Although only the most daring (read stupid) among us preachers will take on the task, one has the opportunity to preach the scandal-of-the-particular-versus-universalist controversy this Sunday. I say daring (stupid) because it will invariably get you in hot water, but you could, the texts are there, the opportunity is available, but the nuance is tough.
Near the top of my list of biblical thanksgivings is St.Mark’s gospel account. I’m a firm believer in the importance of a 1x4 gospel, so I will admit that the other three are necessary to tell the whole good news of Jesus Christ. But Mark is definitely my favorite.
Anthony Robinson said it well in a recent Stillspeaking devotional. Maybe the future of the church is a lot simpler than it is today. Breaking bread, prayers, learning about the word and caring for the lost are the simple acts Jesus led his little band to engage in.
This is a question that would have seemed weird to me not too long ago. However, now I see it as one loaded with (potential) theological significance. I have been told since my teenage years about the virtues of daily Bible reading. To encourage this habit, I have also been encouraged to do this reading/reflection at the same time and in the same place to help reinforce the habit.
It’s the second movement of Leonard Bernstein’s choral work, Chichester Psalms. A boy soprano (or a countertenor), in the “role” of the shepherd boy, David, sings in Hebrew the opening verses of Psalm 23. He is accompanied–sparingly, fittingly–by the harp. The first several measures are tender but not tentative; filled with sentiment, but without sentimentality (this per Bernstein’s instructions). When the women’s voices take over the text at גַּם כִּי־אֵלֵךְ בְּגֵיא צַלְמָוֶת . . . (Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death . . .) there’s an ethereal echo-canon effect. This part of the movement, when executed well, is something sublime.
One thing I have noticed as a Protestant whose tradition observes the 40 days Lent: we don't seem to be very good at observing the 50 days of the Easter season. Yes, we pull out all the stops in worship on Easter Sunday, but then we seem to immediately go back to business as usual.
I used to love to watch him and his wife, sitting in the front row at church every Sunday. He always took copious notes during the sermon. I learned that he called one of his daughters every Sunday night, and they compared notes about what they had heard on Sunday morning.
This is an article about worship in traditions other than one’s own, but it begins with CPE. Most clergy have benefitted from, or endured, at least one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) during their seminary years. It’s a form of onsite practical education, most often in a hospital, in pastoral counseling. I don’t know what the curriculum is like these days.
A few weeks ago, I was part of a conversation with a group of seniors where we reflected upon the question, “Have you ever seen or personally experienced the failure of faith?” A loaded question, if ever there was one. What does it even mean for faith to fail?
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.