Pastor’s Column

The Place to Begin – At the End

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. Lent is that season in the church year that emphasizes repentance and contrition for our sins. It is also a season of self denial, fasting or taking on a new devotional practice or discipline as a way to encourage a deeper communion with Christ. Such practices remind us of the depth of Jesus’ self denial and Christ’s love for God and us. Such love is what compelled Jesus to give his life as “ransom for our sins” (Hebrews 9:15). Ash Wednesday gets its name from the tradition of putting ...
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Ready or Not…We’re Tackling Revelation!

The last book in the Bible has historically held a fascination for Christians as well as for those who don’t claim to be followers of Christ. The vivid imagery, the graphic depictions of destruction and judgment and the common belief that Revelation is a systematic and symbolic or literal (or both!) description of how the world will end has assured ongoing captivation with the book of Revelation. I, however, have not shared this fascination with the book. True confession: Revelation has never been a part of my regular Bible study or even Bible reading practices. I can’t recall a single ...
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The Year of Living Generously

Oh, my, but it’s been too long since I’ve written my “more or less” weekly column!  My last one went out some six weeks ago. Where does the time go? Since we’re still at the front end of 2018, I was wondering about what encouragement I could share. Then this thought came to mind:  Let’s make 2018 the Year of Living Generously! Honestly, I don’t think that will be much of a stretch for most of you. I was so very encouraged by your faithful financial stewardship throughout 2017. This past year proved to be one of, if not the, ...
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Overflowing with Thanksgiving

The small group that meets at the parsonage on Thursday evenings has been reading and discussing The Pietist Option, a recent book author by Covenanters Christopher Gehrz and Mark Pattie. Chris is a professor at Bethel College; Mark is the lead pastor at Salem Covenant Church in New Brighton, MN. The authors write about the distinctives that characterized the early pietist movement. Their thesis is that those early distinctives (which they characterize as pietist instincts) offer a positive way forward for the Church in these fractured and discouraging times. One such instinct was a hopeful realism. Early pietism came to ...
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Why?

On All Saints Sunday another mass shooting occurred. This time at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas where worshipers had gathered, as they had every Sunday, to offer praise to God and share in the love of Christ. 26 worshipers were murdered, almost half of which were children, including one entire family of nine. 20 were injured. The lone gunman later committed suicide as two armed community members approached the gunman’s wrecked SUV. Why? Why did this happen? Why do these mass shootings continue to happen? Columbine. Sandy Hook. Orlando. Blacksburg. Charleston. Las Vegas. Sutherland Springs. I struggle ...
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Young Children and Holy Communion

“How old does a child need to be in order to receive Holy Communion?” Surprisingly, that’s a question I don’t believe I have ever been asked in my 30+ years of pastoral ministry. This would not be a surprise if our church was Roman Catholic. In the Roman Catholic Church, there is a very specific tradition regarding when a child can receive Holy Communion. In that church, children go through a class of religious instruction on the meaning and teachings of Roman Catholicism with regard to Holy Communion. All this is in preparation of receiving Holy Communion for the very ...
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B.L.E.S.S. – Intentional Evangelism Initiative

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “evangelism”?  For too long and for too many of us, we associate this biblical mandate with words like guilt, manipulation, scary, pressure, and failure. This, of course, is regrettable, since evangelism – sharing the good news of God’s love in Jesus Christ – is meant to be both joyful and life giving. For the next six Sundays (October 15 thru November 19), we will go on a journey that I am praying will transform our attitudes and actions with respect to evangelism. Where we have associated evangelism with guilt and ...
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The Burden of a Broken World

This past Monday, Charlotte and I were getting ready for the short drive to Covenant Harbor to attend the Central Conference Pastor’s & Spouse’s Annual Retreat when I heard the news of the Las Vegas massacre. The worse mass shooting in modern U.S. history had occurred late Sunday night, October 1st. I felt sick to my stomach as I listened to the news reports. The despair of yet another heinous act of random violence lingered with me throughout the retreat. On Wednesday night, our first night back from the retreat, I woke up in the middle of the night with an ...
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So What’s Happening Around the Table?

In a few short hours, we will host our third free weekly community dinner – what we are calling simply “the Table.” Here are my preliminary observations: Man, do people love tacos! No leftovers either time! Average attendance for both Wednesdays: 45 – 50. The value of a personal invitation: last Wednesday we had our first non-Edgebrook Covenant guests at the Table. They all came by way of personal invitation of someone from our church. An unanticipated benefit of the Table: the ability for people from our church who work on Sundays to connect with their church family at this ...
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New Offerings at Edgebrook Covenant Church!

As I write this looking out my study’s window at our church, the sky is a rich blue, dotted with cottony clouds. There’s a nip in the air. Fall is here! And that means new offerings and new opportunities for us at Edgebrook Covenant Church! These include: Welcoming our new Worship & Music Director & Youth Minister, Desiree Robertson, whose first Sunday with us is Sunday, September 10! Our first monthly intergenerational worship is Sunday, September 10, at 10 AM Our first monthly intergenerational “Going Deeper” activity and coffee hour following worship, this month benefiting  the ministry of our hospital, ...
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