No One Belongs Here More Than You

Why, after a worship service concluded, when the few or many congregants had trooped through the exit door to “greet the pastor,” did I only remember that one?

That person did not like the sermon. And yet, all of the other encounters at the door were compliments or friendly chitchat. Nine of ten, or ninety-nine of the hundred, as they headed for the parking lot and home, paused for a handshake, a hug, or offered a smile with:

  • Good sermon, Larry.
  • It was what I needed to hear today, pastor!
  • You were speaking just to me.
  • I never thought about that verse in that way before.
  • Don’t forget the trustees meeting on Tuesday.
  • I like your tie.

I would mumble a thanks, likely nodded and grinned, and maybe asked about an ill family member or the recent birth of a grandchild. On every Sunday, I sought to be attentive to each departing person who had worshipped with me only moments before.

Then that one person arrived. And said, Continue reading →

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Fruit and Friends: On Visiting in a Church

A dog may be around to share a bite with you…

When considering what I don’t miss about life in the church, visiting hovers near the top of the list. Visiting also has a spot in the top 5 of what I do miss.

Hmmm? Call me Contradictory Larry?

Tucked within the monolog-like words of Jesus to his disciples (John 15, the Gospel lesson for the upcoming sixth Sunday of Easter), the Nazarene said of his disciples, “you are my friends.” He continued with, “I appointed you to go and bear fruit . . .”

Whether planned or spontaneous, in a hospital before major surgery or at the kitchen table offering a chance to work with youth (such a deal!), visiting could nurture a sharing of faithful fruit. Continue reading →

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Ash Wednesday: Strangeness Abounds

(My lectionary-based reflections are typically posted about two weeks before the Sunday scheduled for the Bible lessons. But with Ash Wednesday this week, I’ve tossed in an essay to honor Lent’s official beginnings.)

ash-wednesday+(from+stanthonyfresno.org)Nobody cares.

Which is not true, since statements with “nobody” or “everybody” (therefore meaning absolutely no one or including every single person) are rarely accurate.

But it’s true enough!

Ah, what does “nobody” care about?

Ash Wednesday and Lent.

Lent?

With Ash Wednesday on February 13, Easter’s official preparations begin. Lent is an artificial creation of the Christian church to help believers “cleanse” themselves before arriving at the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. Traditionally this cleansing, this getting “right with God,” has emphasized personal sacrifice.

But it is an artificial creation. For Christians, there are no Biblical mandates to set aside the 40 non-Sunday calendar days before Easter for personal sacrifice. In fact, there’s no real “date” for Easter in the Bible either. And further, note how that second sentence in this paragraph was so confusing? Go ahead, say it out loud:  40 non-Sunday calendar days before Easter. Huh?

Who cares! Who can understand all this add-on junk for Jesus? Continue reading →

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