Love Forgives and Starts Anew

Edina Morningside Community Church

Today’s scripture reading:
John 8:2-11
Sermon audio:

One of the things I love about being a pastor is the variety of very different things I am able to do over the course of a week. I am by turns a worship planner, pastoral caregiver, staff supervisor, building coordinator, teacher, preacher, digital evangelist, community representative, public advocate, and even a periodic email-answerer! This Christian calling—for everyone and not just pastors—invites us to use every possible opportunity we have to show Christ-like mercy and transformative justice, both within and beyond our congregation. Continue reading “Love Forgives and Starts Anew”

Love Shelters and Gives Life

Edina Morningside Community Church

Today’s scripture reading:
John 10:1-18
Sermon audio:

Before the Christmas program a couple months ago, one of our youngsters proudly pointed out that she changed roles this year. She described what she clearly considered a promotion. For the past several years, she has been a sheep. But this year, Miss Maggie was a shepherd! And who knows—next year, maybe an angel. And the year after that, Mary? At least she wouldn’t have to be a sheep any longer—that was for baby children who couldn’t do anything else.

Continue reading “Love Shelters and Gives Life”

Abide in My Love

Edina Morningside Community Church

Today’s scripture reading:
John 15:1-17
Sermon audio:

Javen and I have made a couple mistakes with our little rosebud tree. A few years ago, we decided to replant the gardens around our house, and our biggest investment was a dwarf rosebud tree next to the front entrance. It’s not supposed to get more than 8 feet tall, with fluttering heart-shaped leaves and sweet little pink buds that come out early in the spring. But in the last several years, we realize we still planted it too close to the house foundation. It’s not able to thrive if the roots are cramped against the concrete, not given room to grow. Also, the tree had misshapen leaves throughout the entire last season. We recently got the results of a test back, and it appears that mites had infested the tree. These little mites are smaller to see than aphids, but they had sucked out all the sap leading to the leaves, leaving the leaves cupped and unable to bend open or soak up the light. Our sweet tree is a pitiful shadow of what it could be, judging from the advertised pictures when we bought it.

Continue reading “Abide in My Love”

Come and See

Edina Morningside Community Church

Today’s scripture reading:
John 9:1-41
Sermon audio:

A company called Second Sight has been working for years on technology that gives sight to the blind. The model they are testing has cameras implanted in a pair of glasses. Images are then wirelessly broadcast to a receiver that’s implanted in the surface of the eye, which sends them through the retina to the brain. Those who once were blind are now able to see—well enough to go skiing, take up archery, and move around at will.

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The Worship Challenge

It’s come very quickly, but the church season of discipleship and renewal that we call Lent begins next week! If it takes twenty-one days to learn a new habit, the forty days (plus Sundays) of Lent give Christians more than twice that time to renew a past practice or start a new commitment. You may already have something in mind for Lent, but if you don’t let me invite you to double down on the church “habit” this year. I challenge you to attend worship every time it’s offered in Lent. If you’re out of town from your customary place of worship–like I will be on one Sunday–the challenge means finding a service where you are at. This starts with Ash Wednesday next week, continues with each Sunday between February 18th and April 1st, and culminates with Holy Week worship on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. (Some churches also offer Easter Vigil worship on Holy Saturday–it’s a remarkable service!) For anyone who is out of the regular worship habit, I challenge you to get these dates on your calendar now. Even for those who regularly lead worship as singers or readers, this may be a challenge if you’re tempted to take a day off rather than to come and receive the spiritual nurture you so often share with others. And if Sunday mornings don’t work in your calendar, most churches offer some sort of weekday evening enrichment possibility in Lent. Continue reading “The Worship Challenge”

Come and See as Jesus Sees

Edina Morningside Community Church

Today’s scripture reading:
John 4:1-42
Sermon audio:

We start today with a puzzle of biblical geography. John’s gospel says that Jesus had to go through Samaria, but that’s just not the case. In the last chapter, Jesus was in Jerusalem and had that midnight conversation with the Jewish leader Nicodemus. Now we’re told that he leaves Judea and goes north again to Galilee. Any reasonable traveler between those two regions would have used either the coastal route along the Mediterranean, or the inland route along the Jordan River. Both are well-established paths of trade and travel, easier to navigate than the high hill country between them and to the east, which was Samaria. So when John writes that Jesus “had to go through Samaria”, that’s like a travel agent sending you from Minneapolis to Duluth, through Fargo. Something else is afoot. If Jesus does have to go through Samaria, it’s because of who he will meet there.

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From Bystander Silence to Claiming our Voices

Last night, Javen and I joined members of my church to see a church youth (pictured) perform in the Edina High School production of MEAN, a musical about bullying. The show emphasizes that people can find every reason to pick on one another (reading ability, headscarves, weight, sexual orientation, etc), and the consequences can be deadly. It struck me as relevant for people of all ages, since our society has become toxic in its displays of intolerance, partisan taunting, and bitter division. Yesterday afternoon, for example, Javen and I joined others from our congregations at an interfaith solidarity response at Dar Al farooq Islamic Center, after Muslims in Minnesota were slammed for “infiltration” simply because they were learning how to caucus. Bullying happens long after teens leave their high school cafeterias.

Continue reading “From Bystander Silence to Claiming our Voices”