Monthly Archives: November 2013

  • Advent, Part 1

    Happy New Year! This is the first Sunday in Advent, which is regarded by Western Christianity as the beginning of the liturgical year. Sometimes Christians mistakenly think of Advent as being synonymous with the birth of Christ or with Christmas. But it really isn’t. In fact, Advent’s primary focus is on what we usually call the second coming of Christ. It’s for this reason that you will find the lectionary readings of the church focusing on this topic, this year.

    I like what Laurence Stookey says about this, “What may seem to be an anomaly is a very important theological point: The beginning of the liturgical year takes our thinking to the very end of things.” (Christ’s Time for the Church, 121)

    This is important because beginning at the end equips us to make sense of the rest of Jesus’ life and … Read More »

    Posted in: Pastor Brian's Blog
  • How Worship Works, Part 5

    Last week I ended with these words: “What we sing is important, but so is how we sing. What we say matters, but so does the way we say it. What we eat matters, but so does the manner in which we eat it.” By extension, the content of our worship is just as important as the form. Or, put another way; the way in which we worship is as important as the One we worship. To put it that way is to frame the discussion in the most serious way possible.

    While I have resisted getting involved in the sophomoric discussion about contemporary music vs. traditional (hymns, organs and piano), I have tried, at the same time, to insist that form and style are not morally neutral. To say this is to say what James K.A. Smith does when he … Read More »

  • How Worship Works, part 4

    This week a local pastor and “friend” of mine from Facebook posted something that caught my attention. He recently sold his house and moved into a new one. That, however, didn’t stop him from driving to his old house by mistake on his way home. And this he did four times! You’ve done things like this before. I remember as a kid driving with my dad on Saturdays and he would occasionally exit the exit that he took every day for work rather than the one we actually needed for our destination.

    What happened to this pastor? The man is clearly not stupid. Stupid people don’t get PhDs. And even though he may have chalked it up to daydreaming or something else, I think there is something else at play. What is at play is the way that habit (James K. … Read More »

  • How Worship Works, part 3

    In his new book, In Search of Deep Faith: A Pilgrimage into the Beauty, Goodness and Heart of Christianity, Jim Belcher tells of the one year pilgrimage he and his family took retracing the steps of faithful Christians and their deep faith. It’s a fascinating read, probably the best book I have read this year. Part of the reason he took this pilgrimage with his family was to instill in his children a robust faith that would not crack under pressure. In the second chapter he retraces the steps of Sheldon Vanauken, friend of C.S. Lewis and author of Severe Mercy. He tells of the ups and downs of his journey of faith. Jim’s book is part historical and part personal, all woven together in a hard-to-put-down tapestry. In one part of this chapter he invites us into his home … Read More »

    Posted in: Pastor Brian's Blog
  • Apostles’ Creed

    Evangelicals have a general uneasiness to the use of creeds and confessions which springs from a very healthy respect for the Holy Scriptures.  If you are one of them and wonder why we use them be sure to check out an earlier installment I wrote here http://www.newlifelamesa.org/pastor-brians-blog/confession-of-faith/.  Here our discussion will be limited to an introduction to the Apostles’ Creed.  Whenever we confess the creed I hear questions about its content.  Hopefully this piece will go a little way into answering some of them.

    Philip Schaff highlights the pride of place given by Christendom to the Apostles’ Creed when he says, “As the Lord’s Prayer is the Prayer of prayers, the Decalogue the Law of laws, so the Apostles’ Creed is the Creed of creeds.”  For this reason alone we cannot be ignorant of it.  It might be compared to one … Read More »