photo showing part of a bible.

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.

Beginning the Journey

Whether you prefer the big leafy green palms, the ones perfect for waving and spreading underfoot, or the long thin sage green palms that mark a joyful exclamation point before being woven into a cross; do not worry, the palms are on their way. They will be waiting just inside the Sanctuary narthex, ready for the Sunday ahead. At 10:02 a.m., there will be a raucous crowd making their way to the Sanctuary doors, and before you can sing “All glory laude and honor” you will see our youngest members charging down the center aisle reenacting that first Palm Sunday. Much like that first Palm Sunday, I imagine there will be children with faces beaming, a few bewildered expressions, and possibly even a handful of scowls.

Words to Live By

While on sabbatical this past spring, I learned that Agnes Norfleet planned to preach a series on the Psalms during the following Lenten season. How marvelous! Of all the passages in the Bible set to music, nothing has inspired composers more than the Psalms.

The Green Bible

I think that many of us remember Red Letter Bibles from the past. These were the Bibles that put in red font all of the spoken words of Jesus. One could flip through the New Testament and see in full color the teachings and the prayers, the sermons and the conversations of Jesus Christ. It has been a long time since I have seen a Red Letter Bible, and I suspect that they don’t sell too many of those anymore.

Reflecting on Life Itself

In a sermon several weeks ago I remarked that most pastors I know prefer conducting memorial services or funerals to officiating at weddings. I noted that I had said that a number of years ago in another sermon in my former pastorate, and that it had been something most people who heard it had remembered. Something similar occurred here as well.

A Lenten Sojourn

In the last congregation I served, we sent out a post card to everyone who lived in our local neighborhood inviting them to join us for worship. The front of the card showed a roadside billboard with the phrase – “Faith is a journey, not a guilt trip.” It was a way to encourage people to join us even if they were struggling with their faith, and especially if they had experienced church and faith in a negative way in the past. I am not sure how many people decided to join us for worship or even membership because of that card, but I kept it on the bulletin board in my office for years to remind myself of it for my own journey.

The Psalms as One Lenten Companion

Yesterday we began our journey into Lent with the Ash Wednesday reminder that, by the gracious mercy and steadfast love of God, the death of Christ redeems our own. As we prepare for the joyful proclamation of Easter’s dawn that Christ is raised from the dead, we are called to observe this Lenten season with a special kind of devotion and reflection. Because Lent is a journey, we should expect to find ourselves somewhat different at the end. Closer to God, deeply grateful, aware of how love suffers for another, renewed for discipleship, more open to how God acts in our lives and in the world. The journey offers many possibilities of where we might end up and how we might be changed.

Youth Sunday

O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds. -Psalm 71:17

What memories do you have as a teenager in the church? These days, the teen years have become even more critical in determining whether our youth will continue to explore their faith as young adults.