By Dr. Mike Graves, Scholar in Residence and Minister of Spiritual Formation All this year, National Public Radio has featured a series on the 50th anniversary of 1968, one of the most traumatic years in American history. Here’s the briefest of reminders: Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were …
From Pew to Pulpit (and Back Again)
Dr. Mike Graves, Scholar in Residence and Minister of Spiritual Formation Occasionally, someone will ask me how long it takes me to prepare a sermon. My standard answer nowadays is 61 years. Sermons come from a life of learning and living. But of course, what they’re asking is how many …
Another Name for Community Camp
In the movie, Cool Hand Luke, there is a classic scene culminating with Paul Newman’s timeless line, “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” Pardon the grammar, and never mind the context; but I think the same could be said about our church’s annual Community Camp. (Shortly after coming …
Down through the centuries, biblical scholars have learned a lot of interesting tidbits about eating in the first century Mediterranean world. They know, for instance, how diners reclined at their meals on a couch called triclinium, how they had bread before dinner and wine during dinner of course, but one ceremonial cup of wine afterwards
“And” Is the Key Word
As many of you know, my title at the church is Scholar in Residence and Minister of Spiritual Formation, a title with “and” in there. But that’s not the “and” I mean to reference in the title of this article. When I think about
spiritual formation, I think naturally about how persons mature in their faith, which for me implies “and” in the process. Specifically: learning and doing.
Shining Like the Sun
Space does not permit me to name the differences between serving in the seminary and the local church, although as Fred Craddock used to rightly remind folks, the seminary is the education wing of the church. One year ago, I began my time at Country Club Christian as the interim guest preacher. A year later I’m on staff full-time. Many of you have asked how it’s going, do I like it, those sorts of inquiries.
The Marriage Parable
Twice in the past month or so, Carla has preached on two different parables in the Gospel of Matthew that utilize wedding symbolism. Apparently it’s a good metaphor for conveying spiritual truths in other matters. I have no intention of ever writing a Gospel of my own, but I do have a marriage parable to share.
An Expedition on the Parkway
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Dillard has an essay on worship that should have won an award somewhere along the way. In my mind it’s so important that I have my students read it in the Intro to Worship course every spring. The essay is titled “An Expedition to the Pole…”
A Christian Education
Sometimes in the midst of a semester teaching students about preaching, I chase a rabbit or two. Ok, maybe three. One of those hares is the educational ministry of our churches.
The renowned Lutheran scholar Gordon Lathrop claims that one of the many amazing things about Christian worship is how we set this next to that, what he calls “juxtaposition.” We set Sunday next to the other six days of the week, for instance. We set the preaching of the word next to the table. We set the rhythms of Advent and Lent next to Santa Claus and March Madness, respectively. This set next to that.
As someone new to the staff, I’m still learning lots of vocabulary particular to our congregation. Terms like Pathways (when a lot of Sunday school classes come together for a special education offering at the 10:00 a.m. hour), Faithbook (a Bible study Carla leads, playing off the well-known social media site), and now the Gathering (an occasional get-together in the library on Sunday mornings for anyone interested in knowing more about joining).
Ask most church-going folks what they love best about Sundays and they will likely point to two things, worship services and a day of rest (even if the latter is more idealized thinking than reality). Skimming the newspaper, listening to National Public radio, enjoying some waffles, and, oh yes, sliding into a pew for some hymns, prayers, and a sermon; what a lovely Lord’s day morning.
On Coming to Country Club
By Dr. Mike Graves, Guest Preacher When back in 1999 I felt led to have my ordination recognized by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), I never could have imagined the role our church would play. The Committee on Ordination and Standing that I met with was incredibly supportive, comprised …
On Saying Goodbye to Lucky
A former colleague of mine had a saying taped to his door at the seminary, “A drop of ink may cause a million to think.” There’s no doubt in my mind, the written word can touch people. In this case, I have no illusions that this article will reach a million people, but a modest number counts all the same. Besides, the topic itself is rather small, about 20 pounds in this case.
Theologians distinguish between two broad streams of thinking about God – kataphatic and apophatic. You can’t use these in Scrabble, but they are worth knowing. The former focuses on what can be known about God, whereas the latter stresses what can’t be known.