Pastoral Series

The Beauty of Easter: Just Mercy

A few months back, Lisa and I saw the film “Just Mercy” – in an unusual setting: a reserved theater where we watched with people from various churches around the city, and the most mixed race group I’ve been part of in a long time. This sparked interesting conversation. At the end, everyone stood and…

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The Beauty of Easter: Distancing and God

Lately, because of what’s going on all around us, I’m noticing things in Scripture I’d not paid as much attention to before, or I’m hearing some things a bit differently. Jesus made it a habit to touch untouchable people. Lepers, back in Roman times, made everyone step back and keep their distance, fearing contact would…

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The Beauty of Easter: Asymptomatic?

The preacher in me keeps pondering what a sermon would look like built around the notion of the “asymptomatic” Christian. Like the word “pandemic,” which has gone from being vaguely familiar to something we hear multiple times daily, “asymptomatic” just never came out of my mouth before a few weeks ago. Now any healthy-looking person…

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The Beauty of Easter: O God, Our Help

After worship one Sunday, eighteen year old Isaac Watts was complaining to his father about the deplorable singing and dreadful hymnody. His father said, “Well then, young man, why don’t you give us something better to sing?” And he did, one of his best being “O God Our Help in Ages Past.” Fast forward three…

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The Beauty of Easter: Mother’s Day is Almost Here

  Mother’s Day. It stirs so many wildly divergent emotions in people. Deep affection, numb grief, curious memories, dreams of healing, riddling dysfunction. I like to ponder, around Mother’s Day, the greatest mother ever: Mary. “She gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger”…

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The Beauty of Easter: Morning by Morning

   Yesterday, we opened our online service by singing together (and all over the place!) “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” How odd that a hymn would supposedly be based on a text from the Old Testament book of Lamentations: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are…

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The Beauty of Easter: In the Garden

   Do you know the old hymn, “I Come to the Garden Alone?” The “I” is evidently Mary Magdalene, although we get inside her head and skin as if we are there. The moment is captured in John 20. Did Mary and Jesus meet up on Easter Sunday in a garden? John 20:15 tells us…

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The Beauty of Easter: Hearts unfold like flowers

   One of my favorite lines in “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” is “Hearts unfold like flowers before thee,” especially during this season of blooming, and on the heels of Easter. Watch flowers. Not just glancing at them. Give it some time. Flowers take time. They don’t sprout up in a jiffy. The gardener understands…

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The Beauty of Easter: Cleft for me

What did Holy Week, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection accomplish? So much, and not just for people but for all of creation. Not that those are two separate things. We are born not just from people but from the great processes in millennia of dramatic growth and change in the great world of oceans, mountains,…

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The Beauty of Easter: And Take Me Home

  We didn’t sing “How Great Thou Art” on Easter morning, but we could have, if only for the lovely phrase “and take me home.” Where for you is home? Are you at home – now? Or in the universe period? St. Augustine famously began his life narrative by summarizing his story and ours: “Our…

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