Forgiving those who have hurt us — even when it’s excruciating. Keeping our promises — even when it’s more difficult than we ever expected. These challenges that Jesus ties together in his Sermon on the Mount (take time to read Matthew 5:21–37 now) came together on a trip last October to New Mexico, Utah and Arizona, where the Synod of the Southwest invited executives to meet almost 20 Native American congregations.
The start of the 2020 pandemic saw many churches scrambling to do ministry digitally, leading them to hastily create a plethora of online accounts. Now that the pressure has subsided, it’s time to review these accounts to not only assess what’s working, but also to ensure that your organization’s online security is not vulnerable to attacks. In this column, we will address passwords and payments.
Dr. Thema Bryant, a clinical psychologist and a pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, is quoted as saying: “Rest is revolutionary. Self-care and community care are soul food. Dancing and singing amid everything that pulls you to disconnect from yourself is radical.”
In a world that is becoming increasingly indifferent to religion, more people are wrestling with the existential questions our human nature brings about. What is my purpose in life? Is there really a God? How can God exist when everything seems so unfair?
It was New Year’s Day 1773. The faithful in the English town of Olney, though, were not thinking about old acquaintances being forgotten. (It would be another 15 years before Robert Burns would write his poem that would forever become synonymous with New Year’s Eve revelry.) They were thinking about grace and all its amazingness.
It was the dreaded church “calendaring meeting” — juggling special Sundays, worship themes, vacation dates and competing programming for the months ahead. We were finally past Advent to languidly plan January.
Of course, news such as that delivered by the wise men would naturally “upset the apple cart” of all those in authority — both political and religious — who were living during a time known as the Pax Romana or “Roman Peace.” It was a time in which the Roman authorities would ensure “peace” if the religious leaders would keep their own people in line. Clearly, the news of a new king was a threat to all who had some measure of power.
Ten pairs of trail shoes crunch up the carriage road. A dry August has browned trailside grass and prompted some early color amid the maples. Grasshoppers shoot off in all directions. A few monarch butterflies drift by in pursuit of milkweed. We are on our way to Elder’s Grove, an 8-acre stand of old-growth white pines that date to 1675.
How does our faith make a difference in the life of the world? How does it address systemic issues for real change? These are the questions the Rev. Thomas Watkins finds himself asking on a regular basis.
“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” — Luke 23:42