About Michelle Van Loon

Introducing: Long Days Of Small Things

When writer-friend Catherine McNeil told me she was writing about the spiritual formation embedded in the baby-toddler-preschooler years, I was anxious to read what she had to say. I well remember discovering that the discipleship model I followed before I had children (hours of uninterrupted Bible study, reading, prayer, and service to others) needed an overhaul when my children came along. First, I needed to exorcise the notion of "uninterrupted" from my thinking. Second, I needed to assign … [Read more...]

It’s Still Easter: One Thing To Learn, One To Taste

It's the Wednesday after Easter. All the decent candy (chocolate bunnies and Starburst jelly beans) marked 60% off is gone from the clearance section at Walgreens.The candy may be gone, but it's still Easter on the liturgical church calendar. The fifty-day Easter season mirrors the fifty days between Passover and Shavuot in the Jewish festal calendar. It is in this space that you can most clearly see the relationship between the two calendars.I’ve discovered many people are i … [Read more...]

Is It Possible To Think For Ourselves AND Pursue Spiritual Community?

At one end of the spectrum, we have the language of the Benedict Option, which includes a call to nurture a comprehensive Christian worldview in the greenhouse of a shared, committed faith community.At the other end of the spectrum, we have encouragement for believers to think for themselves a la the Bereans named in Acts 17:11. Musician Steve Taylor’s 1983 satire, I Want To Be A Clone, sends up the fear driving some forms of Christian indoctrination: “They told me that I’d fall away/unless I … [Read more...]

Review: Deliberate Acts of Kindness

What do the person running the church nursery, the senior running the register at the local St. Vincent de Paul thrift store, and the person unloading canned goods at a food pantry all have in common?They are all volunteers, drawn into service by a desire to make a difference in someone else's life. The motivation may have a spiritual component to it ("God had done so much for me, I want to use my time and talents to pass on his love"). It may flow out of a wish to pay it forward, the "it" … [Read more...]

Yes, Seders Are For Christians*

Yes, Seders are for Christians. The asterisk in the title aboveLast week's guest opinion piece written by Rabbi Yehiel Poupko and Rabbi David Sandmel entitled "Jesus Didn't Eat A Seder Meal" was published on the Christianity Today website as a pushback against the appropriation of Passover Seders by a growing number in the Christian community. The two rabbis pointed out that Passover was given to the Jews, and all others should cease and desist.A year ago, I interviewed Reform rabbi Evan … [Read more...]

Passover: One Thing To Try, One Thing To Taste

Passover is largely about Egypt; Easter is largely about Passover. - Rabbi Ismar SchorschTo Try:Each year Jewish families retell and experience anew the Exodus through the Seder. From the Hebrew word meaning “order,” the Seder is a formal festival meal that has an entirely different focus and purpose than any other meal of the year. The Seder is to be held on the first night of the Passover observance - this year, on Monday evening, April 10th. (The Feast of Unleavened Bread c … [Read more...]

When A Parent Is “Left Behind”

There has been much written about the exodus of Millennials from the Church. But I haven’t seen much discussion about the effect of that exodus on those they’ve left behind; specifically, the parents who sought to pass on their faith to their children both at home and via involvement with their local church.This was highlighted for me when I was in what I thought was a casual conversation with a couple of other veteran moms after a church service one Sunday. We began chatting about the cha … [Read more...]