Friday, July 10, 2015

Not Far

         “Old” has changed for me. Old used to be my father. But now I’m over his age when I thought he was old! An old building when I was growing up in Minnesota was something built in the early 1900’s or late 1800’s, until our family moved to Virginia where we saw buildings and sites from the 1700’s and earlier. That was old.
         When Martha and I took our first trip to Europe, and I had the chance to visit churches built in the 1100’s and some as old as 900 AD, I had a new appreciation for old. The stone floors of these sanctuaries were polished by centuries of different feet.
         Then I was able to take my first trip to Israel, and my clock of old moved back into the BC era and beyond Jesus into the Old Testament. Sites and geography dated thousands of years old. When we visited Jericho, the guide told us that it was probably the oldest continually inhabited city in the world, with evidence of human occupation back 10,000 years! Yikes! That’s old!
         But then I spent some time with our own David Martin, who is a geologist. He began to tell me about the formation of the Channel Islands and the up-surging hills and fossils in our rock strata. Oh my! And I haven’t talked with astronomers!!
         We are measurers. We measure dollars, pounds, miles, and inches. We establish goals and measure our progress formally and informally. A word used often in the realm of measuring is “metrics.” What are the metrics we use to measure….?
         In the text for Sunday worship (Mark 12:28-34) Jesus used very intriguing words for a teacher of the law’s response to him: “You are not far.” As you prepare for worship on Sunday, what do you measure spiritually?

Friday, June 26, 2015

Where have you come from, where are you, and where are you going?

The altar-piece for this Sunday reflects the mission-theme at the 2015 Noah's Half-Day Camp at Montecito Covenant Church: Egypt. The trunk (root ball) speaks of our roots in both Egypt and the Old Testament. The Christ-candle is in the center the scene, anchoring the story. The papyrus shoots are a well-known plant in Egypt with a Coptic cross in the reeds. The green speaks about the life we have in and through Jesus against the lifelessnes of the brown trunk.

Friday, May 22, 2015


Friday, May 15, 2015

Fan It

         Moving, transitions and graduations bring a whole set of challenges. Something is over. Something new is beginning. Change is in the works. Uncertainty is in the air. Accomplishments are celebrated. Tokens are conferred. Tributes are given. New challenges are now in front of us. For some that will be a new school, a new location, and a new set of friends to get to know. For others it means a bigger shift in responsibility: a career, a task, a boss and professional challenges.
         I recently talked with a friend who was promoted from a support position in an organization to becoming the head of that organization. In a quiet and unguarded moment he whispered to me: “It was a lot easier to be in the second chair than now!” When he was in a support role, he second-guessed the leader, thinking he could easily do a better job, until that day came and now the full weight of the organization was upon him.
         On Sunday we are going to recognizes transitions and promotions like never before. Heather Shennum, Pam Beebe, Jon Lemmond and Shawn O’Brien will be acknowledging school promotions in our church. But Sunday is also Confirmation Sunday, which is a promotion of sorts, but something else. Confirmation Sunday is the transition into spiritual adulthood. Four young people will be making personal confessions of adult commitment to follow Jesus Christ. They are moving from second chair into first. The text for these confirmands will be II Timothy 1:3-7 where Paul exhorts young pastor Timothy to step up and make the faith his own. The image Paul uses for Timothy is to call him to “fan into flame the gift of God.” As you prepare for worship on Sunday, reflect on how you keep the flame fanned in your life.

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Gotta Love the Kids

I've tried it and it just doesn't work. I've tried to appreciate parents while ignoring or disliking their child. It just doesn't work. Parents pay attention. Parents really notice how I treat their children, like remembering their names and hearing their questions. Parents love it when I ask a genuine question about their child and listen fully to their answer as opposed to listening to them so I can use their answer as a prop for my story. Parents really do get it. That's why I John 5:1-5 so fits for Mother's Day. Mothers love it when we love their children, so do fathers, and so does God.

Saturday, May 02, 2015


         Both of our sons (and son-in-law) are literate in the world of computers. They are the people who can fix my computer when things get messed up. But I do not understand their language. For example, Isaac sent me this text last week comparing an iPhone with old computers:“the 5s clocks in around 50gflops depending on operation. The Intel Core 2DUO  E4400 at 2Ghz which came out in 2007”
         What does that mean? If you are inside the computer world, that is a meaningful sentence, but not to me. The terms and numbers do not connect to my normal operating vocabulary. The same thing could be said about any specialty world like that of chemistry, sports, medicine, or law.  Jon Lemmond recently told me how he asked 56 Club kids about church words that they heard that make no sense to them. One young boy asked about why we sing about “the lion and the lamb?” And I’m sure church space-names like narthex, chancel and font are pretty unique terms as well. The word that our text (John 15:1-9) uses this week is “abide.” In talking with some young people, they agreed that “abide” is a pretty churchy word. They do not use abide in their normal conversations. They have other words for this term that I’ll share about in the sermon.

         As you prepare for worship this Sunday, reflect on what abide means to you. How do you know you are abiding or not? In what things do you abide? What does abiding look like in your life?

Saturday, April 25, 2015

John 4:4-42

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