I have a lectionary essay on the gospel text for February 5, over at Journey with Jesus.
Leading the Small Church
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
One of the joys in my life is being a “Matriarch” AKA “Mentor of Clergywomen Everywhere.”
Over at RevGalBlogPals, I and a number of other matriarchs respond to a classic question — what to do when parishioners make snide comments in the presence of others?
Unfortunately, it is a very common scenario for women in ministry. And what a shame! I know for a fact that clergywomen are just doing their best at a very hard job which is uniquely undervalued.
Click to read what I and the other matriarchs suggest. What would YOU suggest?
If you’ve ever been the person making the snide comment, I would love to hear about that experience too! What were you thinking?
Please pass along this resource to any women pastors you know. She probably would benefit from belonging to RevGals!
Are you looking for ways to “walk with Jesus” during this season of Lent? I invite you to check out the videos produced by Eran Frenkel in Jerusalem. His most recent video takes us through the Western Wall Tunnels. This is a place I wasn’t able to see on my pilgrimage, and I so enjoyed “being there” virtually.
Ashes & Valentines collide this year, which remind me of a book our kids loved when they were little: “Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch. This picture book revolves around a song, which a parent sings to their child:
“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
as long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.”
The bottom line is this: love may be endless, but life is not. It’s a good song for the collision of ashes and valentines. What an appropriate reminder to tell the people we love that our love is endless. “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always.” At the same time, we are reminded to meditate on the fact that everything –including we ourselves –will some day die. Ashes to ashes. “As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”
The two events create a certain tension. What dies and what lasts forever? [Read more…] about Ashes & Valentines
Over the holiday weekend, my husband and I went on a road trip into the Shenandoah. We’ve explored Staunton before, so this time we headed a bit further south, to Lexington. Those thirty extra miles made a huge difference, dropping us from northern Virginia into southern Virginia. Or perhaps it was the timing of our visit.
Uppermost in our mind was the federal holiday, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. But it turns out that the Lexington area simultaneously celebrates a state holiday called Lee/Jackson Day. We were clued in by seeing a group of people marching and waving flags — the battle flags of the Confederacy. It was a disturbing sight.
The corner where they were marching happens to be the site of the Lexington Presbyterian Church. (Being church geeks we slow down and read the sign of every church we pass.)
On Sunday we returned to that corner to worship at that church. The congregation is obviously a strong institution doing many things right. The greeter and other worshipers gave us a warm, but not obnoxious, welcome. The music featured a gorgeous organ. The texts for the day were taken from the lectionary, and the preacher had a fine sermon based on the passages from Isaiah and First Corinthians.
But something basic was missing. During the service, not a mention was made about either holiday, or what they mean. Perhaps living with institutions like Virginia Military Institute and Washington Lee University inure a person to certain historic realities. Whereas I was still catching up with some basic facts. I hadn’t realized, for instance, that Lexington was the burial place of Stonewall Jackson, or that Robert E. Lee had actually served as President of Washington Lee University. (DUH. I know.)
Still, if I were a visitor with no ties to the Presbyterian church, I would assume that the church didn’t say anything about the matter of racial equality because it has nothing to say, even on the confluence of these historic days. That grieves me.
Please, my preaching friends, let’s take time to state the obvious. Because to too many people — even fellow Christians — certain things are no longer obvious.
As Christians, we stand against racial injustice, in its historic forms, and in its present forms. We stand with Jesus for the full equality of all humans. Racial inequality is sin.
As church leaders, the question is: How does that stand drive our church’s mission? The answer will depend on context. I’ve never pastored a church in the South, so perhaps I’m missing some foundational fact. But it seems to me that when you stand in a place that waves confederate battle flags on Saturday, the church needs to have a clear message against racial injustice on Sunday.