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 Language of Art

There have been times in my life when art conveyed what my own words could not. Sometimes it has been a song; other times it was a painting that captured a feeling or personal experience that had previously eluded my grasp. In each situation I have been grateful for art’s ability to fill the gap of understanding when words are lacking. Art has helped me comprehend my world and myself.

Spring Turtles

Earlier this week, on the sunny blue sky first full day of spring, I was working my way through the neighborhood from the church to the interstate in order to drive downtown to visit a church member in the hospital. You know how the roads between here and the Schuylkill curve around a number of creeks. There are a couple of places where Mill Creek is dammed up so little ponds appear, and as I was driving alongside the creek, I noticed a young woman standing near the road taking a picture with her phone. I had to slow down on the narrow curve so as to pass her safely, and that gave me time to cast my own eyes toward the creek. There on a fallen tree protruding from the water was a bale of turtles. Yes, I had to look the word up. A large gathering of turtles is a bale!

Wars and Rumors of Wars

Speaking on the end of the age, Jesus said to the disciples, “Beware that no one leads you astray… you will hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not alarmed.” (Matthew 24:4-6) I can’t count the number of times in the last three weeks I have felt my iPhone ping with the latest update from The New York Times, alerting me to the developments in Ukraine. The images we’ve seen are haunting in the truest sense: fleeing refugees and sheltering civilians; airstrikes on non-military targets; smoldering buildings; smoke rising against a backdrop of the gilded onion domes of Orthodox churches; and dead children in the streets, their suitcases fallen beside them. Wars and rumors of wars, indeed.

Youth Sabbath Retreats

This weekend we are taking our middle schoolers on a Sabbath retreat. Next weekend we're taking our high schoolers on retreat. We'll spend these two weekends at Johnsonburg Camp and Retreat Center, delving into what it means to practice Sabbath. Our last Sabbath Retreat happened in February 2020, and I am so excited to return to this invaluable practice. 

The Legacy of Katie Geneva Cannon

When I started seminary over 20 years ago, we were required to take a course titled Introduction to Theology. While our primary textbook for that class was a wonderful introduction to systematic theology by Daniel Migliori, a scholar at Princeton Seminary at the time, the majority of books we read for this class introduced us to the growing and diverse movements in what is more generally called Liberation Theology.


Last night members of the Children’s Choir practiced for our Family Ash Wednesday Service. We were in the Chapel for the first time in two years. For some of our participants it was the first time they were in that space. We practiced our songs, and instead of learning an anthem this year, we focused on shorter responses and prayers we can sing and teach one another. We practiced leading prayers, standing up and sitting down, speaking from the microphone, singing together, watching for cues from Mr. Edward. We practiced EVERYTHING! As our time ended, we had one last thing to practice: the imposition of the ashes.

The Challenge of Christian Ethics

The Common Lectionary prescribes a three-year rotation of Biblical passages for worship by assigning each Sunday of the year an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, a Gospel passage and an Epistle reading. The lectionary serves multiple purposes, assuring that the ecumenical Christian communion is connected by hearing the same texts whether we are worshipping in a United Methodist, Catholic or Presbyterian congregation. It generally offers a full sweep of formative readings so that preachers like myself don’t land on a smaller canon of familiar and more palatable texts.