30 Dec 2015

Resolved: Learn More Doctrine

I don’t know exactly why, but the days at the end of December often feel a bit slower than the rest of the year. Perhaps time attempts to atone for rushing us through the rest of the year. In any case, this slow feeling creates space for reflection and planning. Reflection on what filled the prior year, and planning for what will come in the new year. Personally, setting New Year’s resolutions isn’t part of

Jeff Reid 3
18 Dec 2015

Joy, Joy, Joy

Somehow it is December, week three. Does it ever seem like you are waiting for it to feel like Christmas? Do you feel wrapped up in work or events or gift-buying, rather than reflective stillness? Do you go through the motions, sing the songs, yet feel far away from the Christ-child? Are you expecting your favourite Christmas records, films, or traditions to make things feel normal or happy? Traditions—be they family originals or many-centuries long—sometimes

Johanna Byrkett 0
16 Dec 2015

Rejoicing in Divine Emotion

Can God feel? For years, I didn’t think so.  I grew up in a very conservative Christian environment that imparted many benefits to me, but it also scarred me in some deep ways, particularly in leaving me with a flawed perception of God.  To its credit, this movement developed in rejection of the emotionally-charged mainstream churches that prioritize a “feeling” of closeness with God over the relationship itself, which ought to be steeped in the

Alyssa Hall 0
04 Dec 2015

Waiting is Not Wasted

Waiting. We do a lot of waiting at this time of year. We queue up to buy gifts—and to mail them. We wait for Amazon orders to arrive in the post. We wait in airports, traffic, and coffee shops. We wait for Christmas break to wrest us from our studies, our work, our loneliness. Sometimes we wait at a tremendous pace, as if filling our days with work or parties or consumer pursuits will make

Johanna Byrkett 1
02 Dec 2015

Contemplating The Family Story

If you were a betting man (or woman), you’d probably agree that family stories are fairly memorable. So would I. Well, at least up until a couple weeks ago. It all started innocently enough. One of my sisters was taking a storytelling class. A recent assignment (beginning, you guessed it, a couple weeks ago) involved sharing one of those stories that must come up for a family gathering to actually be a family gathering. It

Jeff Reid 2
23 Nov 2015

Dark Nights End in Dawn

Serpentine sorrows weave their way through my thoughts tonight. It has been one of those days where things go well, but one person after another lets a little bit of ache show through. I see the hurt-yet-trying-to-be-vulnerable so the heart won’t harden. I see broken bodies and broken hearts. Sick bodies and sick souls. I see carnage and horror in the streets of Paris and Beirut. The pain piles high; the daily struggles of how

Johanna Byrkett 0
13 Nov 2015

The Tyranny of The Should

For a long time, I was stalked by a pitiless enemy, an enemy I thought was my friend. This “friend” promised to give me much yet took much from me, always insatiably demanding more. No, it wasn’t a person. It was a dark entity, a ruthless specter. Appearing as an angel, this demon feasts on the souls of those unwitting victims taken in by its deception. For a long time, I was stalked by The

Justin Megna 1
13 Nov 2015

Gaps in the Story

I like stories. I especially like long stories, the kind where you can get caught up in the characters’ lives and where you watch as they face thousands of new and different challenges, both large and small. After one’s been through enough with them, the characters from those long, impactful stories often feel like friends. My favorite stories of all, like King Arthur, Star Trek, the Avengers, and the land of Oz, are tales that

Pepper Darlington 0
06 Nov 2015

Knowing What I Looked Like

Imagine you’re dead. You’re floating up through the clouds, heading for the pearly gates, and you turn for one last look at this green-and-blue planet and whatever you did with your time here. What’s going to be on your mind? If you’re reading this, you can’t give me a factual answer to that question. So guess. People will be on your mind, right? You might feel love, or grief. Or surprise [“Wait, I’m dead? Like, dead dead?”].

Melinda Johnson 1
04 Nov 2015

The Danger of Light and Joy

When reading of Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings, there is one section that catches me almost every time: Gimli’s thoughts on leaving Lothlorian. Tell me, Legolas, why did I come on this Quest? Little did I know where the chief peril lay! Truly Elrond spoke, saying that we could not foresee what we might meet upon our road. Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me

Jeff Reid 1
21 Oct 2015

James: Walking, Talking, and Facebook Activism

What follows is an attempt at lay theology. As you read, I ask for two things. First, have patience with my stumblings. Second, correct error as you see it. For the most part, I don’t believe that anything here is particularly novel or out of step with Christian belief and practice.1 At the same time, I am no more than a man, which means it is possible I have misread or misunderstood the Scripture. Where

Jeff Reid 4
14 Oct 2015

Flash Flood Fiasco and the Virtue of Detachment

The cover photo of this article depicts a highway, near my house, running through a farm that is now an eight-foot lake.  In my region of South Carolina last week we received around 16 inches of rain in two days, 24 inches in the course of a week.  Across the state there have been at least a dozen deaths, 19 dam breaches, hundreds of swift water rescues, and over 1000 people are now in shelters.

Joseph Green 0
09 Oct 2015

Refusing to be ‘Singled’ Out

How Should the Church Treat Singles? “Another one bites the dust” is the relationship theme song I resonate with lately. I can barely go a month without one of my friends telling me they are dating or engaged. I have been in—or behind the scenes of—quite a few weddings in the last year or two. This is not the first round of this life-season for me. It happened a couple of years after high school,

Johanna Byrkett 9
11 Sep 2015

Wanderlust

All those golden autumn days the sky was full of wings. . . The wings and the golden weather and the tang of frost in the mornings made Laura want to go somewhere. She did not know where. She wanted only to go. “Let’s go West,” she said one night after supper. “Pa, can’t we go West when Uncle Henry does?” . . . “I know, little Half-pint,” said Pa, and his voice was very

Johanna Byrkett 6
08 Sep 2015

Praise God from Whom All Curses Flow

Praise God from whom all curses flow Praise him who made the thorns to grow Praise him below infernal host Praise Father Son and Holy Ghost The sword that guards the Garden’s gate The sweat and death that are our fate The pain through which all life goes on For these we thank the Lord in song The night so short, the day all gone Serve to make us cry out, “How long?” Until the

Kenneth O'Shaughnessy 0
28 Aug 2015

Is There Beauty in Things Not Seen?

Would a flower of the field still be Beautiful even if no one saw it? This question has followed me to many swaths of alpine tundra this hiking season. I have gazed on lavender thistles, white marsh marigolds, and tiny forget-me-nots amongst a host of other hearty flowers. My hiking companions often set their sights on the cathedral arc of a mountain range, a sun-dappled emerald lake, or towering waterfalls. Whereas, I am enthralled by

Johanna Byrkett 2
26 Aug 2015

Of Weddings and Little Promises

It was a warm, slightly sticky evening. Sitting towards the front of a crowd of friends and family, I observed the evening shade slowly growing on the mountains behind my friend. He, in his turn, was gazing back our way with (what I could only guess was) a mix of nervousness, fear, excitement, and joy. For, if the title hasn’t already given it away, my friend was looking past the rest of us toward the

Jeff Reid 0
21 Aug 2015

Dealing With Pain and Suffering (Part I)

Grief Observed In A New Light It doesn’t take a philosophy degree to understand that pain and suffering are two things people are naturally inclined to try and avoid. It is in our nature to run away from suffering, and to simply try and avoid discomfort at all costs. No matter how strong pain makes us, very seldom does anyone truly welcome it. Although time has opened up the windows of my world to the

Micah McMeans 5
14 Aug 2015

Silencing Fears

“Empty space tends to create fear. As long as our minds, hearts, and hands are occupied we can avoid confronting the painful questions, to which we never gave much attention and which we do not want to surface. ‘Being busy’ has become a status symbol, and most people keep encouraging each other to keep their body and mind in constant motion. From a distance, it appears that we try to keep each other filled with

Johanna Byrkett 3
12 Aug 2015

The Witness of Lightning and the Lightning Bug

It’s remarkable how much a clear night can help one gain a bit of peace and solitude. That is, once the security lights stopped showing the world that I was standing out on our driveway. While taking in the night view, my wandering thoughts were interrupted by a flash of light in the corner of my eye. Adjusting my head for a better view brought the realization that a lightning storm was rolling in. Lest

Jeff Reid 0