town of Madison in its dispute with Dane County over locating a Day Resource Center on Martin St. Will the County appeal? In any case, it’s almost June  and we’ve got five months to come up with a solution for next winter. How long has this been going on? Let’s see if the city and county can bury the hatchet, work with homeless advocates and service providers and come up with a permanent solution for a Homeless Day Resource Center in the downtown .  

    ______________________


  • Bob Cargill wrote on Facebook, “I’m a biblical scholar. One of my jobs is to show people evidence from the book they supposedly revere that certain claims they make aren’t possible because of what it says in the text they supposedly revere.”He then added the challenge, “Meme THAT,” and several people did. The above is one of the results.What he describes is certainly one of the roles of a Biblical scholar. But keep in mind that scholars only have this role because people who claim to revere the Bible don’t study it in any kind of depth or detail, and then proceed to make false claims about the Bible which are incompatible with what the Bible actually says and what the Bible actually shows itself to be.Sometimes Biblical scholars are accused of attacking the Bible, or of attacking “believers,” or both. But the truth is that most Biblical scholars love the Bible, and are defending it from the distortions, misrepresentations, and lies...

    ______________________

  • Country Parson

    It’s Memorial Day weekend and time for me to write my annual article honoring Harland Miller who represents for me the universe of those who have fought and died under the American flag.    Regular readers may recall Harland.  He died some years ago now, and I will place a small flag near his grave and lay flowers on it.  He served in WWII, was blown up in North Africa, spent years in the hospital, and lived the rest of his life as a near hermit whose mind was embedded in the late 19th century.  If you are interested, you can look back on articles from previous years about Harland.Harland stands in for so many others, and this year remembering him brings to mind my dad.  He also served in WWII as a supply officer on a destroyer in the Pacific.  Never once did he tell a story about what he had experienced.  Only once did I see him cry.   I was a young adult, and we were together touring another destroyer, one he helped decommission shortly...

    ______________________

  • Nikos

    Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.Some may want to go back to the past,others, Back to the Future.As for me, I just want to get back to living.It was her 16th birthday party.The year was 1967.My sister was  six years older than me.As a young boy, I had learned to endure parties where teenage girls invaded the house.HELLO……..ANYONE HOME, MCDOWELL? *Answer…..about a gazillion girls were there,all weekend.GREAT SCOTT!!! *For a ten year old boy,this was a sentence of death.Marty McFly may have thought he had it bad in 1985but life for Davy McDowell in 1967 was no picnic either.I wasn’t the only male child facing such agony.My brother, five years younger than me, had to endure it as well,except that at age five, he was less aware of the GRAVITY OF THE SITUATION. *WHOA, THIS WAS HEAVY! *As the cars continued to turn...

    ______________________


  • This is the message I shared on 5/17 with God's people at St. Timothy, Bemus Point and St. Mark, Mayville. The gospel text is Luke 24:44-53. What is Ascension and why are we celebrating it?Jesus' ascension to the Father is basically the conclusion of Easter. The ascension both closes the period of Jesus' ministry on earth and opens the period of the church's mission. It is like God is saying, "Tag--you're it! Now you're me in the world." This important feast is often overlooked in the American Protestant church. The irony is, this is the third pillar of the Christian faith. Christ became incarnate, Christ died and rose from the dead and Christ ascended into heaven. We confess these every week in the Creed.The Feast of the Ascension is always on a Thursday, right before the last Sunday of Easter. If it is not observed on Thursday, we can observe it on the following Sunday, as we are doing today. Many times it is skipped altogether, but there are important things that happened on the...

    ______________________

  • Allan R. Bevere

    from the Discover blog:___Facebook. People either love it or hate it. But one thing we can all agree on is that it sucks up a lot of time for a lot of people. Sure, it can be an easy way to keep in touch with large number of friends and family members, but what effect does Facebook have on those who spend hours a day on the site? Well, according to the authors of this study, Facebook has real emotional effects on users…and they aren’t good. The researchers kept in touch with study participants, texting them 5 times per day (!) to find out how they felt, while also keeping track of their Facebook use. Turns out that the participants felt worse and had less life satisfaction after increases in Facebook use. Something to think about before sharing this on Facebook (although we hope you do anyway!).

    ______________________


  • So-called “literal” interpreters of Genesis are often blind to the things they read into the text. And so I thought that this image I came across deserved to be shared. It is an attempt to “fix” the text so that it says what young-earth creationists – and others who deny that it reflects an ancient view of the cosmos – think it should, and claim that it does.Perhaps it would be interesting to go through the entire Bible, crossing out the things that people ignore or twist to mean something else, and replacing those words with others in red that reflect what people insist that the Bible says, even though it doesn’t?Of related interest, BioLogos has been reviewing the book Genesis: History, Fiction, or Neither?: Three Views on the Bible’s Earliest Chapters, asking if Genesis 1-11 is intended to reflect accurate history.

    ______________________

  • Head and Heart

    photo by ondablv / flickrEveryone Has Lost Someone They came from six,    maybe eight directions.The drove up and slowly    got out of their cars.I greeted them and they nodded--   some smiled.We walked through the door   and down the steps—  Through another door.We sat down in a circle   around a table.One by one   we shared our names.Slowly, ever so slowly   we began to talk.Everyone there had lost someone.A baby born dead.A twenty-two year old   who overdosed.A mother of two—forty-four years old   whose liver had given out.A wife who just slipped away   after 42 years of marriage.An old woman with Alzheimers.A young woman barely married   who suicided.Everyone there had lost someone. The evening ended.We shook hands.A few hugged.Others just walked away to their cars.I locked the door.I got in my car.Turning the key    I remembered.Everyone—every one—has lost...

    ______________________


  • Sunday isn’t just the Day of Pentecost, but it is also the last Sunday before my sabbatical.  I’ll be out of the pulpit for eleven straight Sundays after this one.  As I prepare to preach, I am finding myself struggling with what, if any, challenges I should place upon the people of St. Paul’s in my absence.  At its best, a sabbatical isn’t just for the cleric taking time off to study, fish, travel, or whatever.  The goal of a sabbatical should be for clergy AND congregation to spend some time thinking about their ministry together.  Now this is different, of course, in a congregation with more than one priest.  At Saint Paul’s, TKT will be here all summer, and he is the Rector, after all, so that vision and goals go through his desk, and yet, TKT and I have the sort of relationship where we share that work of vision and goal setting, and my sabbatical will be a time for me and the congregation to reflect on our work together, but certain for him to be...

    ______________________


  • I’ve been thinking a great deal about my post last week and the conversations around both the Memorial to the Church and the Pew Survey. We’re in uncharted territory as the Episcopal Church (and Mainline Protestantism) collapse. All sorts of people from all over the theological spectrum will offer analyses of the reasons for this collapse but it will require historical distance to gain the necessary perspective from which to judge what happened and why. At the same time, with the rise of the percentage of people who no longer identify with particular denominations or traditions, one of the things the Pew Survey has made clear is that Americans are creating new ways of being religious. A number of commentators have made this case, among them Kaya Oakes and Peter Manseau. Something Oakes wrote is especially pertinent: The new Pew Survey should not be giving people who are creating their own religions and communities something to think about. They’ve already thought about the role...

    ______________________


  • Worship doesn’t always work. It doesn’t work when your student pianist can’t get through a whole hymn verse without stopping and starting three times. Or when the toddler, who accidentally bumps his head, drowns out your sermon’s climactic crescendo with his screams. Or when your congregation, who faithfully shows up Sunday morning after a long weekend of mission projects, only has enough energy left to go through the motions. Worship experiences are certainly not all under our control. I work hard at worship, though, because I believe it deserves my hard work. Nothing, in my mind, better inspires or better pulls a community together than good worship. Every year I tell my students that worship done well can transform a person’s faith. Worship done poorly can kill it. In my position as Chaplain at Monmouth College my students and I lead weekly Chapel services all year long. In addition to these, we design and lead special services annually: Christmas Convocation, Ash Wednesday,...

    ______________________

  • Edges of Faith

    The God of Pentecost doesn’t have an official language. This is the shocking revelation of the day of Pentecost, but one often  lost amid the day’s more bombastic metaphors of rushing winds, descending doves and intoxicated disciples with tongues touched by fire. But in a country with a history of suppressing other languages in the [Read More...]

    ______________________


  • Why Free Play Is the Best Summer SchoolThe more time children spend in structured, parent-guided activities, the worse their ability to work productively towards self-directed goals. JESSICA LAHEY  JUN 20, 2014 in THE AtlanticMost schools across the nation have marked the end of another academic year, and it’s time for summer. Time for kids to bolt for the schoolhouse doors for two long months of play, to explore their neighborhoods and discover the mysteries, treasures, and dramas they have to offer. This childhood idyll will hold true for some children, but for many kids, the coming of summer signals little more than a seasonal shift from one set of scheduled, adult-supervised lessons and activities to another.Unscheduled, unsupervised, playtime is one of the most valuable educational opportunities we give our children. It is fertile ground; the place where children strengthen social bonds, build emotional maturity, develop cognitive skills, and shore up their...

    ______________________


  • Haven't posted anything in a few days - mostly because we were chilling out with my sisters - but also to simply take a break. So today is all about random and sundry thoughts along the journey so far. When we left three weeks ago, it was barely spring - still nearly frigid at times - but now our beautiful yard is awakening with blossoms. Still, we are itching to go and here are a few random thoughts discerned along the way...+ First, staying off Facebook wasn't working. We both missed many of our friends, family and colleagues and found we wanted to stay in touch. So, as that realization dawned on us both at about the same time, we're going to test it with selective postings. It is just too much fun to be in relationship with such wonderful people.+ Second, we are both SO ready for part two of this sabbatical - our residency in Montreal - to start for a variety of reasons.  We want to get into the new rhythm of things in that fabulous city, we want to start doing deeper into our...

    ______________________


  • Yesterday, in his post “Tongues of Fire,” Steve Pankey introduced me to a new word: “xenoglossy,” which means the act of speaking or writing in a language unknown to the speaker/writer. For example, if this blog suddenly switched into Croatian (without the help of Google Translator), it would be evidence of xenoglossy. Because I don’t know the first thing about Croatian, my sudden ability to communicate in it would be a gift from beyond—presumably a work of the Spirit.In that post, Steve takes time to distinguish between the speaking in tongues we encounter this Sunday in the Pentecost moment of Acts 2 and the more common though still pretty strange version of speaking in tongues that some Christians practice as an ongoing spiritual exercise. That version of speaking in tongues, known as “glossolalia,” is the Spirit-given ability to speak “in the tongues of angels,” which is to say in a “language” that no one other than God and the angels and, in some very rare circumstances, someone...

    ______________________


  • I led chapel today and had the sense that it worked brilliantly, offering a space that for many, provided a deep sense of connection with God. It connected with a range of senses, including seeing (contemplating the icon), touching (choosing a symbol of vocation), hearing (each others breathing), tasting (the communion elements). Let me explain. […]

    ______________________

  • Nikos

    Sermon (May 24) - "Where's the Fire?"Acts 2:1-21This is the story of Pentecost, the conclusion of the Easter Season, the 50th day after Easter Sunday, and the 10th day after Jesus' ascension.Peter refers to Pentecost and the giving of the Holy Spirit as the "Last Days." This does not mean that the world will end in any moment. It's a figure of speech that states that this is a significant event in which God's people are being equipped to carry on Jesus' ministry and share the good news throughout the world.Peter makes two very important points about Pentecost in his sermon to the people.1) Only followers of Jesus are able to understand and appreciate the gifting of the Holy Spirit. The crowd doesn't understand what is happening. Most of them haven't yet heard about Jesus' resurrection, but this is about to change!2) Peter's naming of this time as "The Last Days" is showing that the news of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is about to transform the world. This is the...

    ______________________


  • They've got Louie Gohmert, but we've got Steve King. Still, it was Louie Gohmert who laid out the plain truth: "We've got some people who think Shariah law oughta' be the law of the land, forget the Constitution," he said while defending his good Christian people. "But the guns are there," he said, "the Second Amendment is there, to make sure all of the rest of the amendments are followed."Just in case you're wondering, that is.And those guns are there not just there to defend the constitution either. You never know what's going to happen, even when you got to take a leak sometime, you know? I mean, a guy goes to the can, and some dang fool comes along and makes some kind of crack--who knows what about?--when he's standing there minding his business. Well, what's a guy do, right? I mean, what you really got if you've got no respect?Or so it went in Waco last week. It all started in the men's can over some provocation between a couple of biker thugs who had enough of each other. Fists...

    ______________________

  • Beloved Spear

    It came in the mail, mixed in with the barrage of college and university flyers that my 17 year old son has been receiving since he first took the PSAT.It was a brown-black envelope, decorated with a pattern made of positive-thinking words. On the front, two short declarative statements:"For College.  For Life."I thought, at first, it was a marketing offer for a credit card, in this case, the Discover card.  Which it might have been.Obviously, the good folks at the College Board have not just marketed my son to colleges, but have also sold his information to the credit card companies.  Or to a reseller of information.I was, at first, a little cheesed.  The absolute last thing you want a young person to start out their life with is debt.  Credit cards in the hands of freshmen are dangerous, dangerous things, and can trap the unwise or the unwary in a cycle of overconsumption and financial insecurity.  They create unrealistic, debt-fueled expectations for...

    ______________________

  • Allan R. Bevere

    None of it [the Bible's message] is esoteric. None of it is a specialized, compartmentalized thing. It's all lived... One of the wonderful things about being a pastor is that your whole work takes place in a 'storied' context. . . Nothing is mere doctrine. . . It's all embedded in this narrative way of living."-- Eugene PetersonI truly resonate with this quote from Peterson. I have argued on this blog many times that the divide that many Christians draw between doctrine and living, belief and action, orthodoxy and orthopraxy, misunderstands the significant nature of both. As Methodist theologian, United Methodist theologian, Geoffrey Wainwright correctly states,I see Christian worship, doctrine and life as conjoined in a common 'upwards' and 'forwards' direction towards God and the achievement of his purpose, which includes human salvation. They intend God's praise. His glory is that he is already present and within to enable our transformation into his likeness, which means...

    ______________________


  • May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator, Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word who is our brother and Saviour, and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide, be with you and remain with you, this day and forevermore.AMEN.a...

    ______________________

  • Nikos

    Sunday, May 24 - (9:00 am & 10:30 Services) & Wednesday, May 27  (6:30 pm Casual Service @ Crossroads, 2095 Fair Avenue)Features - Pentecost Sunday, Graduates Recognition, Commissioning of Young Justice Advocates, & Memorial Day Weekend SundayScripture - Acts 2:1-21 & John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15Sermon - "Where's the Fire?"Theme - The church was on fire when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples. The early church had a sense of urgency to share the good news of Christ with the world. Do we share in that same sense of urgency in the church today?

    ______________________


  • Perhaps it exposed a vestige of naivete but Michael Sattler was honestly surprised when he became prior of the little Benedictine monastery -- St. Peter's -- near Freiburg. Michael was devoted to a type of ministry that included not only prayer, fasting, and disciple but, also, regular education at the nearby university. Through this program of spiritual development and formation he had grown to a level of maturity that made him the ideal choice for prior--and perhaps eventually for abbot. But when he began to take an inventory of the spiritual health of the monastery he was painfully surprised and woefully underwhelmed. Sure, he had known that there were those among his peers who seemed less interested in their common calling but he had never questioned their calling to this peculiar life of service and prayer--he had assumed that they all approached the cloistered life with the same sincerity and passion that he brought to this withdrawn, spiritual life. Sadly,...

    ______________________