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Pastoral Blog (Page 10)

Blog postings by our pastor Rev. Ben Daniel.

Doing a Raindance in the Sunshine

Friends, As the final days of Winter turn to Spring, taking with them the final possibility for significant rainfall this year, I find myself spiritually torn because I love this weather, yet—like every other Californian—I wish it would rain in Oakland and snow in Yosemite. So here is the question: is it possible, at the same time, to give thanks for the…

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Friends, Here’s a confession only an American could make: I’m really happy the football season is over and Spring training has begun. In theory I like football. It is a game of strategy that combines great athleticism and skill. It is a team sport in which every player is needed and essential, but I don’t like what football has become, especially in…

Editing this Lent

Friends, As many of you know, I’ve been working on a book for as long as I’ve been the pastor of Montclair Presbyterian Church—actually my work on the book started about the same time I started talking to MPC about the possibility of moving to Oakland, and in many ways the book feels very connected to my move from San Jose to…

My Lenten Discipline

Friends, For years, I’ve been trying to figure out how to give up the use of tantalum capacitors for Lent, and I know this is sort of weird—most people give up things like alcohol or chocolate—but there’s a reason for my desire to pursue this nerdly spiritual discipline. Tantalum capacitors are necessary components for the production of the small electronic devices all…

Church on Super Bowl Sunday?

Friends, Here are a couple of reasons why last Sunday was truly amazing. 1. During my time at MPC, last Sunday probably was the highest attendance we’ve had, and it was Super Bowl Sunday. Most congregations record their lowest attendance of the year on Super Bowl Sunday, even on the West Coast, but you, dear folks from MPC, have figured out that…

A Prayer of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friends, In celebration on Sunday, January 18th, I used a prayer that was written by Martin Luther King, and after the service, some used a white-card to suggest that I print the text of the prayer in the Contact. It seemed like a good idea to me; here is the prayer: Oh God, our gracious, heavenly Father, we thank Thee for the…

It Takes a Village

This Friday, I’ll be driving up to Mendocino so that on Saturday morning I can attend a memorial service for a woman named Nancy who was the mother of one of my childhood friends. Most of us understand that it takes a village to raise a child, and the woman whose life we’ll be honoring on Saturday was, like many of the…

Walking with Mark in the New Year

Over the course of the next year most of my sermons will be taken from passages in the Gospel According to Mark. Mark’s Gospel is interesting because it was the first gospel written and it is one of the oldest books in the New Testament. As such, it was written at a time when early church’s ideas about who Jesus was were…

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Dear Friends, Over the last few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to talk with several of you about the existence of God, which is, perhaps, the most basic questions of faith. Montclair Presbyterian Church is a congregation in which quite a few people describe themselves as atheist and even more people are self-professed agnostics. To be honest, this probably is true of…

Change?

Q: How many Presbyterians does it take to change a light bulb? A: CHANGE?! It’s an old joke, and to be fair, Presbyterians probably aren’t any more afraid of change than other denominations (though, again, to be fair, my first serious crisis in leadership as a pastor involved pouring oil on the waters of an insurrection that erupted when a couple of…