Pastoral Series

The Beauty of Advent: The Most Beautiful Woman

   Mary, great with child, the most beautiful woman in history. The sentence you just read reframes something complicated, and weirdly demeaning to all of us: putting the words “woman” and “beautiful” in the same sentence. Some external measures get stuck on women’s bodies; sophomoric frat guys, and some older men too, “rate” women on…

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The Beauty of Advent – Trees Give Glory to God

   Yesterday’s Advent texts spoke of trees: Jesus as a branch from the stump of Jesse; John the Baptist wielding God’s axe. Timely, as many of us have just erected a tree indoors. “O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree.” Aren’t all of them works of art? Charlie Brown’s pathetic little tree “just needed a little…

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The Beauty of Advent: Saving the World

The Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky suggested that “Beauty will save the world.” If not beauty, then what would save the world? Might? Money? Fun? Politicians? Arms? Gritting our teeth and trying harder? Christians say “Jesus will save the world” – which is true. Dostoevsky, again, said “There is only one face in the whole world…

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The Beauty of Advent: Surrounded in Beauty

   Advent has begun! The Christian year has begun! And a new series for our emails, church programs, Facebook, Instagram and texting has begun: for Advent and through Easter in 2020, we will be exploring Beauty. With so much ugliness in the world, I wonder if Jewel’s song lyric might bring us some hope: “Maybe…

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Enough! Thankful for…?

What are we thankful for? Back in 2003, during my first year as pastor of Myers Park, it fell to me to speak at our community Thanksgiving service. I didn’t think up anything especially brilliant. But I stumbled upon some immense wisdom from three people wiser than myself regarding what to be thankful for. Emily…

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Enough! God’s Companions

Moving toward Thanksgiving, I’m not much interested, personally, in gratitude for things. People – yes. And especially the people who help me to grow closer to God. They are many. They even include difficult, prickly people, as they press me to discover the truth about myself: am I generous and kind? or defensive and judgmental?…

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Enough! Letting Go

For months now, we’ve been looking at Enough! How much is Enough? When do we say Enough! Am I Enough? The closer we get to the heart of God, the more we realize it’s all about letting go, and that we can let go, and that it’s liberating and joyful to let go – to…

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Enough! Christian Economics?

When I think of questions like How much is Enough? or Is there Enough? I think of one of my heroes. Prof. Charlie Ratliff taught Economics at Davidson for decades. Former students rave about how inspiring he could be. I knew him to be a stellar church member, friend, and community servant. His approach to…

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Enough! – Vanity of vanities

   People who’ve opened the Bible here or there might suffer from the illusion that it’s all cross-stitchable, quotable, uplifting. But here is no mood the Bible doesn’t know – and Ecclesiastes is the parade example of the amazing truth that God gave us the Bible to embrace all of human life in God’s loving,…

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Enough! – Blood and Tears

  This week, back in 1995, Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by an extremist – a fellow Israeli. And why? Rabin waged a long, steady and diligent campaign for peace. He met with Yasser Arafat, chairman of the PLO (and, I always thought, a Ringo Starr lookalike…), in Washington, DC; these two adversaries forged a historic declaration…

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