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Every Congregation & Every Pastor. Yup.

“Every congregation is a congregation of sinners.

As if that weren’t bad enough,

they all have sinners for pastors.”

— Eugene Peterson

Good reminder.


RSVP: A Question about Playdates

“On playdates nowadays, children are choosing to play with their devices instead of one another.”

Nancy Colier wrote that on page 97 of her book, The Power of Off (and thank you, Tim Price, for the recommendation).

My question: is her statement true or false in your experience, especially given our pandemic era?

I look forward to your input through any of the usual ways, thank you in advance, and continue to be fascinated by so much.

KaBOOM: Quiet, Mundane Disciplines

“Words and proclamations are grand and inspiring,” writes Nick Baird-Chrisohon in Disciplines 2021 (p.87). “Yet they start in the quiet, mundane disciplines of regular study and prayer.”


How’s your own groundwork “in the quiet, mundane disciplines of regular study and prayer” doing this side of the Resurrection?

As Easter people, we of all people need to be about those things.

Especially the “regular” part.

Concentrate on doing your best for God, says 2nd Timothy 2:15, work you won’t be ashamed of. 

Our “grand and inspiring” stuff may well be flashy, but they start in what two “quiet, mundane disciplines” again?

Let’s take this seriously.

What’s that mean you’ll stop doing so you can invest more of yourself in these things?


Three Chords & The Truth: “You are Young and Life is Long”

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
Fritter and waste the hours in an off-hand way
Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town
Waiting for someone or something to show you the way

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

— “Time” by Pink Floyd

Your Thousand Pound Phone

“Twelve Step programs talk about ‘the phone that weighs a thousand pounds,’ meaning that it may be very hard to pick up that phone and reach out to another, but once we have, the burden is lightened immensely.

“Remember that the person you are calling may need to connect with you as much as you do with them.”  (Julia Cameron, It’s Never Too Late, p. 54.)

And then there’s this —

Encourage one another


build one another up.

(1st Thessalonians 5:11)

— So who ya gonna call?

Today’s a great day for that.

Depression? Machseh.

Paul Stroble is a very-long-time friend and colleague whom I greatly admire for many reasons. He recently wrote this, and it’s with his graciously expressed permission that I share this with you here —

I’ve had high-functioning depression since childhood. That means I’ve stayed motivated through most aspects of my life, while also dealing with periods of anxiety, sadness, self-doubt, and exhaustion. Only recently have I talked about it freely. I like to have a small role in ending the stigma of mental health issues.
I also like to share how God has healed me. As Pastor Martha reminds us, God does not wait for us to get our act together but steps in to heal. Over the years, God has guided me to wonderful therapists who have helped me gain insight and build better mental health.
Jesus’ healing ministry displayed the Lord’s concern for our overall well-being, emotional as well as physical. I’ve never been blind, but I’ve certainly been blind to my own worth, as well as to the love of those in my life, and to God’s great love.
Speaking very generally, the church may or may not be a place where we can “come as we are,” including times when we’re emotionally struggling. Church folks might simplistically urge us to cheer up, to have more faith, to pray more, to repent of something we may have done. Such words make our pain worse.
But other congregations might be places where folks uphold us amid our strong, sad emotions. As Pastor Linda reminded us in her message, listening to one another without judgment is a powerful way to help!
Depression has been described as a suit of armor that keeps your negative thoughts in and prevents positive thoughts from getting through. Consequently, an emphasis upon our sinfulness, unworthiness, and mortality may push a depressed person even further down.
That’s one reason why I like to focus upon God’s vast love. God embraces us in times of temporary or chronic distress. God is our “machseh,” a Hebrew word that means “refuge” (Deut. 33:27, KJV and NIV), “dwelling place” (RSV), or “place of safety” (CEB). Psalm 46:1 affirms that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Imagine God as a welcoming “place” to go when you’re downhearted. You can see how Jesus’ desire to heal people is an aspect of God’s “very present help.”
The psalms are wonderful prayers because many of them are quite forthright about the psalmists’ distress! The psalmists don’t mumble, “Oh, I’m okay, I’m hanging in, I’m muddling along.” They take their honest feelings to the Lord. Psalms 42 and its companion 43 are examples. “For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you cast me off?” (Ps. 42:2). What a terrible concern, that God is not only silent but has rejected the psalmist! Fortunately, that isn’t the last word, for the psalmist knows to “hang in”: “Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God” (vs. 5). The psalmist isn’t feeling praiseful now but will eventually.
Speaking only for myself, my own blues are often attributable to something out of balance: I’ve been too busy and haven’t taken time for exercise, for instance, or I’ve fallen into the trap of “what if” thinking, or some other mental habit.
If you’re struggling, figure out things within your own circumstance and talk to people you know about your feelings. Even in the best situations, we don’t always give God “credit” for being as unfailingly, tenaciously loving as God is. In the midst of our difficult feelings, we perceive God as that uncomplimentary parent, that fussy boss, or whoever created those “tapes” that we play over and over in our minds. But God is SO MUCH greater and better than that!
Prayer: Dear Lord, touch our minds and hearts with your healing presence, that we—like the people in our scripture—may spread the word about your perfect love. Amen.

John Lee Hooker? Jesus.

John Lee Hooker summed it up well —

“I loves God,

and I loves peoples.”

—- As Easter People, are we gonna live like it?

Not because John Lee Hooker said it, but because Christ Jesus said it —

“Teacher, which is

the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied:

“‘Love the Lord your God

with all your heart

and with all your soul

and with all your mind.’ 

This is the first and greatest commandment.

And the second is like it:

‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

All the Law and the Prophets

hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40

Easter Fools

We are fools for Christ’s sake. 

1st Corinthians 4:10

At the crack of dawn on Sunday, the women came to the tomb carrying the burial spices they had prepared. They found the entrance stone rolled back from the tomb, so they walked in. But once inside, they couldn’t find the body of the Master Jesus.

They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, two men, light cascading over them, stood there. The women were awestruck and bowed down in worship. The men said, “Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery? He is not here, but raised up. Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?” Then they remembered Jesus’ words.

They left the tomb and broke the news of all this to the Eleven and the rest. Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them kept telling these things to the apostles, but the apostles didn’t believe a word of it, thought they were making it all up.

But Peter jumped to his feet and ran to the tomb. He stooped to look in and saw a few grave clothes, that’s all. He walked away puzzled, shaking his head. (Luke 24, 1-12)

More Than April Fools: Holy Saturday and The Great Silence.

Even fools, when they keep silent, are considered wise, says Proverbs 17:28. When they close their lips, they are considered prudent.

Holy Saturday: The Great Silence


This is not the kind of silence one creates by “emptying oneself” (as if that were even actually possible). This is the silence into which we find ourselves knocked when terrible news arrives. This is the silence that those who have grieved deeply have come to know, and at once dread and welcome.

This is the silence of the tomb, or perhaps more accurately, the silence from the tomb. This is the silence that grabs us, if we are paying attention at all, when we contemplate the aftermath of the crucifixion.

This is what Holy Saturday has been about for centuries in the liturgical life of the Church. It is this silence, embodied in an assembly. It is the ultimate silence. The horror of the execution and our role in it was the day before. Facing the violence head on as we do and must on Good Friday also tends to move us into a kind of alternate reality removed from the usual patterns of our lives and thoughts. We can be tricked into thinking it was all just a horrible dream.

But on this day, on Holy Saturday, there is no question left. There was real horror. And the real horror took its real toll. Jesus is dead, buried in a tomb. On Holy Saturday, this reality sinks in.

And so on this day we gather in that silence. Everything we say or do in liturgy springs from that silence and returns to it. That silence– crushing, undeniable, and at times unspeakable.

Just as we do the story of our redemption harm if we skip from Palm Sunday processionals straight to Easter, so we lessen its formative power in our lives if we move from the cross at mid-day on Friday straight to the Great Vigil of Saturday night or the Easter trumpets or Sunrise Service on Sunday morning without making the stop, together, in this silence.

Discipleship Ministries | Holy Saturday: The Great Silence (

April’s Fools

Fools do not delight in understanding,

but only in revealing their own minds.

(Proverbs 18:12)

Once upon a time, sermons were mocked for being nothing more than Three Points and A Poem.

Then came Narrative Preaching.

Then came Self-Disclosure Preaching.

Not only had the focus shifted but the camera had turned.

Fools do not delight in understanding, but only in revealing their own minds. (Proverbs 18:12)

Then too often we traded in our minds for our feelings.