Other Writings

  • 5-21-2020 PNC COVID-19 Update

    May 22, 2020 by

    Dear Siblings in Christ: Just a little bit ago, my phone started buzzing with news and questions about the President directing the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to declare “houses of worship, churches, synagogues and mosques” as “essential places that provide essential services” and commanding governors to reopen places of worship. Someday, it will be great to talk about whether or not any US governmental body has the legal authority to tell a religious body what we can or can not do and under what conditions. Even though that might seem like the most important conversation to have today… Read more Continue reading 5-21-2020 PNC COVID-19 Update

  • An update and a prayer

    May 17, 2020 by

    Take a deep breath, then let it out slowly. Take another deep breath and let that one out slowly, too. Many of you have probably heard by now that, last Sunday, several churches across the US had their worship interrupted by a coordinated effort of some who tried to project awful images to people. At this point, the reasons for this are not clear. A few weeks ago, we sent out information about Zoombombing and encouraged you to take some steps to help prevent it (you can find a more recent and concise outline of some steps to take here).… Read more Continue reading An update and a prayer

  • A Prayer for Our Weariness

    May 10, 2020 by

    Dear God: Bless all ​of us​ who are weary: – Those who are weary of another day without family and friends in their home… – Those who are weary of wearing a mask on beautiful days… – Those who are weary of washing their hands… – Those who are weary of another meeting or worship service or pastoral visit on the phone or computer screen… – Those who are weary of the anxiety that comes with going to the grocery store… – Those who are weary of the pace of bad news and conflicting information… – Those who are weary as… Read more Continue reading A Prayer for Our Weariness

  • 05-06-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

    May 6, 2020 by

    Dear Siblings in Christ: You’re all amazing. Let me say that right up front. The ways you’ve all been living into this moment in your homes, churches, work lives, and personal lives have not been easy but you’re pulling it off. The days to come are going to be a challenge, too, but the fact we’ve done this well this long speaks to the faith, creativity, and support we’ll be able to draw on to make it through. The actions you’ve already taken have saved lives. I know these days are not easy ones and I’m missing sharing in-person worship… Read more Continue reading 05-06-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

  • 05-4-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

    May 4, 2020 by

    Dear Siblings in Christ: I’ve just finished reading this week’s lectionary reading from John and am drawn towards 14:15.“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” The gift and challenge of this pandemic season is that, sometimes, it’s like a mirror I’m staring into. I’m not talking about a quick glance to see if everything’s in place. I’m talking about looking at every wrinkle or spot. I’m talking about noticing the differences between the memory of my face and the face that’s in front of me and what that face says about me. It’s that observation of the room… Read more Continue reading 05-4-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

  • 04-29-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

    April 29, 2020 by

    Dear Siblings in Christ: The reading from Psalm 23 always brings me back to the basement of Church of the Cross United Methodist Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. My Dad was the pastor there and the Sunday School teacher was, for some reason I don’t remember, trying to help me memorize this verse. Almost all the time the church used the Revised Standard Version translation of the Bible but, for this, the King James Bible was pulled out and I remember feeling a bit annoyed. It didn’t really make sense to me with the weird “eth” sounds at the end… Read more Continue reading 04-29-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

  • 4-16-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

    April 16, 2020 by

    Dear Siblings in Christ: Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Take another deep breath. Let that one out slowly, too. This is going to be my longest email to you about this pandemic season, yet, but it needs to be. It addresses one of the questions I’ve been hearing a lot lately, “When will be it OK for us to gather, again?” The time after the resurrection was a fraught one. The disciples were hiding in this room or that unsure if the murder of Jesus was the end of something or the start of something. They didn’t… Read more Continue reading 4-16-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

  • Worship Liturgy for 4-19-2020

    April 12, 2020 by

    Consider this an open-source liturgy! Use as much or as little as you’d like based on your form of worship these days. Feel free to change it in any way that suits your context and practices. One important note, all the hymns are suggested here are ones from the New Century Hymnal. Your use of them will depend on your church’s copywrite privileges. Call to Worship One: Take a deep breath, then let it slowly.  All: (Inhale, exhale) One: Take another deep breath, then let that out slowly. All: (Inhale, exhale) One: The days after the death and resurrection were… Read more Continue reading Worship Liturgy for 4-19-2020

  • 04-06-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

    April 6, 2020 by

    Dear Siblings in Christ: Take a deep breath, and let it out slowly. Take another deep breath, then let that one out slowly, too. In every season of significant grieving or change, there is always that year of firsts. The first Christmas without a loved one. The first spring in a new community.The first trip with a newborn. The first day month of retirement. The days move on, regardless, but we experience them differently. All the regular subtlety of letting go and experiencing newness falls to a new clarity that has very little subtlety, at all. This Holy Week is… Read more Continue reading 04-06-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

  • 4-2-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

    April 2, 2020 by

    Dear Siblings in Christ: Part of what I like about Palm Sunday is that it’s just a little ridiculous. It was meant to be. This was protest theater by Jesus of Nazareth that intentionally flew in the face of those messianic-like heroes of war that came into town on huge war-horses to throngs of cheering thousands. This moment was full of common people throwing common things into the road to make way for a teacher who was riding a common donkey to overthrow the common order. Jerusalem was in an uproar about this weird protest march heading towards the center… Read more Continue reading 4-2-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

  • As morning breaks…

    March 29, 2020 by

    Dear Siblings in Christ:As this morning breaks, I’m thinking about all of you. We have all had to learn so much over the last few weeks to adapt to this pandemic season and we’ll learn more about worshipping together and being apart from each other this Sunday morning, too. Bill Grace worked with our conference in my early days here and he’s become a good friend. In his and Patricia Hughes’ book, Gracious Space they talk about the idea of “learning in public.” Essentially, this idea recognizes that there are somethings that we can only learn when we’re together so, in those… Read more Continue reading As morning breaks…

  • 3-25-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

    March 25, 2020 by

    Dear Siblings in Christ: Today at noon, is our weekly call about pastoral care in this strange moment (you can join using this information: Click on this link – https://meetings.ringcentral.com/j/8278690536 or call 773-231-9226 and use Meeting ID: 827 869 0536). Since our very first conversation, those who gathered recognized that this period of social distancing would be hard for everyone at points and be particularly hard for those already facing a sense of isolation. Many churches and church members have begun to put together systems to reach out to those members of their congregation and community who might otherwise be… Read more Continue reading 3-25-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

  • 3-23-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

    March 23, 2020 by

    Dear Siblings in Christ: This Sunday’s text from John feels a little too real and a little too magical for these days. I always struggle with these death-but-not-death stories of resurrection; these stories in which to make some alive again and leave others dead is a divine choice. Surely, as Jesus journeyed to Bethany, he and his entourage passed other families in mourning because of the death of a loved one or in anxiety due to illness in their home or sleepless because of economic distress or lonely or isolated or… The world is full of suffering and yet Jesus… Read more Continue reading 3-23-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

  • In a few hours…

    March 22, 2020 by

    Blessings on all who worship this morning. Blessings on those who share the word and those who receive it. Blessings on those who share music and silence. Blessings on all those who helped plan the service. Blessings on those who help make the internet and phone connections function. Blessings on those who designed them and the software we use. Blessings on those who keep the power flowing to our homes. As we gather today in whatever numbers we gather we are supported by a cast of thousands. Blessings on them as we are blessed by being together. Continue reading In a few hours…

  • 3-21-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

    March 21, 2020 by

    Dear Siblings in Christ: Take a deep breath, let it out slowly. Take another deep breath, and let it out slowly. This update will be a longer than usual one. Please do read the whole thing. It has a lot in it you’ll want to know.  The last few weeks have been a whirlwind. We’ve moved from making plans in case something happened to social distancing to changing the way we do and think about, well, everything in a matter of days. Time itself feels all mixed up. We’ve had to work to adapt to a new reality at an… Read more Continue reading 3-21-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

  • 3-18-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

    March 18, 2020 by

    Dear Siblings in Christ: This week’s lectionary text from the Gospels (John 9:1-41) seems strangely ironic. Jesus encounters someone who is blind from birth. Jesus’ disciples get into a conversation about the person and assume – as most would have at the time – that their blindness is somehow related to a sin they or their parents committed. Jesus suggests that, actually, the blindness is all so God’s abilities can be shown. So, Jesus spits in the dirt, makes it into mud, spreads the mud on the blind person’s eyes, tells them to wash it off, and they can see.… Read more Continue reading 3-18-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

  • 3-16-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

    March 16, 2020 by

    Dear Siblings in Christ: These words have become part of my daily readings these days: “The possibility of paradise hovers on the cusp of coming into being, so much so that it takes powerful forces to keep such a paradise at bay. If paradise now arises in hell, it’s because in the suspension of the usual order and the failure of most systems, we are free to live and act another way.” Solnit, Rebecca. A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster. Penguin Books, 2010 The title really tells you most of what this book is… Read more Continue reading 3-16-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

  • 3-13-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

    March 15, 2020 by

    Dear Siblings in Christ: Take a deep breath and let it out slowly. Go ahead and do it again. We’re at another one of those key moments in the COVID-19 pandemic. Minutes ago the Governor of Washington State closed all schools in the state until, at least, April 24th.  This was done not just to protect the children at our schools but because there was a high risk that those who work with and attend our schools would spread the COVID-19 virus to their families and communities. I think the most prudent thing for us to do, whether or not… Read more Continue reading 3-13-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

  • 3-10-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

    March 15, 2020 by

    Dear Siblings in Christ: Monday mornings are when I usually start reading the lectionary text for the coming Sunday. The text includes one of my favorite passages in the Gospel of John (4:5-27). Its the story of Jesus meeting the woman at the well and the conversation that happened there. Three things struck me this week.  The first and second were somewhat unique to this moment in time. As Jesus and this woman met in this spiritually intimate moment, I thought about social distancing and handwashing. We’re talking about it so much these days that it’s become the lens for… Read more Continue reading 3-10-2020 COVID-19 PNC Update

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