Pastoral Series

Church Matters: The Relationship

   We United Methodists have talked a lot lately about unity – as if we can’t figure out how to be unified, even though United is in our very name! Everybody wants unity – but typically we want our unity, my unity: you guys come on over to my side, join with me, and let’s…

Learn More

Church Matters: Cathedrals

One more painting from my friend Leighton Ford (who’s with us at 6:30 tonight!), entitled “Cathedral on the Parkway.” These trees reminded him that Wendell Berry had described the trees on his farm as “a timbered choir.” This painting reminded me of a section in my book Worshipful. After pondering church sanctuaries as sacred space,…

Learn More

Church Matter: Home

   On Monday I reflected on a painting by Leighton Ford (who’s speaking with us on Monday evening) – and today I’m pondering another one. After being away for decades, he took some of his family to visit his childhood home in Chatham, Ontario – and painted it. I am fond of the idea that…

Learn More

Church Matters: Bridge Builders

   Leighton Ford, the renowned evangelist who to me is simply neighbor and beloved friend, will be in conversation with me and our church family next Monday at 7pm. The topic? His beautiful new book, Places of the Heart. Leighton, I found out a few years ago, is a talented and visionary painter. The book…

Learn More

Church Matters: Eavesdropping

   On Monday I mentioned Christopher Lasch. A regular focus of his writing was the breakdown of the family, and how our institutions and society’s practices contribute to its demise. Here is an interesting thought from him, entirely pertinent to church: “Anyone who has spent much time with children knows that they acquire much of…

Learn More

Church Matters: an honest atheist

   The other day I was thumbing back through some of Christopher Lasch’s very wise books. Hard to pin him down: conservative? liberal? religious? secular? Perhaps for this reason, his writings are always wise and make you eager to rethink things you’ve assumed, and to deepen what you believe but only superficially. Here’s something he…

Learn More

Church Matters: Without

   It’s Ash Wednesday, one of my favorite holy days of the year. It’s not fun. The mood isn’t sunny optimism. It’s dark, somber. You get a black mark on your forehead. You grieve your brokenness. You confess your sin. God is with us – so we, in response, do without. And it’s only the…

Learn More

Church Matters: Grace Not to get Tired of Asking

   Annie Dillard tells about worshipping for a season at a little church on Puget Sound. One Sunday, the priest was kneeling, guiding the congregation through the service – when he paused, looked up, and said “Lord, we say these same prayers every week!” Dillard said “Because of this, I like him very much.” Church…

Learn More

Church Matters: Friendship and Courage

   At his last meal with the disciples, Jesus said to them, “No longer do I call you servants. I have called you friends.” Jesus is my friend, and your friends – and so we in the church are friends. We need friends, even the most introverted among us. Church at its best will provide…

Learn More

Church Matters: Learning to Talk

   Church could be, and should be, but often isn’t, a school for learning how to talk. I love Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s thought – that just as a child learns to talk by observing and mimicking the parent’s talk, we learn to pray by soaking up God’s word in Scripture so we’ll know what to say…

Learn More