Pastoral Series

Worship Matters: Sermons

   What is a sermon? We’ve heard lectures and watched TED talks. But there is some strangeness, an inadequacy, even the impossibility that in the sermon, the talker dares to speak for God, and the listeners are just daffy enough to think that through the preacher’s words they might actually hear what God is saying…

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Worship Matters: Gathering

   Sunday morning. You get out of bed. You go. God can meet you in your bed if you don’t get up, but there’s something about the movement, the effort, the commitment. And you never know whom you’ll run into there, either. God wants us to know each other – as if in knowing others,…

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Worship Matters: Gathering

   Sunday morning. You get out of bed. You go. God can meet you in your bed if you don’t get up, but there’s something about the movement, the effort, the commitment. And you never know whom you’ll run into there, either. God wants us to know each other – as if in knowing others,…

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Worship Matters: Confession

   For centuries, the biggest single reason Christians came to worship was to be assured they had secured remission for their sins. Nowadays, when we have lost our sense of sin, or think of sin as something that’s wrong with somebody else, worship has become less about insuring forgiveness and more about being entertained, pleased,…

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Worship Matters: Church Clothes

   When I was a little boy, my grandparents spoke of “church clothes.” As it was summer time, and that meant a jacket, a buttoned up shirt and a tie, I was not thrilled. What do we wear to church? And why? What do we wear the rest of the week? And why? In my…

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Worship Matters: a Second Mountain

   What does Worship ask of us? I have for a long time appreciated David Brooks. I’ve gotten to have dinner with him a couple of times, and have found him to be a genuine, humble, thoughtful, brilliant person. In his latest book, The Second Mountain, he says amazing stuff about people, like so many…

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Worship Matters: Teach Us to Pray

   Every week in worship, we re-enact one of the most intriguing, poignant moments from the life of Jesus. Those who knew Jesus best must have admired and even envied the way he prayed. And so they asked him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” He responded with The Lord’s Prayer. Yes, we mutter our way…

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Worship Matters: Sacred Space

   The obscure Israelite prophet Habakkuk declared “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” The Lord is everywhere, of course. But we have demarcated certain buildings and spaces as sacred. Not that other places aren’t sacred. But perhaps if some place is sacred, we can discover the…

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Church Matters: Worship Matters

   For the summer, in our worship services, we will be focusing on worship. Sounds… redundant? In our culture, we can easily get confused about worship, thinking it’s sort of a spiritual show I enjoy – or don’t. It’s for me, getting refueled, or digging the choir’s music or my son acolyting. I check the…

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Church Matters: The entire Bible

   There’s an old story about a man who approached his pastor and said, “I do not mean to boast, but I consider myself quite a learned man. I have read through the entire Bible three times.” The pastor smiled, nodded and said “That is admirable, my friend. But tell me, how much of the…

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