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Which Harry Potter character are you? Which famous clown are you? Which “Friends” character are you?
The medieval church in the 4th century set Dec. 25 as Christmas Day to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. In the years that followed, the church expanded the celebration of Christmas to a 12-day festival, running from Dec. 25 to Jan. 6, the observance of Epiphany. For Presbyterians, Epiphany is key to our discipleship of Jesus in the world God so loves.
An immigrant fellowship gathers each week to worship and praise God. But how do they connect with the larger church?
Like many pastors, the Rev. Mary Seeger Weese of Midway Presbyterian Church in Midway, Kentucky, had a vision of starting a youth ministry. And, like many pastors, she realized she couldn’t do it alone.
Several months ago, I had the pleasure of purchasing a used copy of “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis. Bargain hunter that I am, I was thrilled, as it is it was only $3.50. It is my favorite of the “Chronicles of Narnia” series, and this particular version contains lovely color illustrations.
Tim faced a tough choice: pay child support or the rent. He couldn’t do both. So, Tim made his child support payment and began living in his car.
At Caldwell Presbyterian, the walls of our sanctuary talk. The voices are those of enslaved African Americans owned by the Caldwell family on a plantation north of our city of Charlotte, North Carolina. Before emancipation, their forced labor, blood, sweat and tears created the fortune that was later given to this church to build its sanctuary in 1922.
Years ago, I read a quote by the Quaker mystic Thomas Kelly that changed my ministry: “Yet ever within that Society, and ever within the Christian church, has existed the Holy Fellowship, the Blessed Community, an “ekklesiola” in “ekklesia,” a little church within the church.”
This inspiring passage was recently one of the lectionary readings in church — and remains a favorite for me. One word in particular caught my attention: redeemed. It is not a word most people use on a daily basis, and therefore, its meaning is a bit hazy to us. In his new book, Seventy Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know (Abingdon Press, 2018), Matthew Schlimm puts it this way:
“Outside of church, I don’t hear the words “redeem” and “redemption” very much. When I do, it’s usually to talk about coupons, gift certificates, or lottery tickets. When the Bible talks about God redeeming Israel, it’s obviously not suggesting that Israel is like a coupon that gives God a discount on something! … I fear that for many Christians, “redemption” is a positive word, but also an empty word whose basic meaning is filled willy-nilly with whatever comes to mind.”
First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta wanted to reshape its ministries. Standing in the heart of the city since 1848, becoming the first Presbyterian church to lay roots in Atlanta, the congregation has had a long history of community involvement, from serving breakfasts to the homeless every Sunday to providing safe housing to women, to name a few. Still, it was time to think differently, go further and create ministries that would empower people, ministries that would “walk alongside the community,” says the Rev. Rebekah LeMon, executive pastor.