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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Sunday Best

A few years ago I attended a Mormon church down the block from my home. I checked their website before going. Glad I did! On their page, the Latter-Day Saints’ (LDS) website suggested wearing “Sunday best” for those attending Sacrament Service.

What is your “Sunday best?”

As I kid, my "Sunday best" wasn't quite like my Dad's suit!

OK, I did wear nice clothes: creased pants, shined shoes, and I was color-coordinated. What a guy.

I’d rather not go “fancy” to worship, though it’s more than an LDS website that challenges me. I can easily hear the echo of my parents’ voices . . . make sure to dress for the occasion!

I think of the passing mention about what Jesus wore in John 19:23. When the soldiers at the cross divided Jesus’ garment, the Gospel said it was, “seamless, woven in one piece from the top.”

In my long-ago Sunday school days (of course always wearing my parents-required Sunday best) I assumed the garment must have been “special.” Nope. Common clothes. Jesus wore what everyone else wore. Simple. Plain. Far from “special.”

What is “Sunday best?” I say, come as you are. Simple. Plain.

And back to the LDS. In a Newsweek article (Feb. 11, 2008), the then recently deceased LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley was remembered and appreciated. A quote about him said, “He implored people to be better—to be kinder, more forgiving, more inclusive. And he led by tireless example.”

That, I think, is the best “Sunday best” to wear. Not clothes, but wearing and living out a humble attitude and honest faith.

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