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October 6, 2019, 12:00 AM

My Two Cents


Here’s something kind of cool. Little Free Pantries.

They look like those house-shaped boxes with Plexiglas doors that stand in front of people’s homes and at the edge of city parks.

“Take a book; Leave a book”.

We have one right here in the Christian Temple playground that sprung up like a wildflower around the time we painted the mural on the sidewalk. A few people keep track of the box, making sure the books are appropriate and that nothing other than books sneaks in. Otherwise it works all by itself.

A Little Free Pantry (www.littlefreepantry.org) works the same way providing a different kind of sustenance. Once it’s built and initially stocked with non-perishable food, toiletries and information about more formal ways to seek assistance, people are welcome to come and visit. Take a tube of toothpaste. Leave a can of corn. Take a flyer with community assistance information (without having to ask someone for it). Leave that shampoo bottle that’s been in your basement for a while. People who patronize the Little Free Pantry are able to do so without the stigma that can sometimes accompany a visit to the local food bank. While there, they are free to grab something out of need or convenience. But they are also free to leave something the next time. And to enjoy the feeling that comes from being part of a neighborhood that cares.

Maybe the best thing about this? Like our playground lending library, this idea came to us from one of our neighbors, who is interested in building the box and wonders if there might be a few of us in the church and community who might like to join the fun.

What do you think? This could be a great way to deepen our neighborhood welcome while providing an on-ramp to more formal assistance for people who are understandably reluctant to ask for help. A Little Free Pantry box on our grounds would be a great way to live out those opening sentences we say every Sunday. “As part of the one body of Christ, we welcome all to God’s table, as God has welcomed us.”

Not a bad thought to ponder on World Communion Sunday.

Welcome to worship!




September 29, 2019, 12:00 AM

My Two Cents


Who in the world is Divies?

In the anthem the choir is about to sing (and we are all about to really enjoy) based on Luke 16, there is a name that was new to me. Divies. Pronounced Dive-ee, like, “Little lambsy Divey”.

Many of us know the other names in this story of the man dressed in purple and fine linen, right? We know about Lazarus, the man laying at the gate of the big house, covered with oozing sores, too weak to shoo away the dogs that were drawn by his wounds.  Lazarus is the Latin translation for the Hebrew Eleazar which means “God has helped”. Lazarus never speaks but he is at the heart of the story. When he dies the angels gently lift him by his swollen hands and useless feet, and carry him straight into the bosom of Abraham. Lazarus. Eleazar. God has helped.

The other role in this story is played by Abraham himself who gathers in Lazarus and immediately tends to his wounds.

But until this week I had never heard the name of the character who had the good life on earth and wasn’t so lucky after he died. To me, he was always just the rich man. As it turns out, ‘rich man’ in Latin is translated as ‘dives” pronounced more like ‘diva’ than ‘dive’. When the Bible was translated into Latin, ‘rich man’ became ‘dives’. And as time went on, the word that initially described the man, became his name. You know how a person short of stature might become Shorty? Dives became Divies.

When Jester Hairston arranged this old spiritual as a four part choir anthem a few years ago, he carried on the African American tradition of naming the rich man Divies. I wonder if this tradition stayed alive during the days of slavery because it allowed the rich man to be named cautiously enough to keep the singers from getting in trouble. I wonder but I don’t know. I just know that Divies is nowhere to be found in most English translations of the Bibles.

But maybe it’s right for the rich man to have a name. Too often we might think of the rich as an abstract concept or a “them” we don’t really know. The troubling truth is that if Jesus was telling us this story today, we would all be among the rich. Every one of us has a name, and maybe even a Lazarus within our field of vision and influence we find it far too easy not to see.

Welcome to worship!

 




September 22, 2019, 12:00 AM

My Two Cents


We know that a congregation is more than just what it “does”. We know that the center of any congregation is the opportunity it offers to connect with the God we have come to know in Jesus Christ.  Still it remains true that “staying” has a lot to do with finding a satisfying way of “doing”.

We have a variety of things to do around here. Here is a weekly sampling for your consideration!

Those whose only day to do church stuff is Sunday might be interested in helping to set up communion, hand out bulletins, greet people at the door, read scripture, or be a helper in Children at Worship.

Those who have Monday free every now and then may want to come over to the church in the morning to help count money, or in the evening on the first Monday of the month to help make casseroles that get delivered to the Westside Men’s Shelter.

Those who could spare a little time on Tuesdays are welcome to join the Bell Choir- a little knowledge about music is helpful but one does NOT need to be able to sing.

Free on Wednesdays? If it’s during the day we have a study group that meets at 9:30. During the afternoon once a month we have a book club. And in the evening every other month we have a board meeting.

How about Thursday? A prayer and study group is always open to newcomers at 6:15. And our great Chancel choir is waiting for YOU at 7:30.

Free on Fridays? Then you might want to get a sitter and make Theology on Tap your once a month date night.

And on Saturdays, every now and then we offer days for community service, and days to help set up for a Thanksgiving dinner or decorate for Christmas and Easter. Or even dig in the garden to make our grounds beautiful.

See, we have a little something for almost every day of the week. This is really just the tip of the iceberg.  And our deepest hope is that through one or more of these activities, we might not only be a place to worship, but also a place to belong.

Welcome to worship!




September 15, 2019, 12:00 AM

My Two Cents


Did you know that Thursday was the 231st birthday of Alexander Campbell? No? Well, now you do!

 

Two hundred and thirty one years ago Alexander Campbell was born. And just a few short years later, along with his dad, Thomas, he went on to found what would become the denomination we call the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Pretty cool stuff.

 

Essentially, our denomination began over a disagreement about communion. The church the Campbells grew up in felt that only a select few should

receive it. The Campbell’s begged to differ saying everyone is welcome to the table. The church of the day only served communion when the ordained clergy happened to be in town to preside at the table. The Campbells, hearkening back to the first century church, felt that our “meal” should happen every time we worship, whether or not the ordained were around to serve it.

 

Now, here we are two hundred and some years later still sharing communion with everyone who comes to worship, and still serving it every time we gather. But, what’s this Christian Temple business of offering communion in two different ways? Sometimes we come forward to receive the meal. Other times the elements are brought to us. Why is that?

 

Theologically speaking, we’ve always liked people serving one another in the pews since this practice emphasized our core value of the priesthood of all believers. But this practice was a little easier to manage back in the days when our sanctuary was symmetrical and our pews were a lot shorter! Now, it can be confusing for our members- and especially our newcomers- to know what do during communion, making the experience a little more stressful than it might otherwise be.

 

So, a few years ago we decided to gradually introduce the idea of coming forward for communion on the first Sundays of the month, and during the summer when our crowds are typically a little smaller. Each year we’ve grown more and more comfortable with this way of doing things.  And, while it is lovely to be served communion in our pew, many of us also find it touching to receive the elements at the table from an elder, along with the soft spoken blessing,“This is the body of Christ, this is the cup of salvation”.

 

So where does all of this leave us? Maybe you could help us answer that question. As we go back to serving communion to people in the pews during the fall, please let us know what you think? Which do you prefer? Our sense is that we are naturally gravitating toward the common practice of coming forward to the altar for our special meal. But we would love to hear from you.

 

And we do all of this in the spirit of old Alexander Campbell. Whose

priority was that our holy communion remain the central experience of our worship service- no matter how it is served.

 

Welcome to worship!

 




September 8, 2019, 12:00 AM

My Two Cents


The fall of 2001 was a heady time for Christian Temple.

On Labor Day weekend we were basking in the afterglow of a recent ‘all hands on deck’ production of Godspell. We were preparing for our first sabbatical time to begin the following Sunday, during which I would be away for two months while the esteemed Bill Howland, formerly of National City Christian Church, would serve as our pastor. “The Ponderosa”, a prequel to the hit TV Western, “Bonanza” starring my little nephew, Drew Powell, premiered on September 9th! And the annual Bethany Beach retreat was only two weeks away.

Then, Tuesday, September 11th happened and several narratives began. There was the national one we were all suffering through. Locally, one of our own families lost a dear lifelong friend when Flight 93 went down in the mountains of central Pennsylvania. Pastor and congregation were separated at a terrible time by the planned sabbatical and the over 800 miles between Baltimore and St. Louis. And, while we didn’t know it yet, esophageal cancer was metastasizing inside the bigger than life body of one our most active church members. These events were all braided together when Doug Welch received his cancer diagnosis right around the time that the congregation hosted the memorial service for Lizzie Wainio presided over by Jayna Powell while her husband broke sabbatical protocol by working in the kitchen for the reception.

Wow! And the stories from those months just kept coming. And we’ve told those stories. And we’ve loved those stories. And those stories say a lot about who we were all those years ago, and who we are still.

But, as we begin our new program this year the same way we’ve begun our program every year since the 9-11 attacks- with a day of service- we need to keep this in mind: vital congregations are those that celebrate their past but not for too long. As important as these eighteen year old stories- and all the other ones we enjoy around here- are, newcomers are attracted to the body of Christ more by the opportunity to create new stories than by remembering the old ones. As a congregation that has very recently received recognition for being open and inclusive, we need to remember that spending too much time telling the old stories- even the really good ones- will always exclude those who didn’t live through them.

So, here’s to a new year filled with responding to the world’s violence with acts of justice and compassion; nurturing God’s children in the faith; offering ministry to those who are sick and grieving; and celebrating the presence of Jesus Christ whenever we gather!

Welcome to worship!


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