Crossroads: Good Friday, A World in Ruins

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.

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.

Meditations on Luke: A Judas Living Inside Each of Us

In his memoir Telling Secrets, writer and preacher Frederick Buechner tells about his childhood after his father committed suicide. In addition to the trauma of losing his dad was the grief of being forbidden to speak of what happened.

Mystery, a Prayer for Lent

God, thank you for faithful signs
of spring that tell us you love the world.
Give us glimpses of your creation
that are sights for sore eyes…

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.

Meditations on Luke: The Depth of Darkness

One the greatest measures of human creativity is our ability to rationalize almost anything. No matter how destructive our actions, no matter how foolish our choices, no matter how selfish our behaviors, no matter how dark our impulses, we can always come up with a good excuse or a reasonable explanation for them.

Brokenness, a Prayer for Lent

God, it takes courage to be the creatures
you made us to be.
Year after year we add to our experiences of the world,
pushing against our limits
to find out what will budge and what will not.

Crossroads: Ashes

I always feel the weight of the ashes on my forehead on Ash Wednesday. It wasn’t until I went to a Catholic middle school that I began participating in Ash Wednesday services. From that first Ash Wednesday service until now, it never ceases to amaze me how much I feel those ashes.

Crossroads: Jesus Is Transformed

I became a Christian when I was seven years old. For as long as I can remember, church has been an important part of my life. I loved going to church as a kid and I loved Jesus (and I still do!).

Death and Life

We lose so many good people. When Jesus finally arrives at his friends’ home, Lazarus has been dead for four days.

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.

The Sound of Silence

Silence. We experience it so infrequently, most of us wouldn’t even recognize it. We wake to loud alarms, the drip of brewing coffee, running water as we prepare for our day.

A View from the Pew: Breaking Out of a Slump

If we’re honest, we all have slumps. Forgive the overuse of sports metaphors, but no matter the game, slumps are real, observable, and unavoidable.

Lent Is a Time to Adjust

The church year has brought us to Lent, the time of penitence and self-reflection before Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I once heard it said that you can’t have Easter without Lent; how could you know the joy of the mountaintop without the realities of the valley?

A Dark Day of Rest

The disciples, the women who had been following Jesus, and the other followers of Christ rested on the Sabbath. Joseph of Arimathea had taken Jesus’ body on that Friday and placed him in a tomb.

The Wind and the Spirit

What would you do differently if you could start over? What would you change if you could be born again? If I could edit my life, I would skip junior high football, wrecking my father’s car, and the last five minutes of my first date. I would stop my mother throwing away my baseball cards.

Lent Is a Time to Adjust

I once heard it said that you can’t have Easter without Lent; how could you know the joy of the mountaintop without the realities of the valley?

Restorative Forgiveness, a Lenten Devotion

The second grade Sunday school class was visiting in the home of the pastor and his wife. The teacher had issued a strong warning to be careful in Reverend and Mrs. Cline’s home.

The Worship Hour: The Second Sunday of Lent

Giver of all good gifts, we thank you again for the bounty you have allowed us in this privileged land, and for the privilege of distributing your gifts to others—that they also may be blessed!

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!

Lent. The Ugly Step-Sister Season.

Lent… It’s not Christmas, that’s for sure. It’s not a season when we’re hanging the holly and lighting the tree, twinkling and throwing gifts around like confetti and singing carols to strangers. It’s not a season that glitters.

Why I Love the Church Most on Ash Wednesday

I was reared as far from the Church as one can imagine. No Easter, Christmas, or Mother’s Day services for me, so this business about ashes seemed strange and at first a bit silly to me upon surrendering to Jesus at age 20.

Formations 03.01.2020: Keep Still

With the sea in front of them and the Egyptian army at their backs, Moses tell the Israelites, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the LORD will accomplish for you today….”

Connections 03.01.2020: Replacing the Plug

It’s an image most of us are familiar with: the dropping of a stone into water produces ripples, which represent the ongoing effects of an action.

A View from the Pew: Taking a Personal Spiritual Retreat

I’ve never hiked the Appalachian Trail, but I know people who have. It sounds like something I would want to do, but then again, maybe not.

All Is Joy

My youngest children are just old enough to have developed a growing curiosity about Lent. They are asking more questions about why and how we Christians observe this liturgical season.

Easter Sunday Isn’t Like the Others

The long Lenten journey to the cross and ultimately the empty tomb is nearly finished, and Easter is just around the corner.

Praise, a Lenten Devotion

I recently attended a session of my son’s Science Explorers club. The children were learning about rocks. Who knew there were so many different kinds of rocks?

The Bell Lap, a Lenten Devotion

In long-distance swimming, the last two lengths of the pool are called “the bell lap.” When swimmers reach the final 2 lengths of the pool in competitions, an official rings a bell.

Why I Like Lent

Like many Baptists, I did not grow up following the Christian calendar and observing the seasons of Advent or Lent.

Bear Fruit, a Lenten Devotion

“This is your last chance—1, 2, 3!” How many times have I shouted those words in order to correct my disobedient children?

A Fox and a Hen, a Lenten Devotion

Spending time on my grandparents’ farm in the summer was the highlight of my young life. My Granny and I would rise each morning and head to the chicken house to gather fresh eggs for breakfast. I learned to reach under the hens and remove 2 or 3 eggs, with great excitement!

Turning Evil Away, a Lenten Devotion

The first time I remember being faced with temptation, I was 4 years old. I was in the checkout line at the drug store with my mom and sister.

“Influencer,” a Lenten Devotion

“Influencer.” The bright yellow sweatshirt with blue font immediately grabbed my attention from it’s place on the sales rack. Before I could process the implications of being an “influencer,” an excited mother hastened to the garment

A View from the Pew: Signs of True Repentance

At its heart, preparing for Easter during the season of Lent means repenting of our sin. The problem for many of us in the pews today is that repentance has almost completely vanished from our faith practice.

A View from the Pew: 5 Ways to Make Lent More Meaningful

Whether the season of Lent has been part of your tradition or not, it can be a helpful time of spiritual reflection and growth. I didn’t grow up observing it, but when introduced to Lent about 20 years ago, I enjoyed this annual time of intentional focus on my discipleship.

When People are like Duct Tape

Duct tape is amazing. You can do so many things with it. Make a dress, reattach a car bumper, do some duct work. Duct tape is decorative and functional, durable yet flexible. It can fix just about anything. Its only problem is that duct tape isn’t a permanent solution.

Try Writing with Friends for Lent

Writing in groups creates that kind of wonder. I’ve seen it show up around classrooms tables when people who had spent their lifetimes in the same congregation share their longing for a deeper faith for the first time.

Silent Saturday

God is dead. He left us to pray and they found him in the garden and God is dead. They dragged him before the High Priests and then they took him to Pilate and God is dead. They didn’t care about how many people he had helped or about the lives he had changed. They didn’t care about our lives. They didn’t care about the good things he had devoted his life to and God is dead.

The Walking Dead

Let me start off by just laying it out there. The title of this sermon is “The Walking Dead.” I do not like scary movies or TV shows. At all. “Well, Chris, that’s silly. Scary movies aren’t real.” I know that. I know that the odds of being chased by a chainsaw-wielding maniac are infinitesimally small.

Crappy First Drafts

Crappy first drafts. Anne Lamott phrases it slightly more colorfully, but that’s the gist. Can’t write? Don’t wait for the Almighty to hand you a perfectly formed manuscript from the sky. Put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and just write. Will what you write fall somewhere beneath the quality of a hundred grand emoji? Often yes. Often much less.

A Spirit Prayer

O God, Thank you for your Spirit that is with us, within us, and among us.
Thank you for the spirit that we are.
Thank you for the spirit of your creation.

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.

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.

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.

The Tears of Lent

It happens every time. No matter how hard I try to stop it. When the music begins, when we turn toward the cross dominating the center of our sanctuary during Lent, my throat tightens, my eyes well up.

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.