Pastor’s Corner 1/5/2019

Dear friends,

Happy New Year!

                 Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a big fan of the Harry Potter series. In Harry’s second year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he enters Headmaster Albus Dumbledore’s office and sees Dumbledore’s pet bird, Fawkes for the first time. Fawkes is sad and sickly-looking. Suddenly, Fawkes bursts into flames and seems to disappear completely. Harry is horrified, but Dumbledore tells him that Fawkes is a phoenix, and this is a normal part of a phoenix’s life cycle–when a phoenix gets old and tired, it catches fire, in order to be born again from the ashes. “About time, too,” Dumbledore says. “He’s been looking dreadful for days; I’ve been telling him to get a move on.” Sure enough, Fawkes is reborn as a majestic and powerful creature. 

         When we think of fire, we often see it as an agent of destruction. We see it as something dangerous that takes valuable things from us. Fire can, however, be an agent of purification and purging. Of starting over. Just like Fawkes the Phoenix has to catch fire in order to be reborn as a better bird, fire can symbolize new beginnings.


         The start of a new year is a fantastic time for new beginnings. This Sunday at St Paul’s we’re starting 2020 off with a bang. Thanks to the generous efforts and contributions of this congregation, we’ve paid off the building! With this heavy financial burden lifted, we can now put our resources towards pursuing new projects and new possibilities. To mark the occasion, we are burning our mortgage! My prayer is that, like Fawkes the phoenix, we will emerge from the ashes of this fire and be reborn, with renewed energy and spirit, and a new commitment to our ministry and to making a difference here in Helena.
Be sure to join us for fellowship between services to celebrate this huge accomplishment and our hopes for the future.


Grace and Peace,


Pastor’s Corner 12/15/19



                As we hurtle toward Christmas, racking up holiday dinners, concerts, parties, and other special events…possibly one or more per day…it could be that Advent has not registered on your consciousness.
                You know…that spiritual season of slowing down, waiting and listening for the still, small voice of God, cultivating quiet and preparing inwardly for the coming of Christ…THAT time! Uh huh.
Despite my best intentions, yet again I find myself looking at my Advent devotional, a full week behind, wondering how that happened AGAIN?! Ohm…


                 If you find yourself in a similar position of having forgotten to slow down, may I offer us some mutual grace? 
It is so terribly easy to get caught up in the cultural whirlwind that is the “Christmas Season!” Our culture and the Christian tradition are 180° apart in our pacing. Christian tradition says slow down, be quiet before Christmas and then celebrate enthusiastically for 12 days. Our culture celebrates wildly for 14 – 24 days prior to Christmas and then collapses in exhaustion (with a brief resurgence on New Year’s Eve) until going back to work and school, noses to the grindstone once more.                  Dear ones, my prayer for each of us is that we find (CREATE) time and space for the quiet time and reflection we NEED, and receive the Peace of Christ that will restore us body and soul.

Pastor’s Corner 11/24/19

         Dear Friends,
                Jesus’ invitation to “Follow Me” is ultimately a call for us to follow in his footsteps and patten our lives after Him. This applies not only to our individual lives as Disciples, but also to our life together as a community of faith.
                For us to follow the Prophetic Jesus means that we are called to be a Prophetic Church. What does that actually mean?
                The prophetic vision Jesus lifted up over and over again was the Kin(g)dom of God being realized on earth, fulfilling the hopes and dreams of generations. We are invited to share in this dream and equipped by the Holy Spirit to help realize it.
                This means SEEING the world differently than it currently is. This means looking at “reality” and not glossing over the rough spots or ignoring the pain of our world or the people in it. It means recognizing the truth and the gap between “what’s so” and the blessings of goodness according to God’s intent in Creation.
               We are meant to follow up Gospel-oriented clear sightedness by SPEAKING. We are challenged to speak truth to power…naming what is missing or misshapen in our society…despite any fears of causing discomfort or conflict.
              Finally, our speaking is meant to call forth ACTION…yes, from others, but even more importantly, from ourselves. How are we BEHAVING our faith? What steps are we taking to address the wrongs we see? Hand-wringing is not enough. We are called to join together to BE the Good News for and with our neighbors as we seek the fulfillment of Jesus’ vision. 
Let us be Prophetic Church, beloved!  

Pastor’s Corner 11/10/19

The Secret Life of Progressive Christians

         One movie that holds a place in my heart is the 2013 movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It is about a man that lives his life in daydreams instead of speaking up and stepping out to discover what the world has to offer until a snafu at work forces him to do so. Walter is shy, clumsy, and self-conscious.           I urge you to watch the movie if you haven’t. It has beautiful music, and I would go as far as to say that it could change your life. Sera Maddingly reflects on the story: “Every time I watch the movie, I start to tear up. Life goes so fast sometimes, and things can end or go bad within seconds. It’s terrifying. Many of us are hoping and wishing we’ll do something wonderful or groundbreaking. It’s sad to say many of us stick to the wishing, dreaming, hoping, and daydreaming for fear that we’re not good enough to live out our dreams.”

       We Christians are really good at living in our daydreams, too. The word “evangelical” has been hijacked, and for a lot of the last few decades, mainline Protestants and centrist/progressive Christians have leaned on the culture intertwined around Sundays and church. We have rarely invited our neighbors to church. We rarely tell people about our beliefs. We love to read about theology and social justice and daydream about “one day”. 
      I struggle with this as well. Ask me about weightlifting, and I will talk your ear off. Ask me about work, and I will be guarded with worry about what someone will assume about me. But, it’s time to change that. It’s time for us to share and be prophetic about what kind of God we believe in! Some of my best connections with people, who are unchurched (and probably plan to keep it that way) are when I DO share about my job, my dreams for the Church, and what we believe. 
What is your dream for the Church? How are you doing to live that out?