She’d stopped going up for communion the last few weeks. I knew she was experiencing serious doubts about the existence of God and the relevance of the church and it’s liturgy. So her question, and the answer I needed to give her, carried a lot of weight.
As teenagers graduate high school and go on to work, college, or both, we can prepare them in their journey of being Christ’s hands and feet in the world by helping them see that all that they do - not just at church or in youth group - is ministry.
I always thought retreats were a good idea, but had trouble pulling them off. The first time I tried it, I was a depressed teenager longing for the peace and joy that was supposed to come with one’s faith. I read some spiritual heavy-hitter who talked about how the desert fathers took off for days of fasting and solitude, and figured that was what I needed to overcome my sense of distance from God.
If we are going to be present to Jesus' real presence - and not just virtually present - we need to find practices for "being there," living life as an ongoing invitation from God. Lent can be a great help to retrieve, recover, redeem what is most important to us, yet may have gotten lost along the way.
Do I nip at the hand that is feeding me, loving me, nurturing me, providing me sustenance on many levels? Do I tempt that hand, seeing if it will indeed go away?
Many churches have vision statements. Many have mission statements. What's the difference? Does a church need both? Is one better than the other? It all depends on what you're trying to accomplish, as well as what you're trying to communicate with others - in your congregation and beyond.
Without volunteers, our churches - especially in the educational arena - would be a shell of what they are. After all - it is the people who make the church!
Lay Ministry as a church professional is every bit as much a call to ministry as that of an ordained person. Often the two are in concert. Often they are not.
I think I failed Lent this year. I started out pretty good. 7:30 am Ash Wednesday service, morning meditation as usual. But something happened along the way, and it just sort of got away from me.
Does your back ache, your head pound, are your shoulders knotted? Does your stomach hurt, is your digestion out of whack? How's your blood pressure, your cholesterol, your heart rate? Do you get colds often, catch every little "bug" that's going around? Do you find yourself irritated, depressed and agitated more often than you would care to admit?
For many, Lent and guilt are synonymous. Lent is the yearly opportunity to reflect on our “wrongness,” purge guilty consciences and practice self-denial, so one might live unfettered by these weighty topics the rest of the year.
Sometimes we need to acknowledge that our small, finite, frail human existence requires that we stand in awe of the Creator and just appreciate who we are, where we are in our faith journey and what God has spread before us.
The intention of the weekend was that it might provide resources to people who didn’t think of themselves as having spiritual resources - the folks who say, “Well, I don’t pray every day, and I don’t know that I have a spiritual life.” I hoped to introduce them to things that they already did, or things that they could do, and draw spiritual meaning out of them.
The dive is a ritual that recalls Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist in the River Jordan. It is also the culmination of an intentional and prayerful effort on the part of the Greek Orthodox Church to steep the young men in the tradition of the church and form them as faithful Christians.
As we become a global society, more intercultural and "blended" in our extended families, more and more children are being raised in homes where more than one faith tradition is practiced. While differences may be more pronounced during the holiday season, it can still be challenging to provide children a grounded faith while not confusing them at the same time.
When it comes to matters of faith, we all have questions, no matter what our religious background (or lack thereof).
Dry spells and droughts don’t always refer to the levels of rain and water in landscapes.
Having trouble getting people to “step up to the plate” to serve in the church? Let’s get something really clear….they rarely do! So we need to find another way to engage people in ministry.
Sunday School happens. Vacation Bible School happens. The youth mission trip happens. The Christmas pageant happens. The Lenten Retreat happens. And on it goes. We can get so caught up in the day-to-day details that suddenly time has passed without a deliberate effort to ensure that Christian formation is happening.
Somewhere along the line, I developed a dislike for Lent. Who likes to do without something they love?