What a treat to hear U2 in concert! I’ve blogged about my fandom before, so this time I’ll just share the set list plus a few pics.
When I talk to groups about my memoir, one of the topics I address is the role of outrage in the Christian life. After I was raped at gunpoint I was nearly crippled by fear, terror, and fury. The world I lived in seemed outrageous to me. It’s not surprising that most Christians shy away from experiencing, or expressing, outrage and other strong emotions. After all, these emotions are painful to experience and dangerous to express. [Read more…] about The Role of Outrage in the Christian Life
Do you enjoy silence? My spirit is happier when I have the chance to immerse myself in the quiet of a prayerful place.
This week I was on silent retreat at Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, Virginia, about an hour’s drive from my home. I used to come here regularly — during the decade I served Poolesville Presbyterian Church (2002-11). I used my continuing education funds and time. But instead of working on another degree, I would simply occupy a quiet room in a place fueled by the rhythm of monastic prayer.
More than five years ago, I quit my job as pastor in order to focus all my energies on writing. I found it challenging not to be employed. I created some sources of income: becoming an Air BnB host, supply preaching, and doing administrative work. Some of that activity was in response to financial need, but some was my strict sense of needing to pay my own way, even in our marriage.
One of the “extras” I cut from my life were retreats at the monastery. I told myself I could write in my own study and indulge in silence all day long if I liked. Still, it’s not exactly the same. There is something unique about coming to a place set apart and saturated in prayer. That sense of consecration is what draws people like myself, who come to make a retreat.
Last September I began as the pastor at Hermon Presbyterian Church. With continuing education funds once again available, I was happy to return to the Abbey. As always, I had a list of projects to work on and a stack of books to read. But I also spent hours each day wandering in beauty, sitting in chapel, or simply staring out the window. As a bonus — I happened to be here for the one significant snowfall of the year. There is no prettier place to be when the world is hushed by snow.
Have you ever wished you had the right book on your shelf, something solid and helpful you could read and pass along?
That book is finally here! It is destined to become a classic.
Carol Howard Merritt’s book is called: Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God After Experiencing a Hurtful Church.
I am privileged to call Carol a friend. We labored together in a writing group, and I know firsthand that she has mastered her craft. What’s more, she has wisdom, theological depth and ministry experience. I believe her book will help many, so I was thrilled to write an endorsement:
Churches have a unique tendency to become cluttered, as I have blogged about before. But never underestimate the power of energetic volunteers!
The goals: 1) make items accessible;
2) create dedicated space for pulpit robe and worship materials.
Clutter-free spaces communicate hospitality. The hotel industry understands this. Unfortunately, many churches don’t.
I’m on my way to a “Clean Up Day” at my church. I’m still quite new there — since Labor Day — and the church basement is in reasonably good shape. Still, it’s always good to sift through the flotsam and jetsam. Cleaning up is a good way to learn the church’s history, both formal and informal. I’ll take some “before” pictures of closets, although I expect it will be weeks before I have “after” pictures.
Meanwhile, I’ll repost an article I wrote a few years ago — to draw the connection between clutter and hospitality in church settings, and why I prioritize uncluttering. [Read more…] about Church Clutter