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Through Frozen Nights, We Wait A Blue Christmas Service

This service was created by Gretta Vosper from the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity
The service can be led by one person but is richer with a diversity of voices. In some places, options for Reader 1 and Reader 2 are marked to suggest a particular flow.  Leaders are urged to work out who is responsible for what and use the options provided only as guidelines.
The space is prepared for the service with an easily accessible table, cloaked in dark cloth, with baskets of tea lights set upon smaller tables or stands at each end. The table may be decorated with a sprinkling of silvery or translucent glitter or cut out stars. Silver-covered boxes of various heights might offer different places for people to set tea lights and offer visual interest

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A Magical Christmas

I share these familiar family stories because I wonder as we approach this Christmas “holy day,” if we have lost our ability as a society to look for, to wait for, to anticipate those magical moments in life. Have we become so materialistic, so rational, so cynical that we no longer see the magical, majestic, the mystical, the mystery?

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The Pope’s Progress

Finally, Pope Benedict XVI has opened the theological door to affirming condom use to help stem the spread of HIV in the world. For decades the Roman Catholic popes and bishops have not only discouraged condom use to prevent the transmission of HIV but have suggested that the use of condoms actually spreads HIV.

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The Manhattan Counters

Americans United for Separation of Church and State have together drafted a point-by-point rebuttal to The Manhattan Declaration, a right-wing Christian manifesto published (with 200+ prominent signatories) last November.  Our MANHATTAN COUNTER-DECLARATION aims at providing clarity on the issues they address, and defending the values they profess to (but fail) protect by means of their document.  We want to launch our Counter-Declaration so that the religious right can get busy responding to good arguments for a change, instead of spending all of their time composing bad ones of their own.  Progressives, moderate Christians, humanists, atheists, and other religious leaders are tired of being on the defensive and are putting forward our own agenda for the future.

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Is Progressive The New Liberal?

Is “progressive” the new liberal? The word progressive is frequently used these days referring to “non-fundamentalist” churches.  I used it as a theme for our Lenten sermon series: Progressive Christianity takes a fresh look at traditions and rituals. You may see the word used in newspaper and magazine articles.  What does it mean?  Is progressive simply the “new liberal”?  My perspective is yes and no. “Progressive Christianity” does not lend itself easily to definition.  It is more of a movement; a path; an approach than a belief system. It is often more interested in spirituality than religion. Unlike the “liberal churches” of the 1960’s and later, it is not necessarily closely aligned with one political perspective.  So how might we describe “progressive” Christianity?

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A Different Clergy Voice

This month I write with a sad and heavy heart. Five young men have died due to suicide. The common thread between them is that they were young, Gay and experiencing harsh harassment and devastating discrimination from their peers. Current statistics inform us that 9 out of 10 Gay/Lesbian/Bi-Sexual and Transgendered Young People experience such dehumanizing and demoralizing treatment every day. We are informed, also, that they are 30% more likely to commit suicide than their peers.

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Leaving the Church-A Memoir of Faith

Anyone who is thinking about going to seminary; anyone that is thinking about leaving the church; anyone who is wondering why church has become so difficult; anyone who is wondering why good clergy are becoming more difficult to find; anyone who cares about the postmodern church; anyone who is trying to find a way to re-conceptualize their Christian faith so that it matches the reality of the twenty-first century-anyone interested in any of these things should read this book.

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Topics: Clergy/Ministry and Spiritual Exploration & Practice. Ages: Adult. Resource Types: Books.

Is God A Delusion?: A Reply To Religion’s Cultured Despisers

“Is God a Delusion?” addresses the philosophical underpinnings of the recent proliferation of popular books attacking religious beliefs. Focuses primarily on charges leveled by recent critics that belief in God is irrational and that its nature ferments violence Balances philosophical rigor and scholarly care with an engaging, accessible style Offers a direct response to the crop of recent anti-religion bestsellers currently generating considerable public discussion.

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Setting Jesus Free

The Bible and the Church have become more or less irrelevant to the contemporary world. Sadly the message of Jesus, totally relevant to all times, has been ignored and lost because it is seen as being part of the Church that is now rejected with nothing important to say to present-day life.  This book deals with the need to move away from structures of traditional beliefs, creeds and doctrines that are outmoded in our contemporary world. It encourages a move into a Church-based environment, living by a set of Jesus values that include compassion, sacrifice and acceptance of difference without having to believe the unbelievable and the unscientific.

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Words Do Matter

With some wonderful exceptions, I regular hear words like- Redeemer, Lord, Savior and sin, sprinkled throughout the service in everything from the call to worship to the benediction. I often wonder what the people in the pews are thinking when they hear me preach and then stand up and recite something that is completely contrary to the sermon they just told me was wonderful.

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Fraying Claims: Challenging Progressives beyond Their Chosen Response to the Burning of the Koran

The truth of the matter is that the scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are filled with violence, divisiveness, condemnation. So, too, are they filled with passages that condone the destruction of property and persons of other belief systems and nationalities. True, too, is the reality that such content can, and as Jones has reminded us, will be used for appalling purposes. The pastor in Florida is only doing what he believes his God expects him to do. It’s a God he would deny for no one. Not for his president, Barak Obama, who pleaded with him on behalf of Americans around the world, not to go ahead with his plan. Not for his evangelical brother in the faith, Rick Warren, who has called it a “cowardly act”. Not for any “progressive” Christian like me or Diana Butler Bass who drives a car with a COEXIST bumper sticker on it, each of the letters formed from the symbol of a different religion

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Anything Under the Sun: Shaping Contemporary ‘Sunday Morning’ Experiences

Only when our liturgies have about them the flavour of story can we expect them to have the resonance we would like them to have. The challenge of our liturgies is to retell our personal experiences in the light of our Australian experience of the natural seasons. Our preaching should be intellectually and theologically honest – keeping what we know and what we believe, together – delivered in conversational or ordinary language.

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What Do We Mean When We Say, “I am Christian?”

Over the last fifteen years I listened to a growing number of troubled clergy who are in conflicted and or dying churches. (I believe there is a connection.) Sometimes the battles are over “LBGT” issues and other times it may be about politics. But far more often, the conflict is rooted in theology, Christology and ideology. Frankly, with rare exceptions, clergy cannot freely teach what they learned in seminary or more importantly, what they have come to believe about their own understanding of the Christian religion, the Bible or their faith. The resultant message is often mixed or muddled and almost always without passion.

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Imagining a future for the Bible in tomorrow

Jack Spong has attempted to rescue the Bible from fundamentalism and Marcus Borg has encouraged us to read the Bible again for the first time. However, the Bible remains a problematic text for religious progressives, including Christians and people from other faith traditions. This presentation will acknowledge the constraints on the capacity of the Bible to function in the post-Christian global era, but also imagine some ways in which the Bible may make a constructive contribution to progressive religious communities in the future.

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Gino and the Way We’ve Always Done It

On Sunday morning at most churches, the quality of the music is more like Central High’s “Oklahoma” than the Met’s “Bohème,” and about as inspiring as the pasta was at Gino.

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