One line I read a few weeks ago about congregational life together has stuck with me in a big way. I’ve brought it up, in one way or another, several times already. In a Christian Century article, “More People, Looser Ties” David Eagle drops the sentence, “Think of it this way: a congregation with 100 married couples today has 1,000 fewer hours of potential volunteer labor to tap than it did in 1970.”
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I had a wedding earlier this month. It was my first wedding here, in my new-ish call. The couple at whose wedding I officiated are fairly new members of the congregation. She came and visited not long after I started. A little later, he visited as well. I have some affection for the first few people who showed up the same hot summer that I did.
There’s a bagel shop near my daughters’ school where I sometimes grab a cup of coffee while killing time between appointments. I’m not sure how many times I had passed through the shop’s glass doorway before I finally noticed a sticker that someone had stuck there at eye level.
In Acts 9:36-43, we read again how the power that Jesus had has been imparted to the disciples. In Acts we've already read about the lame and sick and demon-possessed being healed by the disciples. They're doing amazing things. But in this story we read about Peter raising Tabitha from the dead.
Oh, I don't believe that title. It's clickbait. I admit it. Mea culpa. Justice matters, deeply and significantly, for anyone who cares about what Jesus taught or about the explicitly stated intent of Torah. It's just that ... well ... social justice does not provide the teleological framework that integrates me existentially.
This morning I started reading an(other) article about how the Internet is destroying our brains and rendering us incapable of paying sustained attention to anything for longer than 45 seconds, but I ended up musing about the honor of being called a sinner. An unlikely trajectory of reflection, perhaps, but I’ll try to explain myself.
On Sunday, we hear the story from John 21 of Jesus and Peter on the beach. Jesus asks Peter three times, "Do you love me?" and three times Peter answers, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Then Jesus tells him, "Feed my sheep." We also hear about how Saul became the apostle Paul, on the road to Damascus. Here he was, on the way to persecute the followers of the Way, and out of the blue, Jesus speaks to him, too: "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" There he is struck blind, and when he sees again, he has a new calling as a follower of Jesus and a missionary to the gentiles. On one Sunday, we hear stories of two of the main characters from the New Testament. But I can't help being drawn to Ananias.
Grace may be amazing, but it can also be confusing. It was that confusing grace that surrounded me the other day while standing in a parking lot in Montreat, North Carolina.
One of the clichés I found myself saying more than once during our children’s sermon program this Easter is that Jesus being resurrected from the dead changed everything. As I said it, I imagined a child asking me a classic children question, “How did Jesus coming back to life change things?” How, indeed.
We were just about to enter the sanctuary with the paschal light when the pastor carrying the Christ candle turned around and said in a stage whisper, “Aaron is here.” At first I thought he’d said, “Karen is here,” which I already knew—she came to church on Easter even though her mother had died two days before. I must have had a weird look on my face because he said again, “Aaron is here.” And I knew that our second Easter service of the day would now be up for grabs.