I wrote some of my deepest secrets on a piece of notebook paper, carefully folded the sheet, placed it in an empty canning jar, and screwed the lid on tight. I then dug a hole about a foot deep out behind my father’s utility house, placed the jar in the hole, and filled the hole with dirt.
Scripture is a gift. This has been affirmed by countless people in the Judeo-Christian tradition down through the ages. Not only affirmed, but demonstrated in the way that its words have been revered, preserved, and followed. But is is a very strange gift, full of unfamiliar modes of communication and stories that vacillate between the weird and the confusing and the often brutally violent. It is a gift that many in the 21st-century world increasingly have little interest in accepting, both inside and outside of the church.
Several weeks ago our friend and pastor lost her first pregnancy to a miscarriage. It had been a difficult pregnancy up to that point already, and so the entire community was walking closely with her and her husband expectantly towards the birth of their son.
It continues to be incredibly sad for them and their family as they grieve not just for the life of the child, but for all of the potential and promise that the child held within him.
In the gospels, Jesus is recorded as doing many miracles. What did those who were healed do after they had encountered Jesus? While some followed, many returned to their homes and lives. What did they do as a result of their Jesus encounter?
Years ago, when I was pastor of a smallish, "pastor-sized" church, it became clear that our chancel choir was not going to last very much longer.
By the point I had arrived, it was down to a half dozen older women and a director who hadn't meant to be in that role for as long as she was. So when she announced that she was stepping down, there began some conversation first about a replacement, which then became a conversation about whether the choir was a viable ministry at this point in the church's life. Maybe it was time to give thanks for what it had been for the church for so long, and let it go.
When I was four years old, our family moved to southern Nevada. I grew up in the desert. I walked through the desert each day to get to school. After school, and on weekends, I played in the desert. I was familiar with sand, lizards, and Joshua trees. I learned early to love the desert.
I've been thinking for some time now that I would like to learn a little Spanish. There are a number of Spanish-speaking immigrants in our community, and a Hispanic Seventh-day Adventist congregation meets in our sanctuary on Saturday morning. Some of the congregation members are fluent in English, but not all of them. It has piqued my language-learning curiosity.
Divestment? From Israel? That's the rumbling issue that's raising eyebrows, as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) holds our biannual meeting di tutti meetings.
For all the kerfuffle, I don't know that what the Presbyterian Church is considering can even be meaningfully described as "divestment." Sure, there are folks out there advocating for that approach, but that's not what's being done.
At lunch with a friend recently, I asked him about his first few years in campus ministry. It's been wonderful, he said. "Slow, patient, immensely rewarding. Frustrating. Growing." Like me, my friend's work on campus is of the church-planting kind. We started talking about learnings.