COSTA RICA — Heat-induced indolence had taken residence in body and soul after a week in the remote beach town of Samara on the Pacific edge of Costa Rica.
Mysterious practices, multiple entrances, confusing requirements, authority figures dressed differently with clothing often suggesting power and authority: Hospitals and churches have these in common.
I rewrote a section of this familiar holiday poem. See if it resonates with you.
Full disclosure: I am affiliated with the church described in this column and I know and am known by many. Several greeted me saying, “It’s our turn to be written about!”
A 70-minute service, including Christmas music and a high-speed 40-minute sermon, left me a bit overwhelmed when I emerged from early worship at First Baptist Church Denton and stepped out onto its well-manicured campus on Malone Street.
LEWISVILLE — “Advent is not Christmas. We want the celebration of the day without the hard work of preparation.” With these words, the Rev. Kathryn Thompson began her first Sunday in Advent message at the Episcopal Church of the Annunciation in Lewisville.
“It’s God’s will that a woman’s head and arms be covered.” Well, I had worn a headscarf, but it was sheer, and realized too late that my three-quarter-length sleeves were also inadequate.
A downtown Denton barbershop will open its doors this morning to offer warm food and clothes along with free haircuts to the city’s homeless.
Young people from First United Methodist Church of Denton will be offering their holiday gift-wrapping service at Golden Triangle Mall again this year.
I’m rarely ill, but last weekend reminded me that I’m nonetheless not invincible. Honoring my shut-in status, I turned on the TV for my church, choosing local broadcast TV offerings.
PHILADELPHIA — In 1693 William Penn gave a piece of property, now in the prime section of downtown Philadelphia, to the Religious Society of Friends, the Quakers. The meetinghouse was built later. Betsy...
“Hover, hover, hover, hover, hover.” Over and over, the 24-piece band led the singing of the word “hover” as the people danced, some collapsing in utter ecstasy, fainting in their seats. The flags and ribbons twirled while the African-influenced rhythmic music pounded. The congregation prayed and sang with passionate abandon for the Holy Spirit to hover over this world.
DALLAS — They sold 650 tickets, and it looked like every ticket-holder showed up at the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation in Dallas. Within minutes of the 3:45 p.m. door opening, the high-arched, stone-floored sanctuary of this Gothic revival church was nearly filled.
“The hour-and-40-minute service passed as though I had been there only a few moments.” My companions and I had the same reaction after discovering that the people of Friendship Baptist Church in The Colony actually lived up to their name, offering friendly greetings, hugs, handshakes and an experience of deep worship this past Sunday.
They needed $14 million two years ago; this past Sunday, they only needed $2.4 million to see their vision come fully to life.
NEW YORK CITY — I was delighted when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 122, NKJV)
It was the same dream every night. She was standing at one end of an arena inside the center of a large barn, watching children as some of them rode horses and others groomed them. She watched for several minutes before making her way outside, where she saw three buildings in a U-shape around the barn.
Trinity Presbyterian Church, 2200 N. Bell Ave. in Denton, shuttered its doors Sunday. Anyone seeking to worship there would have found an empty parking lot, no greeters, no worship about to begin.
A very lovely woman greeted me and my friend after the 9 a.m. worship service at Denton Bible Church, located on University Drive east of Texas Woman’s University. She eagerly asked, “What did you think about it?”
After attending multiple worship services this summer where children were excluded, it was a refreshing delight for me to be in one where children were obviously welcome and heard.
It didn’t exactly set out to be a time of worship. It was simply a social evening where I joined a friend, my friend’s daughter, her husband and their two children for a cookout.
LOS ANGELES — My first hint that this might be a radically different place to go to church was the fact that I had to make a reservation to attend.
MONTERREY, Calif. — We listened to the preliminaries while still outside the sacred space, the sanctuary. About 35 people ranging in age from 8 to mid-70s had shown up. Groups of two to four had slowly gathered, but did not enter into conversation with others.
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — “Matter is mortal error.” I’m seeking to understand this phrase after attending worship at First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Thousand Oaks, California.
SAN DIEGO — “No children or babies are allowed in the sanctuary and the youth go to a different place.” With those words disturbingly ringing in my ears, since I think children should observe their parents engaged in worship, I was escorted into the cavernous “sanctuary” of The Rock Church (www.sdrock.com), the gigachurch founded by Miles McPherson, former defensive back for the San Diego Chargers and former drug addict, now turned motivational speaker/pastor/author.
Anyone close to news sources knows about the increasingly large number of unaccompanied children making their way to the United States through our permeable borders. They make the trek by God only knows what horrific means of transport.
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”
Attendees at the annual Jehovah's Witness Summer Convention join in a song by signing in American Sign Language on Saturday at the Assembly Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses west of Denton. The participants in Denton were connected through a video feed to a larger gathering at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The three-day convention ended Sunday.
Eight years ago, I arrived in Krum as the next pastor of the United Methodist Church there. If I remember rightly, I told members on my first Sunday that we would not stay in their crumbling building any longer.
A friend of mine who has quite a knack for political analysis wrote this about the growing crisis in Iraq: “The problem is that elections don’t work very well in places that do not have a homogeneous population, especially if they have no history of democratic institutions. If you count forced relocation as a kind of genocide, what happened in Europe after the Treaty of Versailles poured democracy over everything was about as big an episode of genocide as the world has ever seen.”