Monthly Archives: February 2020

February 27 – Thanks, Jim, I hardly knew you

I suppose it’s what you do when you’re getting ready to retire. You look back even as you look forward to the good things yet to come.

So, I was thinking about things and for some reason Jim came to mind. I hardly knew him, really, but he was a friend. Jim may have had a decade or so on me age-wise. I was in my early thirties and Jim was somewhere in his forties. I was on staff at the church and Jim – well, I’m not sure exactly what he did, but he was good at it, and when Jim and his family moved to town they bought a really nice house on the lake. The lake was Oswego Lake in a suburb of Portland Oregon. The lake is two and a half miles long and runs west to east. Jim’s house was at the far western end of the lake and on a clear day as you sat on their dock you could see Mount Hood to the east.  It was a really nice house.

Jim and his family didn’t stay very long in our church or in our town. I think they moved on to some new challenge, some new success. By the time they left, Jim had been made an elder in our church. Jim didn’t talk much about his faith, but he was successful and had that really nice house on the lake. You never can tell why some churches make some people elders.

Our house was only about a mile from the lake, and not as nice as Jim’s. But the rent was cheap and we were happy there. Continue reading

February 21 – In Non-Essentials Liberty

On Wednesday we will gather at the Table and in worship to mark the beginning of the Lenten season.  Ash Wednesday we call it.  I like this service and its somber and simple mood. I hope you will join us.

Among its lesser attributes, our Ash Wednesday service is an exercise in what the Evangelical Presbyterian Church calls liberty in the non-essentials.

Sixty years ago, no self-respecting church calling itself Presbyterian or evangelical would have thought of holding an Ash Wednesday service.  That was the stuff of papists and their too-close-for-comfort Episcopalian friends.  What was the Reformation about, anyway? Vatican II changed all that as we learned to be less suspicious of others in the holy catholic church. While eschewing any sense of penitence as righteousness-inducing work, many mainline Protestants and some Evangelicals, found Ash Wednesday observances and Lenten discipline to be spiritually helpful practices. Continue reading

February 14 – Speak, O Lord

We have been using a not so new Keith Getty and Stuart Townend hymn, Speak, O Lord, in our LPC worship. Getty and Townend wrote the piece to be sung in worship as a prayer in preparation for the hearing and the preaching of the Word.

Speak, O Lord, as we come to You
To receive the food of Your Holy Word.
Take Your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in Your likeness,
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All Your purposes for Your glory.

God speaks to us most clearly and most reliably through the words of Scripture. In worship together or in our own reading of the Word, what do we hear as God speaks?

I begin most days with the Psalter readings from the Daily Office in the Book of Common Prayer. Every psalm read every seven weeks, in what appears to be some random order; I don’t know what to expect each day – lament, praise, thanksgiving, supplication.

The first reading for this morning is Psalm 88, a bitter lament. It frightens me.

The psalm is a psalm of the Sons of Korah. It is written in the first person. Which son of Korah was this? What had happened to him?  His bitterness is more than I want to hear. Why would God give us this Psalm? Speak, O Lord? What are you saying? Continue reading