Jeff Nelson is an ordained pastor in the United Church of Christ. He blogs at Coffeehouse Contemplative, part of the CCblogs network.
Your body will tell you
Our bodies know before our minds when something in our lives is wearing us down.
June 25, 2019
Is your church physically welcoming?
You may have signs everywhere proclaiming inclusion of all. But the building itself can exclude some.
May 3, 2017
Go ahead and give up chocolate for Lent
It has become trendy to criticize the popular approach to 40-day fasts. But there's still a lot to be said for giving up Oreos or cake.
March 8, 2017
Watching the winter sky
I used to like snow, but I don't any more. At least that's what I keep telling myself. While growing up, I loved it.
February 15, 2016
Loving the struggle
The first time I engaged in the spiritual practice of walking a labyrinth was when I was entering seminary. My class traveled to a Catholic retreat center that had a labyrinth on its grounds. It was an 11-circuit, Chartres-style one with larger stones around the path and gravel on which to walk. After a brief explanation by one of our retreat leaders, we were released to give it a try. I've walked a labyrinth many times since, with mixed results.
June 15, 2015
As spring has arrived, so have my seasonal allergies. I've been coughing and sneezing, and my nose has been like a faucet the past few weeks. As if that wasn't enough, however, I recently had to deal with some sort of viral infection that only seemed to make all of this worse. The clear sign that I was dealing with more than allergies was the low-grade fever.
May 7, 2015
God's anonymous ones
As I enter through heavy wooden doors, I encounter a hush that is understood rather than enforced....
March 12, 2015
For as long as I can remember, I've been told that I'm good at empathizing with others; that it's one of my gifts....
February 26, 2015
That'll preach . . . someday
"Daddy, build something." My son and I are sitting on the floor of his room in front of a tub of Legos. I played with most of these exact pieces when I was his age, and I've been excited and proud to see him so interested in them as well.
February 12, 2015
A spiritual director, seeking direction
In one of the cabinets of my office, I keep a small glass holder big enough for a single tea light candle. I received it my first semester of seminary, during which I'd taken a class called Spiritual Formation. It was an oasis during a rough period of adjustment.
November 26, 2014
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The process of change
I'm a big fan of change, especially in the church. My upbringing as a pastor's kid kind of ingrained change into me; it helped me accept change as a natural, inevitable fact of life....
October 24, 2014
The tattooed pastor
I got my fourth tattoo recently. The typical person wouldn't know I had any, let alone four. The only ways people find out is if I or somebody else tells them, or if there's some occasion that calls for no sleeves or shirt. I don't really hide them, but I don't really broadcast them either.
September 18, 2014
Tips on church visioning from "Weird Al" Yankovic
Everyone has music that helps mark their childhoods. The artists that one hears during those formative years tend to stick with us, evoking memories when the oldies are played and, while not always the case, we may be likely to follow a few of these throughout their careers, no matter what sorts of turns their musical styles take. Sometime in elementary school, I first heard "Weird Al" Yankovic's classic song "Eat It," a parody of Michael Jackson's "Beat It."
August 6, 2014
Sometimes I don't want the church to change, either
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.
June 23, 2014
Three things that pastors are not
A couple of weeks ago, funeral director Caleb Wilde wrote a blog post about who to seek out when dealing with grief. His basic advice: find a therapist before you seek out your pastor. The reasoning goes that therapists, with their training in the psychological aspects that arise in times of grief, are better qualified than clergy to deal with things like depression. I agree.
June 9, 2014