Article

Article

A Little Advice

After services this morning, we will gather to honor our graduates. We are just days away from what is technically called “commencement.” Why commencement? After all, “to commence” is to begin, to start—and graduation is an ending, isn’t it? The word does come from a Latin word meaning “beginning.” That is because, in medieval times—when academics actually wore that ridiculous cap and robe we all have forced upon us now—you did not finish at the university and go out into…

Two Builders

I am supposed to be preaching in Woodville this Sunday. If you are reading this in the printed bulletin on Sunday morning, then we know whether or not I made it there; as I write this early on a Friday morning, the rising waters have put it very much in doubt. But it got me to thinking about a song we sing as children about “The Wise Man”: The rains came down/and the floods came up. Of course, that song…

Save the Date

Someone asked me a few days ago, “why is it that Easter does not always fall on the Passover?” After all, we know Jesus was crucified on the week of Passover—it would make sense if the annual observance of his resurrection, which occurred three days later, was celebrated at the same time. Without going too far down the historical rabbit hole, the short answer is that after a couple of centuries of increasing distance between early Christianity and Judaism, there…

The Tax Man

The deadline to file your income tax return—or, if you prefer to put it off as long as possible, your extension—passed this week. Some of us might have received a refund (of the interest-free loan we made to the government over the past year); others might be smarting from having to write a check. In either case, no one is really fond of paying taxes. It is remarkable, then, that the most noteworthy fact about the apostle Matthew, the author…

Logistics of Giving

Last week in this space, we laid out a theology of giving. Of course, giving is a broader topic than just the offering we take up every Lord’s Day. But the weekly contribution in particular is one of the most neglected aspects our assemblies—it makes us all rather uncomfortable to talk about. That is unfortunate, because it is extremely significant. The earliest Christians were characterized by their readiness to give. And when we study it deeply, we find there are…

The Dead Will Be Raised

Consider this article on where the resurrection of the dead fits into the gospel from Wes McAdams’ blog “Radically Christian.” As always, I recommend you go check out the entire site. -BP When modern Christians teach people the Gospel, we typically begin by trying to convince them they have a problem about which they are blissfully unaware. We try to teach them that their biggest problem is, “God is angry with you and will soon punish you forever.” In reality,…

Celebrating Religious Holidays

Our Easter Egg Hunt for children occurring immediately after the worship assembly caused me to think about celebrating religious holidays more generally. Today is Palm Sunday, the day where many religious groups commemorate the Triumphal Entry; indeed, our sermon will be on that theme, too. This begins what is known as “Holy Week” leading up to Easter. Easter is the oldest of all religious holidays celebrated by Christians. The earliest Christians did not practice an annual observance of the resurrection;…

How to Win Converts and Make Disciples

Some of our small groups are recognizing St. Patrick’s Day as they meet this afternoon. I believe that Ken Coleman’s group is having all green foods—hopefully, that is not an incentive for anyone to clean out any science experiments from the back of the refrigerator. Robert Ward’s group will meet at our house, where we will have some traditional Irish dishes. It is fun to do things like that on what is more or less a second-class holiday in this…

Rebaptism?

This week, Focus Press’s podcast, “Think Deeper,” tackled the issue of when someone is ready to be baptized and ancillary topics. Among those was the subject of rebaptism. That got me thinking about this area; we just published an article in this space a few weeks ago dealing with what a person needs to know prior to baptism, so it seemed good to deal with rebaptism in particular. Many of you have heard me speak about this over the years,…

The Fierce Urgency of Now

As a preacher, you become more familiar with death that most people. In some cases, that is through visiting someone, maybe even sitting at the bedside, as they are getting close to the end of life; in others, it might be through performing the memorial service, hopefully helping grieving loved ones to find some measure of comfort. And all that has only increased in frequency since I became a hospice chaplain a couple of years ago. But whether or not…

The Church’s Birthday

Between the time of my writing this toward the end of the week and your reading this on Sunday morning, I will have celebrated a birthday. It got me to thinking about what is sometimes referred to as the birthday of the church: Pentecost. We read the story in Acts 2. The Holy Spirit descended and filled the disciples who were gathered together, empowering them to speak in languages they had never learned. This caused a great crowd to gather…

What Now?

Last week, as many of you know, we held a Valentine’s Day banquet here at the church building for the first time since before the pandemic. Events like this are a good marker, I think, of trying to get back in a regular rhythm of life and become more active. It is essential that we keep striving for that, because—like a lot of churches, and a lot of aspects of life more generally, for that matter—it is no secret that…