Showing posts from January, 2006

Embodying Christ: Fellowship

Continuing my Ordinary Time preaching series, this is what was heard this morning, roughly pieced together and simplified...

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

In an older episode of The Simpsons--a Valentine's Day episode--the middle daughter, Lisa, prepares for her class' Valentine party. They've all got their little bags hung on their desks and everyone is passing their Valentines out. Lisa notices that a classmate, Ralph--very much an outcast--is depressed over not receiving a single one. Wanting to help, she crosses out a name on one of her Valentines and drops it in his bag. Unfortunately, he mistakes this gesture for something more than it is. He rushes to walk Lisa home from school in order to try getting to know her better. There is an awkward silence before Ralph ventures a start to the conversation: ' you like...stuff?'

It was an attempt to break the ice. It sounded silly, but Ralph took that first step. The Corinthians are beyond breaking the ice. Now they're…

On Change and the Emerging Church

People generally frown on 'change for change's sake.' Honestly, I'm a bit of a fan.

It might be the influence of our consumer culture that causes it. You know, the whole 'If you get too bored, throw it out/go somewhere else because my product/company/church is bigger/faster/more hip' thing. I don't buy into it entirely, but I know that at some level I'm influenced by it.

Likewise, there's my own background. The record for my calling any one house my home is five years. I've called one place my hometown for twelve years, but when you break it down, I lived on one side of a duplex, then the other, and then in an actual house, and then four of those were spent at college and three at seminary. So the record for longest stay in a house is five years. I've come to just accept that a place is home only for a little while. This is why I've been saying that if I spent my entire life in a place like Florida or Southern California or some other plac…

Pop Culture Roundup

I haven't read a book in almost an entire week. Tillich is still going strong, but there's a lull in the discussion. I start Part 1 of his Systematics today. I have, of course, been spending lots of time with 1 Corinthians 8 this week, which is a great text. Okay, I'll switch out of theo-nerd mode now...

We've seen two movies this week. The first was Mr. and Mrs. Smith, which had just the right amount of comedy and action. It was over the top, but it knew it was over the top. The argument they have during a high-speed chase while they shoot at bad guys, for instance, is something that's been used before, but they make it work so well. In fact, by the end I thought to myself, 'This whole thing has been done before, hasn't it?' But you don't think about that until the end because you're too busy enjoying yourself. And Vince Vaughn is gold.

That leads me to the second movie we've seen this week, which was Wedding Crashers (the Uncorked Version, o…


Katherine and I seem to be on a similar page when it comes to Christian music. Some of it IS quite good. Seriously.

LutheranChik doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up. Me neither.

Internet Monk has his next installment about sermons. I found this one much more helpful.

RLP posts the brain fart that a public library had with their MLK Day poster. The actual explanation is probably something completely different, but it's still kind of funny.

Taking Back Monday

I've been thinking about switching one of my days off. I don't know why this is blog-worthy, why anyone would find this interesting. But there it is. I've been thinking about switching one of my days off.

Right now, Fridays and Saturdays are the days I've chosen to abstain from church work. They work...usually. By that time, my sermon has congealed enough in my memory, but not enough that I'm fully comfortable going the entire two days without practicing it. It's a long time in between Thursday and Sunday to forget what I planned to say.

Saturdays in particular have become a freaking hassle. I have Saturdays off...unless we're hosting a steak supper...or the youth are hosting a program...or there's a wedding...or the only day a couple planning to get married/have their kid baptized can meet with me is Saturday...or the Association is hosting a meeting. Other than that, the day is all mine. During Advent, this wasn't possible. During February, it won&#…

Embodying Christ: Evangelism

I'm preaching a series of sermons on various ways in which the church is called to embody Christ. The series will carry us through this brief period of Ordinary Time. Here is today's, rougly pieced together from the outline of my memory...

Diets are a dime a dozen. Go to Borders, and you will find two entire bookshelves devoted to The Next Big Diet, all promising that you will begin approaching your ideal weight within a short span of time. We have the old standbys such as Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers, and the more recent Atkins and South Beach. There's even the Special K diet, where you substitute two meals for bowls of Special K. The thing about that loose weight because all you're eating is Special K. Diets are a dime a dozen. They promise a 'quick and easy' way to achieve your goal

'Quick and easy.' A symptom of a larger cultural problem. We like things quick and easy. We like results fast and now. If that doesn't happen, well...thro…


He allowed his weight to do most of the work as he eased back into the driver's seat. A turn of the key and the engine awoke. A flip of a lever and his dashboard glowed a soft orange. He wasn't quite set to take off the brake. Instead, he savored the escape of a sigh that felt like it had been building up for years.

He looked back toward the store he just left. An entire building filled with the knowledge and experience of others printed and bound for the world's consumption, and to him all those words were as thin as the pages on which they were written. Tens of thousands of gallons of ink spilled and not one that satisfied his thirst. Tens of thousands of trees harvested and not one that gave more than a superficial pep talk, a 12-step list to better times, a study of more words from another book.

He had no more breath to waste. He let down the brake and put it in reverse.

A new CD sang to him, fresh out of the shrink wrap. A live set from a lesser-known artist. T…

Pop Culture Roundup

I've been working through Tillich's Systematic Theology with my online study group. The assigned portion was the Introduction in which he discusses how we do theology each out of our own experience. This is not an argument for relativism, but an acknowledgment of what we're really doing when ascribing theological and doctrinal norms to scripture and to church tradition. I'm really getting into it, although I can only read so much at a time.

We saw Chronicles of Narnia the other week. It's been so long since I read the book, but snippets came back to me as I watched. The first half or so, I wondered, 'So...where's the Christian allegory?' Then it almost beats you over the head with it. I understand now why Tolkien hated allegory so's so transparent. The CGI is some of the better stuff out there, though.
My beloved Arrested Development might see its end soon if someone else doesn't pick it up. Its last four episodes on Fox will be run t…

So today I'm INFP

I usually score almost smack-dab in the middle of I-E. Not scoring J was my other surprise. Ah well. Hey...saying 'Ah well' is the sign of a P, isn't it? Ah well. There it is again. Thanks to Meg for helping me kill 3 minutes.
INFP - the Healer
You scored 36% I to E, 36% N to S, 23% F to T, and 63% J to P!

You are more introverted than extroverted. You are more intuitive than observant, you are more feeling based than thinking based, and you prefer to go with the flow rather than having a plan. Your type can best be summarized by the word "Healer", which belongs to the larger group of idealists. You have a capacity for caring that is deeper than most. You strive for unity, are fascinated by the battles between good and evil, and can be something of an idealist. Only 1% of the population shares your type.
As a romantic partner, you are usually supprtive and nuturing, however, you have a high need for individuality. Harmony is extremely important to you as you are ver…

'May the words of my mouth...'

I think a lot about preaching.

I think about points and moves, how to arrange them, how they should flow in and out of one another.

I think about the text, when and where it was written and how God might speak through it to a room full of 21st-Century Midwesterners.

I think about illustrations, whether they make sense, whether they're relevant, whether I want a laugh, whether they're too cheesy or moralizing or personal.

I think about how individual congregants will receive it. Will a reference to depression be too much for X, will a mention of death be too soon for Y, will a question about the Iraq war be offensive to Z?

Lately, I've been thinking that I say the same thing every. Single. Week.

Come on any given Sunday and you will hear me touch on one of the following themes: transformation, God's loving presence, the kingdom of God, mission to the poor, comfort to the grieving, the cost and joy of discipleship, how crappy the world is, new life. That last one in partic…

Well, that's interesting...

You scored as Monarchianism. You are a Monarchian. You seek to retain monotheistic belief but in doing so abandon the idea of a triune God. God exists as the Father only, though he can reveal himself in other ways in a manner similar to modalism. Jesus is a man who is adopted into the Godhead and given divine status. Jehovah's Witnesses still hold to this belief.

Nestorianism58%Monarchianism58%Pelagianism58%Chalcedon compliant50%Adoptionist50%Monophysitism42%Socinianism42%Apollanarian33%Arianism33%Modalism33%Docetism25%Donatism17%Gnosticism17%Albigensianism17%
Are you a heretic?
created with QuizFarm.comI didn't expect that...especially because I disagree strongly with modalism. Hm.Thanks to Chris for the link.

Where I Am on MLK Day

I hope that people are finding time today to reflect on the vision and message of Martin Luther King, Jr. I'm glad to have found such time, and I wanted to share some of my thinking here.

Anyone who has been to seminary can probably name a few regrets. Maybe you could've studied harder for a certain test, spent more time out of the apartment, got to know a fellow student or professor a little better. In different ways, these all make my list. But there's another regret that tops them all for me, and it's going to sound strange.

My first multiracial experience that I can remember was when my father pastored a UCC church in Galien, Michigan (it's not UCC any more...I think it's just Evangelical now). This was a very racially integrated church. I went to Sunday School and worship with a sizeable black population, and I can remember a couple gospel songs that we sang during our SS gathering time. I thought nothing of it, people's skin color didn't really regi…

Insect Evangelism

I've been slowly plodding through Tillich this afternoon, but have had to stop many times. This frequent stopping has not been due to deep thoughts on which I must ruminate more. This is not due to frustration over not understanding one of his points. It's actually because I've been reading it with the TV on. Spiderman 2 was on HBO, and then I switched over to all those 'make fun of pop culture' shows on VH1. You know those's like if the artsy group in high school got together and produced a show to rag on the popular group (and as president of the Drama Club, I would have had my own feature report each week). It's all the celebrity screw-ups you can fit into half-hour time blocks.

Well, recently a new show has been added to the lineup called Web Junk, where they gather a bunch of video clips from around the internet and point out how hilarious, embarrassing, or stupid they are. If you've spent enough time on the internet, you've probably…

And the 'Worst Choice of Words Award' goes to...

White Out the Indians - from a banner at a local high school gym.

Pop Culture Roundup

As part of an online study, I've started Paul Tillich's Systematic Theology. I'm on the Introduction, which spends a lot of time on his method. He makes a distinction between philosophy and theology in that while both seek the universal logos, theology (at least Christian theology) has already entrusted itself in the Logos. He discusses the creative philosopher being a 'hidden theologian,' a concept with which I'm still wrestling (how could an atheist doing philosophy be a 'hidden theologian?'). The group with which I'm studying this work has presented a few remarks on the subject and I have yet to respond.

A few weeks ago I finally got around to watching Crash, and I'm glad I finally did. The movie takes place in Los Angeles (a city more notorious for race relations) and presents everyone as both perpetrator and victim in some way. There are one or two happy endings (some more contrived than others), but for the most part situations are le…

The Good News

Next Sunday's lectionary includes a passage from Mark 1:14-15:

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."

There are various understandings of what the good news, or gospel, essentially is. This passage sums it up pretty well for me: the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe. This kingdom is one over and against the powers and principalities of the age, one where God's love is the rule rather than who looks the best, does the best, earns the most money. This kingdom is one of both comfort and challenge, both hope and inspiration, both forgiveness and repentence, death of the old and instilling of the new. For me, this kingdom is personified in a man who lived with the lowly, believed God to his death, and through his resurrection is still present with us. Christ is risen because the kingdom is real. …

Snippets from My Life

So...a question for the pastoral types who read this. Let's say that you serve a church whose governing board meets every month. Let's say that the day and time for this meeting never changes month to month, and there is only ever one announced month when it doesn't meet. Now...let's say that due to a few oversights, the meeting for a particular month doesn't get announced--bulletin, during morning announcements, and it doesn't get put on the calendar. This month is not the month when it is not scheduled. Would anyone be justified in not coming to this meeting because 'they didn't know about it?'

Right, so I haven't posted in a while. I had a great time with my Dad's family the second half of last week. My grandparents help lead a worship service at a nursing home and they noticed that I'd brought my guitar along. So on a couple hours' notice, I printed out the chords to 'Here I Am, Lord' and played it for them. Later…

Happy Anniversary

No Roundup today. Probably tomorrow or Sunday, as I've been spending my time in other ways the past few days. We've been enjoying time with family whom we haven't seen in a year (and other family we haven't seen for even longer). We have found joy in this time, and otherwise we have found sadness and disappointment in the West Virginia mine story and uncertainty in Israel's future with Sharon's illness (and anger and some wonderment why Pat Robertson is still allowed to say things in public...let alone that people listen to him).

Anyway, January carries with it a few important anniversaries for me, and I guess I can add another to the list.

Today, Philosophy Over Coffee turns 1. I think it's kind of cool that today is also Epiphany.

I thought I'd poop out a few months into keeping this, but here it is a year later. I've found a new set of cyber-friends, have been your man in the field for General Synod, have begun to find the blog's niche as a p…

Beyond Belief

In addition to 'Tis, I've been reading through Beyond Belief by Elaine Pagels. Essentially, Pagels wishes to explore the church's varying movements during the first few centuries of its life. While she mentions Marcion, the 'mystery religions,' and a few other early variations of Christian thought, she wishes to focus on two: Irenaeus and his use of the Gospel of John, and the community that used the Gospel of Thomas. She skips around a lot, pulling from the four canonical Gospels as well as a handful of the Gospels discovered at Nag Hammadi in 1945. She seems to wind to and fro, in and out, describing similarities and differences among beliefs. It gets a little confusing and at more than one point I asked, 'Why'd you pull that into the discussion when you were talking about this whole other thing over here...?' Not the most engaging work I've picked up.

That being said, here's one thesis I think I've been able to glean from this book: Irenae…

Truths, 'Tis, and Time off

To my shock, awe, and delight, I found myself listed in a site's sidebar. It always feels good to know that someone thought you worth reading enough to make such an endorsement, but this particular site is a little different. I don't know that I've ever really talked about UCCTruths here before. My own definition of the site is that of particular, listening to and reading statements made by UCC offices at the national, conference, and association level, first questioning their accuracy (usually information-wise), whether statements are justice-oriented (and for whom), and then how representative of the denomination they truly are. As with any blog or website in general, we agree and disagree depending on the issue. All in all, I have found them an important source for information.

So a special welcome to those who find their way here from UCCTruths. My space here is a little bit of everything. You might not find what you're looking for in terms of a wealth…

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