In the summer of 2013, our family moved to Cairo, Egypt to serve as mission co-workers for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) living and working with the 150-year-old Presbyterian seminary there. Because of the sensitivity of our work and the moment in the life of Egypt, we didn’t share much online of our work and experiences while we were there. Now we are living and working back in the United States and are still trying to process all that we experienced those two years: church life, politics, culture, and of course the hundreds of windows we walked through into another time.
Selected posts from around our network of affiliated bloggers
In my first year of seminary, one of my professors suggested an exercise to our class that sounded fairly simple. He encouraged us to go to a public place, such as a shopping mall, and to watch people. “Note your reactions to those you see,” he told us.
Like many cities, Asheville, North Carolina, has a “Before I Die . . .” wall—a large chalkboard with multiple spaces for people to write some of their hopes for the future. Since the wall is on the path I take for most of my downtown walks, I read them several days each week. I’ve laughed and wept, said “me too” or “not me,” and wondered how many of the hopes chalked on that wall will be realized.
Many years ago I was the interim pastor at a small church and was free to celebrate Pentecost without regard to that congregation’s tradition. We decided that it would be confirmation day for the small group of youth who had been going to classes and they wanted red balloons among other things. This was long before I knew anything about latex allergies so red balloons it was. They were tied in bunches all over the sanctuary and there were red streamers galore. It was a day of joy to be sure. Until a balloon escaped and wrapped itself around a ceiling fan.
Recently I read about a proposal for eliminating e-mail. After all, e-mail consumes time, adds extra pressure to an already stressful workplace, fragments attention, and feels like a never-ending black hole sometimes. One friend says bluntly, “I hate e-mail.” Some have written about taming the e-mail monster, and others have already abandoned e-mail in favor of texting or other forms of communicating. But I’m still a fan of e-mail.
One doesn't need to be a biblical scholar to recognize the link between the story of the Tower of Babel and the story of Pentecost. The former is the divinely appointed confusion of human languages, while the latter shows how the Holy Spirit transcends that barrier to translate the good news of Jesus Christ into every language. In many intentional ways, the two stories go together, and I'm a little surprised that the Genesis 11 reading is only available in lectionary Year C.
I talked with her face-to-face a handful of times, not enough to really get to know her. Through the latticework of interconnection that shapes a town, there were others in our congregation who did know her.
Evidently we’ve been reaching out to our neighbors without meaning to do so. It’s the latest church trend—unintentional evangelism. Every Thursday, our choir rehearses in our fellowship hall, a large and acoustically great space on the second floor of the education wing.
On May 17, 1968, nine Roman Catholic activists broke into a draft board office in Catonsville, Maryland, transferring 378 files to the parking lot to be incinerated with home-made napalm. As the fire burned, the “Catonsville Nine” prayed for peace. They were arrested, tried and sentenced to prison, but four of them, including two priests—Daniel and Philip Berrigan—went underground, eluding capture for a number of months, occasionally surfacing to speak at antiwar rallies. At one of these public appearances, following a dramatic tableau of the Last Supper with giant puppets, Dan Berrigan made his escape inside one of the apostles.
My computer science husband sent me this link recently: “I had so many advantages, and I barely made it”: Pinterest engineer on Silicon Valley sexism. How can an article be so unsurprising, yet so wholly dispiriting at the same time?