As many of you know, our Lenten Soup Supper and Study Group will begin on Wednesday, March 5, at 6:30 PM, and continue each Wednesday night during Lent. We will eat first and socialize and then flow into discussion of the book chapter by about 7 PM each evening.
Last month in this column, I introduced our Lenten Study book, Saving Jesus From the Church, by Robin R. Meyers, and I provided a summary of the prologue and the first chapter.
On March 5, we will begin with the first chapter, which we hope everyone will have read. I ask each person to select a sentence or two from the chapter which speaks to you . . . or confuses you . . . and be prepared to share it. We’ll also have opportunities to share our responses to the passages identified by others. We will plan to read and discuss about a chapter a week but want the flexibility to speed up or slow down as the Spirit leads.
Since I will be drawing from this important study book for my sermons during Lent, and since a number of you will be reading the book, this month I’m providing a kind of “Masterplots” summary of each chapter, so you can see the development of Meyers’ thinking.
Meyers begins by asking the question, “Am I a Christian?”
The Prologue provides the essence of Meyers’ vision. His is a call to get back to what Christianity looked like before “the fourth century, when a first- century spiritual insurgency was seduced into marrying its original oppressor.” Chapter 1 continues this theme, focusing on Jesus as teacher rather than savior. (Read more . . .)
We will be meeting, studying, and sharing again during Lent, on Wednesday nights during March in people’s homes. We had a grand turnout last year, and I trust and hope we can repeat it.
I’m excited about our Lenten Study book, Saving Jesus From the Church, by Robin R. Meyers. What makes it valuable is that Meyers is a liberal Christian and is unapologetically both. He is concerned to move beyond stating what he as a liberal Christian doesn’t believe, beyond even stating what he does believe and value, to actually proclaiming the Gospel as he understands it.
The cover flap provides endorsements from no less voices than Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Bill Moyers. They are some of my heroes.
The book is full of so many eloquent and memorable expressions that I could run a series of “Quotes of the Day” for a week and still not be finished.
Meyers begins by asking the question, “Am I a Christian?” He presents a nightmare of all the horrific things people have done in the name of Christ, and the refrain: if that’s what being a Christian is, then I don’t want to be one. (Read more . . .)
Another year, another chance to serve . . . grow . . . celebrate. . .but not stagnate!!! Its so easy, at least for me, to rehash old negative memories, past mistakes, or lost opportunities. In recovery folks say, “Live today as if it’s the last day of your life.”
What follows is an illustration and advice I received from a friend, and I pass it on to you!
A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, “How heavy is this glass of water?”
Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.
The lecturer replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”
He continued, “And that’s the way it is with stress management. (Read more . . .)
Joy to the world! the Lord is come
Let earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare him room
And heaven and nature sing
Lots of ink has been used in the past two millennia to discuss the meaning of joy. What can I add to this conversation?
It’s good for a minister to remember that my calling is to preach the event. Revisit it. It is not to re-invent the wheel. Sometimes it is enough to simply kick the tires, make sure they’re not flat, or to remove the hubcaps and replace them with something different, perhaps a bit more shiny.
You could revisit the oft-discussed contrast between happiness and joy. I like the idea that whereas the opposite of happiness is sadness or sorrow, the opposite of joy is anxiety, worry or fear.
To say that with the birth of Jesus joy entered the world is to say that when Jesus entered the world, those who cradle the Christ child in their arms, and carry him in their hearts, are liberated from anxiety. And in the absence of anxiety and worry, how can one not face each day with unmitigated joy?
A wise person once said to me, “Joy is what’s left over when fear and anxiety are removed.” (Read more . . .)
Sitting in my back yard with the warmth of the sun, the caress of gentle breezes, the smell of fresh-cut grass, rustling leaves. I know that I am blessed.– it’s ALL of it! I’m enjoying the wonderful peace that comes with feeling connected with something much bigger than I. I care about these spirits, whether they be divine, human, or natural. And I know that they care about me. This is the feeling of being blessed.
I’m reliving the ceremony of “Commissioning of the Search Committee”. That’s what our U.C.C. procedures manual calls it. To have the nine members standing in a circle and then to have the rest of us, moving forward and doing a “laying on of hands” was especially moving. They have the challenging, difficult and demanding task ahead of them. One person shared with me, “What a wonderful blessing that was!” I started to correct her…”commissioning” not “blessing”. But as I thought of it, the more I accepted what she said.
Blessings are an important part of Judaism, Christianity, and every religious tradition (Read more . . .)
As some of you know, I was recently away for a United Church of Christ Pension Board Meeting. I am part of a group who are “annuitant visitors.” We call annually on U.C.C. clergy who are retired. I have now 40 on my list.
As I was sitting with a number of other clergy, we figured that, added together, we represented about 1000 years of parish ministry. We got started sharing what we learned or didn’t learn until it was too late, and how we paid for our mistakes and lack of understanding.
We started to tick off a list of stuff we have to deal with every day that we wished we had learned in seminary. Theological education is important, but most of what we need to know on a daily basis in parish ministry isn’t offered on your typical seminary campus. (Read more . . .)