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Robert Barnes and 500 Years of Justification by Grace Alone – Jacob Smith

A wonderful, engaging talk on some of the key players in the Reformation (with a little help from Carl Jr.) by the Rev. Jacob Smith:

Robert Barnes and 500 Years of Justification by Grace Alone – Jacob Smith from Mockingbird on Vimeo

In the Year of our Lord of the Church Split by Joy Roulier Sawyer

In the Year of our Lord of the Church Split by Joy Roulier Sawyer

This poem was originally published in the Food & Drink issue of The Mockingbird.

In the Year of our Lord of the Church Split
by Joy Roulier Sawyer

In the Year of our Lord of the Church Split,
we stopped phoning Donna
for her recipe for sugared baked beans;
forgot Lorraine crocheted the soft blue blankets
for our newborn sons.

In the Year of our Lord of the Church Split,
we dodged one another in the poultry department,
years of picnics—glazed ham & fried chicken—
packed away carefully on ice.

In the Year of our Lord of the Church Split,
we wept alone over miscarriages, divorce;
our needles moving soundlessly through linen,
cross-stitching unbroken threads.

This…

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THE Game

THE Game

Football is in High Season right now. It’s become enmeshed in headlines: kneeling, concussions, NFL attendance are all loudly flamed. But it’s also the time of championships, pro playoff debates and season-ending “rivalry games.”

I find an odd connection with the sport of football and faith in religion. Quite personally, for me, there is an intimate connection to the sport. I played, coached, and one son played all the way through college. The scale and hype of Big Time Football leaves me cold. But similarly, for this Cradle Episcopalian “Churchman,” church and churchiness leaves me cold, too.

However, the love I feel…

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Suitcases of Evil

Suitcases of Evil

Editor’s note: the following post touches on disturbing topics such as child abuse and should be read with discretion. It is a follow-up to Richard’s recent piece, “Praying Twice.”

Grace on a Gravel Road

Grace on a Gravel Road

By Andrew Taylor-Troutman.

One lazy afternoon when the light oozed in the air like honey, this old farmer told me that the school bus would come all the way down the gravel road to the driveway of the manse. He had stopped by to drop off Tommy Toe tomatoes from his wife’s garden. My wife and I had no children at the time. Six years later, our firstborn is getting ready to start kindergarten in the fall. But first we are moving away. I am about to begin a new call to another church.

***

The church I have served is…

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Book Smart and Gospel Stupid

Book Smart and Gospel Stupid

This one comes to us from Chad Bird.

If you can tell me all about the Almighty’s mind-blowing power to fashion ladybugs, the Milky Way, and titanium from absolutely zilch, but don’t get around to talking about our re-creation in Christ…

If you can marshal vast arrays of evidence to fight tooth-and-nail with those who deny the days of creation were seven twenty-four hour periods, but never take the time to talk about the hours our Lord hung upon the cross…

If you can untangle the genealogies of Kings and Chronicles; synthesize the competing accounts of the regnal years of Israelite royalties; and…

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"He Reads Well"

“He Reads Well”

I was both thrilled and intimidated when my church asked me — then a 29 year old college minister — to become their interim pastor. While I loved to preach, I was nervous about having to prepare practically every Sunday. I treated those sermon manuscripts like so many of the doctoral seminar papers I was producing during that crazed period of life — composed on an Apple Macintosh and printed out on a dot-matrix printer mere minutes before the sermon was “due.” I would step gingerly toward the pulpit with my Bible and still-warm sheaf of 8.5 x 11 pages,…

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Just My (Christian) Imagination Running Away With Me

Just My (Christian) Imagination Running Away With Me

This article was originally posted by the John Jay Institute, as part of an online symposium it held on Christian Imagination a couple years back. It’s been lightly edited.

It’s embarrassingly difficult to find oneself largely without answers but with questions, especially in the context of beautiful reflections on art, liturgy, the imago dei, and other affectively-charged elements of the Christian imagination. For example, the question of the imagination’s being ‘fully redeemed’ is one that a stubbornly literal-minded person cannot quite wrap his head around. Awash in thoughts of family farms sold, inheritances forfeited, and next-of-kin pawning them back, such etymologically-constrained…

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Praying Twice

Praying Twice

Editor’s note: the following post touches on sensitive topics such as child abuse and should be read with discretion.

I am a member of one of the very smallest of American fraternities: the tiny and shrinking group of men who grew through early adolescence singing in Anglican boychoirs. Because I could and can sing, I was given in loco parentis when I was ten years old to an institution that trained boys to sing in an ancient English tradition of choral worship. We wore red or black cassocks and white surplices with ruffs loaned by the local Episcopal parish. The pictures were…

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When Death Happens To The Unknown Next Of Kin

When Death Happens To The Unknown Next Of Kin

My 67 year-old brother-turned-sister had retreated into work over the last 15 years. She was a bus dispatcher, but was, by all accounts, totally dedicated to being “at work”. No friends outside of the office, no hobbies.

So when she told her co-workers that she was going home after a morning shift to return for the night shift to “Do some things at home” it was unusual.

She never returned. They found her body, in bed, on Monday morning.

I wish it was a surprise. I wish I could say I now will miss her. But we had not spoken since I was…

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Navigating the Denominational Food Court

Navigating the Denominational Food Court

One of the mixed blessings of Martin Luther’s 500-year-old legacy is finding one’s place among the hundreds of denominations which roughly fly under the Protestant banner. In other words, how does one find the “right” denomination, assuming you profess faith in the lower-case catholic church? This is a particularly acute question for me, born and raised by Southern Baptist parents and educated and ordained in Southern Baptist institutions. As you might have guessed, Southern Baptists are rarely invited to sit at the cool tables in the denominational cafeteria (and often for good reason). A pastor friend once led his well-heeled…

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Am I My Brother's Keeper?

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

When I was a kid attending Sunday School in a very traditional Baptist church in the Midwest, we learned Bible stories… I became familiar with the regular cast of characters like Adam and Eve, Noah, David, Moses, etc. I could tell you that Moses parted the Red Sea; Adam and Eve ate an apple; David slew a giant (thanks to a relative who gifted me one Christmas with 12-inch David and Goliath action figures!). As a teen, I would learn that the book of Leviticus was all about how family members in the same house should not undress in the…

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