Easter and the Egg

When I say Easter, what comes first to your mind? Maybe the answer is Resurrection - and fittingly so, as that is what the story now called “Easter” is all about (even though the word Easter is not in the Bible). But it is perhaps even more possible that when you hear “Easter” you think first of either Eggs or Bunnies. After all, that’s certainly what you’d see if you went to the local grocery store. Just as the Jesus story at Christmas can often and easily be overshadowed by Christmas Trees and Santa Claus, so the Christ story at Easter can get lost in the details of Easter Eggs and Easter Bunnies.

In the eyes of my 9 or 10 year old self, the circus could not disappoint… Or could it? I remember sitting in the padded upper deck seats. I remember seeing the trapeze

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Fellowship ChurchComment
Palms, Praise, Protest, and Penitence

The first time I visited the Mount of Olives, our group had taken a bus to the top and walked down. Midway down the mountain, we noticed a crowd gathered. As we approached, the crowd slowly dispersed, and a man,  dressed in first century garb, with a donkey warmly welcomed us to draw near. He shared that he was standing near the site where Jesus sent his disciples to retrieve a donkey to ride into Jerusalem. Then, with a wonderful mix of hospitality and entrepreneurship, he invited us to take a photo of his donkey and himself. 

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Fellowship ChurchComment
The Big Tent Show

I had begged my parents for years. The Holland Civic Center’s giant marquee would annually advertise the circus coming to town. Maybe it was because Curious George was my favorite book growing up, maybe it was the TV shows I watched as a kid that highlighted the majesty of the circus, but I would annually beg my parents to take me to “Big Tent Show.”

In the eyes of my 9 or 10 year old self, the circus could not disappoint… Or could it? I remember sitting in the padded upper deck seats. I remember seeing the trapeze

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Fellowship ChurchComment
The Rule Follower

By nature, I am a rule follower. I like to do the right thing and I hate getting in trouble. When I was growing up, especially in school, I wanted to make sure I did everything right. The fear of having the teacher call me out for doing something wrong was paralyzing, so I always made sure to follow the rules.

With my deep anxiety about getting things right and not making mistakes, I can remember reading this parable or hearing it read in church and panicking every single time. Was I actually

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A Surround Sound Experience

I was recently traveling with an RCA colleague, Chad Farrand, who loves music and always has multiple playlists on his cell phone. On the trip, I had the wonderful surprise of receiving an upgrade on my rental car. Among the many upgrades was a fabulous sound system—a true surround sound experience. Our enjoyment of Chad’s music was greatly enhanced by the car’s sound system.

Surround sound triumphs over stereo and stereo is

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Wake up. Be alert.

Henri Nouwen told Richard Rohr in Nouwen’s later years: “Stop traveling, stay home, and teach contemplation.” This was a startling request for Rohr to receive. However, Rohr knew it right and has diminished his travel and increased his teaching on contemplation.

Teaching contemplation has long been the work of Thomas Merton and other Franciscan and Ignatian monks. They received the tradition from their church fathers and mothers, including Theresa of Avila.

Contemplation gets a bad name because it too often gets translated “empty your mind.” The fear is that if we empty our mind, it will make room for the devil to enter it. However, emptying is a Christ word. We see this in Philippians, “He emptied himself.” Sometimes I would prefer to translate the Greek word, kenosis as, “He gave himself away.” The act of Christ is first an act of generosity, so is contemplation

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Beauty in Waiting

The wedding invitation that arrived in the mail the other day reminded me that we are entering wedding season. Whether they had anything to say about it, Spring and Summer are the official sponsors of weddings (although I’m a little partial to Fall weddings, having an anniversary in October).

A wedding is certainly not a new idea. They have been happening since the beginning,

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Fellowship ChurchComment
Our Invitation to Grace

"For many are called, but few are chosen." These words troubled me in the process of planning a worship service that would complement this parable from Matthew's gospel. For several days, the phrase echoed in my mind. Honestly, the whole parable is unsettling, but the final sentence produces the kind of chill that lingers. I want to understand the "why?" of it all.  Why did those first invited to the wedding banquet ignore and reject it? Why did others decide to come and enjoy the feast? And still more disturbing, why did that one guy show up without a robe, and why was the fallout so severe?

Just hours before I had the

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Go Luke (Blue)!

After publicly declaring my allegiance to a basketball team on Sunday, I was left disappointed Sunday night. In case you are not a fan of college basketball, Michigan State University beat the University of Michigan (for the third time) in the Big Ten Conference championship game Sunday evening.

After worship I had a fair number of folks, with a certain smugness, whisper “Go Green.” It seems we all have a tendency to be fans of one school or

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It's Not Fair...It's Better

“You love Juliet more than you love me!”

“You know that’s not true. I love you both the same.”

“But she always gets what she wants, and I never get what I want.”

Does this conversation sound familiar to you? I often find myself in the middle of this or some version of this conversation with my 5-year-old daughter, Rose. It usually comes when my 2-year-old daughter, Juliet, gets to choose which show to watch, or when I play a game with her. Jealousy kicks in, and immediately I’m accused of having more love for Juliet. Never mind the

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The Frustrating Side of Grace

In the life span of a sermon, Tuesday is the early years…I mean, really early. It’s like a toddler who is still learning how to put one foot in front of another…and sometimes goes barreling across the room only to face plant after five steps. This is my ‘read commentaries’ day, my stew in it day…my place the text in a marinade day. And so writing about a text on Tuesday—putting thoughts in word form—is a bit of a ‘flash marinade’ if you will. And I can’t help but thinking that these thoughts are not highly seasoned.

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Fellowship ChurchComment
Belong...Grow...Serve...

This past weekend, lots of folks from our Fellowship community headed up to camp in Lake City for our Better Together All Church Retreat. At our first gathering, we met three characters who would show up throughout the weekend: Randy Rinkleson (Pastor Ross), Amber (Pastor Lindsay), and Jake (Pastor Nate). We learned that Amber and Jake were from Mope College and had gotten a great deal on a spring break vacation to Lake City. They got off the plane only to find that they are in Lake City…. Michigan, not Florida!

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To Forgive or Not to Forgive...

Do you remember the days, perhaps long ago, when you did something awful to a sibling (or they did something awful to you) and then mom orchestrated a reconciliation transaction?  So…you stole her doll…or he knocked down your tower…and, thankfully, mom intervened.  Then, after having exchanged a seemingly empty “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” (with the threat of time-out-time now looming), life eventually continued onward.  But was it necessary?  Did it work?  And when is enough enough?  Those are the questions of this week’s text.

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Tell Me a Story

My very first class in seminary was New Testament 1. In terms of favorable conditions, the class had everything stacked against it: it met on Monday mornings…at 8:00 am…in a basement classroom at North Park Seminary. But there was one redeeming factor…the professor: a kind, brilliant scholar named Klyne Snodgrass. Dr. Snodgrass moved us through the gospels

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