Ask the Thoughtful Pastor: What about Christmas gifts?

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: Why is your feeling about gift-giving at Christmas time? Have you found that your feelings toward gift giving at Christmas has changed over the years? In my younger, more black and white days, days of fervency for Jesus and accuracy of the message, I had real problems with the intermingling of the [Read More…]

A Time to Feast and a Time to Fast: Ash Wednesday Approaches

If every day were Christmas, we’d be miserable.  We’d be stuffed, bored, broke and fractious.  Irritations would win the day and gloom and unfulfilled expectations would slather everyone with despondency. Adults would desperately turn to TV, youth and teens to video games, as a way to disconnect from person-to-person contact.  Children, surrounded by piles of [Read More…]

Ask Thoughtful Pastor: "Twas the Day After Christmas"

Note from The Thoughtful Pastor: I wrote this last year, and thought it might be helpful advice again. My newspaper column runs on Christmas Day this year, so hold these thoughts until then–or until you need them! ‘Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house all the creatures were bloated, down to the last [Read More…]

Ritual and Resistance: Worship Suggestions #UMC

” . . . ritual isn’t about expressing religious commitment at all, but about doing something in a way that marks the moment as different from the everyday and forces you to see it as important.”  That quote came from an article about “Religion without God” that speaks of a growing movement of atheists to [Read More…]

"Twas The Day After Christmas

‘Twas the day after Christmas and all through the house all the creatures were bloated, down to the last mouse. The boxes were scattered, empty and bare in hopes that the trash man soon would be there. The children were fighting over stuff in their beds while visions of escape danced in their heads. And [Read More…]

Denton Mystery Worship Eleven: Reflections on The Messiah and Methodism

[Note: I am working on assignment for the Denton Record Chronicle to visit different places of worship weekly and write about my experiences. Those columns can be found here. Full disclosure: I am affiliated with the church described below and both know and am known by many. Several greeted me saying, “It’s our turn to [Read More…]

Deliver Me From Temptation

In dismay, I looked at the grocery total I had run up at Trader Joe’s and said, “I only came in here for a few things.” The checker responded, “Welcome to the number one impulse buy store in the nation.” Yeah, no kidding. How does anyone keep their heads above the financial waters this time [Read More…]

Denton Mystery Worship Nine: Incense, Bells, Exclusion, and the Economy

“Advent is not Christmas. We want the celebration of the day without the hard work of preparation.” With these words, the Rev. Kathryn Thompson, Rector, began her first Sunday in Advent message at the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation in Lewisville Texas. Car trouble delayed our arrival, so the service had already begun by the [Read More…]

Promiscuous Love

This time of year when the acorns and pecans cover sidewalks liberally here in North Texas, I start thinking about how nature, with its powerful urge to reproduce itself, shows us much about the nature of God’s love. There is so much of it that we can trample on it and still have plenty left [Read More…]

A Stress Free Christmas: Five Ways to Keep Santa in the Season

Happy holiday time has arrived. Way too many folks suffer unnecessary stress during this time, mainly because of a lack of focus on the really important center, which is, of course, Santa, gifts, family and fun. However, we all face multiple distractions which dilute the reasons for the season. So, below, you will five suggestions [Read More…]