1. Pour Out Your Spirit (sermon)

    From this past Sunday, I shared a message about the intersection of art and spirituality, Kanye West and the prophet Joel, exploring how art and the Spirit open up windows of possibilities for transformation, for seeing and understanding the world in amazing ways. You don’t get the pictures and images that go along with it, but google Matthew Grunewald to find plenty of images of the altarpiece I mention near the end of the sermon. Enjoy!

  2. Your Love Is Better than Wine

    by Rev. Nathan Hill

    On Tuesday night at our pub group, I asked a tough question that got us going back and forth, a question that we all had some experience with -

    Why is romantic love great, and why does it stink?

    At some point in our lives, we have experienced the joy and rapture that comes from falling in love, and we have likewise felt the ache and heaviness from falling out of love.

    Like the classic country song by Billy Ray Cyrus -

    “But don’t tell my heart my achy breaky heart

    I just don’t think he’d understand

    And if you tell my heart my achy breaky heart

    He might blow up and kill this man”

    Love indeed can make our hearts explosive.

    Last Monday, Yunkyong and I celebrated her birthday with a trip to Georgetown for lunch and shopping. Georgetown is special to us, because almost 8 years ago, after I proposed to her at the Kennedy Center, we spent the rest of that beautiful day in Georgetown. We had dinner. We caught a movie - we were madly in love.

    So madly in love, that when I got back to my dorm room, I saw a calendar note staring at me, reminding me that I was supposed to be leading worship at a regional ministry worship service earlier that day. In my love drunk state, I had blanked.

    When I went into the office that next day, I was torn - on one hand, it was one of the happiest days of my life that my beautiful wife had say yes. On the other hand, I had to grovel before the boss and explain my lapse in judgment.

    The good news is that I did not get fired - and in fact, our regional minister, my boss, agreed to officiate Yunkyong and I’s wedding.

    My story is an example of how romance and romantic love can be a blessing and a curse.

    Most of us seek it out on a daily basis, and yet when we are rejected, it can unravel our world.

    Which makes it all the more surprising that the Bible, the good book, takes time out to affirm this gift of romantic love, right in the middle of the Old Testament amidst those rough and tumble prophets, bloody clashes between nations, bizarre cataclysmic events, and strange prophecies and poetry, by using a good old fashioned love story.

    That book is called the Song of Songs or the Song of Solomon, one of the more controversial books of the Bible.

    To the “fire & brimstone” preacher, Song of Songs is dangerous.

    Read more
  3. I updated this prayer for a training in St Louis recently. Thought I would share. The refrain can either be spoken or sung. If sung, I like the chord and melody from the bridge of Aaron Niequist’s “Love Can Change the World.

    Refrain: God is love, God is love

    Reader 1: God, you smile on us.
    You have compassion for Creation.
    You lift the cloud of guilt from your people.
    You bring food and drink to all who thirst and hunger for righteousness -
    You desire release for all captives.
    For the gift of Your generosity we sing, 

    Refrain: God is love, God is love

    Reader 2: You are a god of second chances.
    You proclaim Your love from the heavens
    and manifest it in the earth from which life is rooted.
    You are always closer to us than we think.
    May our hearts and our homes shine with Your glory!
    For the gift of Your presence we sing,

    Refrain: God is love, God is love

    Reader 3: May the world know peace.
    May love and truth meet in our streets.
    May the structures of hatred and oppression crumble
    by the fierceness of Your breath.
    May new life sprout from barren and ravaged earth.
    May all who are broken find wholeness in You.
    Receive our hearts as we join in unending praise,

    Refrain: God is love, God is love

  4. Scripture: 1 Corinthians 13
    By Rev. Nathan Hill

    image

    There was a little girl with her mom who was at a wedding for the first time. As she looked around with wide eyes at everything going on, she leaned over to her mom and asked, “Why is the bride wearing white?”

    The mom smiled and said, “White symbolizes happiness. She wears white because today is the happiest day of her life.”

    The girl thought about that for a minute as she continued to look around - then she nudged her mom again with a puzzled look on her face. “So then why is the groom wearing black?”

    That joke is really monocultural. In a diverse church like ours, we recognize that other cultures don’t necessarily follow the bride in white/groom in black wedding dress code. Instead, the bride and groom can wear all sorts of colors, even khakis and Hawaiian shirts.

    When my wife and I got married, we had a portion of our service which followed the traditional Korean style - and we were everything but black and white. Our outfits were really made up of many beautiful colors - the dress of royalty - everything but but black and white. (See picture above.)

    In truth, I like wedding outfits of many colors - because relationships, marriage, commitments are complex. They are not simply all good or all bad - they are a mix of blessing and challenge. To love and be loved is harder than it first looks or feels. Life is not a Disney movie - we do not live happily ever after.

    Read more
  5. This is a fun park.

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