A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
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I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Monday, October 19, 2020

Releasing Plans, Having Faith


by Lindsey Funtik, Coordinator of Volunteer Ministries, Ashland First United Methodist Church,  Ashland, Ohio.
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Last Saturday morning, my human nature sprang out of bed with a vengeance. On my Sabbath the previous day, I had plans of spending extended time with Jesus in an autumnal park, but as the morning faded into afternoon, it became increasingly difficult to imagine getting off the couch. My head was aching and my face was warm and blankets had become my one solace in a world turned a bit blurry, but I wasn't sick! Of course I wasn't!

Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Indelible Image


Scriptures and Prayer for the Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost


Old Testament: Exodus 33:12-23 or Isaiah 45:1-7



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You know each of us by name, O God, and in your sight we have found favor, yet our minds cannot comprehend the vision of your glory or the vastness of your love. Grant that as we glimpse your greatness, reflected in your many gifts, we may always return to you the praise that is yours alone. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Autumnal Prayer


by Lindsey Funtik, Coordinator of Volunteer Ministries, Ashland First United Methodist Church,  Ashland, Ohio.
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Artistic God of All Seasons, 

To watch the leaves in my neighbors' yard change is to reflect on Your being, not in that You are changing (You've always been the same and that helps the world make some sort of sense), but in that You are multi-faceted, still being revealed to eyes that need reminded year after year after year. We've seen this before, and yet here we are with stolen breath as we observe the rhythm tapping on, as we experience anew the slow, churning movement of a reality we only believe is fast. The truth is that You are infinitely patient and I don't think You mind showing off a little. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Christians and Violence: A Modest Proposal



For the church throughout most of its history the question of the Christian and violence has been controversial. Should Christians ever pick up the sword? If they can, is there a limit to the kind of violence they can inflict? If they cannot, can they still support the war effort in non-violent roles (e.g. working in hospitals caring for the wounded)?

For the first three centuries of Christianity, there is little doubt that the church rejected violence and going to war as an option for Christians. Some have questioned this suggesting that the church's prohibition against military service in the Roman army was largely due to the inability of Christians to participate in pagan worship and declaring allegiance to a divine Caesar. Christian historian Ron Sider has effectively countered that latter argument. The first generations of Christians embraced nonviolence as a hallmark of following Jesus.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Offering Pastoral Care When Things are Out of Control


Many years ago when I was a young associate pastor, there was a parishioner who was all of 4 foot 3 inches tall. She was Italian (like me) and she was a pistol. A couple of her fellow parishioners referred to her as a "test," She often challenged them in their discipleship as she accused them of stealing things and committing other unsavory deeds. "Maria" (as I will call her) was quite a piece of work, but I liked her. She kept us on our toes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Make Us Worthy

 

by Lindsey Funtik, Coordinator of Volunteer Ministries, Ashland First United Methodist Church,  Ashland, Ohio.
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Here's a shout out to all my fellow seminary students: Greek, amiright? Despite the fact that I love and work with the English language as a craft, I have never been particularly good at language learning. French class was a blur and Arabic class was a fight and Biblical Greek was no different. It was never for lack of trying, but for some reason my brain always struggled. 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Caesar's Pittance, God's Abundance: A Lectionary Reflection on Matthew 22:15-22

(Pictured above) is a Roman denarius with the image of Tiberius Caesar who reigned during Jesus' ministry. This is the coin Jesus would have asked for in Matthew 22:19.


In this election season, it is important to be reminded once again how out of context many Christians interpret Jesus' "render unto Caesar" statement.
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Some Pharisees come to Jesus in order "to trap him." They begin with empty flattery: "Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality." Jesus, of course, is not taken in by their empty words. But, nevertheless, the question they ask Jesus is politically charged. "Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not?"