Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Boost!

It's exciting sometimes when new ideas whose time have come arrive at a place of fruition. We've 3 churches of our denomination in the area none of which have large youth groups, and it is exciting because we've agreed to come together and create a joint youth group.

It was impressive to see that there is a recognition of the ability to provide more than mere monetary support-- and on the part of our small struggling congregation that means the world. It will be interesting to see this all play out.

I am excited, and thrilled to see the youth ministry invigorated in this way. I think it will be tremendously beneficial to us all. Huzzah! and Praise God, for those willing to listen even when He calls us to doing things in ways that it hasn't been done before.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the BVM

Blessed Virgin Mary... ah, yes... a true source of discord in the Christian world this particular feast day. It is also, a time for us to maybe grow in understanding of the difference in world view that encompasses Christianity. To that end, I include here a link to a wonderful article that explains the traditional Catholic and Anglo-Catholic viewpoint. We do not say that Mary was without sin on her own, but through God's grace.

Without Stain

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Welcome to Advent!

My personal faith tradition is rich in liturgical seasons, colors, meanings and symbols. Many of my friends and family though don't follow the church year in the same way and can feel a bit lost when hearing about it. So this first blog in December is an attempt on my part to explain the season of Advent... what it means to those of us in faith traditions that observe the season, and how it helps us to connect with Christ.

Advent... many may be familiar with Advent Calendars, typically little pasteboard/cardstock type creations which contain candies and are designed to help children negotiate the days leading up to Christmas. The idea is that it helps them to manage the anticipation of the big day. And while, certainly, anticipation is part of the season of Advent... it goes further or should.

Like Lent, the season of Advent is typically observed as a time of fasting and prayer. The color of the season is purple. This has symbolic meaning. Purple is the color of royalty and during Advent we remember the world awaiting it's King and Savior. Purple is also the color used during Lent to mark the suffering Christ underwent for us, and so the use of the color here acts as a foreshadowing of Lent and Easter to come. We cannot, however much we might like to, separate Christ's birth from His sacrifice for us. The two are inextricably intertwined.

During Advent, a liturgical church will incorporate times of confession and a recognition of our unworthiness of Christ's sacrifice for us which is why it is also a time of penitence and prayer. We both celebrate Christ's first Advent and we focus on the fact that He is here with us now, and will come again with power. We anticipate the season of that second coming during Advent as well as the lead up to Christmas.

We use an Advent wreath to mark the four Sundays which lead up to Christmas. Each Sunday is marked by a candle. The first three in my tradition are purple. The fourth is pink to mark that the season of Joy is approaching. There is a candle in the center of white, which will be lit on Christmas Day.

We look toward Advent as a time to turn our hearts toward God. To stop focusing on our circumstances which as we define them are either good or bad, and our hope if it is in them will always be dashed. Instead, we look toward God. Knowing that He can and does through Christ offer us newness, redemption, recovery and transformation through and out of our circumstances. In short, Advent is about hope and Him who brings it.

Have a blessed Advent!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


In my reading, I've discovered something interesting about the ancient Hebraic concept of righteousness. Often, we get hung up on the idea that to be righteous was to dot i's and cross t's in Judaism. However, that may not be the way the ancients saw it.

Tsadiq which is the Hebrew word used for righteousness in the first 11 chapters of Genesis (my current focus of study) is the same word used for making an animal sacrifice to God. The idea here is that the animal must be physically perfect, without blemish. We've taken that to mean moral perfection in humanity.

However, it doesn't mean that at all. It means someone who is in right relationship with God, with others. Someone who doesn't interfere in the relationship their neighbor has with God, and doesn't interfere in his neighbor's relationship with others either.

Since Westboro Baptist was in town this weekend, I started to wonder... how much "righteousness" do these people have really? What damage have they done to the relationship of gay persons with God? What damage have they done to the relationship of Christians with others as we allow this hatefulness to become representative of us by not speaking out, showing up and in short, allowing them to define us? In the Book of Common Prayer, our common confession includes the phrase, "for what we have done and left undone". We CAN sin by omission.

I come back to one of the first things: If ministry is defined as any act a Christian (or one who identifies as such) does to another... then what exactly does this ministry look like? Personally, I think it looks a lot like sin.

Friday, November 19, 2010


I am thankful for clean, potable running water.

I grew up in northern Minnesota. We had pipes that would freeze every winter in our bathroom, and once a week, my father would thaw the pipes in the tub so that we could bathe. Once a week! Now, you must understand... Dad was born in 1907 so weekly bathing was not an uncommon or odd occurence for him as it was for those of us growing up in the 1970's.

When we moved in... we didn't have running water. We had a hand pump. All of which makes me a throwback to another time in many ways. But it does make me appreciate some conveniences that many of us take for granted. Running water is one of them.

If you're looking for a worthwhile cause, and trying to find a way to put more Christ in your Christmas... you could do worse than the Advent Conspiracy. And, you'd be blessing more people in the world with the gift of clean, drinking water.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thankful Thursday!

Aldous Huxley once wrote: Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.

In an effort to alter that about myself... I'm focusing on gratitude for the next few days as we lead up to Thanksgiving.

Today I'm thankful that:

I have legs in my stockings so that I can run, and walk. (Thanks, G.K. Chesterton!)

I have hot coffee.

The sunrise was beautiful this a.m.

There's a new choral evensong available on the BBC 3 Radio iPlayer.

Oatmeal exists. Hot, filling and delicious with just a lil butter and salt.

How about you? What are you thankful for today?