Archive for December, 2014

Christmas Carol Breakfast

// December 24th, 2014 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff

I will be brief.  We’re leaving town in a few hours.  I will be out this Sunday for a whirlwind tour of our families.  The truth is, I’m sad to miss this Sunday.

One of the things that Church in the Cliff does well is that we adjust to the moment.  It has been a very busy time with the holidays and getting the building ready.  We can go low-key.  Someone – lots of someones – step up and provide their gifts to the community.

In the hustle and bustle we haven’t made a lot of plans, but the intention is to have a Christmas carol brunch.  Mikal Beth will be on the keys for a sing-along.  We have chairs, but the tables will be delivered next week, so bring some blankets and it will be a breakfast picnic.  Bring some breakfasty food – breakfast tacos, a casserole, buy some muffins, cut up some fruit or don’t cut it up.  Whatever.  It will be fun.  Jesus feasted with his people and we’ll do the same.  Maybe there will be mimosas!

I suppose I should say something about Christmas and the New Year.  We have been in a time of waiting, but now the light is breaking over the horizon.  It is the time to move forward into that light.  When I look at the people each week at Church in the Cliff, I see the embodiment of the Gospel: transformation, community, hospitality, justice.  I’m very excited about what we have done in the past year and I’m even more excited about how things are shaping up going forward.  I really enjoy the people that are working for this church and I look forward to what we can do with the intelligence, insight, creativity, and diligence of the people who have determined to form a community.  We are now celebrating the beginning of Jesus’ life.  It was a life filled with great sacrifice and great celebration, great faith, love, and hope for the world.  I am pleased to be among people who follow in his Way and anxiously anticipate what lies ahead.

Please join us, 11am at Church in the Cliff, 1719 W. 10th St., for a lovely, relaxed, post-Christmas breakfast.

Grace & Peace,

Love and Light

// December 19th, 2014 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff

We will have two services Sunday.  Plus a post-evening-service feast.  Plus getting the building ready.  Plus the holidays.  Plus a surprise appearance by my dog jumping through yet another window.  It’s a busy time.  I don’t know if I will get it all done or how it will all turn out.  Advent is a time of waiting, a time of mystery, a time of not knowing.  That can easily translate into a time of anxiety.  But this is the week of love.

Love overcomes anxiety.  I don’t know how it will all turn out, but I know that I am loved – by my family, by my friends, by my church.  That love both inspires me to try a little harder and to know that it will be okay even if I fail.  Love provides comfort and confidence.  Love sustains us in the waiting and the unknowing.  On Sunday morning, we will celebrate a love that carries us into a new year and new possibilities, a love that is the love of all loves.

On Sunday evening, we will celebrate the light coming into the world.  The prophets speak of a world plunged into shadow.  This is sometimes regarded as a remarkably prescient vision, that there will be this one time when everything seems bad.  But this is the season of short days and long nights.  It is the season of economic turmoil, wars and rumors of wars, weeping and gnashing of teeth.  This is the cycle that humanity rehearses over and over again.  Somehow, in the midst of that, out of that, because of that, something new and beautiful is born.  On Sunday evening, we will celebrate the breaking of the light over the horizon and our journey into a new day.

Please join us Sunday morning, 11am at Church in the Cliff, 1719 W. 10th St., as we celebrate (and practice!) love.  And join us again in the evening, 6pm at our house, 221 S. Edgefield Ave., as we celebrate God’s becoming in the world.  There will be a feast after the service.  Wear stretchy pants.

Grace & Peace,

Rejoice! (Plus: A Note from the Board!)

// December 12th, 2014 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff

People might not guess that I suffer from depression because I laugh a lot.  In fact, I know a lot of depressed people who laugh a lot.  Perhaps a bleak outlook makes us really appreciate the moments of joy.  We wring out every drop.

This week of Advent is dedicated to joy.  As I’ve mentioned, Advent is a time of judgment and repentance.  In order to move into the light, this new birth of God into the world, we must take stock, which can be a maudlin business.  Shortly after Advent evolved into the pre-Christmas ritual, people realized that we need a break.

Advent marks the end – the end of the world, the end of everything we know.  But it is the end that yields to the beginning.  We’re of two minds, taking stock of the past, but anticipating the great joy of the holiday to come.  So this week we take a break and pretend that Christmas has already come, that the light has already broken through, just so we can imagine what that will be like, just so we can have a taste.

This is the reality of life.  There’s a lot of bad stuff going on in the world right now, as we have discussed in church the last couple of weeks.  But there’s some great stuff, too, peeking in for just a moment here and there.  As a church, we have a new building that we’re working to bring into shape.  We’re already connecting with community groups to wring every drop of joy out of the place.  So this week, we celebrate!  We rejoice!  It will be just a moment before we have to get back to work to make that moment of joy more than just a moment and more than just our own.

Please join us this week, 11am at 1710 W. 10th St., as we celebrate the in-breaking of God’s light into the world.  I’ll be out of town, but the conversation will be ably lead by our Board Moderator, Janalee.  I can’t think of any person more qualified to talk about joy!

Grace & Peace,


Our church has adopted two families this year for Christmas. One family includes a pregnant 21-year-old woman, a 1 year-old-girl, and 2-year-old girl. The other family is a single 50-year-old woman. There are still some items on their wish lists, so please sign up to bring them a joyful Christmas.

Please don’t wrap the gifts! Just put a note on them designating who the gift is for. You can bring the gifts to church this Sunday, Dec. 14.

A Note from the Board

If you haven’t visited our new space, I hope you will very soon! It is teeming with possibility and we are very excited to make it a “home” for our community. I’d like to take a minute to thank our pastor Scott for all the visits to the city offices and all the very “glamorous” tasks he’s completed to get this space ready for move-in. Thanks for your diligence Scott! Also, Fred and Jen have lent their architectural and design knowledge to make ready our space and satisfy the city’s requirements. The whole board and many other community members have worked hard to make this move possible. Big thanks to everyone who helped!

There’s still work to do! There are three ways you can help. Please consider how you’d like to be involved.

Make a year-end contribution. The board has worked diligently to ensure that the move is affordable as possible for the community. Yet as you would imagine, setting up house will require some financial resources. Gifts have already been designated for this move, and we’d like to spend as little as possible of our current cash on hand. Would you consider making a year-end gift to Church in the Cliff to furnish and equip our new space? Your gift will make great things possible for our community in the coming year/s. If you can’t attend one of our remaining service in 2014, you can mail your gift to Church in the Cliff at P.O. Box 5072 Dallas TX 75208.

Lend your time and paint brush. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be laying carpet tiles, painting, installing blinds, and doing other general tasks. Please email Mikal Beth at if you have some time over the next two weeks to help with some of these tasks, particularly the painting. Also feel free to donate any brushes or painting supplies you may have at home.

Help plan or promote our Ephiphany party! Our time during advent is devoted to preparing our home, and for epiphany, we want to throw a “get to know us” celebration for the neighborhood. We’re still nailing down the date, but it will be the first week in January. We’ll have activities for children and refreshments for adults. Contact Janalee at if you’d like to help with planning and preparation.

It’s been good to be a part of creating a home for our community during the season of hope. I believe there are really great things in store for Church in the Cliff in 2015. Let’s continue dreaming and scheming together. Thanks!

Hope, peace, and joy,

Peace in the Season

// December 6th, 2014 // No Comments » // Church in The Cliff

This is the Advent week of peace, but I have to admit that I have not felt at peace.  Advent is supposed to be a month of preparation for the Light coming into the world.  We are to hope and find peace and joy and love one another.  Most of us are consumed with the logistics of holiday travel and consumption masquerading as generosity.  In this church, we are trying to move into the new building, which means wrangling with bureaucracy and digging down into the nitty-gritty of budgets and fabric patterns.  All week, I have sat down to write this e-mail and each time it has evaded me.

At a personal level, being the point-person on the move takes its toll.  It’s not that I can’t do it; it’s just that it is contrary to every part of who I really am.  I know that no one really enjoys filling out forms and being told something different by each and every contact person at the city.  But I know who I am.  I’m made for big thoughts.  I’m not even good at small talk.  The result is that I feel fragmented.

I’m not saying this to complain – and if I had been able to think more clearly, I probably would have come up with something better to say in the church e-mail – but I think it speaks to our theme of peace.  Whenever Jesus mentions “peace,” he is really saying shalom, which is more than just peace as we typically imagine it.  Shalom is wholeness, completeness.  For the individual, it encompasses physical, spiritual, intellectual, and emotional well-being.  It is the opposite of fragmented.  It is that space where we can let our defenses down, where we can be who we truly are.  We do not fear judgment and we act boldly.

In the public sphere, shalom speaks to justice.  We tend to speak of peace in the context of international relations, as the absence of war.  But it is so much more than that.  It first of all presumes that the true self of the individual can act in public without fear, that our wholeness can exist in the world without being trampled.  Imagine if everyone felt that confidence and coherence, that honesty and vulnerability.  Imagine if the world understood its own abundance and strove to make sure that everyone had everything they needed, to make sure that everyone was well cared for.  How could war persist in the face of such compassion?  How could injustice continue?

So I feel fragmented.  I feel torn apart by the demands of the season.  I feel torn apart by the world outside myself.  I doubt that I’m alone.

Please join us this week at our new space, 11am at 1719 W. 10th St., as we discuss inner and outer peace: what it is; how to attain it; and our responsibilities for living with it.  A small programming note: the service will be short.  We still have no water and few  chairs.  Hopefully, that gets settled this week.  Please bear with us while we create a home.

Grace & Peace,