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Showing posts from September, 2013

Ten Reasons Why You Should Be Going to Church

Originally posted on www.argentapres.org by Rev. Anne Russ, Pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Argenta.

I’ve just seen one too many articles on why people aren’t coming to church. Admittedly, there are some good reasons. But I’d like to share my top 10 reasons why you should be coming to church. Others will have different reasons and some may disagree with the ones I have listed, but here they are.

10. Coming to church doesn’t mean you have no doubts about God or faith or religion. It means you have a place you can share with people who have their own doubts.

9.  Bad stuff is going to happen in your life. It just is. A church community cannot be everything to everyone in times of crisis, but when the bottom falls out of your world, it’s great to have a community to lift you back up.

8. Bad stuff is going to happen in your life, part two. The time to build a relationship with God is not when life turns ugly, and you’ve run out of all other options. Attending worship regularly helps…

Of Gnats and Camels

One of the things that I love about the gospels is the vignettes depicting Jesus reaching out in an unexpected way directly into the life of another human.  According to the authors, Jesus had a habit of not only honoring the humanity of the other but of also elevating the humanity of the other.  We encounter such meetings over and over again in a myriad of ways in the gospels.
A touch of a hand;
An affirming word;
A simple blessing;
A forgiving look;
A servant's action.

It's almost as if Jesus took seriously the scripture he quoted to the learned men who had gathered in the synagogue to hear the young rabbi.  We are told that Jesus was handed the scroll and read these words from Isaiah, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor." He lived fully into these wor…

The Dangerous Comparison Game

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The comparison game that many of us play is a truly dangerous game. We risk the loss of our sense of self when we spend our time and energy looking at the other and comparing ourselves to them and their abilities, what they have or don't have, and the myth of who we perceive them to be or who others think they may be. Because of our insecurities we gaze into the lives of other people and attempt to live into someone else's imagined version of reality. This imagined version of reality is exactly that - imagined. It exists for no one. Genuine self is sacrificed on the altar of this vain chase of that which will always exist beyond our reach. Our comparison game is futile and has potentially deadly consequences as it drives us to try to be someone we were never meant to be and somehow feel inadequate or lesser than because of our failure to achieve it.
Grace calls in a different direction. The beautiful and frightening nature of grace is that God sees us exactly as we are, and acc…

A World Without Suicide - Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.  Do what you can to shatter the silence around suicide.  

Several years ago, I became a charter member of the Indiana Chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  I am honored to serve an organization like this that works to fund research, support survivors, and shatter the silence.  If you are or if someone is currently struggling with suicidal thoughts, please call the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK).  If you are a survivor and are looking for support and resources, please go to www.afsp.org.  Our annual Out of the Darkness Walk is this coming Saturday, September 14 at 2:30 at the Celebration Plaza/White River State Park in downtown Indianapolis (registration begins at 1:30).  Would love to see you there.  Your support can indeed save lives.

Last year, I had the opportunity to speak at three different walks.  Below is a revised copy of the talk that I gave.  Thank you for doing your part to shatter the silence.

Summer of Challenge; Summer of Change - Chicago, IL - Christians, Muslims, and Jews

This summer I had the opportunity to travel with two groups of high school students to Chicago, IL for a two separate weeks of service and learning.  These amazing students and their incredible adult leaders were exposed to people and organizations doing wonderful things in the community.  As fellow travelers and leaders, it was our hope that the experiences had in Chicago would make a difference and would spark the faith and the imaginations of the young people.  In addition, we hoped that they would then put these discoveries to work in their own communities upon returning home. You see, we try to design the summer trips to be more than one time transactions of services rendered for those "in need".  We try to design these adventures as opportunities to build relationships that transform the way in which we all understand faith, self, the world, and our role in it.

To that end, this year we split our day Thursday with two fantastic organizations that changed us in ways we…