Pastoral Series

Prayer: Speak, Lord

Prayer: Speak, Lord In our sanctuary worship services, during the prayers the pastor will say Lord, in your mercy – and the congregation adds, Hear our prayer.  The first good news of prayer, the safe assumption we make, our belief in what we cannot see but need more than what we can see, is that…

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Prayer: Humility

Prayer: Humility “O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great for me; but I have quieted my soul, like a child held closely by its mother” (Psalm 131). How strange is this prayer in a world like ours, where…

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Prayer: Ash Wednesday

Prayer: Ash Wednesday Ash Wednesday, as it happens every few years, coincides with my wedding anniversary.  I mentioned this to someone, who responded, “Go with the anniversary! and just skip Ash Wednesday” – a suggestion that might be in sync with the way Rev. Robert Schuler reframed LENT as “Let’s Eliminate Negative Thinking.” Lent isn’t…

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Reconciliation: Prayer is next…

Reconciliation: Prayer is next… With this email, and then Dr. Christena Cleveland’s talk at 7pm this evening (when she’ll share from her dual perspective as a sociologist and theologian on why we suffer divisions in the church on issues like race, marriage and politics, and how we might understand, love and come together), our two…

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Reconciliation: Cognitive Generousity

Reconciliation: Cognitive Generosity In the harrowing Martin Scorsese film, “Silence,” the ex-priest Ferreira (played by Liam Neeson) assures the missionary zealot Fr. Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) that Christianity simply doesn’t work/won’t take in Japan.  The truth is, Christianity has worked in Japan – but not a westernized or Americanized version of the faith.  The historian Mark…

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Reconciliation: Whom are you defending?

Reconciliation: Whom are you defending? When I hear people getting riled up about social, moral or political issues, I often want to intervene and ask “Whom are you defending?” Dr. Christena Cleveland will be with us next Monday.  I love the way she characterizes the way we get divided from other Christians, assuming we’ve got…

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Reconciliation: our witness to the world

Reconciliation:  our witness to the world The godfather of modern evangelical thought, Francis Schaeffer, wrote these wise words:  “Love – and the unity it attests to – is the mark Christ gave Christians to wear before the world.  Only with this mark may the world know that Christians are indeed Christians and that Jesus was…

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Reconciliation: Justification

Reconciliation: JustificationHow do we make sense of the sea of stories, teaching, and wisdom in the Bible?  Theologians help us by giving us some shorthand terms to crystallize various themes.  So we wind up with “doctrine,” and theological jargon – which helps us talk about big things. “Reconciliation,” as you are realizing by now, represents…

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Reconciliation: Singing together

Reconciliation: Singing togetherSunday at 4pm, we’ll hear the Winston-Salem State choir sing old “slave spirituals,” and D’Walla Simmons-Burke and I will reflect on their meaning. When we think of reconciliation, we begin we realizing how we and others are broken and wounded.   James Cone wrote that “the spiritual is the spirit of people struggling to…

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Reconciliation: Unwittingly outwitted

Reconciliation: Unwittingly outwittedWhen Paul explains why Reconciliation is at the heart of the Christian life, he adds an interesting reason for its importance: “We do this so that we may not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs” (2 Corinthians 2:12).  When we live at a foggy distance from God,…

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