The Junk Cross

As I've gotten to know the stories of those in our congregation over the past year, one of the things that stands out to me is how so many of us entered the doors of our building for the first time deciding to give God one last try.

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Ryan Phipps
For Those Who Spread Ideas

I’ve been coaching a few folks (in whom I see enormous potential) to write sermons. To be helpful, I compiled a shortlist of some things that have been helpful to me so that they can keep them handy. None of the materials are profound or exhaustive, but if you are a communicator of ideas, they may be useful to you.

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Ryan Phipps
For Women

If you attend Church In Bethesda on a regular basis, you know that I do my best not to use the pulpit as a platform for my political opinions. That’s a hard line for me to walk as a pastor, father, voter, and pedestrian with strong political views.

I keep those opinions to myself at times, not out of fear, but out of respect for where people are in their journey of life and faith.

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Ryan Phipps
Afterlife Resources

In Sunday’s sermon, I mentioned that I’d post some resources here that further elaborate on some of the streams of thought that I’ve studied, causing me to rethink my views on the afterlife, Heaven, and Hell.

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Ryan Phipps
Stranded

I spent nearly two days stranded in the Atlanta airport last week.

My Thursday flight back to New York was rescheduled, then delayed, then rescheduled, then finally cancelled at around 11PM.

I found a cheap hotel just a few miles from the airport and was told by customer service to return to the airport for a 12:30PM flight the next day.

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Ryan Phipps
A Prayer

For those of you who you attend CiB regularly, it’s likely that you’ve seen or met Bob and Donna Z. They use the last name “Z.” because Bob will tell you that it’s too difficult to remember how to spell their full last name.

Donna is a retired schoolteacher and poet. From time to time, she writes prayers and benedictions for our liturgies.

We are including last week’s opening prayer here.

May its depth and beauty guide you throughout your week.

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Church In Bethesda
Julian's Pale Blue Dot

I've mentioned at church that work will be highly stressful for me, likely for the rest of this year, so I keep praying for wisdom and peace. 

This newer spiritual practice that I've adopted comes from the abbess, mystic, and theologian, Julian of Norwich. (1342 – c. 1416). Julian was also the first English woman to author a book.

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Tim Chambers
What I Believe About Doors

A friend and I went to two art exhibits past weekend. We decided to hit them up in succession. The first, a kind of stream of consciousness, acid trip, color-drenched, maximalist presentation of (in my opinion) carefully placed junk. 

It wasn't my thing, but my friend really wanted to go, so I obliged, knowing that our second stop would be at a museum of contemporary art, much more my style…

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Ryan Phipps
Love and Letting Go

At the breakfast table, I clasp my hands and recite the same words that I recite every morning, words that have become a worn and beautiful path. "Let me not so much seek to be consoled as to console / to be forgiven as to forgive /  and to be loved as to love." Hearing my one-year-old crunch cereal in his high chair next to me, I glance up to ensure he’s not choking. He grins at me and I continue…

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Shannon Brescher Shea
The Unity Tree

Church in Bethesda has the privilege of hosting an Oromo Congregation in our building on Sunday afternoons. From time to time, there's overlap in our comings and goings while the last of our folks are leaving and the first of their folks are arriving.

Each time there's overlap, it's always a joy to see them. 

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Ryan Phipps
The Plan Of Starvation

When we look around at the world, sometimes all that we can we see is tragedy. All that we might feel is despair. We see the immediate and not the possible. We see ourselves and not others. We act out of self-preservation instead of selfless compassion. But when we look up, we breed courage. We see a world where we can work together toward healing.

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Ryan Phipps
The Post Attractional Church

I was having a conversation with a friend the other day at our church who is a longtime member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Our church hosts a variety of Twelve Step groups like AA, and I was asking my friend for some advice on how we, as a church could do a better job of promoting them, as I didn't see them listed anywhere on our marketing materials.

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Ryan Phipps
Controlled Burns

There's a part of my personality that gets the best of me at times. It's the part of me that gets things done quickly and with excellence. It's also the part of me that burns people who get in my way.

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Ryan Phipps
The Stigma Of The Aged

Whatever age you are (unless you are the oldest person in the world) there's someone in your life who was here before you were that has seen more than you've seen, experienced more than you've experienced, and knows more than you know. 

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Ryan PhippsAging, Wisdom
What Your Bible Says About The Treatment Of Immigrants

Finding the information for this post wasn’t difficult. A simple search on any Bible site or in any Bible software will spit it out this same data for you in a matter of nanoseconds.

Though many Americans identify as Christian, we often cherry pick Bible passages to support our prejudices. Many of us don’t read the Bible to be challenged, changed, or deconstructed. We read it to reinforce what we were already thinking.

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Ryan Phipps
Slowing Down Life

“Come on, load already,” I mutter to my computer. As if it isn’t one of the wonders of the world that I can access people on the other side of the globe in less than 30 seconds.

This is far from the only time in a single day I’ll lament things moving too slowly. I’m a can-do, let’s get going, do this thing kind of gal. I want to do All the Things Right This Second.

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The Zero Sum Of 2017

Another year is drawing to a close. 2017 has been a year of dizzying highs and terrible lows in varying degrees for each one of us.

Like the script above says, “Some of us died, some got sick, some got rich, some had bad luck, some of us were fortunate, more than others.”

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Ryan Phipps
Dogs on the Road

There's a memory from my childhood that I will never be able to get out of my mind.

One day, outside of Flint, Michigan, my Mom and I were stuck in terrible traffic. The traffic was backed up it seems, for miles. As we eek'd our way down the highway, we could see what was causing the traffic jam up ahead. There had been some kind of accident.

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Ryan PhippsVoices
What I Learned About Self Love From The Flu

Lying in bed with my eyes closed, I wondered if I was the victim of a cosmic joke. A few days earlier, I had celebrated a few moments of silence, but four days of looking at nothing but the inside of my eyelids was starting to feel like a bit too much.

The Sunday before, our entire church was silent just before the sermon. Everyone was reading the white text on the black screen in front of us. Among other thoughts of discomfort, the text said, “It’s too quiet” and “For the love of God, this is anguish.”

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Shannon Brescher SheaVoices
Advent Illusions

Advent is the season where we prepare for the arrival of the Son of God into the world.

And this is precisely what John is doing in Mark 1:1-4. He is a living example of these ancient words from the prophet Isaiah.

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Ryan PhippsVoices