Worship’s Deep Water

On a scorching day, it’s amazing how refreshing a simple glass of cold water can be. I have felt this in the summer after a long walk, a hike, or a workout, when the heat seems to suck the life out of my parched mouth. That’s how it tasted this past Saturday when I co-taught…

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Flow

There are times when doing flows into being. Like when a toddler carefully puts the final block on a toy tower he has built. It can happen when an instrumental musician masters an intricate musical passage. Or when a runner completes her most memorable race, her leg muscles burning and lungs nearly exploding, in what…

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Practicing God’s Presence

In the busi-ness of your responsibilities and the busy-ness of life, how do you stay in touch with God? Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” But how do we open up to such stillness within? I recognize this stillness in certain moments, when the illusion of “ordinary” days is drawn…

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Sunday: Why Weekly Worship?

Why do people worship together as a community? Granted, many people have a personal life of devotion, but what is it about communal worship that can help steer our days through life’s uncertainties, traumas, and storms? Whether shared in person or through live streaming, Sunday worship has given me a framework for time lived during…

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Day-by-Day Mysteries

Think of us in this way: as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. (1 Corinthians 4:1) Paul was in trouble – again. This time it was with some members of the congregations he helped because of that pack of holier-than-thou “super-apostles.” They were going around stirring up doubts about his leadership, saying that…

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Epiphany: The Light of Christ

The worship season of Epiphany begins on January 6, just after the twelve days of Christmas. In the Western world, these are the darkest days of the year, a natural time to celebrate light. The name “Epiphany” comes from the Greek verb “to bring to light” or “to cause to appear.” Light is the main…

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Worship in Pandemic Times

We’ve all been hit with unprecedented challenges in the pandemic isolation these past two years. What has it been like for those who lead our common worship, seeking to hold us together as worshiping communities? What have they learned from their experiences? “We Are Not Alone” is an excellent article that seeks to answer these…

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What is Prayer?

A major question for many people is not the how of prayer, but the what. In their minds, some people may connect prayer with memorized lines they were taught in childhood, or a thing religious leaders said in church worship. But what exactly is prayer? The answer to this question is not the same for…

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Family Activities for Lent

Of all the worship seasons in the Christian Year, the forty days of Lent, just before Easter, can be the hardest to understand, especially for young children. Adults can have a tough time with it, too. Most often it’s explained as a time of confession, self-denial, and preparation for receiving Jesus’ gift of his life…

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Steering by Each Sunday

A sign I see every week in our community center says, “The best place to be is together.” Every time I see it, I’m reminded that where we gather isn’t important: it’s the fact that we can gather at all. That sense of being together was what I and millions of others have missed these…

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Lent in a New Key

Even those who have never been in a church probably have heard the same old song about Lent, as if it’s a time to give up something you love to show you’re serious about this “faith thing.” Perhaps it’s a time to give up a bad habit, to prove that you can white-knuckle the lack…

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More Questions for Worship Seasons

Related to Tossed In Time by Betsy Schwarzentraub Advent 1. Looking back, when have I waited for a fulfilling event with positive expectations? What aspect of my current spiritual life or worship life do I want to strengthen with that same sense of excitement and joy? 2. What activities have I allowed to crowd out…

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Epiphany: Transfiguration Sunday

“Fear not.” Modern Bibles often say, “Do not be afraid.” Have you noticed how many times those phrases are in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? Or in the Bible altogether? Many times they are the first words spoken by angels. Several times they are said by Jesus. The only reason to say,…

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Counting the Hours

It’s no wonder that so many people have found themselves unable to get a normal night’s sleep for months on end. For many of us, counting sheep just doesn’t do it anymore. For even the most well-adjusted folks among us, the usual stress of daily life has amplified exponentially by pandemic uncertainties. What used to…

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The Pattern Prayer

“I’ll pray for you,” people often say. But what do they mean by that? What is prayer, anyway? Prayer is a common term, but any room even of like-minded folks picture it in scores of different ways. Little children may imagine saying sentences out loud to an Old Man in the sky; older adults may…

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