“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer. “ —Dietrich Bonhoffer When someone drinks or uses drugs to forget or not remember, it is usually something so traumatic that the memories become intrusive. Often this boils down to things they have seen, things they have done, or things they failed to do. This often means something they feel guilty for. To be fair, we all do or have done things we feel guilty about. Guilt is a universal emotion. Oftentimes the way forward is to go backward, to convince oneself that what one did, had to be done. A prime example of this is in taking a life. Taking a life goes against our very nature. And so it should, thank God. There are heavy consequences to taking a life. And…
I work with Veterans who have substance abuse problems. One thing that seems to help them in their recovery is to work through the Twelve Steps of the Alcohol Anonymous (AA) program. (There is also a Narcotics Anonymous (NA) program for drug abusers.) One of the first steps is actually a form of confession: participants must admit they have a problem and that they are powerless to change it. Substance abusers are only able to go forward after they make this confession to themselves, but also to someone else, and to God.
Although not officially a Christian holiday, Mother’s Day seems permanently etched on the church calendar. Disputing what has become a sacred holiday seems futile. However, would it be okay if beside the brightly colored carnations that each woman with the title “mother” will receive, there was also a picture painted in shades of blue, the empty cradle and the cross? Can we, as a sacred community, hold in tension both the celebration of motherhood and the grief of childlessness?
This year, the entire month of April falls inside the Great 50 Days of Easter, the time stretching from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday. That means that the entirety of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a month designated to remember victims and lift up survivors, confronts our proclamations of “Christ is Risen” and “Alleluia!” How do we hold these two together: God’s victory over death and the continued suffering of so many to sexual assault?
This is a blog about PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Many of us have ideas of what PTSD is, and of what it does to Veterans, and truth be told, many of our ideas are formed by the media and movies. The media--"If it bleeds, it leads" has no moral compunction or obligation for presenting a balanced nuanced picture. So, some may ask, "Are Veterans with PTSD dangerous?" The answer may shock you. "Not any more so than the average person is. Are you dangerous?" Well, "yes" for some, and "no" for some. Although we all have a capacity for evil, I will leave that discussion for another post.
I spent a few years as a pastor of a congregation of predominately low-income families and unhoused neighbors in a large mostly commuter urban church. A few congregations met underneath its roof: the one I led, a Haitian congregation, and the majority affluent congregation. In many ways, I saw my role as working to mediate the difference between two very different congregations and find ways in which each could encounter the other. I placed myself in a type of liminal space between two worlds colliding. And we would collide often – over what entrance our congregation would be allowed to use, disagreements over locking and literally barring doors, paid security, proximity to the youth group, etc. I remember feeling so alone during those years, frustrated with the incremental progress and the very clear divisions erected. But I also stood in awe of how God’s grace slowly began to work to…
Many pastors are realizing the value of adding a church blog to their website. Attracting more traffic to the site, sharing great content with your congregation throughout the week and helping potential guests know more about the church are all great reasons to add a blog to your church’s homepage. These five tips will help get you make sure your new blog is successful and engaging.
In February 2013, Father Greg Boyle, who works for transformation and redemption among gang members in the LA area, told an interviewer that 'Now Here This' had become his new 'mantra' following a cancer diagnosis. The middle word of that 'mantra' (spelled here as opposed to hear) reminded him to be present in the moment whenever a kid walked into his office to talk or whenever a person was standing right in front of him.
Share your Scars There is a little boy in our church who has no filter. The first time I met him, he told me all about the “swear jar” that they have at home – and how he gets the money when his parents say bad words. I’m sure his parents would cringe if they knew everything he has shared, but I love his openness and honesty. What you see is what you get with this guy.