Rural Matters: Placing Rural Church Planting Back on the Map

Small town pastors are doing big things for God’s Kingdom. I recently introduced my daughter to the 2006 Pixar movie Cars . Sorry, if I’m ruining the movie for anyone, but it has been out since 2006, so tough. The movie follows a race car named Lightning McQueen who ends up stranded in a small town off Route 66 called Radiator Springs.

Source: Rural Matters: Placing Rural Church Planting Back on the Map

Lent, Day 5

_mgl2083This was taken just two days ago, before the temperature dropped to 12. Wonder how they made out?

Like the morning star among the clouds,
like the full moon at the festal season;
like the sun shining on the temple of the Most High,
like the rainbow gleaming in splendid clouds;
like roses in the days of first fruits,
like lilies by a spring of water,
like a green shoot on Lebanon on a summer day;
like fire and incense in the censer,
like a vessel of hammered gold
studded with all kinds of precious stones;
like an olive tree laden with fruit,
and like a cypress towering in the clouds.
When he put on his glorious robe
and clothed himself in perfect splendor,
when he went up to the holy altar,
he made the court of the sanctuary glorious.
Sirach 50:6-11

Lent, Day 4

_mgl2116Art Ministry preps the sanctuary. Six mobiles, each ten feet across and bearing 50 origami doves were one of our first Lenten installations. Each week a mobile is laid out on a table in the Narthex, where congregants can write their prayers on the doves. During the service the mobile is raised, one mobile a week for the six weeks of Lent.

Strength and Grace

_mgl2087The goal: a photo a day for Lent. (I’m already running behind). This is the upstairs studio at Scheide Hall at Princeton Theological Seminary where we have our film class. The structure combines strength and grace, and the light is what gives it its spirit and energy.

Learn where there is wisdom, where there is strength, where there is understanding, so that you may at the same time discern where there is length of days, and life, where there is light for the eyes, and peace. – Baruch 3:14


The Immigration “Problem”

For his supporters, it appears he is delivering on promises. For his detractors, it’s horrifying. For both, it’s a distraction from the real problem: he can’t, or won’t, do anything about the economy, jobs, violence at home and abroad, or the future. The real problems remain unsolved, and as long as we are distracted, they will remain unsolvable.
Perhaps some problems actually are unsolvable: for instance, we live in a violent world and the future is uncertain. That may always be a problem. But it’s a lot more courageous to face it, not deny or avoid it, or pick a scapegoat to channel our fears into.
Anxiety is a funny thing. Anxiety is always about the unknown. And that’s very uncomfortable. So we put a shape on it and turn it into fear — a shape like muslims, Jews, LGBTs. One it has a shape, it’s known, and we think we can then protect ourselves from it. At least we have a target. Problem is, the anxiety doesn’t go away. Maybe it takes another shape, and then you’re always running. In addition, we often do things in response to our fears that are immoral or cowardly, which adds guilt to the anxiety.
Denial has a purpose: it protects us from guilt. Which allows us to continue to do the things we think we need to do to protect ourselves. It’s a game with no end, unless we have the courage to end it.

The Journey Begins with Prayer: The Baptism of the Lord

The Good Disciple


It might seem like the most obvious thing in the world to say, but, Jesus spent a lot of time in prayer.

Throughout the Gospels Jesus is found praying with and for others, as well as seeking a quiet place to pray by himself.  He prayed before meals, before and after healings and other miracles, he prayed prayers of thanksgiving and prayed for the faith of his disciples. Jesus prayed when he had decisions to make, and taught his followers how to pray. Jesus prayed on the way to the cross, and moments before he died, Jesus breathed his final prayer.

The first prayer of Jesus’ public ministry occurred immediately after his baptism.

 “After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove.

And a voice came from heaven, “You are my…

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Art Ministry for First Presby has been busy!

I was starting to make a list of everything Art Ministry has done this past year, and I amazed myself.

What has Art Ministry done this year?

Looking back on 2015 (and the last few months of 2014), this has been a tremendously growthful and innovative period. At the end of 2014 we completely rebuilt our World Communion Sunday globes using sturdier materials, and likewise replaced our Advent installation paper hangings with satin fabric. An animated star field was created and projected on the ceiling during Christmas Eve services.

In 2015, we recreated our origami doves using acid-free paper to resist yellowing over time. For Pentecost we created eight foot diameter paintings of flaming doves and scripture on canvas, using the World Communion globes as a base for the new art. We also created an installation of flame colored organza covering the rear wall of the sanctuary.

Ordinary Time saw the installation of two new eight by twelve foot green banners with the cross dyed into each, also on the rear wall, to complement those on the front wall. During the Summer, a Goliath-sized King David was constructed of Falconboard (an extremely heavy cardboard), made into a chalkboard with chalkboard paint, and adorned by the children week by week with items to accompany the David stories: a sling, a crown, etc. In addition the kids used chalk to add their personal touches to the figure.

Two eight by twelve foot banners were produced for Vacation Bible School, and a series of structures was created for Children’s Sabbath, including a walk-in Daniel’s Lion’s Den, Tower of Babel, and Walls of Jericho.

Advent 2015 saw yet more enhancements to the installation, as the fabric at the front of the sanctuary was extended with white panels. A new installation, the Advent calendar, also designed for interactivity with the kids and the congregation, was built and is in use at this writing.

Electronic Art

Art Ministry produced an ePub, an electronic, downloadable catalog detailing all the major installations. It is available on the iTunes store and part of the proceeds go the church.

The iPad was introduced as a tool in conjunction with the projector to initiate an on-the-fly, draw-the-sermon experience, with great success. The process will be repeated for the 5:00pm Christmas Eve service.

The church’s Christmas card was produced as an emailable html card, with graphics and news of Christmas happenings.

Connections, the weekly electronic calendar, passed its 300th issue.

We continue to maintain, enhance and upgrade all existing installations on a regular basis. Our work can be seen on the Art Ministry website