A View from the Pew: Worship at Sunrise

Just a few days ago we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus on the holiest day on the church calendar with a number of traditions that we reserve for this special day. There were flower crosses, lilies, white cloths draping crosses, and boisterous singing of “He Lives!” “Up from the Grave He Arose,” and “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.”

Crossroads: He Is Risen!

He is risen! He is risen indeed! Easter is such a wonderful time. The dark, somber mourning of Good Friday has passed and in its place is new life, lots of color, and thankful spirits. The best part of our story as Christians is that we are not grave people—we are resurrection people.

Formations 04.23.2017: Sitting a While with Thomas

According to a new survey, fully one-fourth of British people who identify themselves as Christian say they do not believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Hobson urges a certain degree of restraint in our responses to such people. After all, our universal human experience is that dead people stay dead. To say otherwise flies in the face of all that we know about how the world works.

Formations 04.16.2017: In Graves and Gardens

As I’ve been asking who needs to hear my story of Easter joy, I’ve come up against another question—what story of Easter joy do I need to hear? And what I hear reminds me of a ghost story I first heard as a seventh grader.

Connections 04.16.2017: The Gardener

When the ordinary meets the extraordinary, chances are pretty good that the ordinary will try to cut the extraordinary down to size. It’s understandable. After all, we’re limited by our experience, and our experience is mighty limited.

Flame: Palm Sunday Spinner

We are getting into Easter planning mode at the moment and needed something a bit different for Palm Sunday. This is a great activity because somehow the hosanna appears on the palm leaf. The children love watching the trick of the eye happen!

Crossroads: He Is Risen!

He is risen! He is risen indeed! Easter is such a wonderful time. The dark, somber mourning of Good Friday has passed and in its place is new life, lots of color, and thankful spirits.

Crossroads: Good Friday

Have you ever had a week start off well, but by the end of it all hope seems lost? Terrible things happen all at once, and you just aren’t sure how you’re going to make it another hour, let alone another day.

Experiencing Cotton Patch Moments

Although long a fan of Clarence Jordan’s Cotton Patch Gospel translation that recasts Jesus in the southern part of the United States in the middle of the 20th Century, it still took some time to develop even a hint of Jordan’s prophetic vision.

A View from the Pew: Ready for Easter

Nothing throws off our seasonal awareness like an early Easter. It’s a seasonal version of what we experience with daylight savings. We’re not quite sure how to feel and everything about our celebration can seem just a little off.

Crossroads: Palm Sunday

I love celebrations. In particular, I love birthdays. I love finding the perfect present and celebrating who that person is. I love my birthday as well, but it’s always a little odd to me.

Formations 03.27.2016: Risen Offers a Unique Perspective on Easter

Easter is a story Christians tell year after year—whether or not Hollywood finds the story marketable, and whether or not Hollywood retellings of the story are “rotten” or “certified fresh.”

Connections 03.27.2016: The First to Know

When I was seventeen, my church put on an Easter play that one of our members wrote, paraphrasing directly from various Scripture accounts of Jesus’ last week, his death, and his resurrection.

Crossroads: Our Wisdom vs. God’s Wisdom

There are many instances in my childhood where logic got me into trouble. It usually began with me saying “I told you so” and you can guess that it didn’t end well.

That Dark Thursday Night: A Maundy Thursday Reading

“Go into the city,” he said. “A friend of mine will show you a large, upper room, furnished and ready.” Strange. Peter and I rounded a corner and there, coming out of a narrow alley was a man we didn’t know, but he looked at us as if we were expected.

Formations 04.05.2015: Easter Faith

The resurrection of Jesus is Christianity’s greatest story. It is the event that set in motion everything believers hold to as distinctively Christian.

Uniform 04.05.2015: Of Resurrection and Moon Landings

On this Sunday, a high holy day for Christians around the world, many Americans will observe a holy moment in pop culture: the premiere of the final season of Mad Men.

A View from the Pew: The Resurrection Applies to Chreasters, Too

The Resurrection is for everyone. Infrequent attendance at worship services does not exclude a person from accessing the hope of the risen Jesus Christ. But for consistent church attenders, high holy days such as Christmas and Easter can create a sense of protective exclusion.

Crossroads: Train Up a Child

I loved going to church as a child. I loved Sunday school, VBS, choir, worship, and everything else I went to. I wanted to be there every time the doors were open.

Uniform 03.29.2015: Whom Do We Celebrate?

A couple of weeks ago, cities all over the nation celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with parades. People wore varying shades of green, and some dressed like leprechauns. Four-leaf clovers were everywhere.

In Pursuit of the Spirit: Practicing Lent

I’m in the process of (slowly) reading The Art of Family and Everyday Spirituality by Gina Bria. I’m not very far along, but the way in which Bria speaks about the role of family has captured my imagination.

Crossroads: Never Again

How many times have we said “never again?” I’ll never eat there again. I won’t eat THAT again. I’ll never lie again. I’ll never go there again. I’ll never stay there again. We tend to say “never again” a lot.

A View from the Pew: Doing ‘Sorry’

Whether or not you have ashes dabbed on your forehead this Wednesday, the season of Lent presents an opportunity to do more than say “I’m sorry.” The season of Lent is a chance to engage in active repentance.

Thrive: The Gift of Acknowledgement – Amy Shorner-Johnson

During the Christmas season, we often talk about loneliness and remembering those who are marginalized, those who might also feel abandoned as they get lost or overlooked.

Crossroads: Recognizing and Remembering

My father lives in the same small town where I grew up as a child. Though I moved away more than 25 years ago, I enjoy going back to this community to visit a few times each year. When we go back for these visits, I often see people around town who our family has known for many years.

Be an Easter Person All Year Long

What do we do, after Easter? Can we really just walk away from the whole experience, putting away the stuff of Easter and going back to business as usual? Doesn’t it mean more to us than that?

A View from the Pew: Dressing for Success … in Worship

It is news to no one that church culture has shifted radically in recent years in most every area, from worship style to attendance. One such cultural move is toward more casual fashion choices by church goers. Only the most traditional of us pew sitters insist on wearing “Sunday clothes” anymore.

Crossroads: Jesus is Risen

Once upon a time I had a young friend named Philip. Philip was born with Downs Syndrome. He was a pleasant child—happy, it seemed—but increasingly aware of the difference between himself and other children. Philip went to Sunday school at the Methodist church.

A Meditation for Good Friday – Amy Butler

I had the strangest experience just a few weeks ago. I’d been asked to participate in the funeral of a woman I did not know well; she grew up at my church, Calvary, and I knew her family from a couple of chances we’d had to be together.

A Wild & Precious Easter

I had the opportunity to go on a much-needed vacation last week with my husband to sunny Key West. Because he had looked forward to this for weeks, he immediately wanted to book some excursions. We settled on a jet ski tour around the island and a boat trip that included snorkeling in the middle of the ocean.

Formations 04.20.2014: TV Show Asks Us to Consider the Possibility of Resurrection

ABC’s mid-season replacement series Resurrection invites viewers to consider what would happen if their loved ones came back from the dead. The series premiere introduces us to Jacob, an eight-year-old boy who wakes up in a field in China after having died thirty-two years previously.

Uniform 04.20.2014: Thoughts on Resurrection

Every Easter, we read the story of the empty tomb. And every year, I find myself wondering how I would have felt if I had been there that day. What would I have focused on as I walked to the tomb to tend to Jesus’ body? How would I have responded to Jesus’ absence? Would I have been outraged? Afraid?

Cultivating an Easter Vision – David L. Odom

Master woodworker Richard Heitzenrater carved away the decay in a log of black locust wood to create a cross he called “Redemption.” Heitzenrater, William Kellon Quick Professor of Church History and Wesley Studies at Duke Divinity School, believes that in human life as well as in nature, God brings life out of death, joy out of pain.

Formations 04.13.2014: The Way to Calvary

Although we think of the Sunday before Easter as Palm Sunday, it has another name that is equally valid: Passion Sunday. Churches that follow a lectionary traditionally read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and death on this day as they embark upon Holy Week’s solemn commemoration of the events leading up to Jesus’ death.

Moravian Witness in a North Carolina City – Bill J. Leonard

Every Easter morning, in the pre-dawn hours, a pickup truck full of Moravian musicians stops at the corner outside my family’s home in Winston-Salem, N.C., and the sound of “Sleepers, Wake” floods the neighborhood. It is a resonance heard throughout the city as Moravian bands roam the streets, preparing a community to receive the news of Christ’s resurrection.

Truth Beneath the Ashes

Several years ago in Waco, TX, a couple hundred of us gathered for a crack-of-dawn Ash Wednesday service led by a team of seminary students. All kinds of folk—Baylor students, doctors, construction workers, grandparents—gathered at the shoreline of Lent, sleepy-eyed and somber.