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Showing posts from July, 2009

Friday Five at the "Perfect Church"

I haven't done a Friday Five in a while. The prompt(s) come from here and this Friday's is:

Please pardon me for talking about church in the summer when many of you may be on vacation. However, the church we are talking about today is the one you dream of. I've been thinking about this because I miss pastoring and preaching, because I am sending in resumes, and because...well...jut because. So have some fun with this. Tell us five things that the perfect church would have, be, do...whatever.

We can dream, right?

So, my initial reaction is that there is no such thing as the perfect church on this side of Christ's return. As we strive for wholeness in and as the Body of Christ, we also struggle with the realities of our humanness, the fallen world and the forces that oppose God and God's kingdom (see Satan).

However, I am also in a transitional call and my congregation could and should ask me what I would like to see in a church, so having given this some thought and pra…

Shame, shame

Genesis 3:8-10

8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”
10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

Yesterday I was listening to commentary about this article in the New York Times. The author was being interviewed about how to talk to patients about weight issues when it is clear that she struggles with this issue herself. She mentioned that it isn't simply an issue of people feeling shame about being overweight. She said, "If shame would work, we would be the thinnest nation on earth."

I think about shame a lot. Another pastor I know frequently talks about the loss of shame in our culture as a value and as a shaper of behavior. In recent decades, we have come to view shame as negative, somet…

God's Recreation

Yesterday, we enjoyed a little hymn sing at church. For many of the hymns I was listening to how many people were singing and enjoying themselves through praising God. We had the church doors open and it was a fantastic service.

Afterwards, someone asked me about the spelling of "recreation"- as in playtime. I spelled it and then noted it was the same as re-creation. That's when the person pointed out that we sang about God's "recreation" (playtime) at the end of "Morning Has Broken".

The last verse of the hymn is:

Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning,
Born of the one light Eden saw play!
Praise with elation, praise every morning,
God's recreation of the new day.

Now, in my hymnal, re-cre-a-tion is drawn out just like that for singing ease. However, I suppose it could be sung either way. God is re-creating us and the new day, every day and we celebrate that each morning.

On the other hand, I do like the idea of the morning as God's playtime- …

Sufficient (5 July)

EZEKIEL 2:1-5; PSALM 123; 2 CORINTHIANS 12:2-10; MARK 6:1-13

When I was 11 or 12, I thought 16 was a magical age. I dreamed that when I turned 16, I would wake up and have beautiful hair that bounced around my shoulder. I assumed I would have stopped biting my fingernails and they would be long and gorgeous. I thought I would be taller, trimmer and tanner. When that didn’t happen on my 16th birthday, I figured it would on my 18th. 21st? 30th?

Learning to accept how he looks is hardly the thorn in the flesh that Paul describes in today’s reading. We know from his other letters that he wasn’t a terribly good-looking guy and by the time he is sending this letter to the Corinthians- he has been beaten several times and bears the scars of those bruises. In addition to his struggles in mission work, he has been afflicted with some kind of chronic ailment that makes his life a bit difficult.

Lots of hot air and ink have been used to speculate what that ailment might have been. Howev…

Disregard the Message (Sermon 28 June)

LAMENTATIONS 3:22-33; PSALM 30; 2 CORINTHIANS 8:7-15; MARK 5:21-43


There are two very interesting lines in today’s gospel text. The first come from the disciples when they say to Jesus, “You can see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” The second comes when Mark is describing Jesus’ reaction to the news that Jairus’ daughter is dead. A better translation than what we have for this verse is “Ignoring what they said (or disregarding the message), Jesus says to Jairus, a leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”

Let’s think about the settings of those two lines for a minute. Jesus has come back to the land of the Jews after being with non-Jews. There are crowds that are waiting for him. Most likely, there are people who have camped on the lakeshore, awaiting his return. As soon as he gets out of the boat, there are people around him- full of requests, desires and hopes for what he can do for them. The crowd parts a little to allow a leader o…

Father's Day Sermon (21 June)

JOB 38:1-11; PSALM 107:1-4, 12-15; 2 CORINTHIANS 6:1-13; MARK 4:35-41


There’s been a lot of fighting in the news this week from here in Anchorage to the streets of Iran- people have been arguing about rights and routines. Some of this fighting has been physically violent and some of the fighting has been through strong words and emotional struggle. With this fighting in the back of our minds, we look at some of the texts for this week and think about how and why God fights and what that means for us in our life of faith.

In the text from Job, God tells Job to get ready for a fight. That’s what it means to “gird up your loins”. Job, like other men of his time, would have worn a long loose robe. To prepare for battle or for a physical altercation, they would pull up the back of the robe and tuck it in their belt. Thus they would be ready for the fight. After thirty-some chapters of listening to Job’s friends explain how he must be less righteous than he thinks and listening to Job…