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More than a Feeling

My mother-in-law has a fondness for American peanut butter. It used to be hard to find in France. When she came to the United States for a visit, we made sure we had a supply ready for her. She attributed her liking of peanut butter to her school days. After World War II, she attended a boarding school run by …

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Sacraments Sustain Weak Faith

Life is difficult. Faith in God helps. Keeping the faith, even faith the size of a mustard seed, also is difficult. The dimly burning wick of the candle of faith endures by using the sacraments. Deadly sins, such as greed, pride, sloth, gluttony, lust, wrath and envy, cause us to put our trust in the idols they produce. Those idols …

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The Lord’s Supper as Welcoming Sacrament? Reversing the Sequence of the Sacraments

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Editors’ note: In recent years, there has been increasing talk about the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper as a feast of welcome and hospitality. Perhaps originally associated with St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco, this understanding has gained supporters around the North American church. It is said that in a post-Christian culture, the Lord’s Supper is a …

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Moved by the Liturgy of Revival

I love high-church liturgy. Smells and bells, processions and litanies, choirs and acolytes – the more the merrier. It might be because of the sere Christian Reformed atmosphere in which I was reared. It might well be a function of my education and social class. (Final exam question for Liturgics 101: “All evangelical academics wind up Anglican. Discuss.”) Doubtless a …

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Resurrection

They lean over balconies, strain to hear through thick silence, dangerously close to the edge of sky and star, where time smudges into forever, they listen. It is there.  A breath – a great inhalation of life, a calm, rhythmic heartbeat. The universe quivers with delight, the heavens rock with stomp and leap and pirouette until the very planets shake. …

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Carrying that Weight Together

BEARING THE UNBEARABLE: TRAUMA, GOSPEL, AND PASTORAL CARE DEBORA VAN DEUSEN HUNSINGER WM B. EERDMANS PUBLISHING CO., 2015 $20 179 PAGES Many mainline Protestants have a strange relationship with trauma. Our newspapers and prayer lists are strewn with stories of traumatic events. Stories of refugees fleeing war, racial aggressions on college campuses and sexual abuse of children are so common …

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Do Sacraments Matter?

Sacraments are not important in our age of active shooters, terrorist bombings, NFL players sitting at the “wrong” time, reality-star politicians and constant reconstruction of our habits and behaviors according to the latest iPhone (no headphone jack?!).  Such dangers and demands for our time and attention – not debate over a liturgical ceremony – are the real, practical work of …

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Judgment versus Community

ORBITING JUPITER GARY D. SCHMIDT CLARION BOOKS, 2015 $18 192 PAGES In the first chapter of Gary Schmidt’s latest young-adult novel, Orbiting Jupiter, a social worker warns Jack and his parents about Joseph, the foster child they are thinking of taking in. Joseph has served time in two juvenile halls. While in one, he reportedly tried to kill a teacher. …

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Our Already-Weeded Selves

“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6 What do you want to be when you grow up? Perhaps there is nothing adults relish more than asking this question of children. A child’s answer, …

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utterance

There is no beginning, only continuation of the utterance. Breath into breath, spilling out beyond breath into being, form unfolding, the utterance behind all existence. Infinite expression, endless creation utterance divine pouring forth in liquid grace perpetually spoken. (Inspired by the writing and philosophy of Shneur Zalman of Liadi) Nadine Ellsworth-Moran pastors a small church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and …