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Pastoral

A weblog by Rev. Beth Buckingham-Brown, interim pastor for MPC.

Why church? Through the Eyes of Blessing

During a fabulous retreat on March 8th, 2014 for the women of Montclair Presbyterian, the Rev. Lois Mueller invited us all to imagine ourselves as not only blessed, but called to be “blessers”. What are some of the ways that we can bless one another? I certainly feel blessed most of the time, but I’m not sure that I’m always a blessing…

Through the eyes of an artist

The miracles of the church seem to me to rest not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always. – Willa Cather, (1873 -1947) U.S. novelist, poet and journalist

Hark what's that?

‘Tis the season for angels, angels, angels! We sing songs about angels, read stories about angels, we make angels in the snow, and of course, we put angel images everywhere. On cookies, in frames, frozen in sculpture, molded in chocolate, and then we even impale them on decorated trees.

Mandela and the Power of Silence

In last Sunday’s sermon I “outed” myself as a mystic. Clearly not a FAMOUS mystic, but I do have mystical tendencies, value the teachings of Christian mystics (in particular) and I have embraced a number of spiritual practices that are often labeled “good for mystics”.   My journey with mysticism began when I was introduced to the great medieval Christian mystic Hildegard…

What are you waiting for?

Like most Americans, I don’t really like to wait. Not in line, not in traffic, not really for anything. And waiting to get on the freeway, or into a movie, or for coffee in my favorite bistro really is sort of pointless. When the waiting is done, the payoff is pretty small.   Unfortunately, my lack of being able to wait for…

Justice and Compassion

Justice is what love looks like in public – Dr. Cornel West There is an old story told about a village on a river that I first heard from a nun friend, but it seems to be so old (and pervasive) that I could not find an origin. If anyone can name the source, I’ve got a lollypop with your name on…

The Power of Symbols

Happy All Saints Day! I  love the “dancing saints” at St. Gregory of Nissa Church in San Francisco.  Completed in 2009, this wonderful 3,000 square foot painting depicts a staggering variety of traditional and surprising saints depicted in a style that recalls ancient iconography and yet all of them are dancing.  The artist,  Mark Dukes, collaborated with the congregation to select and…

The Art of Being Church

The miracles of the church seem to me to rest not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always. –  Willa Cather, (1873 -1947) U.S. novelist,…

Just-Us Church

One of the most telling differences among individual American churches lies in their approach to the world beyond their doors. In my mind there are two major camps:  the “just-us” churches and the “justice” churches. For some congregations, the “just-us” sort,  interactions with the wider community are strictly limited to their evangelism efforts.  In such churches, members are encouraged to invite their…

Silence Still Equals Death

In honor of National Coming Out Day (NCOD), here’s a portion of a chapter from my doctoral thesis, Bringing the Refugees Home: Faith Formation for the Dechurched.  This chapter chronicles some of my own history with HIV/AIDS and my participation in creating the very first National Coming Out Day back in 1988.  For my friends who do not identify as LGBTQQI or…