Church, Music and me (an introduction)

It would be a safe guess that Jesus Loves Me was the first song I learned to sing. Sunday School songs came long before Romper Room and Mary Poppins. I was raised with the kind of choruses that had motions. We sang about Zacheus being a wee little man as we held our hand out low and then we pantomimed his climb up the sycamore tree. Our fingers numbered 1,...

Is God only good when we are spared from tragedy?

  It seems every town will have its moment of tragedy. We know them by name: Newtown, Columbine, VA Tech and now our town that lives in the shadow of Miami made headlines last week as a lone gunman opened fire in the baggage terminal of our airport. Ten days before, we’d made several trips to that airport picking up family for the holidays. It’s a relatively small airport for...

Rescued and Redeemed

  I saw his grizzled face, breadcrumbs around his dry mouth, as he offered a smile that looked genuinely happy to see me. I returned the smile that probably showed more concern than joy. He didn’t look well, not like the last time I saw him. He was much thinner, unkempt, but his eyes eager to be seen, to be welcomed ‘home’. He’s not the only one I’ve seen worse...

Wait for it…..

Welcoming my young friend, Jaime, today. Her words are wise beyond her years and her heart is always open to take in one more soul. Thanks, Jaime, for sharing Advent with us. Advent. It’s that beautiful part of life where the world shines and sparkles and everything is decorated. Well, usually. A few years ago I was responsible for programs and activities at a sort of drop-in cafe for homeless...

Finding a tender companion to grief at Christmastime

More catalogs and advertisements are filling our mailbox this time of year. Tucked between Golf Digest, an ad for car sales and one actual Christmas card was the Mrs. Fields catalog. They come around holidays and are tossed in the recycle bin with old newspapers and unwanted ads. I glanced at it thinking, when have I ordered Mrs. Fields cookies and then I remembered. The past few years that mom...

Let’s add the Candle of Mess to our Advent this year

Our pianist has only been with us a few months. She’s an outsider to our community and our church traditions. A church woman herself, she answered the ad we placed for a pianist needed: Sundays, 8:45 – 10:15 a.m. She walked through the doors our first Sunday of Advent, greeted me as I said, “it’s Advent, you never know what’s going to happen so hold on.” I’m not sure if...

When ordinary Sunday church turns extraordinary

We are sort of like your average church. Our Sunday service outline is basic with slight changes week to week. Sunday after Sunday will look like this: Welcome & Announcements Doxology sung before the offering is collected A Call to Worship will be read responsively Congregational song Prayer Someone will read selected scripture Another song will be sung Sermon an invitation for prayer at the altar Amazing Grace will be...

Who are these Saints and why do they have a day?

Our church isn’t liturgical. I don’t think I knew that word until I was an adult. I thought the ‘church calendar’ was Christmas and Easter, including Good Friday, of course. To me, Saints were either in the bible or more recent dead people who’d been in church their whole lives. Living saints? A few old folks may have been described in that way. Sinners? Oh yes, we were all sinners-...

Jesus Isn’t Just for Church People

It’s a bit complicated to describe our congregation. Some would say they’re a captive audience. While that description makes me flinch, it’s not all wrong. The residents in this six-month rehabilitation program are required to attend our Sunday service. A spiritual component is part of their recovery along with individual and group counseling, recreation, and work. We have a congregation of all men. Most of them are addicts. Their church...