Showing posts from October, 2013

Happy Halloween

Christians and Halloween

A lot of people ask me, “Jeff…should Christians celebrate Halloween?”

Okay, nobody asks me that.

Still, Christians in our larger society do ask that and people provide a lot of different answers. Many shy away from it or denounce it, declaring it a pagan holiday or by citing the day’s emphasis on the scary, the gruesome, and the deadly, things that just shouldn’t be glorified in any way by Christians.

In order for us to make a good decision about this, we should first do a little history homework. First, Halloween does have some roots in paganism. It originated as a Celtic festival in Ireland called Samhain, meaning “End of the Summer.” The Celts observed that November 1st was the beginning of the dark half of the year, which to them also symbolized death. So on October 31st they believed that the lines between our physical world and the spiritual world blurred as that transition between seasons happened. The exact customs observed in each Celtic region varied, but they generall…

October Pop Culture Roundup

Five items for October...

1. The fourth season of Boardwalk Empire started last month. I wasn't sure about it at first, as plot points tend to develop very slowly on this show. So that's to say I've never been sure about every season for at least the first episode or two. Since then, however, things have picked up as Capone and Lansky are starting to step up more and more, and as a new villain, Dr. Valentin Narcisse, looks to make trouble for Chalky. Narcisse is quite different from last season's crash-and-bang Gyp Rosseti, as he is more cold and calculating. In addition, there's a plotline where Nucky goes down to Tampa to buy some land, but I don't see what the point of that is yet, and another with Nucky's nephew whom they may be slowly making into the new Jimmy. Like I said, it took a few episodes to get going, but I'm now enjoying it as always.

2. We've also been watching the new Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which picks up right after th…

Small Sips, Because Why Not?

The Big Scary Unknown Future of Ministry. Still. Again. Jan at A Church for Starving Artists writes about it a lot. In one of her latest, she describes a possible future of the ministry vocation:
Many of us who serve as professional ministers have one job. We are The Pastor or The Chaplain or The Theology Professor or the Middle Judicatory Executive or The Bishop. But the future of 21st Century professional ministry might well involve an assortment of “calls” all juggled, more or less at the same time.    I’m not talking about traditional bivocational ministry (if we can even call bivo ministry ‘traditional’). I’m talking about serving smaller churches, creative projects, community endeavors, teaching gigs, and social media outlets as a cornucopia of ministries that support us financially and spiritually.  I’m talking about the pastor who supports herself by serving a congregation 15 hours a week while serving a community ministry for LGBTQ homeless kids a couple hours a week while …

Vintage CC: Smart Ministry

I've had this post from May 2012 on my mind lately. Obviously the time reference needs to be adjusted, but that's no big thing. The bigger issue I meant to cover here is whether the ministry in which one is engaged is reactionary and rushed, or intentional and thoughtful. The results you hope for usually depend on the difference. I can't say I've always engaged in smart ministry, which is why I wrote this to begin with. I like to think I'm getting better, but not always.

When you've been in the same ministry position for nearly 7 1/2 years, you start to wonder about some things. Maybe you don't start wondering; maybe that wondering just becomes more amplified. Or maybe you were always wondering and you just keep wondering. Whatever.

One thing I've started to wonder about is whether I've been engaging in smart ministry.

What do I mean by that? I don't really know. But since I'm intending to publish this post for others to read I should probab…

The Resurrection is True

There was quite an interesting debate last week between Tony Jones and Marcus Borg regarding the nature of the resurrection of Jesus. Jones, as he often does, fired the first shot with a blog post entitled Dear Marcus Borg: Please Reconsider the Resurrection.
Actually, that's not entirely accurate. Jones' first shot really was in a casual mention during an earlier post, during which he makes the claim that Borg's view is that the resurrection "only happens in a believer's heart," rather than in any literal, material, or physical sense. Borg caught this mention and responded at some length: [The resurrection] means at least the following. Jesus lives: he is a figure of the present who continues to be known, not just a beloved figure of the past. Jesus is Lord: God has vindicated Jesus and made him both Lord and Christ. Thus the lords of this world, including the powers that killed him and the lords of culture today, are not. Imperial execution and a rich man’…

All About Eve

As soon as we walked into the kennel, she started putting on a show. She rolled onto her back, her head upside-down and almost pressed against her cage, while she stretched a paw toward us through the bars. All of this while a constant stream of meows burst forth, as if she couldn't get them out quickly enough to tell us everything that she wanted to say.

There really was no debate that day about who would come keep us company at our new apartment in West St. Louis County. We'd just moved off of Eden's campus and in short order wanted to take advantage of our newfound freedom to have a non-human companion help to transform our new space into a home. And she did, perhaps a little too enthusiastically, as she'd wake us frequently in the dead of night with a series of sandpapery kisses. No matter how many times she'd be gently removed, she'd be right back again. In hindsight, we were her new family and maybe she was just joyful to have one.

We named her Eve. It&#…

"You Extend Our Horizons" - A Prayer for World Communion Sunday

It is hard to see what you see.

We look out across churning oceans,
across the dunes of desert sands,
into thick green jungles and forests,
and eventually, always, our sight reaches its limits.
Our horizons drop off.

It is hard to see what you see.

We look out across waiting rooms with anxious faces,
across streets into impoverished neighborhoods,
across cultural lines into the stark experience of another,
and eventually, always, our sight reaches its limits.
Our horizons drop off.

It is hard to see what you see.

So you set a table.
You set out bread and wine,
You assure us that there are enough chairs for all,
You invite us to sit, one across from another, until all are ready.

And you invite us to look
beyond our own prejudices, our own fears,
our own small notions about the way things are or should be.

You invite us to look again
and this time, in between bites of grace,
our eyes open wide.

We see what was always there:
Beloved creations stumbling along,
In need of healing,

Small Sips Always Looks Forward to October

A special week. October always brings with it several commemorations of justice issues that I like to highlight. First, next week is Mental Illness Awareness Week:
In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) in recognition of NAMI's efforts to raise mental illness awareness. Since then, mental health advocates across the country have joined with others in their communities to sponsor activities, large or small, for public education about mental illness.MIAW coincides with the National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding (Oct. 8) and National Depression Screening Day (Oct. 10.) Those particular days mentioned in the second paragraph are more recent developments as part of this week. There are plenty of resources at the NAMI site for each. Mental illness remains an incredibly stigmatized and underfunded issue in the United States.

Also a special month. October in general is Fair Trade Month:

But …

Introducing From the Psalms to the Cloud by Maria Mankin and Maren Tirabassi

I'm pleased to share news of a new resource for prayer and worship co-authored by mother-daughter team Maren Tirabassi and Maria Mankin called From the Psalms to the Cloud: Connecting to the Digital Age.

Here's the blurb from Pilgrim Press:
Do you or your worship team need to jump-start your prayer life?  Do you want your worship to be more inclusive of people wherever they might be on life's journey?  From the Psalms to the Cloud: Connecting to the Digital Age can help you to connect people, prayers and new possibilities for worship. Maria Mankin & Maren Tirabassi bring together worship and prayer elements for both traditional and contemporary worship, and your private prayer life as well.  Mankin and Tirabassi share resources from a diversity of gifted writers, and invite you to create your own prayers  and worship services. From the Psalms to the Cloud will help you to offer acceptance, embrace, connection, hope and healing in your worship and prayers. Maria and Mar…

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