Pastoral Series

Church Matters: Easter

   When the Sabbath was over, on the third day, Sunday, women came to the tomb, but Jesus was not there, and then he appeared to people over the next few weeks.  Easter, constantly doubted, forever yearned for, the vortex of our faith. I love this photo I snapped of the door to the Church…

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Church Matters: Holy Saturday

   Hans Holbein daringly painted Jesus lying in the tomb. In there, Jesus was listless, still, dead. Outside the tomb? Pilate and the soldiers had moved on, thinking their work was done. Jesus’ mother? I can’t even imagine the horror, the numbness she felt. Mary Magdalene, so attached to Jesus, must have felt some deep…

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Church Matters: Good Friday

   Every year on Good Friday, I keep an eye on the clock, trying to answer the old hymn’s question, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” Earlier this morning, at 6am, Jesus endured a mock trial, and was treated cruelly – yet he was peaceful, and “never said a mumblin’ word.” Around 9am,…

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Church Matters: Maundy Thursday

   “Maundy”: an old word derived from the same root as “mandate.” Jesus didn’t typically command much. But on his last night he issued this mandate: “Do this in remembrance of me.” And so we do, with solemnity, joy, sorrow and hope. It was Passover, the most sacred meal of the year when Jews celebrated…

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Church Matters: Holy Wednesday

   Wednesday of Jesus’ last week. We don’t really know what he did that day. Maybe he simply rose, ate breakfast, helped with some chores around Mary, Martha and Lazarus’s house, took a short walk, engaged in casual conversation. Jesus had private friends, and he could chill like anybody else. It’s often that way, isn’t…

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Church Matters: Holy Tuesday

   After the tumult of Palm Sunday, and then the shocking rampage through the temple on Monday, Jesus might have stayed home with his friends in Bethany, or fled north to his mother’s house in Nazareth. But Jesus was relentless, knowing his time was short – and so he had a few things to say….

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Church Matters: Holy Monday

   Monday morning.  Jesus walked two miles from Bethany into Jerusalem, a daunting, steep, rocky road.  Even rockier was the reception he got from the religious leaders:  he waltzed right into the temple, and in a rage that startled onlookers, drove the moneychangers out of the temple. Was he issuing a dramatic memo against Church…

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Church Matters; Palm Sunday

   When did Palm Sunday become a day of cuteness, a fun Sunday when we delight in children? Jesus welcomed and delighted in children, and we can be sure children led the celebration when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on that donkey. The crowd that lined the road coming down the Mt. of Olives, through the…

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Church Matters: Talk to Strangers

   Why do we need each other in church? Often, someone calls me as pastor, needing someone to talk to. What a great gift the church offers: people to talk to, and honestly, frankly, searchingly, your words always welcomed, never judged. At least that’s the ideal. Maybe we need someone to listen to. I press…

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Church Matters: Fools, and fools

   When I was a student at Duke, The Chronicle (the campus newspaper) always offered something brilliant for April Fools’ Day. Star player broke his leg in practice, out for the NCAAs. Arab sheiks maneuvering to purchase the university. Fun stuff. The Bible has plenty to say about foolishness – warnings really, the way not…

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