The Unknown

unknown godAccording to the seventeenth chapter of Acts, Paul stood at Athens’ Areopagus and challenged the Greeks about worshipping an “unknown God.” In a city and an era where many gods were worshipped, Paul had stumbled onto a local altar with words claiming allegiance to that “unknown” deity.

I’m impressed by Paul’s first-century speech in Acts. With rousing philosophical arguments, he out-Greeked the Greeks. Paul’s blunt exhortation about worshipping the one true God of his faith versus the many false Gods of their culture was faithful and persuasive.

The God Paul proclaimed was not unknown! God was real, and could never be understood by creating shrines of gold or silver. In a smattering of verses, the author of Acts had Paul recount creation, alluding to Adam and Eden, and declaring a confidence in a God that has “fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness . . .” The past was obvious. The future was set. All things were known.

How dare anyone worship an unknown God!

And yet I do. Continue reading →

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Speak the Name?

nameJesus!

I’ve joked about Joseph and Mary’s son. But in a good way.

I’ve mentioned Jesus’ name publicly and privately. I have used his name in prayers, speeches, and intimate conversations. As a preacher, I’ve quoted words from the Bible that I believe he said. I’ve also quoted Gospel verses attributed to Jesus, likely crafted decades after the resurrection, that a writer/follower thought Jesus should have or could have said . . . but did not. (Now I’ve irked those who take the Bible literally . . .)

Of course, I’ve uttered and muttered his name. I’m a Christian clergy, ordained in word, order, and sacrament, Jesus is #3 on my list for the reason for my lifelong journey as a born again and again and again person of faith. And a person of foolishness. And I might as well add as a person of big sins and little mistakes, ah-ha moments of clarity, and the pre-retirement daily trudge through dreary meetings or filing denominational paperwork. Continue reading →

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What the Heck is Your Sermon About?

pewsI slipped into an unfamiliar pew. A while back, in a church exploring mood, I worshiped in a new-to-me congregation at 8am. As with a previous visit to a different church’s early service, musicians were prompting questions. As in, where were they?

Don’t musicians like to rise early?

One service I attended had someone (I’m being nice here) half-heartedly playing the piano . . . and for only a few moments. This church had no music. No choir or soloist. No one tickling the ivories. If you know me, and know my singing voice, you will possibly breathe a sigh of relief. You might think: if there wasn’t music, there wasn’t singing, and therefore no one near Larry had to suffer with his limited (I’m being nice here) musical range.

Music-less. The early birds don’t get the worm or the hymn.

And (I’m being nice here), this was another church that offered thin, tasteless, machine-processed wafers for communion instead of REAL BREAD. Hear our cries, O Lord, and deliver us from the ubiquitous wafers.

But enough of me griping. Let’s get to some serious complaining. Continue reading →

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