As usual, we had a wonderful experience in Faith Fitness sharing our thoughts and ideas. The topic we’ve discussed for the past several weeks involves what’s happening in the American Church as it relates to styles of worship, spirituality, and what types of churches are growing–or not. One issue that arose today is that of a distinction between religiosity and spirituality, two interrelated concepts each with distinct characteristics. We talked about possible definitions of religiosity and spirituality how one is or is not dependent upon the other. Spirituality can be characterized as an inner frame of reference involving peoples’ subjective, personal connections to divine beingsRead More →

With the second Sunday in Advent, we consider lectionary scripture selections from Isaiah (11:1-10), Romans (15:4-13) and Matthew (3:1-12). The message for our worship service today is “Here’s Johnny!” This title summons more than a pun inasmuch as it captures the herald’s voice calling out from the wilderness. The Isaiah passages capture an expectation for the coming of God’s righteous teacher. Many view Isaiah’s words as describing and predicting John the Baptist, the one paving the way for Jesus’ ministry. In the highest sense, Isaiah narrates a vision of hope and peace, both for the world and for those who yearn for redemption in anRead More →

With the first Sunday in Advent, we continue a lectionary theme touched upon the past couple weeks. Today, selections from Romans (13:11-14) and Matthew (24:36-44) form the scripture basis for the Sunday message I’ve titled “Awaken!” Paul’s encouraging words in Romans highlight his concern that people be prepared for light, even in the midst of what seems like overwhelming darkness. Paul challenges those who have given-up on living soberly and instead have thrown their lives into disarray. He emphasizes living harmoniously rather than in the quarreling dissensions which plagued even the earliest Christian communities. Paul admits that the day of redemption is near, but notRead More →

My recent practice of expanding the Revised Common Lectionary readings continues today as I extend the selection from Colossians, adding an extra three verses at the end to cover chapter 1,verses 3-23. As with many of the New Testament epistles (or letters), the opening is a positive one. Paul the likely author has a splendid practice of giving the good news first by praising the efforts of his audience. The timing is splendid, and we’d do well to focus on the light and life he shares. Perhaps we, too, can help build people upwards before we introduce the challenges. This is a wonderful pattern becauseRead More →

Today’s lectionary lesson from Luke 21 and 2 Thessalonians 3 continue an end-time theme. In Luke, the scene is Jesus’ reply to someone’s admiration for the great temple in Jerusalem, whose beautiful hand-smoothed stones Jesus said would be smashed by besieging invaders. False prophets, false messiahs, wars, uprisings, and all such tumult would also occur as part of what to us can seem like an uncertain apocalyptic timeline. Yet, Jesus assured the faithful remnant that he would descend from the clouds and rescue the followers who had endured the carnage and clung to their hope. There is an overarching, troublesome issue underlying the apocalyptic portrayal.Read More →