Pastoral Series

Worship Matters: Hymns agian

   I’ve heard much church music over the years. Brilliant, professional performances, and they off-key, plunky and a bit of a struggle. God enjoys hearing both – I believe, at least as long as we are offering God our best, heartiest, most earnest singing. When we sing hymns, we are one with the earliest Christians,…

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Worship Matters: One more on the Offering

   If we think about God and money at the same time, gratitude inevitably is in the mix. Our weekly discipline of collecting the offering might, if we’re attentive to it, foster gratitude, which none of us has an excess of. In worship every week, I have the chance to declare that I will not…

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Worship Matters: Hilarious givers

   “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Paul does not say “God loves a grudging giver, God loves a guilty giver, God loves the big giver, God loves a calculating giver, God loves the giver who tosses in some spare change.” And Paul does not say “God doesn’t love an uncheerful giver, God…

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Worship Matters: Benediction

   Paul concluded each of his letters with something a little stronger than “Shalom” (a common Jewish ending to things), “Sincerely” or “Au revoir.” “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you” (1 Corinthians 16:23) – a prayer, a blessing,…

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Worship Matters: Offering

  The passing of offering plates in worship: is it the strangest, most incongruous thing we do when we are together in church? Or is it quite sensible and at the very heart of what we do in worship? There are better, more convenient and inviting ways to collect funds, and most churches engage in them:…

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Worship Matters: Ghetto-style

   If Worship Matters, then something like the Lord’s Supper might change how we think about all our food, and all the food in the world. Every time we eat, we might make a quick mental notice that Jesus was at the dinner table with his friends when he solemnly, but with shimmering hope, gave…

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Worship Matters: Since 1869

   What’s on the table when we have Communion? Bread, the basic worldwide staple of life, not caviar or ostrich or a Waldorf salad. And wine – although we Methodists are the oddballs because where Jesus spoke of wine, we find grape juice. Pick up a Welch’s grape juice bottle: the label says “since 1869,”…

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Worship Matters: Eat a little, drink a little

   In worship, we eat and drink. We are used to this, and take it for granted. But how odd! If you attended a lecture on the military tactics of Genghis Khan, you would be stunned if you were invited to come to the front where you’d be handed just a bit of Chinese food;…

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Worship Matters: Mobile sanctuaries

  God loves food. Any time we eat, we are fulfilling God’s plan. God created the earth with a built in possibility for fertility. The human mind was fashioned with an innate creativity that figured out, with no written instructions from the creator, how to pick, prepare, cook, and even garnish the things that grew….

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Worship Matters: The Ones in Robes

   Organizations have to have leaders. Someone directs the organization. He’s the boss. She’s the CEO. He calls the meeting to order. She gets elected President of the board. Church has lots of leaders. The finance committee has a chairperson. A Sunday School class has its President. But the clergy? It’s the same, but pretty…

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