• Outlook Features 5 mins ago

    A prayer for pastors on Easter

    by Brian McLaren
    Dear Lord, I pray for all the pastors today Who will feel enormous pressure to have their sermon Match the greatness of the subject And will surely feel they have failed. (I pray even more for those who think they have succeeded.” Help them to know that it is enough Simply and faithfully to tell the story Of women in dawn hush … Of men running half-believing … Of rolled stones and folded grave-clothes … Of a supposed gardener saying the name of a crying woman … Of sad walkers… continue reading...
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  • Outpost Blog 1 day ago

    A Lenten reflection on burden bearing

    A Lenten reflection on burden bearing

    Holy Week approaches, a week I love for the story it tells and how it enacts the story – with bread and wine on Maundy Thursday, with candles extinguished on Good Friday, with Scripture readings on Holy Saturday, and, on Easter, with declarations of “Christ is risen indeed!” Though Holy Week's retelling of Jesus’ betrayal, death and resurrection enchants me, I often feel distant from its meaning.  I've struggled over the years to feel the power of Christ's death in a personal way.  This Holy Week, after nearly six months… continue reading...
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  • Outlook Reporting 1 day ago

    The way to the watering hole: Syria-Lebanon Mission Network keynote

    The way to the watering hole: Syria-Lebanon Mission Network keynote

    by Janet DeVries
    Janet DeVries presented this essay on April 4, 2014, as keynote for Syria-Lebanon Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).   I live in a world I did not see coming.  When I grew up in the 1950s, the toughest issues were ones of race.  During those years, the church my father served in Washington desegregated and my experience of the church was that it would walk the walk and not just talk the talk.  Eugene Carson Blake marched on the amusement park in Baltimore, arm-in-arm with other national and… continue reading...
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A prayer for pastors on Easter

Dear Lord, I pray for all the pastors today Who will feel enormous pressure to have their sermon Match the greatness of the subject And will surely feel they have failed. (I pray even more for those who think they have succeeded.” Help them to know that it is enough Simply and faithfully to tell the story Of women in dawn hush … Of men running half-believing … Of rolled stones and folded grave-clothes … Of a supposed gardener saying the name of a crying woman … Of sad walkers encountering a stranger on the road home … Of an empty tomb and overflowing hearts. Give them the wisdom to know that sincere humility and awe Surpass all homiletic flourish On this day of mysterious hope beyond all words. Make them less conscious of their responsibility to preach, And more confident of the Risen Christ Whose presence trumps all efforts to proclaim it. Considering all the Easter choirs who will sing beautifully, and those who won’t, And all the Easter prayers that will soar in … [Read more...]

A Lenten reflection on burden bearing

Rachel Young

Holy Week approaches, a week I love for the story it tells and how it enacts the story – with bread and wine on Maundy Thursday, with candles extinguished on Good Friday, with Scripture readings on Holy Saturday, and, on Easter, with declarations of “Christ is risen indeed!” Though Holy Week's retelling of Jesus’ betrayal, death and resurrection enchants me, I often feel distant from its meaning.  I've struggled over the years to feel the power of Christ's death in a personal way.  This Holy Week, after nearly six months of a medical leave of absence, is different.  Meditating on Christ's death broke open for me deeper understanding about my pastoral vocation, especially in regards to pastoral care As a pastor, I am privileged to walk with people in moments of pain, grief, suffering and death.  This part of my vocation is packed with meaning.  I stand in awe of the invitations I receive to engage with people in the most difficult moments of their lives. This work of pastoral … [Read more...]

The way to the watering hole: Syria-Lebanon Mission Network keynote

Jan DeVries

Janet DeVries presented this essay on April 4, 2014, as keynote for Syria-Lebanon Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).   I live in a world I did not see coming.  When I grew up in the 1950s, the toughest issues were ones of race.  During those years, the church my father served in Washington desegregated and my experience of the church was that it would walk the walk and not just talk the talk.  Eugene Carson Blake marched on the amusement park in Baltimore, arm-in-arm with other national and church leaders.  The church was in the middle of the struggle for righteousness and justice and wherever we were headed as a church we would be courageous leaders.  We began writing a confession of faith which would talk about the world we believed Christ called us to, grounded in the powerful concept of reconciliation. During those years a couple in our church with the last name “Havinga” were Indonesian, my mother said.  With a Dutch name like “DeVries,” I asked “how can … [Read more...]

Pass the snakes: How Presbyterians read Scripture

earl-johnson-jr

Recently there has been quite a bit of discussion about the incident in the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Middlesboro, Kentucky, where a pastor died from handling rattlesnakes. According to his belief system he was being faithful to biblical injunctions found in a secondary ending of Mark’s gospel (Mark 16:9- 20) that those who believe in the risen Christ “will pick up snakes in their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them.” He said he took the text at face value. According to an article in National Geographic, the pastor refused treatment after being bitten and went home, expecting to recover fully. Despite the outcome, the reporter said that he was impressed by the pastor’s devout religious convictions and demonstration of unwavering faith. The reporter noted the congregation quickly moved to cover all theological objections: if the pastor lived he demonstrated faith in the Bible; if he died he would be with the Lord.  As Presbyterians we look … [Read more...]

Worship Times partners with Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to build websites for new worshiping communities

LOUISVILLE (PNS) The Presbyterian Mission Agency has partnered with the website building company Worship Times to create affordable websites for new worshiping communities. Worship Times will match financial contributions from the mission agency to offset the costs of new websites for up to 50 new worshiping communities within the 1001 movement. “What a great partnership for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)” said Philip Lotspeich, coordinator for church growth. “It significantly reduces the financial burden for the church as it continues to ignite the 1001 new worshiping community movement.” For a web presence featuring a blog, storage for pictures and access to a video training library, worshiping communities will pay an initial $99 fee and $29 dollars a month for Worship Times updates and support. For $8 a month, communities will also be able to publish sermons and bulletins and have their events on a calendar. “Most of Worship Times’ staff come from ministry … [Read more...]

Lent, interrupted

barchi picture

Lent this year did not follow my very well thought-out, spiritually enlightened plans.  That’s not a new phenomenon – I am notoriously bad at sticking to whatever Lenten discipline I choose for myself.  Last year I tried to be more creative in my prayer life.  Newly ordained and still trying to learn the names and nuances of the congregation I’d been called to serve, this endeavor lasted all of a week before I went back to my well-worn routine.  In the years before that, Lenten dedication drowned in the fast moving current of work and school obligations. But this year is different.  This year, things haven’t fallen apart for the usual reasons or in the usual way.  Actually, things haven’t fallen apart at all – my Lenten discipline of a new prayer routine is going strong.  But Lent has not been the beautifully clean season of spiritual renewal that I had envisioned.  Lent this year has been messy and painful and terrifyingly convicting.  Lent this year got interrupted.  And I’m not … [Read more...]