Today we observe All Saints Day, a significant holiday in the life of the church on which the blessed dead are remembered. Historically, it’s part of a three-day cycle that begins with All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween), continues with All Saints Day, and finishes on the third day, All Souls Day. Though traditions vary by region of the globe, these three days were once distinct in their purpose and celebration. Continue reading →
It seems that there is a whole cottage industry that has grown up around the creation of catchy sayings about God. Someone comes up with a saying, and someone else puts it on a picture that becomes widely shared in emails or on Facebook. Quite often these sayings end up on church signs. And then people see these sayings, think to themselves, “Oh, how clever”, and they pass them on, usually without giving any thought to the implications of the words—or, in other words, folks don’t always stop to think critically about these sayings to determine the underlying message being proclaimed, and as a result, bad theology gets widely distributed. Continue reading →
Today was Youth Sunday. The Confirmation class picked the theme “courage” for the day. References to The Wizard of Oz reflect a Children’s Time message offered by two of the youth in which they talked about the Cowardly Lion and his courage.
Scriptures: Genesis 6:11-22; Luke 22:39-51
There was once a man. He was a simple man, with a simple faith. He loved the Lord, even when everyone else he knew had fallen away. To be sure, that part didn’t happen overnight—it was a long work in progress. Continue reading →
Today is World Communion Sunday, and if you haven’t noticed, it’s not a day in the life of the church that I make too big of a deal about. On my first first-Sunday-in-October I made an effort to decorate the Communion table with breads from various traditions, but every year since then I haven’t done much with it. If I’m being really honest, I have to admit that most of the reason for that has been a lack of concern about the day. Continue reading →
From time to time, I find myself falling into debates with my friends who are religiously conservative*. Typically this happens when I challenge a traditional doctrine or theological point of view, and the conservative assures me I’m full of it. Quite often, these debates have to do with the nature of salvation—whether it is universal or conditional on one’s adherence to Christianity. At other times, the debate concerns whether death is an impediment to salvation, or, in other words, whether one’s chance for repentance is available only in life. Continue reading →
First Timothy 6, verse 10, says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.” Truer words were never spoken; wealth is an idol that draws our attention away from God, and this is one of those lessons that the Bible is clear on from start to finish. Continue reading →
It’s kind of a fun thing to be able to read an entire book of the Bible in worship, as I just did with Philemon. I could do so because it’s SHORT (and shorter than this sermon), because it’s just a personal letter from Paul to a friend, Philemon; and because the letter doesn’t deal with much. But what Paul does in this short missive is really kind of remarkable. Continue reading →
Probably because I watched the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington this week, I paid special attention to a picture I saw on the Internet, a sort of multi-racial representation of America in which an image of a face is constructed by placing together a bunch of pie-slices, where each slice is a different race or ethnicity. It’s kind of a neat image, and on its own seems to point to the racial diversity of the American people. The catch is: accompanying the picture was a caption that said, “We Are All American-Americans. If we let Class-dividers and Race-baiters win, There will be no America.” Continue reading →
The Internet is a revolutionary thing. It has connected us, brought us closer to each other, and facilitated the nearly-instantaneous transmission of information across the globe. Many observers of culture have also noted, however, that it has given a platform to anyone with an opinion. Whether it’s through the use of Facebook, Twitter, or blogging, anyone can now make widely available their own opinions on pretty much anything. As for these opinions, they pretty much run the gamut: some are well-constructed arguments on any given subject, others are fairly worthless, and some are downright unreadable. Still, it’s entertaining and sometimes informative to see what’s out there.
Last Friday I came across a particular blog post that took me by surprise, and it was about Pope Francis. Continue reading →
I’ve heard it said by one interpreter of Scripture that in the Old Testament, one can easily see the story being told of God figuring out how to be a parent. In the Adam and Eve account, we have God as first-time parent, laying out boundaries for the kids—and learning, almost immediately, that the kids are rather prone to disobedience. Thus, the expulsion from the Garden of Eden becomes the first grounding, as God takes away Adam and Eve’s Garden privileges. Continue reading →