• Editorials 21 hours ago

    Swords, candles, doves and more

    Swords, candles, doves and more

    by Jill Duffield
    Colored sand. Doves. Unity candles. Swords. Flower petals. Satin pillows. Screaming young children. Bagpipes. String quartets. CD players. Complicated seating charts. Converse tennis shoes and tuxedos. Fainting groomsmen. Microphones inadvertently left live that pick up conversations more fitting for the honeymoon suite than the sanctuary. All of this and more I have experienced while presiding at weddings. I used to say in a snobbish tone, “I much prefer funerals to weddings.” Funerals are about worship. Weddings, I would scoff, are about pageantry. I no longer ascribe to this false dichotomy.… continue reading...
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  • Outpost Blog 2 days ago

    My time in prison

    My time in prison

    by Chris Currie
    I was in prison, and you visited me. – Matthew 25:36 “When I walk into the prison, a burden is lifted from my shoulders. I am freed from the problems and pressures of life.” So said one of my colleagues and fellow prison chaplains in a recent conversation. And I understood exactly what he was saying. I do not long to be behind bars or to be a prisoner, but I miss my time in prison. For nearly three years, I served approximately 10 hours a week as a Presbyterian/Church… continue reading...
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  • Looking into the lectionary 5 days ago

    14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Proper 9 – July 5, 2015

    14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Proper 9 – July 5, 2015

    by Jill Duffield
    2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10, Psalm 48, 2 Corinthians 12:2-10, Mark 6:1-13 These two stories, while not parables in the traditional sense, are parables for ministry when you put them together. These two stories should be read frequently by followers of Jesus Christ and perhaps by pastors in particular. These two stories – one of Jesus’ rejection by those who knew him best and one of instructions for those who would do Jesus’ work – have much to offer us as we go on the Way. In Mark, Jesus’ unwelcomed visit… continue reading...
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Louisville’s historic ‘Whiskey Row’ burns next to PC(USA) Center

LOUISVILLE (PNS) The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) headquarters suffered minor water and smoke damage in a July 6 three-building fire that consumed half of a historic block in downtown Louisville. “Whiskey Row,” so named because the block of buildings dating from the late 1800s was home to over 15 whiskey-related businesses, is part of Louisville’s downtown renewal plan. The three damaged buildings—located at 111, 113 and 115 West Main Street—are owned by Main Street Revitalization and were in various phases of reconstruction. No businesses were currently operating in the buildings. PC(USA) staff were notified of the fire at 4:30 p.m. Monday. The buildings are across Washington Street from the PC(USA) headquarters. Fire crews could be seen battling the blaze from south-facing headquarters’ offices. An evacuation order was given to PC(USA) staff at 5:15 p.m., and the building closed at 5:30 p.m. The smell of smoke was heavy in the building, especially in the stairwells and … [Read more...]

Prague’s Bethlehem Chapel: The original Husuv Dum (HusFest 2015)

Bethlehem Chapel - Memorial Bell

July 2015 marks the 600 year anniversary of the martyrdom of Jan Hus.  This week, writer Jim Nedelka offers exclusive reflections for the Outlook on the spiritual and cultural events of HusFest 2015 in Prague. PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC – It is the afternoon of the first Friday in July ahead of a celebratory weekend marking the importance of the Czech people in the history of the Protestant Reformation, if not the entirety of Christianity itself. It is the eve of commemorating that day 600 years ago – July 6, 1415 – when the priest, Jan Hus, was burned at the stake for committing six acts of what were deemed religious heresy. Huge kiosks throughout this historic capital city, once the seat of The Holy Roman Empire, are emblazoned with posters trumpeting Husovské slavnosti 2015 (which translates into English as HusFest 2015,) a two-day celebration of the fully exonerated Jan Hus. In this nation where upwards of 80 percent of the population considers itself to be agnostic or atheistic, … [Read more...]

Tagged With: JanHus

Swords, candles, doves and more

Jill Duffield

Colored sand. Doves. Unity candles. Swords. Flower petals. Satin pillows. Screaming young children. Bagpipes. String quartets. CD players. Complicated seating charts. Converse tennis shoes and tuxedos. Fainting groomsmen. Microphones inadvertently left live that pick up conversations more fitting for the honeymoon suite than the sanctuary. All of this and more I have experienced while presiding at weddings. I used to say in a snobbish tone, “I much prefer funerals to weddings.” Funerals are about worship. Weddings, I would scoff, are about pageantry. I no longer ascribe to this false dichotomy. I have finally come to a place where I view weddings as rich opportunities for ministry. I have come to see exchanges about music, animals, personalized vows, photographers, videographers and poetry readings as opportunities to educate ever so gently about worship and theology, covenant and compromise, adiaphora and essentials. I no longer care what brings couples to me or what they don’t … [Read more...]

PC(USA) leaders applaud decision to reopen U.S. Embassy in Cuba

LOUISVILLE (PNS) President Obama’s announcement last week of re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba is welcome news to a number of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) leaders. However, many say the re-opening of embassies in each country is only the beginning of a long road to normalizing relations. The Obama administration has launched several initiatives in the past year aimed at improving relations between the two countries, including relaxing travel restrictions. “All Americans, whether North or South, can breathe a sigh of relief at this sign of healing. We Presbyterians can rejoice in the opening of the embassies as the fulfillment of nearly 50 years of prayers and policy,” said Dean Lewis, executive secretary of the Presbyterian Cuba Connection in Medanales, New Mexico. “God and geography made us neighbors; now politics makes us friends again after a half-century feud.” Lewis said there are still many miles to go before normal relations between the U.S. and Cuba can … [Read more...]

Deceased (from the July 6, 2015 issue)

Jeffrey Ray Allen, 62, Nov. 18, Glendora, N.J. Emily B. Barker, 68, Nov. 5, Columbia, Tenn. Coleman B. Brown, 80, Nov. 14, Hamilton, N.Y. William Martin Hager, 74, Jan. 29, Dunedin, Fla. Edward D. Lee, 66, March 9, Morgan Hill, Calif. Edwin F. Shinn Jr., 80, Nov. 24, Kailua-Kona, Hawaii Walter J. Ungerer, 78, Dec. 16, Kokomo, Ind. Gary L. Warren, 67, Dec. 22, Bellevue, Neb. Gerald S. Wise, 73, Feb. 18, Cape Coral, Fla. … [Read more...]

A redeemer in Zion (August 2, 2015)

James Brashler

UNIFORM LESSON FOR AUGUST 2, 2015 Scripture passage and lesson focus: Isaiah 59:15b-21 Most biblical scholars agree that the book of Isaiah was written over a long period of time. The first stage (primarily chapters 1-39) was composed in the 8th century B.C. before Judah was taken into exile in Babylon. The second major component of this beloved prophetic book (chapters 40-55) was written after 722 B.C., when the chosen people experienced a transformative exile that in some ways became a rebirth pointing toward their new identity. The third and final section of Isaiah (chapters 56-66) addressed the covenant people in the difficult circumstances they faced after many of the people had returned to Judea after 539 B.C. Encouraged by the prophetic vision that the temple rebuilt in Jerusalem would be “a house of prayer for all peoples” including foreigners and eunuchs “who love the name of the Lord” and “hold fast my covenant” (Isaiah 56:6-7), the returned exiles hoped for a rebirth … [Read more...]