Earlier this month, I attended a brilliant presentation by Petra Alsoofy, the Outreach and Partnerships Manager from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU). You may not be familiar with ISPU: it’s an organization based in Dearborn, Michigan, which was founded after the attacks of September 11, 2001. According to their website, “ISPU provides objective research and education about American Muslims to support well-informed dialogue and decision-making.”
ISPU seeks to help everyone understand more about what life is like for American Muslims. That was the emphasis of Petra Alsoofy’s presentation a few weeks ago. She shared lots of information with about fifty of us who gathered together at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Midland. (You can watch her presentation at this link; enter the passcode Xffx&8s9 and you’ll get access to it.)
After Petra’s presentation, I signed up for the ISPU email list. It’s important for me to hear perspectives that are outside my tradition. That’s why, among other things, I have listened to the podcast Inspired (by Interfaith Voices) every week for around fifteen years.
Yesterday, ISPU sent out results of a survey on what American Muslims believe about climate change. The title of the report reads like this: “The Majority of American Muslims Believe that Climate Change is the Result of Human Behavior and that Government Regulation is a Way to Solve for it.”
What I’m writing about today is “Why I’m Not an Evangelical.” I promise, these things are related to each other. Continue reading
Dynamic tension. Compromise. Beauty.
I found these three practices today in a book written by Brian McLaren. It’s called “A Generous Orthodoxy” and was published in 2004. In a chapter titled “Why I Am (Ana)baptist/Anglican,” he explores the reasons why he is attracted to both the Anabaptist and Anglican traditions within the broader Christian family.
The Anglican tradition offers these three practices, which McLaren summarizes in a few paragraphs. These practices speak clearly to what I want to be about as a Christian and to what I believe is important during this season of life in the Church of God and, more broadly, in Christianity (at least in America). Continue reading
Today I would like to introduce you to a little-known Christmas carol called “The Christmas Candle.” Its lyrics were written a century ago by an American poet named Anna Hempstead Branch. These lyrics were set to music by another female American, a composer named Roberta Bitgood, in 1937.
I discovered this carol when Tara and I sang it with the church choir at Trinity Episcopal Church in Bay City during their Christmas concert this past Sunday afternoon. I can’t find an online recording of the carol for you to listen to, so we’ll have to make do with just the lyrics. But they are powerful enough by themselves. Read them slowly, thoughtfully, carefully: Continue reading
“No, honey, that’s not a manger scene.”
Those are the words spoken in a single-panel comic by Steve Breen for the San Diego Union-Tribune on December 2, 2022.
In this comic, a few people are walking down a paved sidewalk, surrounded by trees and shrubs in a public park. A couple of strands of white Christmas lights are hanging overhead across the sidewalk. In the foreground, we see an adult and a child – perhaps a grandfather and grandchild – walking hand-in-hand down the path, away from us, as if we are following them on their outdoor walk. They are looking over to the side, where, away from the path and in front of a low brick wall, a young family sits on the ground, huddled together with a few blankets. This family consists of a father, mother, and young child, and they are arranged in such a way that a passerby (like the grandchild) might notice a similarity to the familiar Christmas scene of Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus lying in a manger.
“No, honey, that’s not a manger scene.”
Take a few moments to sit with that comic, and think about it. I’ll share a few thoughts below. Continue reading
Pastor David shares a few reflections from last week’s International Youth Convention in conjunction with today’s sermon text, Mark 6:1-13.
Reflections from IYC
At our Easter sunrise service, Pastor David preached about how Jesus was always one step ahead of his disciples, even as they discovered his empty tomb at daybreak on the first day of the week. Listen to his message here:
Always One Step Ahead
This Maundy Thursday, Pastor David sang a hymn by Charles Wesley and helped us consider several angles of the importance of Jesus’s death. Listen to his message here:
Tis Finished, the Messiah Dies
How are you like the woman Jesus met at the well? How might an encounter with the Messiah transform your life? Listen to Pastor David’s sermon on John 4:1-42.
The Samaritan Woman’s Transformation
Jesus experienced a moment of spiritual formation when he prayed at Gethsemane, just before he was arrested and then crucified. How does his prayer lay the foundation for our prayer lives? Listen to Pastor David’s sermon on Matthew 26:36-46.
After a glorious worship experience in Revelation 7, the first verse of chapter 8 records thirty minutes of silence in heaven. What role can silence play in our spiritual lives? Listen to Pastor David’s sermon here:
Jesus, the Silence-Bringer