For Lent, I took on a Photo-a-Day challenge. I did really well the first half of Lent, then mostly fell off the bandwagon–but I still enjoyed the process. Here are a few of my favorites, the word that inspired the photo, and reflections or quotes I posted along with each:
“We enter Lent to enter our own earth, to make a pilgrimage into our own terrain. We move into this season to look at our life anew, to consider what has formed us, where we have come from, what we are carrying within us. Lent invites us to look at the layers that inhabit us wherever we go: the intricate strata made up of our stories and memories as well as our imaginings and dreams. This season invites us to notice what in our life feels fallow or empty, where there is growth and greenness, what sources of sustenance lie within us, where we find our inner earth crumbling and giving way to reveal something new.” — Jan Richardson
My last post like this was in July of 2014. Wow. I need to get caught up.
1. Death Cab for Cutie – Kintsugi (2015)
This album first came to my attention because of its title. Kintsugi is a Japanese art form that involves repairing broken pottery or ceramics with precious metals. I used this as an illustration in a sermon I preached on the theme of brokenness.
It took me almost 2 months after that first mention to actually listen to the album. And I dig it. I’ve always loved smatterings of Death Cab for Cutie‘s work, but have never really delved into a single album. This one is dark in places, but that appeals to my moody side. I particularly like the track “You’ve Haunted Me All My Life.” One article I read said that song was about “the one that got away,” but to my ears, it sounds an awful lot like it’s about drugs and addiction.
This sermon was preached at Centenary United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Sunday, March 29, 2015 (Lent 5, or Palm/Passion Sunday). The text was Philippians 2:5-11.
“Where the Way Leads” by Jan Richardson
Pastors’ families tend to have weird traditions no one else has. A few examples from my own childhood: my family learned to negotiate my dad’s busy Christmas Eve schedule by eating dinner in his office in between the 6:00 service and the 8:00 service; growing up, I thought everyone spent a week of their summer at Lake Junaluska hanging out with a bunch of other pastors during Annual Conference; and I have more than once participated in the lighting of the family Advent wreath via Skype while away at college.
There is one weird tradition that might be unique to this particular pastor’s family. My dad and I share a love of musical theater, and so we usually watch the film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar during Holy Week. My mom and siblings do not always join us. Jesus Christ Superstar has a pretty goofy re-imagining of Palm Sunday. In it, crowds gather to wave palms like we hear in the Bible, but instead of just saying, “Hosanna!”—this is a rock opera, after all—they sing, “Hosanna, hey, sanna, sanna, sanna, ho!”
There’s that word, “Hosanna.” We’ve already sung it several times this morning. Our hymns and Jesus Christ Superstar reinforce the sense that it kind of means, “Yay!” But that’s not what the word “Hosanna” means. It actually means “Save us.”
Posted in Sermons
This sermon was preached at Duke University Chapel in Durham, NC on Sunday, March 15, 2015 (Lent 4). The texts were Numbers 21:4-9 and John 3:14-21.
In October of 1991, Glenn Summerford tried to kill his wife. The weapon was not a gun or a knife or Summerford’s hands; instead, it was a poisonous snake.
You see, Glenn Summerford was the pastor of the Church of God with Signs Following, and the Church of God with Signs Following was a snake handling church. Snake handlers take a literal interpretation of a passage in Mark 16 that says believers can pick up snakes and drink poison without being harmed.
Last week, my grandparents asked what I was preaching on this Sunday. When I replied, “Snake handling,” there a shocked silence, followed by my grandmother’s astute question, “Will there be a demonstration?”
Posted in Sermons
I got a fancy camera for Christmas. Determined not to be that person who has a nice camera and never takes it out of auto, I signed up for a photography class. What it taught me is that I’m going to have to practice a lot before I can get the results I want. So I’ve taken up a photo-a-day challenge. I headed over to fatmumslim, whose daily photo challenges are really for Instagram, but I figured they’d do just as well for my purposes. Here were the prompts for this week:
In the last few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to share a few conversations about ministry in spaces more public than the usual coffeeshop discussions and back room clergy meetings. I thought I’d share two of those here.
1. Below you’ll find a video of a program I did with the Rev. Dr. James C. Howell, senior pastor of Myers Park United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and, incidentally, my dad. We had put together a cross-generational conversation on where the church has been and where the church is going for an event at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte back in the fall, and we reprised that conversation (or a version of it, anyway) at his church. We cover everything from worship to missions to ethics to church buildings and more. I’m eager to hear your thoughts on some of the questions we explore!
This sermon was preached at Centenary United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem, NC on Sunday, January 18, 2015, the day before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The text was 1 Samuel 3:1-11.
The new movie Selma portrays the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. not just as a civil rights leader but as a man with a calling from God. Dr. King is remembered today as a political figure and an activist, but the creators of Selma remind us that he was also a pastor, a man of God.