Meanwhile, Instead, Anyway: Christmas, the Great Conjunction

My high school English teacher--the one who showed me the wonders of eliminating 'to-be' verbs in favor of stronger action words, and the one who taught me to read for layers of meaning beyond the surface of the page--changed my life in the way teachers do sometimes. Just a few small nudges here and there, and the world of words opened to me in a whole new way. I've run into her a few times since high school, and she sent me a lovely flower arrangement on the day of my ordination. She was 'that' … [Read more...]

Let it Go: What Church Can and Can’t Be at Christmas

Here's what I did NOT need to see: that article from "Christianity Today" about how many Americans will go to church for Christmas.The answer? Everybody. ALL THE PEOPLE. They will come from the city and country, from hill and holler; the believing and the skeptical, and happy and the heartbroken, the long-lost and the never-known... It's Christmas and THEY ARE COMING. Prepare the overflow seating...These publications hit us all year long with the depressing 'mainline decline' … [Read more...]

Because The World is Hungry

This was Sunday's sermon for World Communion Sunday. As always, the table was filled with different kinds of bread from all over the world. I moved around the table during the sermon and between each story, broke a few pieces of the bread. I will answer now a question you are going to have later--yes, I broke some graham crackers too. ***In the weeks following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, international aid groups hit the ground with food, water and medical supplies. But the … [Read more...]

In Church, At Christmas Time

It's Christmas week, and you know what that means--re-runs! I wrote this piece last year, but as our staff puts final touches on the Christmas Eve services for tomorrow, I am reminded, all over again, that the sacred community bears gifts of miraculous proportions. I'm sharing this again today, with great thanksgiving for all the people who 'do' church, and who make Christmas happen for others. Blessings...The phone is ringing off the hook,The sanctuary’s hard to book.It's p … [Read more...]

In Season

It's fixin to be June in Phoenix. Lord help us...Some of you know that I’m kind of a snob about tomatoes. I mean, I LOVE tomatoes…But by ‘tomato,’ I do not mean those things that come out of a California hot house in January. That is NOT a tomato.But I can rhapsodize about a real tomato all day long—and the perfect BLT that I make when, on the rarest of occasions, I can lay hands on an actual tomato in the desert. My 4-year-old daughter loves tomatoes too. In fact, she frequently asks for … [Read more...]

A Song and a Prayer: The Holy Week Playlist

Throughout the season of Advent,  Christmas music (for better or worse) blares at us everywhere we go. That means, for those of us who preach/lead worship/make church happen, we stay in a nearly constant state of season-mindfulness. Whether we like it or not. No matter where we are or what we are doing, we cannot escape the fact that Christmas is coming.The season of Lent has not quite seeped into secular culture in the same saturating way. Where is the soundtrack for Holy Week? How are we to … [Read more...]

Go and See

Advent and Christmas might be the most hectic time in the church year. But it can also be the fullest and most blessed. All the serving and sharing, the singing and decorating, the gathering and singing some more...it all leads up to something that feels almost magical, as we gather in a candle-lit, greened up sanctuary on Christmas Eve.Or i should say, sanctuaries. Because part of the magic of that sacred gathering is knowing that, in sanctuaries all over the world, others gather to sing … [Read more...]

What We Never Knew We Needed

Guest Post: Rev. Andrew Shepherd is Pastoral Resident at Foothills Christian Church in Phoenix. He also likes to make beer, but is keeping his day job for now.What are you waiting for?I still remember my first Kindle. It was a 21st birthday gift from my mother. When I first opened it, I didn’t really know what it was. The box was covered with the words “Amazon,” and it was printed with reviews extolling this product as “revolutionary.” It didn’t take me very long to agree with them (nor … [Read more...]

Week 2, Day 2: Magnificat

Mary's was the original Christmas carol. She is the reason that we sing our way through the season, the reason we can muster a song of joy in December, despite whatever cold, gray, snow or sleet might otherwise prevail. (Well, not at my house--70 and sunny here in AZ today, and yet the desert folks are dragging out mittens and making chili...)Thanks to Mary's song of praise, we enjoy a whole broad spectrum of songs in this season that help us to worship, to celebrate, to engage the gospel in … [Read more...]


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