Breaking Convention

Edina Morningside Community Church
Today’s scripture reading: Mark 2:1-22 Sermon audio:

Ten years ago, I was just starting ministry with my first congregation, in a small blue-collar suburb southeast of St. Paul. The church had mostly older, white, straight members and struggled to make its budget. Yet they had made the bold decision to become Open and Affirming to LGBTQ people during the interim process, and had invited me there fresh out of seminary. In meeting with a pastor colleague to prepare for my ordination, she suggested that my ministry would be planting a new church within the old one, rather like a fallen nurse tree gives its energy and nutrients to new trees that grow up from its trunk.

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Healing Authority

Edina Morningside Community Church
Today’s scripture reading: Mark 1:21-45 Sermon audio:

I’ll never forget the summer I spent in seminary as a chaplain at Bridgeport Hospital in Connecticut. It was part of my training to be a pastor—my first extended experience with the medical system, and being present at times of death or great suffering. I felt disorientated walking into the hospital, disbelieving that I could have any part in the healing that took place there. The unit where I was to be responsible for spiritual care felt like a jungle of hallways, crowded with personnel, patients and what they called COWs (Computers on Wheels). A tour of the Emergency Department left me feeling even more inadequate, knowing that at times I would be responsible for ministering to whatever went on in the gleaming and sanitized rooms of this Level One trauma hospital. I walked through bustling units filled with confident hospital staff, and wondered what my place was amid all these professional healers. I didn’t have power to order medicine or set broken limbs, and I didn’t know anything about physiology or brain chemistry, so what was I doing there? Did my conversations with patients actually make a difference in their healing? Could fervent prayer that God be present actually make a difference to God, or change the outlook of the person I was praying with? I assumed that a “real” spiritual healer would look and act more like the Son of God.

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