Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Understanding Others

As the season of Advent is upon us, we will be looking at how our faith relates to the world. More specifically, we'll be asking questions about our faith and beliefs and how those ideas influence how we treat each other. During the month of December, we'll be examining the particular themes around the Advent Candle: Hope, Peace, Love, and Joy. Since each of these themes elicit a particular behavioral response of our Christian faith, we'll explore exactly what behaviors, attitudes, and modes of compassion are addressed.

One interesting way to begin the undertaking task of understanding others is to explore how others go about doing the same things we do. By examining how they go about doing it or, what is different about what they do when compared to what we do, we can better appreciate our differences and similarities.

Here is a great story from Time magazine from awhile back that has a slide-show about what the world eats. Each family in the story goes grocery shopping. Upon returning to their homes, their food was laid out on a table, a price was calculated, and the family stands around the food in the picture. Notice what they spend their money on. Notice what is healthy and what isn't. To me, it's fascinating!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Turkey Day to everyone. I hope you're having a wonderful and relaxing day. I am having one of those wonderfully relaxing days too.

As I am waiting for the turkey to finish getting cooked, I happened upon a new blog that has my interest up. The blog is called, Confessions of a Small Church Pastor. In a funny post, the author gives his 4 Rules (minus 1) for Pastoring Small Churches. Here are his rules:

Rule #1: Realize a small church is not a miniature big church. Remember “Mini-Me” in Austin Powers – an exact clone of the big guy, only smaller? I learned quickly that small churches aren’t “MiniMes.” Worship, decision-making, pastoral care, and just about everything else in a small church is different from large church ministry.

Rule #2: Assume all your members are related. I discovered this rule one day after venting my frustration with one member to another. His four word reply is still ringing in my head — “Yeah, she’s my cousin.”

Rule #3. Don’t underestimate your members. Small church members can be just as gifted, committed, and excited as large-church members — sometimes more so. Many people actually prefer a small church because they can find a place of service and get to know people more quickly.

Rule #4. Don’t overestimate the pastor’s importance. Lyle Schaller says small churches are member-driven. Pastors may come-and-go, but members keep the church running. Plug-in rather than charge-in is my approach now.

Go here to read the entire post.

I especially like rule number 2 because it fits our congregation to a "t". I am still surprised to learn of the family connections of all the members of the congregation.

I'll write more later. I need to go check on the turkey.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Here is an interesting website called ZipSkinny that searches the US Census database by zipcode. Type in Cresskill, NJ's zipcode: 07626 and see what you discover. It's rife with interesting data.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Shift Happens

I've posted this video elsewhere but wanted to share it with you today. It is an approx 8-minute video about technology and what it means for us. It is full of interesting information and may certainly inspire you to continue the conversations that it provokes.

Most interestingly to those who are just learning to accept 'computers in our midst', this video will show you why it is so important for us to be as computer literate as possible. "The times, they are a-changin'"sang Bob Dylan, and we must stay with the changing times to remain both relevant and reaching our community appropriately.

I hope you enjoy the video.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

For the Bible Tells Me So

I've posted this video elsewhere but wanted to share it with you now. As many of you know, our congregation is in the process of discerning an Open and Affirming resolution to affirm gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender folk into the full life of the church. The issues we're discussing include but are not limited to, why do we need to do it, what is its purpose, and how will the congregation be affected by it.

One element of the discerning process will inevitably include looking at Scripture and what it has to say. As many people understand, people have used the Scripture throughout history for a number of purposes to include justifying slavery (for the Bible condones it), the subjugation of women (and its pretty clear on the role of women), as well as ajustification of condemning gay and lesbian persons. And yet, the Bible also challenges the notion that slavery is not what God wants for us, that women are more valuable than a man's possession, and that God loves and values all of God's creation including gay and lesbian men and women. When it comes to Scripture, understanding how to read it and apply is paramount.

I invite you to join us each step of the way as we grow in understanding and move toward a discernment that answers the question for us, "Should we declare and pass an Open and Affirming resolution?"

And, to help whet your understanding of this issue, please watch the video below.

Adult Ed Book Study

During the month of November, we will be providing you with an opportunity to help reinterpret what it means to understand God and be a Christian. To help with this endeavor, our book study will read Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, by Marcus Borg.

In his book, Borg liberates 'Jesus' from the rigidity of fundamentalism and the aridity of intellectualism. He also graciously liberates readers from the shackles of what many have thought they were supposed to believe about Jesus if they were to remain Christians. For some folks, what Borg writes will seem as a relief to see Jesus in a totally new light.

Michael Goss writes an impressive review of this book,

All Christianity is, to some extent, idolatrous. Christian worship is a response to a worshiper's image of Jesus, and all images of Jesus fall short of his reality--in the same way that all biographies and portraits fail to depict a whole person. In Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, New Testament scholar Marcus Borg attempts to understand how popular images of Jesus connect Christians to their savior and isolate them from him. Borg writes about his own evolving ideas of who Jesus was, considers the scholarly and popular religious evolution of Jesus' public image, and investigates with special care the effects of Historical Jesus research on contemporary images of Jesus. Meeting Jesus Again is written in an affable, gracious, and unflinchingly honest voice. Borg's description of his own faith particularly exemplifies these qualities, and gives the reader a simultaneously safe and unsettling new perspective on the peasant from Galilee: "[T]he central issue of the Christian life is not believing in God or believing in the Bible," he writes. "Rather, the Christian life is about entering into a relationship with that to which the Christian tradition points, which may be spoken of as God, the risen, living Christ, or the Spirit. And a Christian is one who lives out his or her relationship to God within the framework of the Christian tradition."

Marcus J. Borg, author of the bestseller The Heart of Christianity, is Hundere Distinguished Professor of Religion and Culture at Oregon State University, author of the bestselling Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, The God We Never Knew, and co-author of The Meaning of Jesus with N. T. Wright and of The Last Week with John Dominic Crossan. He was an active member of the Jesus Seminar when it focused on the historical Jesus, and he has been chair of the Historical Jesus section of the Society of Biblical Literature.

The first meeting of our study will be on Tuesday, November 6 at 7:30 PM. We will continue our book study on the three remaining Sundays in November following worship on Sunday. If you haven't already purchased your copy of the book, you may do so either online, at your local bookseller, or through Ginny Marx. Ginny is offering the books at a great reduced price of $10.

Also, to help the entire congregation have an opportunity to understand this book, I will be preaching through the book alongside Scriptural support during the entire month. This coming Sunday, November 4 begins the series with the title of the sermon being, "Who is Jesus to You?" Won't you come and join us for an enlightening and soul-searching experience?

Kathy's Blog

Our own artist-in-residence and faithful church member, Kathy Lindner, has her own blog where she showcases her artwork.

You may have noticed her artwork in and around the church. She painted the one in the hallway with the pumpkins from our pumpkin sale. I actually have a couple of her artworks in the parsonage, I simply love her interpretation with watercolors.

I also love the one here. Can you tell which building it is and where it's located? Hint: It is near Cresskill.

Early Mornin' Communion

Well, I gotta admit, I had hoped there were more "early morning folks" in and around Cresskill. Unfortunately, there aren't. And, that's not a bad thing because I am not a morning person either. I may be awake enough to read blogs or type them, but actually getting dressed and going out of the house is a tough thing for me too.

So, because there was only one person on one day throughout October to experience the communion experience, the Wednesday early morning communion experience will have to be a faint memory. As of October 31, it ceases to be. I'll try another time and day in the near future.