• Outlook Features 1 day ago

    Reclaiming Thanksgiving Day

    Reclaiming Thanksgiving Day

    by Michael Parker
    Of all the American holidays rooted in a Christian tradition, Thanksgiving has been the least corrupted by commercialism. Yet, because of the way it has evolved over time, the origins and original meaning of Thanksgiving have been largely obscured or hopelessly distorted. Contrary to popular belief, the first Thanksgiving was not started by the Pilgrims in 1621 and did not grow out of the tradition of the harvest festival. Thanksgiving Day, historians are agreed, is rooted in the English Reformation. In the early 16th century in England, there were 95… continue reading...
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  • Outpost Blog 2 days ago

    Celebrating Sabbath … anyway

    Celebrating Sabbath … anyway

    by Kathryn Lester-Bacon
    My life before 2010: attend lecture, take notes, read, attend discussion group, pretend I understood the reading, take quiz, stress over exam, agonize over paper, submit everything, CELEBRATE AND SLEEP FOR DAYS. Next semester: repeat. I repeated this pattern throughout college and seminary. In a yearlong CPE residency, the pattern was modified, yet the process flowed the same way. One task replaced another until I arrived at the endpoint of a school holiday or CPE final evaluation, upon which great shouts of relief were heard throughout the land. Even when… continue reading...
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  • Editorials 3 days ago

    Why are we surprised?

    Why are we surprised?

    by John Wimberly
    What is surprising about the tragedy in Ferguson is that we are surprised. Week after week, we see stories and statistics that reveal deeply rooted systemic racism in our nation. A few examples: When it comes to marijuana, a recent study demonstrated that it is used at similar levels in the white and African American communities. However, the arrests for marijuana use are as much as 10 times higher for African Americans than whites in some large cities such as Chicago and New York. If current trends continue, one in… continue reading...
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Reclaiming Thanksgiving Day

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 10.14.21 AM

Of all the American holidays rooted in a Christian tradition, Thanksgiving has been the least corrupted by commercialism. Yet, because of the way it has evolved over time, the origins and original meaning of Thanksgiving have been largely obscured or hopelessly distorted. Contrary to popular belief, the first Thanksgiving was not started by the Pilgrims in 1621 and did not grow out of the tradition of the harvest festival. Thanksgiving Day, historians are agreed, is rooted in the English Reformation. In the early 16th century in England, there were 95 religious holidays in addition to the regular Sabbath worship days. The religious reforms instituted by Henry VIII in 1536 limited this number to 27 a year. Later, the Puritans took the reform of religious holidays a step further. They eliminated them – all of them! Looking askance at the Christological cycle from Advent to Easter and the proliferation of saints’ days throughout the year, the Puritans dismissed these celebrations as … [Read more...]

Statement from the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns

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The Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns expresses deep concern and holy outrage at the verdict given in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown. We lament that justice was denied for Michael Brown, his family, and the citizens of the U.S., especially people of color. A justice system that fails to indict a white officer standing trial for killing an unarmed 18-year-old black youth perpetuates the sin of racism in a society that fails to affirm that black lives matter. We pray for courage for the church, that we might not only confess our complicity in a system that makes such a verdict possible, but that we might be a prophetic witness through a loud and clear voice to the world of the just love and peace of Jesus Christ. We pray for the family and friends of Michael Brown, who suffer not only the failure of our justice system, but also the loss of their beloved. We pray for all victims of systemic racial injustice, recognizing God’s mandate to us to raise our … [Read more...]

Ferguson pastors urge peace after grand jury doesn’t indict

ST. LOUIS (RNS) Like so many others Monday (Nov. 24) night, the congregants at West Side Missionary Baptist Church were glued to televisions as a grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case was announced. One woman sobbed in her chair as she learned that police Officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted in the fatal shooting. Then, with the press conference far from over, the church’s television went dark. And the congregants at the church turned instead to prayer and preaching. Within seconds, the Rev. Starsky Wilson was at the pulpit, calling for “contrary folk.” “Thank God for people who go against the teachings of the church,” Wilson said, while referencing those who had told the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. that he was moving too fast on civil rights issues. “Thank God for contrary young people. “To be contrary is to say we’ve had enough.” Wilson was named by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon as a co-chair of the 16-member Ferguson Commission to look for a way forward … [Read more...]

Prayer following the grand jury decision in Ferguson: From Presbyterian Disaster Assistance

At the invitation of the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance has been providing pastoral support to the church leadership in the community.news A prayer following the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri, November 2014 God our Shelter, hold us under the shelter of your wings as we bow before you in grief and pain for the brokenness of our world. Some years we wonder why the Advent texts that prepare us for your Coming One begin with judgment, not with hope. Not this year.  This year, we struggle with juries and justice and judgment-- What is right? What is wrong? What is fair? What can we do, with such fear and anger and longing, that can bind us together, rather than further tear apart the fabric of our common life? We are all too aware of our flawed humanity, and we need the hope of Advent: the hope that once again, as long ago, You may show up among us in our cities, our neighbors, and ourselves-- in the midst of civic unrest … [Read more...]

Celebrating Sabbath … anyway

Kathryn Lester Bacon

My life before 2010: attend lecture, take notes, read, attend discussion group, pretend I understood the reading, take quiz, stress over exam, agonize over paper, submit everything, CELEBRATE AND SLEEP FOR DAYS. Next semester: repeat. I repeated this pattern throughout college and seminary. In a yearlong CPE residency, the pattern was modified, yet the process flowed the same way. One task replaced another until I arrived at the endpoint of a school holiday or CPE final evaluation, upon which great shouts of relief were heard throughout the land. Even when things were stressful, there was an end goal. I would know when I was finished. I would know when it was time to relax and savor life again. Then I transitioned from an academic calendar to full-time ministry. Suddenly, all familiar patterns of progress were erased. There was always more to do. Weekends disappeared. Sabbaths were gnawed away. No matter what I did, something else still needed to be done — and I was always … [Read more...]

In defense of Black Friday

Davenport, Derek

Guest commentary by Derek R. Davenport Black Friday is coming. It comes earlier each year. This year, some retailers are starting their sales on Wednesday. I think that’s a good thing. Of course, with Black Friday come the complaints. We bemoan the loss of Thanksgiving with family. We lament the encroaching of winter holidays and shopping into our November celebrations. We resolve to stand up against the tyranny of commercialism. Then, when no one’s looking, we go shopping. I have come to appreciate Black Friday, and even believe it’s a particularly good thing for us as a society. Sure, the shopping and frivolous spending are of limited value, but Black Friday could also represent something else: an opportunity. It doesn’t take long to research the impact of the winter holidays on society. As a pastor, that means Christmas for me. However you want to define the holiday season, charities report that they receive more support during December than any other time of the year. … [Read more...]