A Lenten Call to Action

Lent is here. For many this is a season of increased emphasis on the religious life. Giving Up For most of my life, I participated in Mainline Protestant faith communities that asked participants to give something up for Lent. The list didn't change from year to year. It included food (chocolate and/or all sweets seemed to be a top choice), and drink (usually a word substitute for alcohol although soda was a viable option for children). In more recent years, the items on the list Read More …

Most Popular Sermons

We are now almost two weeks into the second half of the year known as 2015.  A few weeks ago I shared my most popular blog posts from the first half of the year.  Today, I offer my most popular sermons from the first half of the year (based on YouTube views) in lieu of new sermon content since I am on vacation and not preaching this morning. Titleless - watch / read - a 13 min. message on humility Surprising Salaries - watch / read - a 12 min. message on the Parable of the Laborers in the Read More …

A Unique Lenten Discipline

Last year I shared the story of an unusual Lenten discipline: Shawnthea Monroe, senior minister of Plymouth Church, chose to wear a collar for Lent.  This year, I encountered an even more unique Lenten discipline: wearing orange prison jumpsuit. Kent McKeever, a Baptist youth minister at Seventh and James Baptist Church and an attorney who represents indigent clients through Mission Waco, is wearing the orange jumpsuit throughout Lent "to draw attention to disparities in the sentencing of the Read More …

Pope Francis Goes to Confession

Popes going to Confession is nothing new, and the current Pope going to confession isn't newsworthy.  Pope Francis decision, however, to go off script yet again in a penance service is. Rather than heading for the confessional to which he was being escorted in order to hear confessions, Pope Francis chose to make his way to another confessional where he "spent about three minutes kneeling before the priest’s open confessional and received absolution."  Only after doing so did he hear Read More …

Drive-Through Prayer

After last week's piece about a drive-in church, the idea of drive-through prayer doesn't seem strange at all.  Estero United Methodist Church, a church near where I live, is providing drive-through prayer every Wednesday evening from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m through April.  Since they are located on a busy road, discipleship director John Halley considers it to be "one way to put ourselves out there and to give folks the opportunity to come by and receive the blessing of prayer." So Read More …

#SundayWisdom

The CANA Initiative (Convening, Advocating, Networking, Acting) is a collective of faith-engaged people and entities (Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Mainline Protestant, Orthodox, and other Christians who believe the future for Christian life and mission will be different in many ways from the past and present), that brings together diverse and innovative leaders to collaborate in the development of new ways of being Christian.  During Lent, Diana Butler Bass – a CANA initiator and the author of Read More …

I Love Jesus Because

Heidi Weaver, founder and president of LOVEboldly, recently shared her list of 16 reasons why the real historical Jesus is worthy of our love, including: because he is wild and passionate, zealous and out of line, unpredictable, defender of the defenseless, lover of the unlovable, friend of the most unlikely folks to receive anyone’s friendship; because he defied the meaningless and empty customs of his day in exchange for redemptive relationship, boundless mercy, and hospitality to Read More …

Sermon: Beginning the Journey

Sermon Text: Psalm 51:1-17 Sermon Manuscript It doesn't come as a surprise to me that those gathered here this evening are far fewer in number than those who worshiped in this sacred space on Sunday morning.  Ash Wednesday has a way of thinning the crowd – especially the Protestant crowd.  It is a day some have called “the most uncomfortable day of the year.” Ash Wednesday is an unusual sort of service for those of us who are not accustomed to the high church world of smells and bells.  Read More …

Lenten Carbon Fast

This is the third consecutive year that the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ is shepherding an Ecumenical Lenten Carbon Fast.  Participants or interested parties can register to receive a daily e-mail featuring a "suggested carbon-reducing activity, "including  information about how significantly such an action will contribute to carbon reduction.  Additionally, the campaign features weekly themes for congregations.  All content is available via the Fast's Facebook Read More …

Chuck Knows Church

Chuck Knows Church is a relatively new educational resource funded by the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church.  Every Thursday, a somewhat goofy yet always personable, pastoral and knowledgeable man named Chuck shares a new 2-4 minute YouTube video on a basic topic related to Christianity.  Past topics include liturgical colors, the offering plate, the Narthex, the baptismal font, and Lent.  The latest video is on the Lord's Prayer: So What? In addition to Read More …