A few months ago a friend of mine sent me a message, “OK… it’s Saturday night and I have planned your future!” Sometimes God’s call comes in the midst of silent prayer. Sometimes God’s call comes during vibrant worship. And sometimes, apparently, God’s call comes through Facebook Messenger. Or at least it starts there. Continue reading
Once a week I set up my office in one of our local coffee shops. I’m not a huge coffee
drinker, but occasionally I’ll have a coffee drink of some sort. Some days, like today, I just get some lemonade or water. I rarely make it through my visit without a cookie or something from the pastry counter. But that’s all beside the point.
The way a story ends can make or break the impression we carry of it. Think of some of the all-time great TV shows and how they ended. Do you have any favorites?
M. A. S. H.? Cheers?
I very clearly remember the end of Family Ties as a good ending to one of my generation’s favorite childhood TV shows.
One of the things we tend to like about a good series finale is when it leaves us feeling like there aren’t too many loose ends. There can be some wondering about what comes next, but all in all we like to know that even if our favorite characters don’t come out alright in the end, their lives and the story had a purpose.
The Song of Zechariah found in Luke 1:68-79, are some of the first words the priest uttered upon the birth of his son, John, the cousin of Jesus, the one we know as John the Baptist. Zechariah had been made mute by the angel Gabriel at the start of his wife’s pregnancy because of his fear and disbelief, but when the child was born and Zechariah and Elizabeth named him John as Gabriel had instructed them, his tongue was freed and filled with Holy Spirit John’s father, Zechariah, spoke this prophecy. Listen now for the words he proclaimed.
Zechariah had been silent for the entire duration of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Silent. He spoke not one word. He didn’t ask how she was feeling. He didn’t wonder aloud with her when the child would come. He also didn’t stick his foot in his mouth asking inappropriately about just how big her stomach would get, so maybe there were some advantages. But Zechariah had been silent the entire pregnancy, unable to speak at home or in the temple. Continue reading
As I sometimes do when I’m preparing for Sunday, early last week I went back to read a sermon I wrote on this same text several years ago. I always do so with fear and trepidation because I never know what I will find – a memory of a difficult time or a special celebration in the life of the church, a sermon I don’t think I can top this time, or a trainwreck I’m embarrassed I ever delivered.
By the time I read my 6 year old sermon on Tuesday afternoon last week two men in their twenties had been arrested for shooting five people involved in the protests around the recent police killing of an African American man in north Minneapolis. Two more were later arrested, all four were suspected white supremacists. It was just hours before the dashboard cam video of the horrific killing of teenager Laquan McDonald in Chicago was released worldwide. Add these recent events to the recent terrifying tide of violence and centuries old systemic racism against African Americans in this country and in this week of giving thanks instead I was asking, along with throngs of others online and around the country, “How long, O Lord?” Continue reading
In 2014 marriage equality came both in the denomination I serve, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the state in which I live, Wisconsin. While my congregation had slowly but surely been talking about marriage and sexuality in one way or another for the previous 12-18 months, this convergence of opinions made the conversation even more important to our context. Now that same sex marriage was legal in Wisconsin, would our congregation be willing to host such weddings on our property? Continue reading
There wasn’t a whole lot on the schedule for today which was good because my absence on this blog reflects how much has been on my calendar in recent weeks. I’m not worshiping at the altar of busy. Just stating a fact.
But anyway, there wasn’t a whole lot on the schedule for today except for two visits – one with a retiring pastor in my presbytery who had invited me to come take what I wanted off of his bookshelves, and another with one of the oldest members of the congregation I serve who had some music to share. It was a wonderful way to spend the afternoon, and in a sense both of these visits were about the same thing – telling and hearing stories.