Pastor’s Column

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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Taking a Knee and Standing Up

As the start of the NFL season approaches, the practice of kneeling during the playing of our national anthem by some NFL players is once again, front and center. The searing effect of this form of visual protest has been magnified by the events in Charlottesville and its aftermath. In 2016, Colin Kaepernick (former NFL quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers) was the first NFL player to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem. He did it, not out of disrespect to our flag or those serving in the military, but as an expression of peaceful protest ...
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Final Reflections on the Book of James

I recently came across a series of questions that I believe are an excellent summary of the teaching we’ve encountered in the book of James. I hope you will join me in prayerfully reflecting on these during the month of August. These will help further root the practical and straightforward lessons on spiritual maturity James intended for us to learn. The author of these questions is Warren Wiersbe, a well-known and respected Bible teacher and preacher. Dr. Wiersbe taught for many years at the Moody Bible Institute and lived in the Edgebrook neighborhood for much of the time that he ...
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The Violence Within

Around 9:15 PM on July 4th, I was leaving Swedish Covenant Hospital when I found myself in the middle of one of the loudest celebrations of our nation’s birthday that I can remember. All sorts of high grade fireworks were being launched from River Park, and it was quite a sight (and quite a sound)! But in other parts of our city, all too familiar and deadly blasts were ringing out: gunshots, a familiar sound in too many Chicago neighborhoods wounded 102 people, 15 of them fatally over yet another violent Fourth of July weekend. But Chicago is not alone ...
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