Before the kids in their costumes head out the door to get bags full of candy, St. Luke's Episcopal Church has a special treat lined up for them.
In life, extremism often ends in a multitude of problems. I find the same is true when the Gospel is presented.
The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, "When Christ calls us, he bids us come and die." Bonhoeffer, citing the words of Jesus, bid Christians to count the cost of discipleship. For Bonhoeffer, this death was literal; for most other Christians we are called to die to our former selves.
The bizarre and horrible renditions notwithstanding (i.e., Roseanne Barr, Michael Bolton), most people can at least sing the national anthem. Or, I should say, they can sing what they believe is the national anthem. After all, most folks have been to enough civic events and ballgames to have memorized it.
I've got to wonder if Sherriff McDuffie, just as his head hits the pillow at night and he's about to drift off to sleep, ever reviews the events of the day and just busts out with laughter. It's got to happen on occasion.
Anyone familiar with Effingham County sports knows well the friendly but passionate rivalry between Effingham County High School and South Effingham High School in many sports. On grass fields, hardwood courts, clay diamonds, wrestling mats, dirt running trails, and asphalt courts the best of Effingham's teenage athletes battle for the title of county champs.
You've bet your life, and right now you are playing out your hand. In fact, with every day that passes you "up the ante," having invested another 24 hours in your wager. The problem is that the bet is for your spiritual and eternal life.
I have certainly heard the lament of Christian leaders who assert that we are living in a "post-Christian" era. That may be. But what I am seeing is more "Christian-phobia" than anything suggesting Christian beliefs, morals, and values are obsolete. The latest installment comes from Pennsylvania.
If you've been in Effingham more than a few decades, you've likely heard the refrain of long-time residents: "We gotta keep all those folks from Chatham from coming up here and messin' up our county." Crime and crowding are often key flashpoints in the conversation. On the other side are new residents who ask for a little grace, given the fact that they are paying taxes and increasing the property values of those long-time residents and landowners.
Even in a place as ordinary as Larry's Deli in Rincon can eternal truths be spoken.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Septimius Severus, Roman emperor from 193 to 211 AD, was a psychopath and sociopath. Citizens in his empire who had religious views different from his, particularly Christians and Jews, were persecuted severely during his reign. He made Nero and Domitian look like Girl Scouts, sane ones.
During my seminary days, I wrote the following words in my notes. I believe I was studying an Orthodox priest at the time. So, these are likely a paraphrase of his thoughts. I have found them helpful in my Christian walk and have referred to them often. Unfortunately, when I review them I realize how much I fall short.
I write this having just said goodbye to the producer and camera crew of the TV show "Inside Edition." They contacted me a few weeks ago, asking for an interview about my biomechanics research on local weightlifter CJ Cummings.
Since the Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937, it has been an attraction for those wanting to commit suicide. Only 2 percent survive the jump. It is 220 feet down and when jumpers hit, they still have to contend with the cold, extremely swift water.
One of the questions pastors often encounter, whether directly or indirectly, is the dilemma of innocent suffering. That is, why do bad things happen to good people?
On Sunday evenings this spring, CNN is airing a new docudrama series entitled "Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, and Forgery." The series is based on the book of the same name by David Gibson and Michael McKinley.
Even if you haven't stepped in a church in years, you likely know the story of the "prodigal" son. Just in case, here's a quick refresher: A rather wealthy landowner has two sons. One asks for his inheritance early (before his father's death, which was an even greater insult when Jesus told this story than it is today). His father obliges him, and the son takes off to live a life of partying.
The parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-15) underscores the truth that God's love can be received by people extremely late in life. Many a pastor has seen death-bed conversions; they are possible and do sincerely occur.
We are fortunate to live in a county rich with churches offering different opportunities for people to worship. Yet, we must be humble and honest enough to realize that often people who walk through our front doors see very imperfect organizations, and unfortunately that can turn them off to the whole idea of organized religion and church.
The television series "House of Cards" is an American political drama based on a BBC miniseries of the same name. The opening of season 1 set the stage for what were we to witness as the background of the political sphere. In that episode, congressman Frank Underwood (played by Kevin Spacey) kills a suffering dog with his bare hands while telling the television audience that sometimes we must "do the unpleasant thing, yet the necessary thing." And from then on out, the audience experiences the utter ruthlessness of politics as it is portrayed behind the scenes.
I make eggs for breakfast just about every morning, depending on how our chickens are feeling. And I have finally learned that if I talk too much between the time I take the eggs out of the pan and dig in at the table, my eggs will get cold.
Sadly, one indicator of Effingham's family-oriented growth has succumbed to economic pressure, and I for one will miss it. As some in the county may already know, Baibry's Coffee and Café in Rincon has closed its doors for good.
Training in Children Worship and Wonder, an exciting way of doing faith formation with children, will be held at Guyton Christian Church from March 13-15.
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