Leap Day Psalm

Leap Day Doodle
There are 150 psalms in the Book of Psalms. That means for most people there is one for every birthday they are celebrating. Cannot think of an inspirational line for a birthday card? Flip open the person’s age as a chapter in the Book of Psalms and more often than not you will find a word through which God is still speaking to the birthday child. That’s not magic or so, it’s just that the psalms have many inspirational verses in them. Also works for anniversaries and other special days like Leap Day:

Bravo, God, bravo! Gods and all angels shout, “Encore!”
In awe before the glory,
in awe before God’s visible power.
Stand at attention!
Dress your best to honor him!
God thunders across the waters,
Brilliant, his voice and his face, streaming brightness—
God, across the flood waters.
God’s thunder tympanic,
God’s thunder symphonic.
God’s thunder smashes cedars,
God topples the northern cedars.
The mountain ranges skip like spring colts,
The high ridges jump like wild kid goats.
God’s thunder spits fire.
God thunders, the wilderness quakes;
He makes the desert of Kadesh shake.
God’s thunder sets the oak trees dancing
A wild dance, whirling; the pelting rain strips their branches.
We fall to our knees—we call out, “Glory!”
Above the floodwaters is God’s throne
from which his power flows,
from which he rules the world.
God makes his people strong.
God gives his people peace.
Psalm 29 (The Message)


Church Online?

Bruce Reyes-Chow and others are starting a new Presbyterian Church:
A Church Online

“For a while now I have had an inkling that the “social media amplifies the local church” paradigm could be flipped upside-down resulting in a powerful way to be church.” he explains. I find that to be very inspiring. And I also filled out the attached survey. Here are my answers:

Gut reaction to the formation of a church that meets online.
– Def worth exploring.

Concerns: Why a church that meets online IS NOT a good idea?
– Just as a local church can no longer be exclusively physical, a church cannot be exclusively online. I guess at least an annual meeting will evolve.

Possibilities: Why a church that meets online IS a great idea?
– Because it provides access to progressive Christianity in remote regions.

Questions: What issues must be addressed before launching?
– Can you allow dual membership with a local church or do folks need to cut physical ties in order to become an online member?

Besides a blog, Twitter and Facebook, what social media platforms do you think this church should use?
– Those can just be tools for outreach. It takes a proprietary online sanctuary that is a sacred space. A simple facebook group cannot accomplish that.

A great name for a church such as this would be…
– PC 2.0

One of the biggest concerns that I have would be a sacramental one. The signs of Baptism and Holy Communion ought to be tangible. In order to be a real mainline church you ought to be able to abide by ecumenical agreements on Eucharist and Baptism where the elements play a role that cannot be accomplished without physically touching them. I’m not saying an online church needs to be put on hold until beaming is invented but the body of Christ must be tangible at times.


Culture Wars?

“America loves Dualisms: Coke vs. Pepsi, AT&T vs. Verizon, PC​ vs. Mac, Republican vs. Democrat​, Male vs. Female…”
That’s how I started a sermon titled “Yin Yang” a year ago.

Just the other day I read about culture wars:
“The popular notion of culture wars is premised on mutually held stereotypes – namely that two distinct moral cultures exist, one composed of urban, latte-drinking, antiwar, gay-loving, God-hating abortionists, and the other made up of blue-collar, truck-driving, gun-toting, flag-waving, Bible-thumping rednecks.” (America’s Four Gods, page 8)

The truth of the matter is: Reality is never that easy! When I order a Coke in a restaurant and the waiter says “Pepsi okay?” I say “yes”. This whole concept of competing cultures is based upon the notion that you belong to one tribe exclusively and cannot cross lines. It calls for a 100% pure, stringent philosophy that never changes. It is static.

Well, that has never been the case for people or God in the Bible for example:
Abraham bargains with God over Sodom to save 50, or 45, or 40, or 30, or 20, or 10 innocent people. Guess what – God’s ways are not set in stone. God changes all the time. God listens and acts differently in different situations. How could be people be different? No one can be one thing and not ever change. At least not in the image of God. We all live in all cultures at times. And even what you consider your home-base is unfamiliar territory at times. Yes, I actually know gay cowboys and I have seen pickup trucks with anti-war bumper stickers.

This post was inspired by my reading of “America’s Four Gods”:

If you live anywhere near Provo, UT, come and join us for this Lent Study.


Where did you learn about Christianity?

Americans are said to be pretty religious yet their religious literacy is pretty underdeveloped:
“The paradox is this: Americans are both deeply religious and profoundly ignorant about religion. They are Protestants who can’t name the four Gospels, Catholics who can’t name the seven sacraments, and Jews who can’t name the five books of Moses. Atheists may be as rare in America as Jesus-loving politicians are in Europe, but here faith is almost entirely devoid of content. One of the most religious countries on earth is also a nation of religious illiterates.” (Stephen Prothero)

That must obviously come from a lack of education. Most of America’s children are not allowed to learn about religion in school. So where could they gain religious literacy? Taking school out of the educational equation leaves people ill-informed and under-informed. One has to make a conscious effort to learn that kind of stuff. Tom Moore mourns:
“This American secularity is strange, perhaps even stranger than American religion. We are okay forcing our children to swear a pledge of allegiance to one nation under God, but the vast majority of public schools aren’t okay teaching our children who Jesus, or Muhammad, or the Buddha was. These figures may or may not have been divine (how should I know?), but let’s not for a second pretend they don’t matter. Every American should graduate from high school with at least a basic understanding of the five major world religions (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism), religions which most Americans today have a hard time even naming.

So where did you read the Bible? What about the Qur’an? The Bhagavad Gita? Let’s turn our public schools into a safe, critical environment where these texts, so foundational to the cultures of the world, can be read. Until we do, America shall remain crippled, staggering blindly through a world where religion, like it or not, still matters.”

This post was inspired by my reading of “America’s Four Gods”:

If you live anywhere near Provo, UT, come and join us for this Lent Study.


Three Beers of Apostolic Succession – a Carnival Sermon Podcast

How do you relate to the ancient sources of Christianity? Three different types of beer can teach how apostolic succession is understood and Carnival is celebrated:


Listen to a Carnival sermon by the Rev. Daniel Haas based on 2 Kings 2:1-12 and Mark 9:2-13. It was delivered at Provo Community United Church of Christ on February 19 2012.

Passing_the_Torch_02-19-2012.mp3 Listen on Posterous