Showing posts from 2009

The Dreamers (Simeon, Anna, and the Other Christmas Story)

In Sunday school a couple of weeks back, we talked about the story of Simeon, a man who was promised he wouldn't die until he saw the Messiah. Before worship that week, I read again the companion story of Anna, the old prophetess who was also at the temple that day. Both stories are in Luke 2, between the Christmas story and the John the Baptist story we read in worship. On reading that story again, I discovered something that was nothing like what we said in Sunday school. I wanted to talk about this last week, but we never got to it, so I thought I'd post it here.


Have you ever wanted something really really badly, but it just wouldn't happen? You try hard, you have the vision, you listen, you practice, you read, you watch, you pray, you do your very best, but it just doesn't come.

And have you ever had a dream come true, and then, way too soon, you saw it vanish?

Simeon and Anna are like that.

Simeon was an old man, a very old man. He'd been young once, though,…

Domestic Violence

Recently, I met a woman named Mary who works with the victims of domestic violence and abuse. I told her at the time that it seemed like her work was both very hard and very valuable. I think also it's a job that doesn't get nearly enough appreciation.

After talking with her for quite a while, I told her that I'd pray for her and the children and families she works with. And I did. And it became clear to me that just saying "Dear God" and "Amen" wasn't all I should do.

So, I asked Pastor Keith if I could have a "Minute for Mission" during worship last Sunday, which turned out to be Domestic Abuse Awareness Sunday. That still doesn't seem enough, and I'm on the lookout for where Christ leads me next, but here's what I said:

This is for the men this morning. You women can listen in if you like, but this is about a mission for men.

This is also a minute for mission where I'm not going to ask you for money, or for a lot of your tim…

Why am I Presbyterian?

General Assembly moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow asked for answers to the question: "Why am I Presbyterian?" either via Twitter, Facebook, or blog. We talked about this in Sunday school last week, but we never got to my answer. That's fine, but here's my answer anyway. I think you'll find we're all very similar.

I think there's a theologically "right" answer: God called (and calls) me to be Presbyterian. We Presbyterians believe that all aspects of our faith are responses to the grace of God in Christ.

But while the answer may be "right," I think it's misleading because there's a lot more to it. God didn't move me into the PC(USA) like a puppet on a string. What really happened to me is a much better story:

I've always felt like I was on the outside, my whole life. I guess especially as a teenager. I remember going to dances where I didn't like the music, didn't like the dances they were doing, and couldn't find any…

Love Not Fear (again)

I just saw that someone named "Lindsay" left a comment on my earlier post "Love Not Fear". Since that post is well and truly buried in the past, and since I thought Lindsay's words were so wonderful, I've decided to post them here.

Lindsay said...

This is a message for everyone. I am a stranger you, but not because I am, as all are, given free will with which I can choose to act through love and not through fear.

Many people ask, why should we not be afraid when god does not protect us from trouble, where I say, god does so but through us.

When we act through love, happiness follows. When we have feelings that can be described as love, that is god talking to us. We need only to listen.

And here's my reply:

Thank you, Lindsay. As you said, you and I are strangers, but I'm sure your friends are blessed to know you.

I don't know why God doesn't make things easier on us. That's just one in a long list of things I don't know.…

Read The Shack by William P. Young

This is a neat book. There are lots of reasons why I should have disliked it, but I truly enjoyed it, found myself thinking about it between readings.

At first glance, it's the kind of book my mother would have gotten me for Christmas or something: a religious allegory of sorts with a very heavy Christian hand. It's immensely popular, even though it's written by an author few had heard of and published by a tiny press. In fact, I bought it for Mom shortly before she died.

Don't stop at the first glance. The story takes you to a very dark place, and it treats the darkness and pain of it with respect. It also treats the reader with respect. The author has taken much care to neither overlook nor over-indulge in the horror of it.

In essence, the story follows a man named Mack whose family undergoes a terrible tragedy, plunging him into what he calls The Great Sadness. It is in this despair that he receives a note inviting him to visit the very abandoned shack that formed the …

Lent and The Possible

When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

-A. C. Clarke's First Law

I can't tell you how many times I've seen the impossible happen. I don't even think I can count the number of times I've helped make the impossible happen. People have a far too limiting view on what's possible.

I think it all comes down to bad theology. There's this belief these days that God is stingy, even miserly. There's just not enough to go around, we hear. When the stock market sinks, or church donations falter, or whatever, we go around wringing our hands, looking at the red ink. God's holding out on us again.

This confusion of the Lord of Hosts with Ebenezer Scrooge (before Christmas morning) shows up in so many more ways: God doles out blessings only on the most deserving, they say. God reserves heaven only for those who've jumped throu…

Uncle Jay Explains 2008