Archive for July, 2010

July 28, 2010

Faith Not Without Works

James 2:26 says, “As the body is dead without the spirit, so faith without works is dead.”

In two Sundays, Washington Plaza is going to engage in a yearly tradition in the Reston community again: Works Sunday.

Begun 15 years ago by a seminary intern at a local Reston church with a dream to find a way to bring faith communities of all sorts together, Works Sunday has brought people from all walks of life together in a simple purpose: doing good works. In the spirit of the message of the epistle of James, this community service emphasis day gives all people of faith in our community to show the life-giving power of our faith. There’s more uniting us than dividing us afterall. Washington Plaza folks are happy to be among some of the few churches which have been a part of this day from the beginning.

On Sunday, we’ll be asking every member and regular attendee of the congregation to make a committment to do one thing on the following list of projects we are supporting. Beginning thinking about it now, what your commitment to Works Sunday might be this year.  Every project is different and requires varying levels of commitment based on what you have to give.

How You Can Help:

  1. Bring a dish for the Lake Anne Fellowship House meal on Sunday at noon: an opportunity to share food and fellowship with some of our senior neighbors. See Nancy Mohl. 
  2. Support the Embry Rucker Homeless Shelter by bringing men or women’s NEW underwear or t-shirts or socks to church between now and August 15th. Place them in the “Works Sunday” box in the foyer of the church.
  3. Support Reston Interfaith’s Laurel Learning Center by bringing between now and August 15th NEW children’s underwear (sizes 2T and up) and socks for boys   Place them in the “Works Sunday” box in the foyer of the church.
  4. Donate a gift card of any amount from K-Mart or Target to go toward the Fairfax County Abused Women’s Shelter. Place these gift cards in the offering plate on Sunday between now and August 15th.
  5. Volunteer your time and talents at the community health fair at First Baptist Church of Herndon (681 Elden Street, Herndon) from 1:30-4:40 pm. See Nancy Davis. Translators are needed for those who come and don’t speak English. Three folks are needed to volunteer to assist  guiding those who visit the fair to the various medical stations
  6. Give Blood anytime after church until 4:30 pm at the INOVA bloodmobile at the Northern VA Hebrew Congregation (1441 Wiehle Ave, Reston). Just come!
  7. Hand out flyers at local Safeway/ Giant stores asking shoppers for donations of specific canned food items.  Volunteers are asked to work 2-hour shifts. See Nancy Davis to learn more.

I’m looking forward to this great day of service already!

July 28, 2010


The longer I am a pastor of Washington Plaza and the longer I am in the DC area, the more I realize the uniqueness of our voice as a community faith.

With thousands of churches and faith communities of all sorts to choose from, there is something special about our congregation.  It’s more than the fact that the community welcomes all genders of pastors. It’s more than the fact that we are not a homophobic community and without question welcomes all people. It’s more than the fact that community building is essential to our identity as evidenced by our Sunday lunches together. And, it’s more than the fact that all people, no matter what are welcomed (we’re all a little strange after all, so no need to get exclusive).

It’s something unique that can’t be put into words.

And even though this is the case, I feel it is worth exploring further. In an age of divisive church fights about who is welcome and who is not, what is sin and what is not, who can be pastor or deacon or elder and who is not, these things really don’t matter so much to the folks at Washington Plaza.  We simply are.  We’ve gotten through, moved past, and work together on many “issues” that the church consultant types say crumble organizations.

I heard one church member say to me yesterday that in trying to invite some of her friends to church the reply was, “I just can’t believe your Baptist church is like that. You are just making them up.”

But, Washington Plaza (though we are not perfect by any means) is not a made-up community. We are real as evidenced by our worship gatherings every Sunday at 11 am. 

Another member said to me once, “There’s just something beautiful in the air here. Once you visit, you know that this is a loving community where you are accepted exactly the way you are and so you can’t help but want to stick around for a while.”

But, why? Really, is it just “something in the air?”

I’ve been thinking a lot about what then, our particular congregational voice might have to offer the larger religious conversation.

And, I’ve also been pondering what my personal responsibility is as a leader of such a community of faith. Might there be a calling to  share our story and my story as a better way of being a person of faith, doing church and pastoring in the modern era?  

I’ve come to the conclusion that I cannot be silent any longer: this conversation topic is bursting at the seams in me and I can’t wait to get started.  In response to more things to say on this topic than just one blog entry, I have decided to start a new venture in the form of a website entitled, “Re-imagine.”

The purpose of Re-imagine will be to give me a space apart from the obligations and responsibilities I have as pastor of a particular church to be a catalyst of many of the questions, frustrations, and possibilities I see ahead for communities of faith like the one I’m in, for the pastors like myself who will lead (or not lead them) in the future, and resources available for those who care about the church as well as faith seekers but don’t want to lose themselves in the process.  Re-imagine won’t be exclusively about Washington Plaza, although stories of hope from this community might be brought in from time to time.  And, it won’t be full of merely personal rants either. I also hope to connect readers to others who are asking similar questions and who are looking for honest answers (even if the truth hurts a little).

So, what about the future of “Preacher on the Plaza” you might wonder? The show will go on. I’ll remain committed to writing on this site to share the good news about the ongoing adventure of being church on the Plaza. It will tell the stories, even more exclusively about our life together whereas, Re-imagine will focus on the questions of a wider audience.

I look forward to this new venture of writing personally and professionally. I’m hoping that you’ll cheer me on and join the conversation as it begins today at Re-Imagine.

July 26, 2010

God Must Not Love Me!?!

God Must Not Love Me!?!  Luke 11:1-13

Sermon Preached at Washington Plaza Baptist Church, July 25, 2010

Recently there have been a series of television commercials for a national bank seeking to re-brand itself. These commercials feature a middle-aged man who is a banker and a cast of the most adorable children interacting with the man all in the same room.  Each commercial seeks to convey that this particular bank is going back to the basics and giving customers exactly what they want: the simplicity of good service which even children understand.

Consider a couple examples. There’s the commercial where an 8 year old boy is asked by a gentleman, “You want to have some fun?” And then the boy is given a brand new red monster truck, which the boy plays with happily. Then, after a couple of seconds, the man looks at his watch and takes the truck away from the boy.

To which the boy replies, “No, I want to play!!” And in response to the boy’s plea, the man pulls out of his coat pocket a truck drawn on a piece cardboard like this one. (Hold it up). After receiving the toy, the boy looks quite disappointed saying, “No, I want that truck!” And the man replies, “The real truck was a limited time offer only and your time is up, so I must take it back” The sadness on the face of the boy is almost too much to bear. He just doesn’t understand why he was given such a good gift only to have it taken away so suddenly and without explanation.

Then in another installment, we find a cute little seven year old girl with long curly brown hair in a room full of the newest toys on one side of the room. It’s so exciting that she can hardly stand it. The girl asks the man when she can play with all of the fun stuff.

Instead of answering her directly, he holds out a doll that looks exactly like him in a business suit. This is no ordinary doll, for when you push a button in its back it talks to her saying, “You’ve reached the 24 hour automated system. If you would like to speak with us directly to get any answers, you are going to have to call back between the hours of 8-5 pm Central time Monday- Friday, goodbye.”  The little girl looks frustrated and confused.  For, the man does not answer her pleas. Above all, she wonders why there are some perfectly good toys on the other side of the room and no one is telling her why she can’t play with them!

As we approach our scripture passage this morning, I propose that these scenarios are much like what many of us think about the topic of prayer.

We understand the basics about prayer: it’s talking to God and it is a worthwhile thing to do, maybe even good for us, but in practicing it, we like the children in the commercials, get very mixed messages from God.  We ask for things and sometimes receive them like the little boy, but fear they will soon be taken away from us. And, we also ask for things like the little girl and don’t get what we want for no seemingly good reason. It seems that God is not listening to us.

Once I was talking to a 12 year old boy, Eddie after youth group, whose mother had recently passed away. Eddie was a good kid, a serious kid (as serious a 12 year old boy could be). He had been very concerned with spiritual things since childhood so it didn’t surprise me to learn that he’d prayed for his mom to get well every night from the time they found out she had breast cancer. He was sure that God would make her better.

Yet, in the end, his mom had suffered a long bout with cancer and had died much sooner than doctors or family members had expected.  As Eddie sat in my office with tears rolling down his cheeks, he asked me over and over again, “Why, pastor, why?”

Eddie surprised me when he went on to quote pieces of our scripture for this morning, saying he’d learned this verse in Sunday School back in the 2nd grade:  “Ask it shall be given unto you; seek and you will find.” “Why did God not answer my prayer and make my momma better? God must not love our family to do this mean thing to us. I prayed but God did not answer my prayers.”

And, I’m sure many of us have our own version of Eddie’s story in our own lives. There have been countless times when all of us have prayed for healing, for direction, for a sign about something important, only to receive the opposite of what we’ve prayed for. There has been no sign. And, we’ve watched suffering continue and pain enlarge to the point that we’ve found ourselves disillusioned and frustrated.

And, though it might not be a conscious verbal statement we make like Eddie did, we begin to feel that God must not love us either. Because if God loved us, why would he let so many crappy things happen in our lives and continue to happen when everyone else around seems to be getting along just fine?

For these reasons and many more, countless Christians throughout the ages have severely struggled with our lection from Luke this morning.  After receiving the model prayer, Jesus’ words about prayer, though beautiful and poetic seems far from our experience. While there have been some times, yes, that our prayers have been answered in dramatic ways, most of time the “Ask, and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened unto you” theology seems to have a bad track record (well unless you are Joel Osteen).

For isn’t one of the basic truths about God that God is love? Why would God tell us to pray and leave us to practice knowing that our results with it might leave us feeling unloved and uncared for at times?

To explore these questions a little further, maybe we might just need to uncover, then the holistic context of Jesus’ words on prayer.

Jesus’ teaching on this subject comes when the disciples ask him the simple question, “Lord, teach us to pray.” It’s one the few things that the disciples actually ask for instructions about, so Jesus proceeds to give them a model prayer, or what we commonly refer to as the Lord’s Prayer and say every week in our worship service.

To unfold the meaning of this particular prayer, Jesus then goes on to tack on two parables of explanation.

In the first parable, a man knocks on a friend’s door one evening asking for three loaves of bread, saying company has arrived without notice and there aren’t ingredients for bread making in his home. The friend makes many excuses as to why he can’t help. But, in the end, Jesus relays that the friend gives his neighbor what he needs because of his persistence.

The Greek word for “persistence” is anaidela which is better translated as “shameless.” The man who is in need of bread boldly inquires for exactly what he needs AND won’t leave till he receives it. And, because the two men are friends, out of the overflow of their trusting relationship, the man with the bread, gives what is needed probably saying something like, “Well, alright, if you really need it that badly, I’ll get out of bed in the middle of the night and make it for you.”

In the second parable, Jesus describes the interaction between a child and their parent saying, “Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?” Or translated in our modern day context, what parent at Christmas gives their child some coal in their stocking when they ask for candy? Parents just don’t do this . . .

In both cases, Jesus gives bold imagery about what happens in the exchange between those in loving relationships. Though we may un-intentionally make mistakes from time to time, when people love each other the concern of the other comes before one’s own.

When you are with your spouse and she really wants to go to this Italian restaurant for dinner more than anything, but you’d rather not because you had pizza for lunch, what does any good spouse do? You go to the Italian restaurant for dinner with a smile on your face. Why? Because you love her; and your happiness and desires are directly related to the desires of those in whom you love.

In the same way, I believe, Jesus is seeking to create a paradigm of prayer that is based on loving relationship. Because when to great friends, who have known each other well for a long time interact with one another, what happens?

There’s always room for the other to say whatever is on their mind, even if a story is repeated for the 10th time. 

There’s never hesitation about saying exactly what you need to say because there’s no feared judgment of what the other will think.

There’s never the fear of silence— feeling the need to fill the air space with unnecessary words because you can walk together already having a good idea what is on the other’s mind.  

There’s trust that when the other doesn’t call you back right away, it doesn’t mean that the friend suddenly hates you, but that the other is holding you in their heart even when life gets busy.

So, too, is the love relationship of prayer in which we are being called this day through this passage.  We are being asked to address God on familial terms and we are invited through time and focused attention to begin to see the world the way God does. We are invited to come and get to know God’s heart: to see when God weeps, to see when God is disappointed, to see when God rests and to have our life’s rhythms shaped through this intimate friendship.

Roberta Bondi, professor of Christian History at Candler School of Theology says this about prayer, “We are so verbal, especially in the Protestant tradition, that it’s hard for us not to imagine prayer either as a monologue . . .  or as a conversation in which I tell God thing and God answers back. [But] the verbal part is just one element. A lot of what we learn in prayer is to be quiet.”[i] Prayer boils down to a journey of relationship: it may have its ups and downs, but the learning and the connection is ongoing nonetheless.

Yet, you might be sitting there thinking this morning, that’s all well and good, Pastor but what about all those painful unanswered prayers I’ve had in my life and in the lives of my friends who aren’t in church today because they say “How can there be a God if my prayers aren’t answered?” How could you say that God loves us, when all of these bad things keep happening to me and those around me?

To which I answer, welcome to abiding with the great mysteries of life. I don’t know the answer to really good questions like this, but what I do know is that God wants us to pray even in spite of all of the unknowns. 

Will Williamon, seasoned pastor and former dean of Duke Chapel in Durham, NC said this about how most churches practice prayer:  “I notice that in every congregation [I now visit], the only concerns expressed are concerns for the people in the congregation who are going through various health crises. Prayer becomes what we refer to as the ‘Sick Call’ in the army.”[ii]

But, instead of our prayers being a laundry list of merely who is sick, thinking of prayer from the perspective of relationship means we are invited into conversation for all things of importance to us and also to God.

Talking about the things that really matter to us. . . . Asking for more of God’s glory to come to the earth, asking for our paths to be more on the good ways of God’s best, asking for others to be blessed just as we are. . . .

I also know that God listens to our prayers. Though we, like 12 year old, Eddie, might find the worst case scenarios answers to our prayers, the silence doesn’t mean that God does not hear us or care. Quite the contrary, God is the one who has never left our side, who is crying tears along with us, who is longing for joy to return to our spirits again. For God loves us, and loves us more than we could ever dream.[iii]

In another one of the bank commercials, there’s a young girl who sitting at a table with a man and asks for a horse. She immediately receives a horse, a toy horse. It puts a smile on her face. Then another young girl of the same age comes in the room and asks for a horse. She also receives a horse, but this time, it’s not a toy horse but a real pony. The first little girl in shock asks the man, “Why didn’t I get one of those?” And he replies “Because you didn’t ask.”

While the act of praying is not like going to a vending machine putting in your money and receiving the exact thing you ask for, what I do know is that we are called to ask for whatever out of the overflow of our relationship with Christ. We are asked to dream big dreams. We are asked to seek God’s plans which may seem like laughable requests to many. We are invited to share the fullness of our hearts with the one who loved so much that His very life was given for us. We are invited to sit with our Lord and ask for whatever we think we need.

So today, let’s claim our status as children of God. Let us then, be “shameless” in our prayers. Let us be those people who are growing in friendship with God who are not afraid to say what needs to be said, who respect the silence when things are murky and discouraging. Let us trust that even our deepest questions are heard and received by a God who does indeed love us.

What is on your heart today? What burdens are you carrying? What in you needs to find refuge in the Great Heavenly Parent who has your best interest at heart from the beginning of time to the end? Here’s your invitation: begin the conversation even right now!

May we not be like the girl who asks, “Why did I not receive such a gift?” with our Lord replying, “Because you did not ask!”


[i] Roberta Bondi, “Learning to Pray: An Interview with Roberta C. Bondi.”

[ii] William H. Williamon “Blogging Toward Sunday: July 23, 2007”

 [iii] Concept further explained by David Thompson, “Shameless” Working Preacher 7/18/10

July 26, 2010

The Trouble With Liking Your Sermon

So here’s the background:

This summer, I am preaching from the lectionary texts both from the Old and the New Testament. Because I’ve learned that I can’t seem to put my thoughts together without a series to frame them on, the series for July and August is called, “Things We Need to Talk About.”

The goal of the series is to make room for all of those difficult topics that never seem to make it into the corporate conversation any other time of the year. Thus far our topics have included, God and country, Immigration, Hospitality and the past Sunday, prayer.

It seems odd that prayer would be listed in a “Things We Need to Talk About” series, doesn’t? But, I intentionally honored last Sunday’s lectionary gospel text on prayer, hoping to explore the topic from the perspective of some of the tough, yet unspoken concerns many of us have in our prayer life.

The Sermon Dilemma:

Fun came for me in this week’s sermon task. I enjoyed thinking through the familiar text from Luke 11:1-13 with fresh eyes. I was spiritually enriched by the exegetical research I did in preparation for Sunday. And, in the end, I really liked what found its way to paper as the manuscript of the sermon.

Yet, this was a problem.

The problem was I nerves: I struggled to stay on script and the precise tone and quality of my voice staggered. And, as much as I believed in what I said,  I feared my passion was masked by my waffling body language.

And, this is not a new problem for me. I always find it difficult to deliver sermons that I think are meaningful, that I know I did my absolute best on, and those I feel strongly have the power to speak to the hearts of God’s people in my congregation.  It seems counterintuitive and it’s quite frustrating.

Why? I have so much emotionally and spiritually invested in the message of the sermon that I fear the results of “What if the congregation doesn’t feel as strong about this as I do?” The fear is what breaks my normal routines down and changes what is usually easy for me: the delivery of the sermon. I want you, the hearers to like it as much as I do, so that I just can’t seem to get it together.

So, because of this trouble I had yesterday with liking my sermon, I am actually going to suggest today a rarity: my manuscript is better than what was given on Sunday morning.  I’ll include it in another post for you to read it if you’d like.

And, I’m vowing that next time I know I “like my sermon,” I’ll spend more time rehearsing it hopefully to work through some of my fear of the congregational response.

Just know, my beloved Washington Plaza friends, how important my sermon offerings are to you each week. They are my highest gift of spiritual love given to you. Forgive me, for sometimes forgetting that it is God’s Spirit drawing us together through scripture anyway. There’s no need to be afraid of what happens after the words are said.  I just need to say what I need to say and let the rest be.

July 20, 2010

Family Fun Night July 2010

Our outreach team was back in organization mode this past week as we prepared for the second installment of Family Fun Night 2010 on Lake Anne Plaza. The DC Baptist Convention has recently written about our efforts with this summer project. Check out the article by clicking here.

This July’s event was the best ever! We enjoyed meeting more new friends and sharing the good news about Washington Plaza Baptist. Rainbow the clown was back! And, thank goodness we moved some of the games and activities inside the church because it was HOT on Friday night.

If you missed any or all of the fun this month, we hope to see you again on Friday, August 20th.

Two of our young adults leading a sand art station.

We added face painting to our activities this month, and there was quite a line to wait in to get this done!

Rainbow the Clown leads the kids in activities like pin the nose on the clown!

Who doesn’t want a free hot dog?

The preschoolers loved this station.

I mean, who doesn’t want to play with bubbles with the pastor?

A duck game plus an opportunity to cool off from the heat!

-Thanks to our wonderful church photographer, Alex Burke for these pictures.

July 20, 2010

Shower with Love

On Sunday after church, the ladies and a few men too from Washington Plaza got together to throw a baby shower. We are so excited that Ally Nauer will soon welcome baby Samantha to her home and thus to our lives as well.

I know that “baby showers” are no big deal in many churches, in fact many have them all the time. But in our case this one was special because this will be our first baby in the church in years. And, Ally is a single mom who just returned from active military service overseas. She and her mom are regular participants and members of the church and we can’t wait to support both of them on this new journey. For us, this shower was a great day for us to celebrate Ally, but also to celebrate the new life unfolding in our congregation!   Special thanks to the Congregational Care Committee for putting this event together.

July 14, 2010

Thoughts on Discernment

I was reading in preparation for our Way of Discernment class this evening and this quote by Marjorie Thompson stuck out to me as one of the major problems most of us face in our life transitions:

Sometimes staying grounded means that we suffer. To remain rooted in who we are as beloved children of God, we periodically need to let go of what no longer fits us, and perhaps never did. We may have to endure the pain of releasing a job, a relationship, a cherished image of who we thought we were. Such changes often look frightening. In the face of both pain and fear, however, we need to ask, ‘Which will hurt more, making the change or continuing to try to be something other than who I truly am?’ Though the answer to this question may not take away the pain or anxiety, it can restore our perspective. It reminds us that staying grounded in our core identity as beloved children of God is, finally about staying in touch with deep joy God holds for us in Christ, the loving one into whose image we are slowly and uniquely growing.

Great thoughts to ponder for today!  What do you think?

July 13, 2010

Things We Need to Talk about: Immigration

This past Sunday in our summer series of sermons: “Things We Need to Talk About,” I took on the issue of immigration from the perspective of the Good Samaritan story as recorded in Luke 10. Several people have asked me about the content of this sermon so here’s a bit of a teaser. If you want to hear the whole thing (as you can do any week), go to our website and click on the audio files of the sermons. 

I’d love for even more conversation about this topic to continue here. 

 . . . . And, you too might be thinking now: “Oh, no pastor, you cannot go there with your sermon this morning. We just don’t talk about how we treat the growing Hispanic population in our county. They are taking our social services. They are taking the places of our children and grandchildren in our schools. Some of us think, learn English or go home. We’d rather have different neighbors.” 

Yet, as followers of Jesus, what might he say about our relationship with these folks? Shall we enter into the sound bites of the MSNBC vs. Fox News debates? Or do we have a different role as people of faith? 

Jeffrey Cain, author of Moving Millions argues that immigration “is not a problem to be solved; it is a fact of life. For millennia, humans have been migrating in search of a better life. Kaye often poses this question to those who oppose immigration: ‘If you had to support your family on $3 a day or less, but had the opportunity to cross a border illegally to raise your living standard would you migrate?’”[i]  

Though immigration is a diverse, thorny issue, especially in this town where the first question many ask you is are on the “right” or are you on the “left,” I believe the question of welcoming neighbors is clear in the way of Jesus. Our faith journey after all, as recorded in scripture, has been as a wondering, nomadic people in search of God’s best for us no matter borders of land or providence. Even though our stand on, specific details regarding immigration decisions can change, our basic posture cannot. It should be one of: Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. 

Because, in fact the twist of this story is that Jesus tells is that it was not the person from the established religion, from the “correct” country, or from a position of power whose actions become the model of faith, rather it is the one who was the stranger. 

 It was the Samaritan, “that” neighbor, who Jesus champions as the one whose sight was correct telling the lawyer to “go and do likewise.” The Samaritan was the one who ministered in mercy. It was the Samaritan who had the gifts of kindness, compassion, hospitality and faith to give—even though he was among those who were perceived to be of no use to the rest of society. 

 What about us? First of all, do we know those neighbors? Do we know the names of those who work where we regularly by coffee or dine? Do we want to take seriously our partnership opportunity with Iglesia Mission Christina, inviting them to our worship, our fellowship and especially making opportunities available in our church calendar to know them on their terms not just ours? Even with language barriers, there is much we can learn about the stories of those who are different from us if we will just make ourselves available. 

For, I believe if we begin to ask ourselves these basic questions what we might find is that “those” people aren’t so far away as we might imagine: they shop at our grocery stores, they walk our sidewalks, and in our case, they worship in our building. 

And through this re-orientation to our surroundings, we might just find one of “those” people at our doorsteps bringing us hot papusas, remembering our birthdays, or brightening our day with a smile or a hug: ministering to us instead of the other way around. 

For such people we neatly want to talk about in terms of public policy at our dinner parties, are in fact just people after all like us, desiring the same basic human joys that we are seeking. And such people are best understood if we stop talking about them as “those people” but instead our neighbors, our friends. 

And, if we do this, if we enlarge our view of neighbor, we might just begin to see the majesty of God in shades of all colors, melodic tones, and cultural hues of brilliance . . . . We might just come to see the beauty of the table of the Lord—where the story doesn’t always have to be about us on the main stage, but in fact, we have much to learn.  Do we want to know this our wondrous Creator God? Then, let us welcome those neighbors.  


[i] “Boreline Solutions?” The Christian Century, June 15, 2010.

July 12, 2010


This blog post is a little late coming, but I wanted to add my voice of congratulations to a sister church of ours in Annapolis, MD for calling a new pastor.

Any Baptist church that successfully navigates through its transition and pastor search process is to be congratulated, as it is no easy task. For in Baptist churches, self-governance kicks into high gear when the pastor leaves. Churches (particularly those in the free church system) are volunteer organizations after all. It takes a long time to get people on the same page, think clearly about the future and to find the right fit for both the church and the new pastor. It can be a difficult and LONG process!

But, in the case of Broadneck Baptist Church, I am sending my special congratulations because it recently hired one of my dear friends and seminary roommate, Rev. Abby Thornton. She began her service with the congregation on June 12.

Broadneck Baptist is a courageous congregation of folks who are seeking to do church grounded in practices of community, justice for the forgotten, and participatory worship.

Not that I am biased or anything, but they could have found no better pastor in Abby.

She is trained and grounded in solid theological scholarship, has a quick pastoral mind, and a willing heart to give a congregation what they most need in a pastor. She is a gifted preacher and a thoughtful leader. I know no other person who will work as hard or as faithfully as Abby will in building God’s church in Annapolis.

It is a great day in Baptist life when church call pastors based on calling, abilities, and passion for the church instead of gender, marriage status or “the way things have always been.” (Pastors are white men with 2.5 beautiful children). Praise should be given to Broadneck for making such a courageous and wise choice.

I look forward to having my colleague, Abby in the large DC metro area and dreaming with her about ways our congregations can partner in ministry in mission. Welcome to the DC Baptist Convention family; it’s great to have you in town!

July 7, 2010

Prayers for Renewal

I was on vacation over the weekend for the 4th of July. This mini-vacation included a Sunday off and a couple of days at the beach. I returned back to work this morning, and as I was going through emails, I found the prayer requests shared by the congregation during the “Prayers of the People” on Sunday.

This was one of them voiced by the liturgist of the day: “I would like prayers that Pastor Elizabeth finds renewal in her vacation.”

I guess you could interpret this request in several ways, but as I know the individual who shared this request for me, I understood the intention right away.

This congregation member who is a part of the Pastoral Relations Committee takes seriously the task to “care for the spiritual health” of his pastor. He understands, like many within the church, that vacations and time away are just as important for me than time in the office. He knows that being a pastor for the long haul includes time to gather strength for the journey. And, he believes that pastors are people like everyone else and need prayer just as much as the next person, maybe even a little more as responsiblity of the care of so many rests on their shoulders.

So, what came of your congregational prayers?

I did share some precious gifts of uninterrupted time with my husband– what every marriage needs more of.

I enjoyed hours of rest and play with some of our dear friends from DC– what every life seeking balance needs more of.

I enjoyed eating meals (very good ones, I might add) with the interruption of getting to this appointment across town or that meeting– what every healthy diet need more of.

I enjoyed a little visioning of my own a part from the normal tasks at hand– what every person with hopes of not burning out from the tyranny of the urgent must do.

So, thank you, loving congregation for your prayers for my renewal over vacation. I hope you can see the joy in the faces of Kevin and I as gratitude for your care of us, even when we weren’t with you last week.

%d bloggers like this: