Category Archives: Uncategorized

When Clergy and Laity Disagree

What does it mean when the beliefs and practices of the clergy are entirely opposite from the beliefs and practices of the laity. In the recent debate over contraception (hard for me to believe we would even debate contraception), 98% of American Catholics said they use contraception. Yet, the official church doctrine says contraception is “intrinsically evil” (Vademecum for Confessors 2:4, Feb. 12, 1997).

Catholic hierarchy acts and speaks as though Catholic laity follow this. As if all Catholics are all using the rhythm method and hold the fertility beliefs of Mrs. Duggar.

I think it comes down to the fact that no doctrine is difficult to uphold, if it doesn’t effect you. The cardinals in Rome are not in need of contraception or marriage rights or better healthcare. The laity are. Martin Luther thought priests should marry because there was “nothing in scripture requiring celibacy”. Or maybe it was because he had fallen in love with Katherine von Bora. Celibacy had finally effected him–theologically and personally.

In the UCC, the hierarchy (loosely understood as the National Office, and the Conference) cannot impose any beliefs on the laity or the local clergy. That is why even though the denomination has been encouraging “open and affirming” since the 1985 synod, only a small percentage of churches have officially become ONA. The laity always have the power to decide over the clergy or the hierarchy.

And therefore, the UCC clergy and laity have the privilege of existing in a state of mutual respect, if not mutual agreement. We may not always share the same views–socially or theologically, but we never forget what it means to be Church.


Posted by on March 12, 2012 in Laity, Uncategorized


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Life Without Butter

In addition to tweaking my sermon, sitting on the sun-drenched deck, and finishing a novel I’ve been reading in snatches all week, I spent part of my Saturday baking healthy muffins. The muffins are for the “light breakfast” served at the Just Eating class on Sunday morning. As I said, they’re healthy, but like some things healthy(not all things, of course), they were a little disappointing. Which brings me to the question, is it really possible to bake without butter? The muffin ingredients sound wonderful and make one feel positively righteous about healthy eating – chopped apples, shredded carrots, brown sugar, whole grain flour, flax seed, stone cut oatmeal. Yet they are not quite what one wants when one chooses a muffin. Perhaps its not just my sermon that needs tweaking. The muffins could use a little help also.

If you haven’t been attending the Just Eating class at Zion, you might want to consider joining in. We start at 8:45 Sunday mornings (muffins and coffee at 8:30). It is a stimulating, interesting class—a good Lenten reflection and opportunity to get to know some new people. And, you can give me your opinion of the muffins.

See you in Sunday School!



Posted by on March 10, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Ever feel like much of life is spent waiting? Today I am waiting on a contractor, waiting on the dryer to finish drying my clothes, waiting on Spring to truly arrive, waiting on the Resurrection. We all spend a good deal of our time in the game of waiting.

I wonder what Jesus waited on? His ministry to start? His disciples to “get it”? the end of his life? the coming of the Kingdom?

What did Jesus do while waiting? He healed and preached. He went into the desert to pray. He ate with friends and dreamed of a world where the reign of God was a reality. He waited and acted at the same time. He waited and listened to God. He waited and loved. We should wait with the urgency and patience of Jesus.

What are you waiting on?

Moses and Maggie are waiting on a cookie.


Posted by on March 9, 2012 in Uncategorized


Just Eating

I’ve been thinking about our Adult Sunday School class. It is stimulating, fun, thought-provoking. I especially think about it at breakfast for some reason. The class is a UCC curriculum called Just Eating John Reissen teaches it and he does an incredible job of pulling together lots of information while still keeping it manageable for the group.

Last week’s discussion got me thinking about locally grown food and how little of it I consume. Steve Klein mentioned in class the disconnect that Americans have with their food. We are disconnected from where our food originates (fish from South America, mangoes from India) and what has been done to it before we get it.

I’ve decided that today I’m going to track where my food comes from.

For breakfast I had a pumpkin- banana smoothie with soy milk. The pumpkin came from Oregon, the banana from Honduras, and the soy milk from somewhere in the midwestern United States.

Not bad…let’s see what lunch brings.

Any thoughts on where your food comes from?


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Posted by on March 7, 2012 in Uncategorized


Enter my Sermon Title Contest

Coming up with a sermon title is not as easy as it sounds.  And you may have noticed that not all of my titles make sense.  For example, my recent sermon on Noah’s ark and the idea of covenant was “Will You Still Love Me When I’m 600”.  I forgot to include in my sermon text that that was Noah’s age when he built the ark (and it was a play on words for the Beatles song “Will You Still Love Me….” Well, you get the point).  I usually have to come up with Sunday’s sermon title on Tuesday which is long before I have given it much thought at all.  The reason for the early deadline is that Marilyn has to start the bulletin, Janice has to choose hymns, Sandy has to start the powerpoint, etc.  You are probably noticing that they all start their contribution to Sunday’s service several days before I do.  Either they are much more organized (they probably are) or they recover their creative drive faster than I do.  By Tuesday, I have just stopped thinking about the previous Sunday and am only just starting to contemplate (sort of) the upcoming Sunday. 

I create my title from the lectionary text.  Here’s how I do it:  I read the text, develop a one or two sentence theme(another way to say it is that I put the text in my own words), then I narrow it down to a pithy, 5-7 word sentence, and then voila! out pops the sermon title. 

Well, “out pops” is a little dramatic. Sometimes it pops.  Sometimes it crawls begrudgingly out of my brain and onto the paper (or screen).   During Lent this year I have a doubly difficult job for titles and sermon writing–I am not only using the lectionary but also the songs of the Beatles.  This week I am reading the story of Jesus clearing the temple (John 2:13-25)and trying to match that up with a choir anthem “Can’t Buy Me Love.”  

I learned this process from Preaching by Fred Craddock

I am only still working on part one– putting the text in my own words.  Why dont you try it?  Read the text  John 2:13-25 and then:

1.  Write the text in your own words–2-5 sentence theme.

2. Condense your theme into a subject of 5-7 words.

3.  And your title is?? 

send me your titles!  we’ll see which one wins….


Posted by on March 6, 2012 in Uncategorized


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