Selected posts from around our network of affiliated bloggers
Two intriguing entertainment venues have recently opened in downtown Asheville, North Carolina: Conundrum and Breakout. They use virtual reality and other technologies to create adventures of escape, journeys from lost to found, and mysteries to explore. Participants assume new identities as hostages, questers, secret agents, or detectives.
Luke seems to mislead us in his description of the dinner exchange we will read in this Sunday's Gospel lesson. He tells us, "When [Jesus] noticed how the guests chose the places of honor, he told them a parable," but the words that follow aren't really parabolic. They're just good advice.
I recently read about a tourist who was accidentally locked in Milan’s cathedral, called the Duomo, overnight. The American tourist chose to take advantage of his unexpected lock-in and spent the night “among the cathedral’s rooftop spires.”
A few days ago, I took part in a silly Facebook discussion about, among other things, the proper position of the altar in churches. That’s not so interesting, though it was great fun. What struck me was a side comment made by someone about how all of this didn’t matter too much, since the church was meant to be outside, serving the needs of the world. I’ve heard plenty of people say this, and I never could quite figure out my discomfort.
Earlier this summer we held Vacation Bible School at our church. We had a morning program mostly for the children at our preschool, a few of their older sisters and brothers, and a few of our congregation's children as well. But this year, we added something new.
When one of our beloved flock are nearing death, we live in dread of the next phone call or text. That’s the way it is for clergy. When the call comes, our carefully planned day or day off drops to the bottom of the priority list.
During my annual visit to the doctor’s office not long ago, I was asked if I had any interest in getting connected with their new online patient portal. Sure, I told them. When I finally went to check it out, I noticed that under my name and a few other pieces of personal information, there was a box that somehow seemed to summarize the practice’s view of me and my current status.
As we sat on my back patio listening to the crack of fireworks, sipping Fat Tire and eating peach pie, a friend told me the story of the February night he nearly drowned in Lake Michigan. He had jumped in to save his dog. Good Samaritans were able to pull the dog to safety, but they had to leave my friend in the water while they went for help.
A few years ago, our church installed a new water cooler—not the kind with the clear jug on top but the kind that we used back in grade school. It's a rectangular prism that rises straight from the floor. When you press the circular silver button, water flows in a gentle arc so that you can lap the cooled water up into your mouth. (I had always called that a water fountain, but David, who helped us install it, taught me that a fountain is a landscape feature in your front yard.) We hadn't had a working water cooler at St. John's in a long time, and it was a welcomed addition.
How do you measure what is happening in a congregation? I have been here for about a year now. I was reminded of this when the "check engine" went on in my elderly car, as that is what happened when I first drove into town a year ago.
When I was a kid, I was often puzzled by the way Jesus responded to people in the Gospels. From callously telling someone to “let the dead bury their own dead” to calling a Samaritan woman a dog to saying that he didn’t come to bring peace but a sword, Jesus often seemed a bit obnoxious (at worst) and enigmatic (at best). One such vexing encounter in the Gospels that irritated me as a kid was Jesus’ response to the rich young ruler in Luke 18.