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Pastors’ Column

Each week one of our pastors or staff members writes a column observing what is going on in our congregation, the Church and the world, and offering reflections on the Christian life and faith. Through this series of columns, we hope to connect your and our story to the enduring story of Christ; to offer pastoral reflections on our ongoing congregational life and mission; to report on news of the Presbyterian Church and Church universal; and to invite further reflection and deeper discipleship. We welcome your comments and suggestions. In other words, our words here are an invitation to continue the conversation.

Wars and Rumors of Wars

Speaking on the end of the age, Jesus said to the disciples, “Beware that no one leads you astray… you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed.” (Matthew 24:4-6) I can’t count the number of times in the last three weeks I have felt my iPhone ping with the latest update from The New York Times, alerting me to the developments in Ukraine. The images we’ve seen are haunting in the truest sense: fleeing refugees and sheltering civilians; airstrikes on non-military targets; smoldering buildings; smoke rising against a backdrop of the gilded onion domes of Orthodox churches; and dead children in the streets, their suitcases fallen beside them. Wars and rumors of wars, indeed.

Youth Sabbath Retreats

This weekend we are taking our middle schoolers on a Sabbath retreat. Next weekend we're taking our high schoolers on retreat. We'll spend these two weekends at Johnsonburg Camp and Retreat Center, delving into what it means to practice Sabbath. Our last Sabbath Retreat happened in February 2020, and I am so excited to return to this invaluable practice. 

The Legacy of Katie Geneva Cannon

When I started seminary over 20 years ago, we were required to take a course titled Introduction to Theology. While our primary textbook for that class was a wonderful introduction to systematic theology by Daniel Migliori, a scholar at Princeton Seminary at the time, the majority of books we read for this class introduced us to the growing and diverse movements in what is more generally called Liberation Theology.

Practicing

Last night members of the Children’s Choir practiced for our Family Ash Wednesday Service. We were in the Chapel for the first time in two years. For some of our participants it was the first time they were in that space. We practiced our songs, and instead of learning an anthem this year, we focused on shorter responses and prayers we can sing and teach one another. We practiced leading prayers, standing up and sitting down, speaking from the microphone, singing together, watching for cues from Mr. Edward. We practiced EVERYTHING! As our time ended, we had one last thing to practice: the imposition of the ashes.

The Challenge of Christian Ethics

The Common Lectionary prescribes a three-year rotation of Biblical passages for worship by assigning each Sunday of the year an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, a Gospel passage and an Epistle reading. The lectionary serves multiple purposes, assuring that the ecumenical Christian communion is connected by hearing the same texts whether we are worshipping in a United Methodist, Catholic or Presbyterian congregation. It generally offers a full sweep of formative readings so that preachers like myself don’t land on a smaller canon of familiar and more palatable texts.

More Yourself

There's a book by Parker Palmer that's been on my "to be read" list for at least a decade called Let Your Life Speak, and I already know I'm obsessed with it. The book focuses on the central question: "Are you living as the person God created you to be" or trying to be someone else? Are you living out your true God-given gifts and groundedness, or are you living according to someone else's script?

Wi-Fi Faith: A Confession

“I really think you should put your sermons online.” He said it with the kind of casualness that alluded to its mutually beneficial nature. I was serving a small congregation in eastern Kentucky, and it’s true that this would be a way to share my messages with a wider audience. But I distinctly remember my retort as I turned to my beloved part-time parishioner nearly a decade ago and said, “Well, I’m not sure I want to give anyone another excuse not to come to church.”