27 February 2013

Don't forget joy and laughter in discipleship! | Fresh Expressions

Watch Lucy Moore discuss discipleship in Messy Church.

Hundreds of Messy Churches have been formed in the UK, and across the world, since the first one launched in Cowplain, Hampshire, nine years ago. Lucy says the question is increasingly being asked, 'Now what? Is Messy Church really making disciples?'
She comments,
This is a really interesting and difficult question to answer.
Messy Church congregations are starting from a different place than many who would normally be coming into some sort of discipleship process, comprising a different set of people with a different set of expectations and perhaps prejudices.
So what we've found really helpful is to think about discipleship as a process or a journey. Instead of simply asking if people have become disciples or Christians in Messy Church, we prefer to ask, 'Are they becoming disciples; are they becoming Christians?' The answer is, 'Yes, hugely,' but they are just starting from a long way back in many cases.
The result is that Messy Church is currently reassessing what discipleship involves in the way of learning.
It's not just cerebral learning, intellectual learning,
adds Lucy,
but it's also valuing the non-formal learning and the social learning which are hugely powerful in Messy Church and a crucial part of discipleship - whole life discipleship, not just head discipleship.
This is a long haul and it's why Messy Churches are there as church, not as events. They're there month by month by month over a period of years, carrying people through on their Christian journey and accepting that this is a very gradual process for them.
The challenge for those leading a Messy Church is to offer as many chances to encounter God as possible in the limited time span available.
I wouldn't want to undervalue what goes on through joy and fun and play in Messy Churches. I think that's actually very deep in many ways but it is probably undervalued when it comes to discipleship. We (the church) tend to value the quiet, solemn, mysterious, things and undervalue the joy and laughter and re-creation that goes on.
Lucy says Messy Church has considered devising a discipleship course but the feeling at the moment is,
Not yet. If ever. If we start prescribing what discipleship should be rather than allowing people to think it through for themselves, to allow each church to discover a way that's right for those people, those families, those teams; I think we could be missing out on something exciting that God's got on offer for us. So maybe the time will come for a course, I don't think it's yet.
Paul Moore's book, Making Disciples in Messy Church – Growing faith in an all-age community, is published in March. Lucy comments,
I hope it will help people to think through the principles of it all rather than giving them ready made answers and I think that could be the catalyst that could send us off in exciting new directions as each church attempts - and fails and succeeds - with its own Messy Church. It will make progress but there will be a lot of failures along the way because this is new, this is pioneering stuff and it's not been done before. How do you grow atheists into disciples in this context as families, all ages, together? As far as I know it's not been done in quite that way before so it will be exciting to see what God's got up his sleeve for us in the next few years!

22 February 2013

100 Things to Watch in 2013

Bubbles Bursting in US Christianity

Life inside a bubble can feel complete, even dynamic, as the bubble’s surface shimmers and yet retains form.

But watch this video of a bubble bursting in slow motion: http://mashable.com/2013/02/21/bubble-burst-slow-motion/.

When the surface is breached, the bubble collapses immediately, in one case shattering into a liquid spray faster than a metal object can fall through where it used to be. What looked like a permanent structure is, in fact, uncertain, short-lived and quickly lost.

We saw a ”tech bubble” burst 13 years ago. What had seemed durable and laden with value turned out to be vapor. The “housing bubble” came next. Some think another “tech bubble” is about to burst.

The bubble I see bursting is the Christian enterprise in America. It is bursting ever-so-slowly, as in the slo-mo video, and millions of people still find life, meaning, safety and structure inside their bubbles.
But one failing congregation at a time, the surface of shimmering shape is being breached, and collapse comes quickly. Suddenly, as if overnight, the money is gone. Bills can’t be paid. Clergy are unaffordable. Young families flee or stay away. Buildings are returned to secular usage.

Perhaps most perplexing, many people discover they didn’t have much religious interest beyond keeping the building open. They hadn’t learned to rely on prayer, to see their lives as mission for God, to make decisions in the world based on Godly admonition, or to form sustainable spiritual relationships beyond bubble boundaries.

I recently wrote a newspaper column on Pope Benedict XVI’s surprise retirement. I lamented his eight years of leading the Roman Catholic Church backward. I lamented the Church’s track record of supporting injustice in order to defend the institution.

My column drew an immediate burst of rage from staunch Catholic traditionalists, who termed me “anti-Catholic” and therefore inherently wrong and unfit to write a column.

Their vehemence was so sudden and over-the-top that I wondered if a bubble was being breached. They were rising to defend something that suddenly looked vulnerable, maybe even passing away.
They wouldn’t see it that way, of course. In their eyes, the Church is built on solid rock and will last forever. Those who deal in bubbles often see reality that way. Then the bubble bursts.

In the past 50 years – a mere wink in 2,000 years of church time – Mainline Protestant churches have become a shadow of their 1950s heyday. Roman Catholic dioceses in America are closing schools, closing parishes, losing nuns and priests, and spending heavily to settle sex-abuse litigation.
Other denominations are struggling, too, such as Southern Baptists. So are megachurches once they get beyond the excitement and personal charisma of the founding pastor.

Bubble-bursting isn’t limited to whatever denomination or tradition you don’t like. Nor is it anti-Catholic (or anti-anything) to lament over it. When the wind of God’s Spirit is trapped inside bubbles, this is what happens.

The Spirit aims to roam freely over the landscape, creating what God wants created, changing lives, sending people out, showering grace on those who need grace, sending prophets to call down the greedy and self-serving,

That wind blows where it will and cannot be held for long inside any bubble, no matter how fervently some want to see that bubble as a rock-solid structure and the bubble’s shimmering surface as God’s great and eternal delight.

By Tom Ehrich

21 February 2013

Google Glass: how to get one

Google Glass: how to get one

February 21, 2013
(Credit: Google)
“We’re looking for bold, creative individuals who want to join us and be a part of shaping the future of Glass,” says the Google Glass team.
“We’d love to make everyone an Explorer, but we’restarting off a bit smaller. We’re still in the early stages, and while we can’t promise everything will be perfect, we can promise it will be exciting.”
“Using Google+ or Twitter, tell us what you would do if you had Glass, starting with the hashtag #ifihadglass.”
  • Your application must be 50 words or less
  • You must include #ifihadglass in your application
  • You can include up to 5 photos with your application
  • You can include a short video (15 secs max)
  • Be sure to follow us on Google+ (+ProjectGlass) or Twitter (@projectglass) so that we can contact you directly
  • You must be at least 18 years old and live in the U.S. to apply
  • For more details, please see our full Terms and FAQ
“The deadline for applications is February 27th. If you are chosen, we will reach out to you with an invitation to become a Glass Explorer (please remember to follow us so that we can contact you directly). Explorers will each need to pre-order a Glass Explorer Edition for $1500 plus tax and attend a special pick-up experience, in person, in New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles.”

20 February 2013

Morning Psalm 103


11  For as the heavens are high above the earth, 
          so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 
12  as far as the east is from the west, 
          so far he removes our transgressions from us. 
13  As a father has compassion for his children, 
          so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him. 
14  For he knows how we were made; 
          he remembers that we are dust.
15  As for mortals, their days are like grass; 
          they flourish like a flower of the field; 
16  for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, 
          and its place knows it no more. 
17  But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting 
          on those who fear him, 
          and his righteousness to children’s children, 
18  to those who keep his covenant 
          and remember to do his commandments.

19 February 2013

Church as Café

Here is a cool use of a church sanctuary in London: Coffee shop.
Works well with foot traffic. How about with heavy car traffic?
Hmm. Something to pray about.

As a Hen Gathers Her Brood

As a Hen Gathers Her Brood
by Barbara Brown TaylorBarbara Brown Taylor teaches at Piedmont College in Demorest, Ga. This article appeared in The Christian Century, February 25, 1986, page 201; copyright by the Christian Century Foundation and used by permission. Current articles and subscription information can be found at www.christiancentury.orgThis material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.

On the western slope of the Mount of Olives, just across the Kidron Valley from Jerusalem, sits a small chapel called Dominus Flevit. The name comes from Luke’s Gospel, which contains not one but two accounts of Jesus’ grief over the loss of Jerusalem. According to tradition, it was here that Jesus wept over the city that had refused his ministrations.

Inside the chapel, the altar is centered before a high arched window that looks out over the city. Iron grillwork divides the view into sections, so that on a sunny day the effect is that of a stained-glass window. The difference is that this subject is alive. It is not some artist’s rendering of the holy city but the city itself, with the Dome of the Rock in the bottom left corner and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the middle. Two-thirds of the view is the cloudless sky above the city which the grillwork turns into a quilt of blue squares. Perhaps this is where the heavenly Jerusalem hovers over the earthly one, until the time comes for the two to meet?

Down below, on the front of the altar, is a picture of what never happened in that city. It is a mosaic medallion of a white hen with a golden halo around her head. Her red comb resembles a crown, and her wings are spread wide to shelter the pale yellow chicks that crowd around her feet. There are seven of them, with black dots for eyes and orange dots for beaks. They look happy to be there. The hen looks ready to spit fire if anyone comes near her babies.

But like I said, it never happened, and the picture does not pretend that it did. The medallion is rimmed with red words in Latin. Translated into English they read, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!" The last phrase is set outside the circle, in a pool of red underneath the chicks’ feet: you were not willing.
The same lament appears in Matthew’s Gospel, but Jerusalem does not mean the same thing to him that it does to Luke. Luke’s Gospel begins and ends in the temple in Jerusalem. Zechariah learns in the temple that he and Elizabeth will have a child. Mary and Joseph bring their own child there when the time comes. Simeon and Anna deliver their prophecies there, and Jesus returns when he is 12 years old to take his place among the teachers of Israel.

All told, Luke mentions Jerusalem 90 times in his Gospel, while all the other New Testament writers combined mention it only 49 times. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Luke loves the place -- so rich in history and symbol, so dense with expectation and fear. Jerusalem is the dwelling place of God, the place where God’s glory shall be revealed (Isa. 24:23). It is also the place where God is betrayed by those who hate the good and love what is evil (Mic. 3:2). Nothing that happens in Jerusalem is insignificant. When Jerusalem obeys God, the world spins peacefully on its axis. When Jerusalem ignores God, the whole planet wobbles.

If the city were filled with hardy souls, this would not be a dangerous situation. Unfortunately, it is filled with pale yellow chicks and at least one fox. In the absence of a mother hen, some of the chicks have taken to following the fox around. Others are huddled out in the open where anything with claws can get to them. Across the valley, a white hen with a gold halo around her head is clucking for all she is worth. Most of the chicks cannot hear her, and the ones that do make no response. They no longer recognize her voice. They have forgotten who they are.

If you have ever loved someone you could not protect, then you understand the depth of Jesus’ lament. All you can do is open your arms. You cannot make anyone walk into them. Meanwhile, this is the most vulnerable posture in the world --wings spread, breast exposed -- but if you mean what you say, then this is how you stand.

Given the number of animals available, it is curious that Jesus chooses a hen. Where is the biblical precedent for that? What about the mighty eagle of Exodus, or Hosea’s stealthy leopard? What about the proud lion of Judah, mowing down his enemies with a roar? Compared to any of those, a mother hen does not inspire much confidence. No wonder some of the chicks decided to go with the fox.
But a hen is what Jesus chooses, which -- if you think about it --is pretty typical of him. He is always turning things upside down, so that children and peasants wind up on top while kings and scholars land on the bottom. He is always wrecking our expectations of how things should turn out by giving prizes to losers and paying the last first. So of course he chooses a chicken, which is about as far from a fox as you can get. That way the options become very clear: you can live by licking your chops or you can die protecting the chicks.

Jesus won’t be king of the jungle in this or any other story. What he will be is a mother hen, who stands between the chicks and those who mean to do them harm. She has no fangs, no claws, no rippling muscles. All she has is her willingness to shield her babies with her own body. If the fox wants them, he will have to kill her first.

Which he does, as it turns out. He slides up on her one night in the yard while all the babies are asleep. When her cry wakens them, they scatter. She dies the next day where both foxes and chickens can see her -- wings spread, breast exposed -- without a single chick beneath her feathers. It breaks her heart, but it does not change a thing. If you mean what you say, then this is how you stand.

Via Religion Online

18 February 2013

Leadership Training has reached a tipping point

Alan Roxburgh believes that leadership training has reached a tipping point.
The amount of change we are facing as national and regional church leaders in the United States continues apace. I believe the same is true of the UK.
Institutions we've come to take for granted are coming under pressures that fundamentally change their identity. I have heard about a number of large, significant seminaries struggling with massive challenges around debt and student decline. We know that large numbers of small, struggling seminaries across North America won't survive into the next decade. But when large, well-established, prestigious schools are confronting big financial challenges, one's sense of confidence in the stability of systems is shaken a bit.
We are working with a number of national denominations, listening to regional executives describing the ministry challenges they're facing. A common theme that keeps cropping up centres on concerns that they're not getting the kind of congregational leaders they need from the seminaries, persons able to lead congregations engaging rapidly changing communities. Some of these regional leaders are now seriously asking if they shouldn't be developing their own regionally-based training programs for clergy. They may be onto something!
I recently read an article in The American Interest (volume VIII, number 3) in which its lead story was The End of the University as We Know It - an article by Nathan Harden. The inside page headline was,
Everyone knows that change is coming to higher education but few realise just how destructive (and creative) the coming revolution will be.
Harden argues that in less than a generation, half the colleges and universities in the US will no longer exist. What is also clear is that in less time than that the majority of seminaries and Bible schools will no longer exist.
There are three reasons for this massive change:
  1. Economic: Seminary education is now far too expensive. It's less and less affordable to students who are acquiring more and more debt, and the schools themselves are less able to keep ahead of overhead costs through endowments etc. There is a wave of deferred giving up ahead that will last for a short window while the 'loyalty' generations pass on and their gift promises pay out, but after that, the money simply will not be there the way it has been in the past. At the same time, we are reaching the point where, in many denominations, over 50% of congregations can no longer afford full-time clergy and many of the remainder can't pay their clergy the salaries needed to maintain a decent living and pay down their student debt.
  2. Technology: This, when combined with the financial challenges, is the game-changer. The classroom is about to go virtual. Tablets and the revolution in connectivity are now fundamentally changing the nature of higher education. We are now able to connect students to the best teachers and learning experiences at a fraction of the cost of existing campus-based schools. And, this distributed, on-line education can be done in ways that enable students to do much of their learning on the ground, in their local settings rather than be pulled out and located within some distant campus for three-to-seven years.
  3. Disconnection: There is a disconnect between the kind of leader that seminaries are producing and the growing sense of the kinds of leaders now needed on the ground in congregations. There is a heightening of anxiety across church systems that what seminaries are producing is simply out of step with what is needed. There is a growing conviction that the established model of the 'professional' clergy will go the way of the Dodo. We are in need of shaping new kinds of contextual learning communities which are working at discovering together what the new leadership needs to look like. This is not an abandonment of classical or intellectual skills but a loss of confidence in the existing professional, graduate models of leadership.
This set of new realities is providing regional and national church leaders with an array of possibilities for those ready to embrace the space opening up before us. There is a confluence of factors coming together to remake the education of church leaders.
Some of these new realities are:
  • A massive shift in power. National denominations and schools, in partnership with credentialing organizations, have been able to set the agenda and standards for the training and education of leaders for the churches. They have determined what is taught, how it is taught, where it is taught, and who will be taught. It's all about to end! For those ready to embrace it, new kinds of distributive, learning networks are waiting to be created. Regional leaders thinking about how to train leaders for the realities the churches are asking the right questions in a moment when this confluence of change is picking up speed.
  • A significant overproduction of PhDs coming out of theological schools and seminaries. These represent bright, young men and women looking for places to teach that no longer exist. There are fewer and fewer positions available. As more and more schools struggle to survive, there will be even fewer positions in the classic, traditional teaching profession of the seminaries. This means a growing pool of young, energetic, creative teachers are becoming available. Will they be open to participating in creating new forms of training for a networked world, one in which they will not have salaries and tenure to lose? A majority of young people are less and less willing to move across the country to spend three-to-seven years in an on-campus school getting an education because that is the established requirement of denominational and accrediting agencies. In other words, there is a growing pool of young, creative men and women ready and eager to experiment in the emerging virtual classrooms that allow them to stay local for most of their experience and do this at a fraction of the cost of traditional seminary education.
  • Once dominant denominations are waning and morphing. They will soon be unable to plug the dike and maintain their controls over the credentialing of clergy leaders. Established credentialing has lost its gloss; it no longer holds the prestige and privilege it once did. Current critiques of on-line and networked education simply don’t hold water anymore. We have reached the tipping point in terms of the interactive technologies being available for creating rich educational experiences, and there are enough studies emerging to show that this kind of learning can be high quality.
  • There is now a new environment of experimenting. Some schools are putting 'everything' on the table in an effort of discern the adaptive shifts they need to make. This is creating a new openness to developing experiments in learning and training. We are in a space of new learning and discovery. No group has an inside track on what it all needs to look like but... regional and national leaders of churches have before them an unparalleled opportunity for cultivating new ways of training leaders for their churches. A distributive, networked, interactive world is not a futurist's prediction; it's already here. Technologies are now available that make it possible to create just-in-time learning and training educational experiences.
We are seeing tectonic shifts reframing how emerging generations live and think in a networked world. It is not all wonderful, there are downsides, but we are, unquestionably, in the midst of the ending of practices long thought essential (the 'seminary' as we know it is mostly a 20th century creation). We have entered yet another time of amazing opportunity and creativity. A confluence of factors provide a moment for church leaders to heed the Spirit's invitation to experiment and learn together how to form leaders for the strange new space into which God has brought us.

Walking Church in Belfast, Ireland

The Dock began 2012 as the church with no building, just a group of people with a vision for a shared church for the Titanic Quarter, this fantastic, vibrant new part of Belfast. We were walking (our Dock Walks are a new way of doing church, on foot, and they still take place every week); we were praying; we were meeting the neighbours - thanks to the permission of Titanic Quarter Ltd we were allowed occasional use of a vacant shop unit for pop-up coffee mornings, barbeques and community events. We were also open to whatever God was going to do with us which turned out to be more than we could have asked or imagined.
The Titanic Quarter developers agreed to enter Belfast's first 'Meanwhile Contract' on that vacant shop unit - allowing permission for The Dock to use it for a peppercorn rent as a base of operations, a coffee shop, an art gallery and a chaplaincy centre - in the 'meanwhile' time before a commercial tenant could be found for it.
They also gave us a deadline of six days because a BBC crew were arriving in the area to film Titanic Songs of Praise. Was there any chance we could be open and ready in time for them to film in Dock Café?!
Well, there's nothing like a deadline for motivation. The people we had met and started to get to know over those months of walking, praying and talking threw their energy into everything from sweeping the concrete dust from the floor to constructing flat pack furniture. We filled the space with squashy sofas, cosy corners, art, photography, light, life, and the smell of freshly brewed coffee. In the nick of time, we were ready for the film crew and the grand opening of Dock Café.
Since then, the months have passed in a blur of answered prayer, conversation, laughter and life. The Honesty Box - which replaces a price list for every single cuppa, sandwich, scone and bowl of soup that is served in the cafe - has provoked countless conversations. The volunteer team has grown month-on-month, so we are now able to open six days a week. Students, residents, tourists and businesspeople have all found a safe haven and a warm welcome - a 'local' for a new community.
My contract has been renewed for another three years on the basis that I now work part-time in the Quarter and part-time as Bishop's curate to the parish of St Clement, East Belfast. Part of my role from the very beginning of The Dock had been to find a viable long term, part–time post which would be a solid foundation and support for the more experimental, 'out–there', work in the Titanic Quarter. In the first year of the Dock's existence I did something similar, filling in as temporary minister in Carrowdore and Millisle parish during their vacancy. I then did some tour–guiding with Titanic Walking Tours as a different, and challenging, way to make ends meet while The Dock project made its way forward.
It has made such a difference at the Titanic Quarter to work alongside my Methodist co–chaplain, Karen Spence. We're hoping to see further working partnerships develop in future.
The Dock Walks are still our intentional way of doing church, on foot, in the midst of the Quarter. Everything else that happens through The Dock is focusing on building community and seeing what develops. It's wonderful to now have a physical space at the Dock Café because I know we could use it for all sort of things. Those who struggled to understand the vision of the Dock, or what we meant about encouraging and sustaining a new form of church through the Dock Walks, see the Cafe as being what it's all about. That's not the case because, although it's brilliant to have the premises, The Dock involves a lot more than that!
There is a core of about 10 people who regularly come to the Dock Walk on Sundays. We always have others dipping in to find out what it's all about and, in recent times, we have welcomed walkers who have never had any previous links with church at all. I find that very interesting because it's impossible to come to us and 'hide' in a seat at the back; it's a bit more demanding than that because you simply can't be a 'spectator' on a Dock Walk!
In saying that, no-one is put on the spot, made to speak or pray out loud - and we don't sing, or preach, or walk around with sandwich boards. I find it really encouraging that people without any church links feel able to pitch in with their thoughts and discussions and I like to think that it's because we make everyone feel welcome and part of what's happening. I think there is something very fundamental and natural about going for a walk that releases people to be a lot more personal and to share their opinions with each other. It's also not weird or awkward to have a time of quiet when you are walking.
We start off by walking for about 25 minutes, during which time we just chat to each other. Then, about half an hour in, we stop and listen to the reading from the Wordlive multimedia resources podcast. We then walk for another 10-15 minutes to chat about what we've heard before stopping again to draw together all our thoughts. After that we will listen to the reading again because I believe we can get so much out of it second time around. Onwards again for a while and then we stop to share personal thoughts and discuss the opportunities or challenges we get from the reading.
By then we'll have walked through the Quarter and areas around it; that's when we stop to listen to some worship music. At that stage we make the return trip and head to the Café for a coffee and more time together. All is constantly subject to change due to weather, people and what is happening in the Titanic Quarter. The whole thing takes about an hour and a half.
Sadly, Belfast has been hitting the headlines again with bad things going on rather than good but The Dock is now making connections with all of the churches in the city and I believe it's one of our goals at The Dock to show the other side of Belfast's story here.
[Part of this article first appeared in the Church of Ireland Gazette.]

The Dock

via Fresh Expresssions

13 February 2013

St. John's Epistle for Ash Wednesday 2013

Dear Lenten people of God,

You are invited to the Ash Wednesday Service today at 7 pm in the sanctuary. We will move into the courtyard for the administration of the ashes part of the service so dress warmly for the outdoor part of the service. Copies of the Unbinding Your Heart book will be in the narthex so pick yours up and read the introduction and chapter one before your first class. 

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a season of solemn observance in many Christian denominations, lasting for a period of approximately six weeks leading up to Easter Sunday. 
  • During Lent this year we have a Prayer Wall bulletin board in the sanctuary and the office building. Write your prayer requests and pin them there and we will join you in prayer. 
  • You are also encouraged to make each Wednesday a day of fasting and prayer. You may choose your way of fasting which may include skipping one or more meals or denying yourself of whatever media you prefer on Wednesday evenings. Use the time you carve out for prayer for our church and in particular for the Unbinding the Heart groups. 
Today we pray for Ken Krueger who is having hip replacement surgery and Ava Parker who is in the hospital. May God bring healing to their lives. More "happenings" are linked below if you scroll down below my signature. After awhile as you read and pray, you may begin to realize that the saying is true and worthy of full acceptance: Healing happens here.

Your soon to have a black cross on the forehead pastor,

    08 February 2013

    Powerful silence

    There is a certain power waiting for you in the silence. When was the last time you were still? 

    “Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.” The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge." -Psalm 46:10-11

    All right action arises from a certain kind of stillness. For me it is called centering prayer. What is it called for you? 

    Find and incorporate a spiritual practice of intentional stillness. This will lead you to a place of peace and power in your life.

    Epistle for February 7, 2013

    Dear set free people of God,

    Unbinding Your Heart groups are forming now. Unbinding Your Heart is a 6 week book study and small group experience that will make you stronger in your personal walk with God, introduce you to a deeper relationship with other group members, and will strengthen our church and improve our ability to achieve our mission in the community. The groups will begin meeting around the First Sunday in Lent and finish around the end of March. Call the church office to learn more or join a group.

    This Sunday, February 10, at 5:00 pm, the youth in grades 6-12 will meet in Fellowship Hall to consider "Getting Real." How do we get real? We will talk about how we can be true to ourselves and how to get real. Mary, Dave, and Mark invite our young people to come and bring a friend and let's get real.

    Next Wednesday, on February 13 at 7 pm in the sanctuary, you are invited to a powerful Ash Wednesday service that will include imposition of ashes on the forehead. During the service we will write a list of our sins which we will take outdoors into the courtyard. After burning our sins to signify our forgiveness by Christ, participants may come forward for the imposition of ashes. Rev. Linda Herron, our Parish Associate, will preach the sermon. Let us join together in worship and unity as we begin this Lenten season.

    Remember in prayer Shelia Johnson in the death of her grandfather whose funeral service is today; Shannon DeSouza in the death of her grandmother this morning; Lisa Darr Jury at home recovering from a migraine; Harriet Harper at home recovering from a fall; Ava Parker at Southwest Memorial Hospital; and Jim Schneider at Bayou Manor.

    Your unbinding pastor,

    The Rev. Dr. Jonathan L. Burnham / Principled Mindful Connected (Jon's BlogFacebookTwitter
    Pastor of St. John's Presbyterian Church / Healing Happens Here (Church's WebsiteBlogFacebookTwitter
    5020 West Bellfort Ave, Houston, TX 77035 (Map & Directions to church) / Phone church office 713-723-6262; Email church office 

    My stroke of insight

    Here is an emotionally and cognitively powerful recitation of the difference between the left and right hemisphere of the brain as described by a brain scientist who experienced a massive stroke that changed her perception of life. Set aside 15 minutes and watch this. Then you may want to read her book for more details.

    Click the following link to get the book "My Stroke of Insight."http://amzn.to/YtN0Ep

    Along the road

    Joy at the start
    Fear in the journey
    Joy in the coming home
    A part of the heart gets lost in the learning
    Somewhere along the road

    Along the road your path may wander
    A pilgrim's faith may fail
    Absence makes the heart grow fonder
    Darkness obscures the trail

    Cursing the quest
    Courting disaster
    Measureless nights forbode
    Moments of rest
    Glimpses of laughter
    Are treasured along the road

    Along the road your steps may stumble
    Your thoughts may start to stray
    But through it all a heart held humble
    Levels and lights your way

    Joy at the start
    Fear in the journey
    Joy in the coming home
    A part of the heart gets lost in the learning
    Somewhere along the road
    Somewhere along the road
    Somewhere along the road

    Bless the LORD, O my soul


    1 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name.
    2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,
    and do not forget all his benefits —
    3 who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
    4 who redeems your life from the Pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
    5 who satisfies you with good as long as you live
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.