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Our spring review of the CMC directory got me curious: Of the folks now listed in the directory, what is the ratio between those who were part of the church when I came on board (nearly nine years ago) and those who came after me?  A nonscientific flip and tally through the directory revealed that it is right at 50/50.  I don’t know the national statistics on this, but this dynamic seems like an inevitable aspect of healthy congregations in areas where people are on the move. 

I suppose each member could do the same exercise, with yourself as the line of delineation between who is “...

This year Holy Week and Easter overlap with the Jewish Passover and Muslim month of Ramadan.  Because Ramadan is on the lunar calendar this is rare.  This means about 4.3 billion of the earth’s nearly 8 billion people, well over half, are currently within a sacred time. 

On Monday Congregation Tifereth Israel on Broad Street hosted a BREAD meeting.  During Rabbi Skolnik’s welcome he noted that when Jews celebrate Passover they are asked to do so as if they themselves were the ones enslaved in Egypt and delivered out of bondage.  This personal and collective experience informs their...

Thinking about our Lent theme of Turn/Return has me reflecting back on one of my favorite movies, The Prestige.  It is a movie about rival magicians played by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, set in late 19th century London.  Explained by one of the characters, the movie takes its title from a convention in magic that holds that any magic trick consists of three acts: the pledge, the turn, and the prestige. 

In the pledge, the magician shows you something ordinary.  At the turn, the magician makes this ordinary thing do something extraordinary like disappear. The third act...

The possibility of return holds a powerful grip on the human psyche and in our mythology (by which I mean foundational stories we tell about ourselves).  The two most prominent biblical examples of return I can think of involve The Garden of Eden and Jerusalem.  The first portrays a pristine original human condition – a garden of innocence and abundance that was lost in our collective coming of age through the eating from the tree of knowledge.  The second took hold after the Judeans’ exile to Babylon and the destruction of their holy city Jerusalem.  Hebrew prophets and various...

These last couple weeks we’ve been wearing name tags during in-person worship services.  It’s good to remind each other who we are, or at least what our parents named us.  After living most of my life as the only Joel in the room, I now enjoy being one of several and so sign my tag “Joel M.”      

One of the things about living in Zoom-land for the last two years is that nametags come with the package.  And not just name tags, but often name tags + something else.  Depending on what kind of call I’m on, I may include the name of the church after my name: “Joel Miller, Columbus...

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