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Showing posts from February, 2012

Sermon on "Negativity Fast" (Part One)

“You are my son…my daughter…with you I am well pleased. … The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” This Lent, we’re trying something we haven’t tried before in our sermons, and that is that is this Lent, Rev. Kate, Pastor Mary and I are all going to be sticking to one theme.   Instead of jumping around from message to message or preaching on very different unrelated themes, this Lent – over the next five Sundays – we’ll be taking our time unpacking one theme. Even though it’s one theme, you’ll be getting three very different takes on this theme, because Kate, Mary and I all have different perspectives on it. But we thought we’d look at this one theme over the season of Lent, because we think it’s an important topic to take a good look at, one that I introduced a few weeks ago in the e-Pistle, And the theme is a “negativity fast.” Now as you know, it’s customary for people to give things up and take things on during

Bouncing back after striking out early Ash Wednesday

Today, something a bit unusual: I'd like to share what I'll call "the evolution of an Ash Wednesday sermon." To use a baseball analogy, I'd like to share with you what it was like to go from badly striking out at the 6:30 a.m. early service to doing better in each of the three later sermons that day. Let me start by saying that I would like to live in a universe where all my sermons were written days or weeks before they needed to be preached. But in the universe I do live in, sometimes - despite my prayers and Bible reading/exegesis and preparation and study - sometimes things conspire to prevent a sermon from being written in time. And that's what happened late last week and early this week: pastoral and teaching and administrative and other responsibilities, plus a low level exhaustion, took over. That's not that unusual. Most clergy weeks are full, and clergy are not immune from exhaustion. But usually inspiration strikes before we

A Negativity Fast

Because next Wednesday (February 22) is Ash Wednesday , Lenten resolutions are on my mind. As you know, it’s a longstanding custom among many Christians to make resolutions during Lent: to resolve to “give something up” in the 40+ days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, as well as to resolve to “take something on” during that time. The most traditional areas to “give up in order to take on” are “Prayer, fasting, and alms-giving,” long considered three essential elements of Christian spirituality. Now, of course, it’s great that, for example, many people will be resolving to give up a half hour of Facebook or television, and give that time to prayer. And of course it’s great that many people will be giving up alcohol, or sweets, or snacks, or workaholism , and by so doing, get in touch with the many ways we try to fill our God-shaped hole with something other than God (or attempt to numb the pain of our emptiness). And of course it’s great

Microwave Culture, Crockpot Faith

Today, I’m going with two pieces of advice given me by my speech professor at Wabash College : The first was, “the key to writing a great speech is to come up with a great title. Then drive a speech under it.” The second piece of advice was his “Three rules of Public Speaking” – 1) Speak clearly. 2) Be concise. 3) Be seated. So here’s today's title:  Microwave Culture, Crockpot Faith . Isn’t it true, that we live in a microwave culture – a culture where we’ve been conditioned to expect instant results and instant solutions? It’s reflected in how we eat : in the last 75 years, restaurants have gone from almost exclusively waiter-based dine-in experiences, to drive- in , to drive- through . (In those same 75 years, American obesity has skyrocketed, but that’s another point for another epistle, another time: I’m trying to be concise here!) Our microwave culture is reflected in how we gather and use information : when I was in 9th grade, writing a ter