POETRY: We Will Now Hear The Word Of God From Each Of Our Beloved Chaplains by Daniel Berrigan

September 19, 2018

1. Rev Stump is believe it or not for real as a stump to a grown tree so he to the verdant gospel this corpulent burgher this fictitious rubbery stamp Stump a huckster’s a hack’s gospel Stump wormwood miles of smiles 2. the priest an irish caricature wheels up in his Cadillac each a.m. an alderman to a cobbler’s funeral we the dead faces his asperges hisses on have yet like Lazarus in hell one cold Christian curse bestowal, [...]

CHRISTIANITY: Hand Signals by Gary M. Schimmer

May 9, 2018

From: Emmaus Road Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the Kingdom of Heaven belongs.” (Matthew 19:14b) Receiving Holy Communion is one of the spiritual stepping stones in the Christian faith.  In the early Christian church even infants communed by tasting drops of wine that the priest placed on their tongues.  Centuries later that early Christian practice changed, and now children in the first grade or in upper grades commune for the first time. It was the practice of my congregation to offer children their first Holy Communion in the third grade, as I recall.  They received instruction before they received this sacrament.  On the other hand, younger children still [...]

CHRISTIANITY: Lights Out by Gary M. Schimmer

May 2, 2018

From: Emmaus Road Live as children of light. (Ephesians 5:8b) I have enjoyed doing children’s sermons since I began my ordained ministry decades ago.  Each Sunday I talked to children about the meaning of one of the Bible verses from the lectionary.  I always tried to make one point in my talks.  I used signs, toys, pictures, and movements to illustrate my message. One Sunday I talked about Jesus’s message for people to be the light of the world.  Now that concept was not easy to communicate to children because it was a metaphor.  Nonetheless, I gave it a try.  I gave each child a little flashlight.  They aimed their lights at each other and on the walls of the church building.  I emphasized that Jesus wants us to be the light [...]

CHRISTIANITY: Pizza And A Movie by Gary M. Schimmer

April 25, 2018

From: Emmaus Road Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash to disciples’ feet. (John 13:5a) They said they came from Hollywood, where they worked to film the 1960s sitcom, Petticoat Junction.  They landed in the small Georgia town where I was the pastor of the Lutheran congregation.  It always puzzled me how these two filmmakers left the glamour of Hollywood to live and work in a town and country setting in the foothills of the north Georgia mountains.  I met them as they worked for a major pizza chain.  They were filming community events and then inviting the community to the local pizza restaurant for dinner and a movie. Somehow I got the idea of filming A Day in the Life of a Pastor, starring yours truly.  I approached [...]

CHRISTIANITY: Humor—No Monkey Business by Gary M. Schimmer

April 18, 2018

From: Emmaus Road Then God spoke all these words: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no gods before me.” (Exodus 20:1-3) No Monkey Business What can we do to keep the attention of children in Sunday school?  A new Bible curriculum may include the latest technology with fast-paced songs and flashy lessons to nurture faith. But before the latest technology hit the classroom, we used flannel boards, brightly colored Bible story leaflets, and songs with hand motions.  (Remember the old Sunday school song, “The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock?”)  And some Sunday school teachers even tried show-and-tell in class to capture the attention of restless [...]

POETRY: In Church by R. S. Thomas

April 13, 2018

Often I try To analyse the quality Of its silences. Is this where God hides From my searching? I have stopped to listen, After the few people have gone, To the air recomposing itself For vigil. It has waited like this Since the stones grouped themselves about it. These are the hard ribs Of a body that our prayers have failed To animate. Shadows advance From their corners to take possession Of places the light held For an hour. The bats resume Their business. The uneasiness of the pews Ceases. There is no other sound In the darkness but the sound of a man Breathing, testing his faith On emptiness, nailing his questions One by one to an untenanted [...]

CHRISTIANITY: Humor—Hey, Jesus! by Gary M. Schimmer

April 11, 2018

From: Emmaus Road Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:24) Hey, Jesus! They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” (John 12:21) The congregation’s membership grew rapidly because it was located in a thriving community with many new businesses and housing subdivisions.  Young families climbing the corporate ladders were mortgaged to the hilt, enrolled their children in good schools, and looked to worship in welcoming congregations. It wasn’t unusual each Sunday for several new families to show up in the congregation I served.  One Sunday a new [...]

CHRISTIANITY: Humor—A Hymn Forgotten by Gary M. Schimmer

April 4, 2018

From: Emmaus Road Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the Kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:24) A Hymn Forgotten Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts. (Psalm 33:3) While attending divinity school, I was asked to lead the women’s Pentecost service at the congregation where I worshipped, taught catechism class, and helped to lead the youth group.  With some apprehension, I agreed, knowing that this would be my first time to preach. In preparation for this service, I worked with a retired pastor who would play the organ for this service.  In our phone conversation, we selected several hymns for all to sing. When I mentioned one of [...]

UNITY: Of Style And Substance

January 14, 2018

I was born an Anglican. This means that I have always belonged to the church associated with King Henry VIII, of England, and his break from the Roman Catholic Church.  Henry wanted a son.  His first wife, his deceased brother’s wife, didn’t bear him one.  He wanted a divorce from her so he could try begetting a son with someone else.  The Pope agreed that the marriage was invalid because it was against the church law to marry your brother’s wife. Henry had been given a dispensation for that error.  And now was being let off the hook of having made the error in the first place. How convenient for Henry. But the wife he wanted to divorce was from Spain.  And Spain was in the process of providing the Pope with war [...]

SATURDAY READING: Kneeling In Prayer by Abraham Kuyper

July 22, 2017

From Our Worship It is appropriate to say a few words about kneeling in prayer, especially in connection with the “Prayer of Confession of Sin.”  We should realize that in this question also custom does not make liturgical law.  The present custom in our churches is for men to stand during prayer and for women to remain seated, while one kneels only at adult baptisms, when a minister is ordained, and at wedding services.  This may not hold true for all churches.  It is possible that in remote communities kneeling is also done on other occasions, but in the majority of our churches the custom, mentioned above, is followed, possibly with this minor variation, that some men remain seated even when others rise for prayer. [...]


March 29, 2015

From The School of Charity In his letter to the Romans, we find Saint Paul asking his converts if they realize what it means to be part of the church.  It means, he says (and we can imagine their surprise when they heard it), being received into the death of Christ – the unconditional sacrifice of the cross – in order to walk in newness of life: transformed through self-loss into a bit of that body which is indwelt and ruled by the Spirit of Divine Charity.  No easy application for membership, then, fulfills the demands of real Christianity.  It is a crisis, a radical choice, a deep and costly change.  When we judge our own lives by this standard we realize that full entrance into the church’s real life must for most of us [...]


December 25, 2014

Defining things is something of a passion of mine, I find. This year, I was forced to define, in concrete terms, what Christmas meant to me.  Just me.  My definitions. And I found that Christmas, for me, has two real meanings: one public, the other very personal. When I was growing up, there was a tradition in my church.  It was a tradition that, for me, continued into my adulthood. Before the Midnight Christmas Eve Mass, there would be an hour of hymn singing.  It was quiet, so quiet.  The lights were lowered.  Most spent the time on their knees.  The familiar carols were sung in almost a hushed voice, crooning soothing sounds to the newborn Jesus.  Hymns as lullabies.  It was so beautiful.  So moving. So reverent. This Advent [...]

SERMON: Upon Sleeping In Church, by Jonathan Swift

September 23, 2012

And there sat in a Window a certain young Man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep; and while Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with Sleep, and fell down from the third Loft, and was taken up dead. (Acts 20:9) I have chosen these Words with Design, if possible, to disturb some Part in this Audience of half an Hour’s Sleep, for the Convenience and Exercise whereof this Place, at this Season of the Day, is very much celebrated. There is indeed one mortal Disadvantage to which all preaching is subject; that those who, by the Wickedness of their Lives, stand in greatest Need, have usually the smallest Share; for, either they are absent upon the Account of Idleness, or Spleen, or Hatred to Religion, or in order to doze away the [...]

EVELYN UNDERHILL: The Mystic Goes to Church

January 24, 2012

In her book, The Life of the Spirit and the Life of Today, in a chapter entitled, “Institutional Religion and the Life of the Spirit,” Evelyn Underhill approaches a very tender subject: how well does a mystic do in a church environment? For me, this has been a very painful, sometimes tortuous conflict — wanting, needing to go to church, but finding there what one finds in church: seemingly tireless church ladies, jovial fellows discussing the replanting of the tulip beds, frazzled choir masters chasing after their brood, et al. This question, often put in the crucial form, “Did Jesus Christ intend to form a church?” is well worth asking.  Indeed, it is of great and pressing importance to those who now have [...]


January 20, 2012

When I was a teenager, I was sent to Episcopal church camp.  It wasn’t my choice, really.  My grandmother and the church I attended decided it would be good for me.  Otherwise, I would just keep working at my summer job: scooping ice cream for laughing townsfolk and for vacationers thrilled with being on the coast of Maine. Doing anything as a child in Maine was very understated.  I remember reading accounts of how children from other states would go to exotic places for vacation and do inscrutable things, like study rocketry or cheerleading.  Were I to be sent on “vacation,” I would be driven a few minutes away from my home and dropped at the dock belonging to my great-aunt to be shuttled out to her summer island. [...]