Contemplative Church

  • The final stage in Erik Erickson’s psychosocial development is integrity versus despair.  In short, what this means is that people who have worked hard at developing a life of integrity will have the capacity, as they near the end of life, to enjoy a sense......

  • I am several months into an experiment of trying to bring a Benedictine pattern of prayer and work into my daily rhythm.  This commitment started with a statement made by Cynthia Bourgeault who was leading a retreat at The Glastonbury Abbey in Hingham, Massachusetts for......

  • Many years ago, a group in my church was using a tool developed by a pastor and friend, Tom Thresher, to help people explore why it is so hard to create change in our lives.  He adapted a process outlined in Immunity to Change, by Lisa......

  • One of the Scripture readings for this Sunday is from Jeremiah 18, in which we humans are compared to clay that is being worked by a potter, who represents God.  The claim is made that the potter is free to rework the clay if the......

  • For the past three months, I’ve been trying to be more intentional about creating a rhythm of life, inspired by the Benedictine pattern of ora et labora, prayer and work.  I’ve been reading from a contemporary Benedictine, Joan Chittister, who writes beautifully about the relevance......

  • It was a hot day yesterday.  The thermometer nearly hit 100 degrees.  After officiating at a memorial service, I had gone to the reception in our church hall which is not air-conditioned.  When I left, the temperature in the room was 96.  Once home, I......

  • A spiritual practice which I have been trying on more deliberately this past year is called Welcoming Prayer.  I find it a very counter-instinctive practice, so it has taken some time to bring it into the flow of my day.  The idea is to bring......

  • I find myself wondering about my responsibility as a pastor in these divided and concerting times.  To me, it seems clear that we have a president who is undermining democratic norms and values and appealing to an energy of fear which shuts down creative and......

  • Friday night, my wife and I joined some good friends for dinner to celebrate a couple of birthdays.  We were outside.  It was fun and relaxed and the conversation flowed.  At the dinner table, our host announced that he was going skydiving the next day......

  • I read reports that it hit 90 degrees Fahrenheit in Anchorage, Alaska last week.  Humans have never seen this reading there before.  Much of Europe also has experienced record-breaking heat this summer.  Where I live in New Jersey, we have had unusual amounts of rain. ......

  •   For many, the development of human reasoning and the flourishing of the scientific method necessarily brought about the decline of religion.  Unfortunately, much of church leadership has been threatened by the discoveries of science and began, centuries ago, a pattern of resistance which has......

  • Feeling drawn to a deeper communion with God, how do I seek to integrate this longing with my role as a pastor of a mainline, Protestant church?  Having pastored in my current setting for twenty-one years, has given me “permission” to explore this question in......

  • Before his death, Jesus prophesied the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.  The destruction of the central symbol of God’s presence didn’t seem to unnerve Jesus.  Obviously, Jesus did not equate religious structures and symbols with God.  The death of religious structures and institutions was......

  • In my early years of ministry, I remember going to meetings of clergy.  At some point in our meeting, everyone would pull out their calendars as we tried to schedule the next meeting.  It was an extraordinary exercise of show-and-tell, as we displayed to each......

  • Lent is a church season devoted to reflection and the work of the heart.  It’s a time for asking why we are here and what supports and what resists our intentions for living more faithfully and lovingly.  In the classic pattern of western Christian spirituality,......

  • On the journey toward maturity as spiritual people, hopefully, we move beyond mere self-concern—I’m saved—toward an engagement with the suffering of the world—how can I bring healing to others?  Certainly, Jesus was a healer and manifested compassion in profound ways.  As ones who follow the......

  • Institutional religion is a mess these days.  Respectable mainstream churches no longer fire the imagination or inspire people to deepen their encounter with the Holy.  Fundamentalist churches promise the moon and the stars, but, in reality, lock people into silos of closely guarded communities which......

  • I am a mystic.  By that, I simply mean, someone who has had and continues to have experience of God or transcendence or Mystery.  Insert whatever word you want, they all fall short.  I am also highly educated and love the life of the mind. ......

  • I woke up feeling vulnerable this morning.  Perhaps it has something to do with the rhythms of life.  Periods of heavy lifting and activity followed by a pause.  This morning, I was in a moment of pause, with nothing pressing on my schedule.  Maybe that’s......

  • I feel a tug to write about the sea change in the mainline church, where I have served as a pastor since 1984.  George Orwell’s dystopian novel, imagined the year 1984 as a hellish scene of alienation and control, which seems much more apt as......