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.

The New Normal

The realities of our “new normal” become more apparent each day, with calendar entries that now include “Zoom meeting with boss,” “Virtual lunch meeting with client,” and so on. A latecomer to the idea of virtual meetings, I heard of Zoom technology through an email from the head of the Yale Institute of Sacred Music on March 11, alerting me to a Zoom meeting with our students. Little did I know that this would become my new reality. After my first Zoom meeting, all I could ask was, How on earth could this new reality be inspiring, productive or creative?

Staying Connected through Adult Education

A few years ago I was asked to write an article for the Presbyterian Outlook on innovations in adult education. I agreed to write it, but only if they would let me reframe the question and talk about challenges in adult education. You can read that 2016 article here.

The Power of Children's Books

“There’s a monster at the end of this book.” Beloved Sesame Street character Grover does his best to stop the reader from turning pages. He argues, he yells, he builds walls, and he ties knots, but each page brings you closer to the aforementioned monster. Children of all ages delight as the final page reveals that the only monster in the book was one loveable Grover. The pages include the occasional affirmation for the reader: “You are very strong.” “You are very brave.”

I’m sorry, Tammy Faye.

Decades after the downfall of the television ministry of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, with their heavy mascara, tearful confessions, and money-raising gimmicks, all of us in mainline Protestantism are now televangelists ourselves these days. And yet we don’t have many models within our tradition of how to do “virtual church” well. We are all figuring it out as we go along. We remember in Matthew’s gospel where Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Yet now he adds a caveat: “But if there’s more than 10 people, the CDC and local police will show up too.”

Easter’s Empty Tomb

The central core of the Easter message every year is an expected emptiness. The angel says to the women, “He is not here; for he has been raised.”

Borrowed Language

Have you noticed how quickly our vocabulary has expanded in just a matter of weeks? A couple of months ago, these words and their combination hardly passed our lips: COVID-19, coronavirus, social distancing, PPEs, self-isolation, flatten the curve, pandemic.

Finding Sabbath

Since my usual ways of spending Sundays has changed with the arrival of COVID-19 and the need to close our church for a while, I am trying to find new ways to nurture my spiritual life with intention. A friend sent me this lovely poem, composed by Lynn Ungar, which has inspired me to use this odd and disconcerting season of isolation to rethink how I might practice Sabbath.