spiritual practices

Worshipping in God’s Absence

Six year’s ago I worked with five Vanderbilt seminary students on a worship project.  They attended dozens of Christian worship experiences in all sizes, shapes, forms, and cultures of United Methodist congregations, then we sat and “debriefed” each experience.  One 27-year-old woman, Erin, an Episcopalian, made an unusual and provocative […]

Pancake Parallels

Fifty-five years ago the United States was deep into The Cold War.  Paranoia, patriotism, and poor communication combined to allow such bizarre and embarrassing phenomena as McCarthyism and backyard bomb shelters.  Our government, in an effort to protect and defend the American public, launched into a research frenzy — looking […]

The Care and Feeding of Faithful Stewards

Stewardship is both a worldview and a practice.  Stewardship is a way of relating to God’s creation, not simply something we do in and for the church.  Stewardship is about how we choose to live our Christian faith in the world. The concept of Christian stewardship was so corrupted and […]

Spiritual Dispurnment

For the past fifteen years I have had opportunities to meet with a wide variety of congregational, conference, and agency leadership teams to look at their processes and practices.  Generally, I am there by invitation to offer insights and suggestions for improvement.  One of my most frequent suggestions often meets […]

What is Prayer For?

I sat in worship, praying the congregational prayer as written in the bulletin: gracious God, protect those who serve you as agents of light, and strike down all those who serve as agents of darkness…” I stumbled over the words as if I struck my shin on a misplaced table.  […]

Moist & Methodist: Baptism in the UMC

Of the researchstudies on spiritual practices in The United Methodist Church that were suspended when my job got eliminated at the General Board of Discipleship the one I was most disappointed by was our look at baptism.  Following twelve years after the adoption of “By Water and the Spirit” by our General […]

Reflections on Earth Day

Back when I was a lad, we used to celebrate Arbor Day — a day when we were simply encouraged to plant a tree.  My Sunday school teacher — the ancient and slightly scary, Miss Hattie Hack — dutifully took us outside the first Sunday after Arbor Day to plant […]

Broken for You… But Definitely Broken

You might think that people who do something repeatedly over a period of years would come to know its practice and meaning intimately.  In the case of the celebration of Holy Communion, you would be wrong.  Each month (the preferred schedule for the institution of the Lord’s Supper in United […]