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Psalm133

Pastors' Column

Each week one of our pastors or staff members writes a column observing what is going on in our congregation, the Church and the world, and offering reflections on the Christian life and faith. Through this series of columns, we hope to connect your and our story to the enduring story of Christ; to offer pastoral reflections on our ongoing congregational life and mission; to report on news of the Presbyterian Church and Church universal; and to invite further reflection and deeper discipleship. We welcome your comments and suggestions. In other words, our words here are an invitation to continue the conversation.

Lost in Translation

I knew my college friend was speaking English, and yet I was struggling to follow each sentence. Even the PowerPoint slides didn’t help because they were covered with formulas and numbers that in theory I should recognize, but as much as I could understand, they might have been written in cuneiform.

Read more: Lost in Translation

How the Light Gets In

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

- John 1:5

This passage from the gospel of John is one of the most beloved and hope-filled passages in all of scripture. God’s love reaches into the darkest places of human experience, into the shadows of our broken lives and into the caverns of a broken heart. Nothing and no one is beyond God’s redemptive power. Yet we, in pain and suffering, in pride or shame – we are the ones who hide. In a culture that celebrates success and shuns vulnerability, we withdraw to protect ourselves, our image, or our closest relationships.

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Studying Handel’s Messiah Together

Our first year living as Mission Co-Workers in Egypt, a friend and Lutheran mission-worker talked me into singing with her in the American University of Cairo’s Choral Society. They were planning to sing portions of Handel’s Messiah that December at a few different venues in Cairo.

Read more: Studying Handel’s Messiah Together

Journey into Lent

With the memory of last night’s smudge of ashes upon our foreheads, we have begun our journey into Lent. As the days lengthen into spring we are invited to reflect upon our humanity: our frailty and fallibility, our need for repentance and forgiveness.

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God Loves a Parade

God loves a parade! The Bible is full of them – throngs of people in procession rejoicing as they journey together.

Today an estimated two million people are flocking to Center City Philadelphia to stand shoulder to shoulder and cheer for the Eagles in the wake of their historic Super Bowl win. In the freezing cold? We pray for warmth. Free beer? We pray for safety. In such great number? We pray for a peaceful, as well as joyful, sense of community.

Read more: God Loves a Parade

Beings who Worship

During my freshman year of college, I set out on a spiritual journey that is common to many people of faith. My studies and experiences led me to question some of the most basic assumptions posited by the religious worldview I inherited. By the time my junior year rolled around, I had tested the waters of almost every major faith tradition the world has to offer. It took me a while, but I eventually found a new home in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

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Congregation Meeting to Elect

Last Sunday we considered Jesus’ call to the first disciples, and this coming Sunday we will look at the very next gospel story about their going forth and joining Jesus in his healing ministry. The call to the disciples is immediately followed by their joining Jesus to spread the good news of God’s Kingdom. Discipleship is about both – responding to the call of Christ and doing the work of God in the world.

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The Legacy of Reinhold Niebuhr

January for me, as for many people, is always a time of reflection and reorientation. A moment to consider the past year and goal setting and refocusing for the year ahead. Many Januarys, I have a hard time noticing any progress from where I might have been the previous year: sometimes in my personal reflections, or family reflections, faith reflections or even professional reflections. How could a whole year go by with little progress? Maybe you have experienced this as well. Some years I am just grateful that while there has been no progress, I have been able to stem the tide of regress.

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From Highlander to Kirkwood

When our middle schoolers crack open their social studies textbooks to the chapter on the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century, they get a birds-eye view of the era that has shaped so much of modern life. One might come away from these chapters with the sense that history is lived in a vacuum; great heroes arising out of the blue, just in time to save the day. 

Read more: From Highlander to Kirkwood

Epiphany

Perhaps you are preparing to set out shoes for the kings to leave gifts or maybe even some grass or hay for their camels. Maybe the sweet smells of a King’s Cake or Epiphany Tart or Koningenbrood or any of a hundred different special desserts are wafting through your house. You may have memories of the initials “KMB” etched in chalk over a door frame, stars carried in processions, or windows kept open on a chilly morning.

Read more: Epiphany