Is Spirituality for Everyone?

Is Spirituality for Everyone?

As a child, my image of a spiritual person was stereotypical. I imagined a man in a turban sitting cross-legged on a beach, blissful smile on his face. If pushed to think of a woman, I suppose she was also in a turban sitting cross-legged on the beach. If this image tells us anything, it’s that we imagine spirituality to be something removed from our day-to-day experience. We tend to believe that the spiritual life happens in exotic places, to…

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Rhythms, rituals and the thoughtful creation of space

Rhythms, rituals and the thoughtful creation of space

“Architecture is the thoughtful making of space.” Louis Kahn said that, which is an interesting thing for an architect to say. If I’d been asked, I would have said that architecture was about making buildings. Beautiful buildings, but buildings nonetheless. Apparently a lot of people think so because if you google Louis Kahn, he’s described as being an architect and a professor “renowned for his weighty buildings and use of heavy materials.” But here’s a picture: It seems that if…

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The Day We Prayed for Santa Claus

The Day We Prayed for Santa Claus

Christmas Eve in 2006 fell on a Sunday.  The air crackled with the excitement of the children as the congregation gathered for church that morning.  As was our custom, I started the service by asking if there was anything people would like to pray for.  One girl, a quiet, reflective preschooler, raised her hand. “I’d like to pray for Santa Claus.”  She paused, looking up quickly at my face. “Because it’s very cold out and his job is dangerous.”  Her…

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Strangers in a Christmas Land

Strangers in a Christmas Land

I borrowed my title for this blog from the clever folks on our church’s worship planning team. The title came about as we discussed whether to hold a “Blue Christmas” service this year. If you’re not familiar with Blue Christmas, sometimes called “Longest Night,” or “Darkest Night,” the service is a lament service offered sometime in December. The goal is to offer a time for people to experience sadness in the midst of all the holiday cheer. If you’ve ever…

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Christmas is Messy (An Annual Reminder to Breathe)

Christmas is Messy (An Annual Reminder to Breathe)

“Life is messy. Would that every puzzle piece fell into place, every word was kind, every accident happy, but such is not the case. Life is messy” This bit of wisdom comes from Christopher Moore’s The Stupidest Angel and fittingly enough, it’s a Christmas book. (Sort of.  I mean, it’s wildly inappropriate and not a family read at all but its set at Christmas time and it has a surprising dose of holiday spirit.) It’s fitting that such wisdom comes…

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Saints and Strangers: Standing Together in Love (a sermon for a divided country)

Saints and Strangers: Standing Together in Love (a sermon for a divided country)

In 1620 a group of about 40 religious refugees boarded a merchant ship leaving England and sailing for the “new land.” Others called them the “Separatists,” or the “Congregationalists” because of their desire to separate from the Church of England and return to the ideals of the Protestant Reformation. They oh-so-humbly called themselves the Saints. With this, they clearly aligned themselves with the religious cause: they were holy people, distinguished from the “Strangers,” the other people on board the ship…

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Stewardship: what money has to do with spirituality

Stewardship: what money has to do with spirituality

When I was a kid, my sisters and brother and I would often play a game of “if we were rich.” You know the game, right? “If we were rich, we’d have a house with 100 rooms.” “If we were rich, we’d have a pool on the roof.” “If we were rich, we’d hire a maid.” And, of course, if we were rich, we’d help all of the homeless people and the hungry people and the sick people. I had…

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Rites and rituals, the holy in the every day

Rites and rituals, the holy in the every day

One Sunday while I was in high school I invited a friend to attend church with me. I felt the need to warn her about two things: There weren’t a lot of kids our age. We did this weird thing every Sunday called “Passing the Peace.” This second one was a great source of embarrassment to me. I couldn’t fathom why we would stand up, walk around and say hello to people. Having no idea that this was an ancient…

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When Your Partner’s Faith Doesn’t Match Yours

When Your Partner’s Faith Doesn’t Match Yours

Several years ago I was at a women’s Bible study when the topic turned to family life. One by one, many of the women shared a sadness about their partner’s faith life. One women was in a mixed-belief marriage with formerly religious man. Although her husband still went to church with her, he did it reluctantly. The grief over the death of this part of their relationship was deep. One woman was less religious than her husband and found his…

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When Words Fail

When Words Fail

It’s been one of those weeks when words just can’t keep up with my prayers. I, like you, find myself tripping over my concerns, my heart barely getting traction to lift up one thing when the next thing comes barreling down. Now, we know God hears all prayers–from the carefully worded prayers we pray in public to the unintelligible gasps of joy or sorrow in life’s deepest moments. So I’m not particularly worried about making sure God’s listening. But prayer…

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