Relinquishing Control: Alternatives to Livestreamed Worship During a Pandemic

For those of us used to observing trends and practices of the church,  the past few days have been a spectacle of church adaptation and willingness to accept change.  The ways churches have turned seemingly on a dime to utilize technology and engage the worshipping community has been miraculous and inspiring to behold. From creative expressions of worship optimized for live-streaming, to unique ways to be in ministry with children, to new means in which to gather together using video conferencing—churches have been forcefully shoved, willingly or not, into the twenty-first century. I am a United Methodist Deacon who is currently serving as a Lead Pastor of a church in Colorado with a degree in Sacred Music. I think a LOT about worship, especially the music and singing within it. And that thinking and training is what led me to make the decision not to livestream a simulation of our worship service onto Facebook Live or Youtube.  I am going to confess a bias of mine— I don’t

A Christmas Sermon: Being Egypt

This Sermon was preached on the twelfth and last day of Christmas. Christmas is incomplete for me unless I have an opportunity to reflect upon the story of the Christ child as a refugee. It has been a very long time since I have updated my blog, but below is a sermon I preached on Matthew chapter 2 where Jesus' family fled from Herod's violence. It acknowledges the "church refugee" crisis my United Methodist Church has also created in its decades long failure to see the LGBTQ community as fully human. My wife will be the first to tell you how hard it is to get any semblance of Christmas spirit out of me. I generally don’t enjoy most Christmas music heard on the radio, I am not really eager about Christmas decorations or the Christmas spirit. I feel a pressure during Christmas time to have certain feelings that are just not within me. Now to be honest, I now feel as if year after year I soften a little bit more. That’s probably Becky and her infectious C

Good Friday Affirmation of Faith

It's been a while, folks. But there are times where the liturgical season intersects with my interior life and I need to let something out. I find that rewriting an affirmation of faith helps me find the unspoken words I have within myself to speak into creation my identity as a christian, especially when it is hard or scary. So on this good friday, an affirmation. I believe in God; sometimes through sheer force of will only. I do not see God but I perceive God’s creation all around me—I see God in the wilderness, in the vastness and intricacy of nature, in community, and in you. I believe in God who is parent of us all, no matter what experience of “parent" we have encountered in our life—God’s parenthood fills those gaps. I believe in God’s infinite creativity. I believe in Jesus; God’s Son and God enfleshed; homeless and vagabond Lord of humanity. I believe in Jesus’ impatience with injustice who still loved the oppressed AND oppressor and desired for the liberati

Call to Worship: Fall On Us (Acts 10:44-48)

Holy Spirit, fall on us. Fill our emptiness to overflowing. Holy Spirit, fall on us. Replace our fear with courage. Holy Spirit, fall on us. Open our hearts to see your spark in those we meet. Holy spirit, fall on us. Holy spirit, fall on us. Muir Beach Overlook, 2017. Photo credit: Ben A. David Hensley

Call to Worship: "Reveal the Path"

God of Life, we are searching for the way. Reveal the path. We work hard to be good people, yet still feel like something is missing. Reveal the path. We know the difference between good and bad, yet find those categories incomplete.  Reveal the path. We want to love God but find it difficult to love our neighbor. Reveal the path. We get along with everyone but have a hard time finding God. Reveal the path.

Making Sacred Spaces More Sacred

It’s 4:19AM, and I am writing this from the reception desk of my church which has become a temporary pop-up homeless shelter. I am sleep deprived, full of coffee, and awestruck by how my last week has been. This blog mostly centers around my writing for worship, so I want to spend some time talking about the architecture of our sacred spaces. This paragraph might not seem cohesive or coherent yet, but it will. Let me refill my coffee.  Okay. While it is true that we can worship fully regardless of the space we are in, another argument can be for the impact our worship’s architecture has on our sense of reverence, awe, and our sense of the sacred in the midst of our worship. I have seen some incredible worship spaces, from the centuries old Abbey on the Island of Iona in Scotland, to the historic, 102 year old sanctuary of my own church, to a worship space that also serves as a coffee shop.  Main Sanctuary of the Abbey on the Island of Iona Two qualities serve as the ma

Call to Worship: Feed us Justice (Ezekiel 34:11-24)

Great Shepherd, feed us. Feed us joy when we despair. Great Shepherd, feed us. Feed us humility when we lose ourselves in pride. Great Shepherd, feed us. Feed us peace when we are overwhelmed with chaos. Great Shepherd, feed us. Feed us hope when we are lost. Great Shepherd, feed us. Feed us justice when we stray. Nourish us, O God, so that we may be nourishment for the  world. Feed us, O Shepherd, so that we may gain strength  to resist the powers and principalities of oppression. Guide  us, O Great Jehovah, so that we may be reflections of your  light in a world obscured by division, hatred, and fear.