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Showing posts from October, 2015

October 2015 Pop Culture Roundup

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Five items for October...

1. I read Grounded by Diana Butler Bass this month. In this newest offering, Bass explores themes of God's presence and spirituality that can be found and nurtured outside the walls of the church, including nature and community, which are divided into sections and subsections such as water, earth, sky, neighborhood, and so on. I found it very reminiscent of Barbara Brown Taylor's An Altar in the World, as both explore how God is infused with everyday living; breaking down the traditional barriers of secular and sacred. Bass' writing is thoughtful, accessible, and poetic. This is a book for spiritual seekers of all kinds.

2. I also read Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate by John Thompson this month, the review for which you can read here.

3. When I found out that Phantogram was teaming up with Big Boi for a project and album called Big Grams, I got excited. I just discovered Phantogram last year and loved Voices. I found this effort a little underwhelmin…

Invocation for Reformation Sunday

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Based on Mark 10:46-52

From the streets, the marketplace, our homes; from places of work, leisure, comfort, or loss, we cry out for your mercy, healing God. We trust that you hear our innermost concerns not only in this hour but at all times. We speak aloud our deepest joys and troubles, praying for a renewed confidence that you are closer and more caring than we know. Open our eyes to receive your blessing once again, that we may carry it out into your world needing it in equal measure. Amen.

New Sacred Post: "You're a Minister!? But You're a Child!"

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My latest entry for the UCC's blog, New Sacred, is up.

Here's a brief excerpt from the post, entitled "You're a Minister!? But You're a Child!:"

I was graciously invited to an interfaith dinner at an area UCC church. I always welcome the opportunity to break bread with people of differing and diverse belief traditions to celebrate and recognize our common humanity, so I had little hesitation in accepting this offer. What’s more, I was still acclimating to a pastoral position in a new church, and saw this as a way to connect with others from nearby communities.My wife and I made our way to check in and receive directions on where to go. As I introduced myself as the new pastor down the road, one of the ladies working the registration table looked at me incredulously and exclaimed, “But…you’re a CHILD!” Click the link above to read the rest.

Vintage CC: Font of Every Blessing

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I dug way back into the archives to find this post from November 2005. I'm sure that the story that I tell here was from one of my very first baptisms; I think both the writing and reflection here indicate that. Even after all these years, this sacrament is one of my favorite acts of ministry.

I've decided that baptism is one of my favorite things to do in ministry.

Yesterday was the first of two that we'll be celebrating during Advent. I've only officiated two others during my time here. Actually, for this church perhaps that's just about right.

The weeks leading up to it were a little nerve-racking, as I haven't yet perfected the art of properly instilling the importance and meaning of such an event in the family. Pastors like to do lots of instilling. It may be one of our favorite things, after taking a nap on Sunday afternoon. We like to instill in people that events such as baptisms and weddings aren't just cultural relics that churches still perfo…

Night Night

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Sometimes the voice of God is a little girl singing to herself in her crib.

I experience this most nights when I take Coffeedaughter to bed. Clutching her favorite blanket close, she places her head on my shoulder on the way up the stairs. This after almost leaping into my arms when I say it's "night-night time."
I place her in her crib, where first she crouches down surrounded by her blankets and stuffed animals while I check to make sure that no cats will be stuck in the room when I close the door. She then stands up, indicating that she wants a hug. If I approach, she might squat back down. It's a game to keep me in the room, you see.
She may eventually want a hug and kiss, or she might keep playing. After I figure out which, I'll make my way to the door, saying "night night" on the way. I'll be followed out of the room by her own "night night" and "bye bye."
After the door is shut, she'll keep talking for a while. Someti…

Book Update

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It's been a while since I gave an update on what is happening with the book. That's largely because there hasn't been much to report.

Most of the summer was spent writing the manuscript, sending chapters out to trusted and knowledgable people for editing suggestions, doing said editing, and generally doing my best to get things in order for the agreed-upon deadline.

I'm happy to share that the basic manuscript part, at least, is done. In fact, I was able to get everything in well before I had to, so I was able to finish off my summer reading list and enjoy a little extra free time (that I inevitably filled with other things anyway).

Then there was a long time of waiting while some reviewers from the editorial board read it and offered some thoughts. Things were out of my hands for quite a while as others checked my work.

Finally, the other week I heard back from my editor about next steps, which will involve the real start of the editing process and sending the manusc…

Book Review: Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate by John Thompson

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I'm losing my taste for the prepackaged, the mass-produced, and the canned. It's no longer enough to add water, microwave, stir, and eat. I want to know where things come from. I want to know how they affect me. I want to know how they were supposed to taste before the factories took over. I search obsessively for the good, the true, and the beautiful in the grooves of an LP, the pages of a book, the frames of a film, and the conversations and prayers I share with a small group of fellow pilgrims in our home. In these pages I'm going to do my best to ruin you for the cheap stuff. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what kind of coffee you drink; it is the kind of faith you live, or the kind of faith you abandon, that can make all the difference in the world. - John Thompson, Jesus, Bread, and Chocolate

I very clearly remember when I started drinking coffee. It was right after my freshman year of college, when I traveled with a small handful of classmates down to Atlanta for …

Small Sips Does This Every October

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Annual October Justice Cause #1. There are a couple of justice-related issues that I always like to highlight in October, because that's when organizations related to them like to highlight them. First, October is Fair Trade Month:
Fair Trade is a global trade model and certification allows shoppers to quickly identify products that were produced in an ethical manner. For consumers, Fair Trade offers a powerful way to reduce poverty through their everyday shopping. For farmers and workers in developing countries, Fair Trade offers better prices, improved terms of trade, and the business skills necessary to produce high-quality products that can compete in the global marketplace. Through vibrant trade, farmers and workers can improve their lives and plan for their futures. Today, Fair Trade benefits more than 1.2 million farming families in 70 developing countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America.  Globally, the Fair Trade network certifies coffee, tea and herbs, cocoa, fresh …

Confessions of a Tooth Grinder

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The pain started about 10 years ago. That's the part I'm most ashamed of. I'd bite down in just the right way, and a quick jolt centralized on my right back molar would shoot through my jaw. Usually it would fade just as quickly, but at times it would linger. I told myself to make an appointment with the dentist.

For too long, the pain served as a reminder that I hadn't yet made any type of phone call to get it checked out. Over time, the duration would expand: a second would turn into a few, a few would turn into 30. And every time I said, "Maybe this is the one that finally convinces me. I need to call. I need to have it looked at."

Then the middle of last year, I would be jarred awake in the middle of the night. What used to be a momentary discomfort had turned into something that burned the entire side of my face, part of my neck, my inner ear, and my head. I had ignored something long enough for it to become serious. It was time to call.

I am a notoriou…