Acknowledging Truths

A belief that is unspoken is incomplete, and a belief that is well spoken becomes a power for life and action. –Roger L. Shinn, Confessing Our Faith

The end of June is upon us! And it’s…cooling down? Martha, Teddy, and I are at home this week while Beth is giving a talk in New York, and so my thoughts turned to acknowledging uncomfortable truths (like the truth that they’ll all be in Berlin this fall without me–just bought the tickets).

Confession is a word that means, at its heart, acknowledgement. In the church, we use it to acknowledge two truths: first, that we sometimes fail to be our best selves, and end up neglecting God, our neighbors, and ourselves. And second, to acknowledge that we believe things. Some of you grew up in churches where creeds or statements of faith were recited every week. We don’t do that every week, acknowledging the truth that we believe different things. But that is a confession, too. Our worship is a place for acknowledging truths. This week, we’ll talk in the sermon about why we would want to do that, and how.

Our Church Renewal 1.0 class team has thoughts about that, too. In response to our understanding of the truth that Ankeny UCC must change to thrive in this place, we’re going on worship field trips to see how different places worship.

This weekend, we’re going to two different ends of the spectrum. We’ll see how Holy Trinity Lutheran Church does their version of a minimalist Saturday even service at 5:30 Saturday. On Sunday, we’ll journey down to the Mickle Center in Des Moines to worship with Downtown Disciples, a new Disciples of Christ church doing progressive urban ministry and worshiping around tables at 5:00pm on Sunday. Want to join us? Talk to me, Nancy Pingel, or Annette Hong.



Blessings on this first Wednesday of summer. The days are getting shorter, July fast approaches, and we continue with Worship 101 on Sunday mornings.

This week’s sermon focuses on one of the actions we take during worship every week: the Offering. As we’ve talked about before, the offering is, in our worship, a response to God’s word. We talk in October about stewardship and giving, and the importance of pledging to the church and ourselves as a way to prioritize the mission of the church in our finances, budget our annual giving, and be held accountable to it.

But the plate in worship is another aspect of this giving. It’s a tangible act. A way for us to see all of our money come together just as we see our hands work together to support the church. It’s also a reminder of the days of the Temple (and in rural churches here in America), when we brought the things we produced in as offerings to God. The offering is another point of connection between us and God, a way of showing that we have received and hear the call to give. And we get to do it every week.

Pulse, LGBT, and God

This weekend, a man walked into a Latin gay nightclub in Orlando and killed fifty people. The response, as with all of this shootings, is an outpouring of grief, and a call to prayer and mourning. And this is good. We ought to turn to prayer in times when we are overwhelmed by the world. We ought to mourn the holes left in the fabric of our lives when such horrific violence is unleashed. But it is not enough. In prayer, we name things that have power over us, whether they are things we wish to have power over, or things from which we wish to be free. By saying things out loud, in the open air, we can be honest with ourselves, with our desires, with our weaknesses and our strengths. In our prayers for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting, let us say aloud that it was not a coincidence that they were LGBTQ people. It is not a coincidence that they were Latin LGBTQ people.

We have long made Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer people out to be other than full, loved, children of God. Churches have often done the work laying out exactly why and how LGBTQ people don’t quite fit into the realm of God’s beloved children. This is something we need to challenge. This is something we need to stop. As we name the things that have power over us in prayer, let us name our barriers to seeing other people as the loved children of God they are. Let us name our discomfort with the implications of loving one another fully. Let us find strength to engage in listening and hearing ideas that are challenging, leaving ourselves open not only to the words of other people, but to the still-speaking voice of God.

Pastor Nathan

Worship 101

This Summer, we’re going to embark on a sermon series on Worship. Worship 101, really. What are the different parts of our worship, and why do we do them?

This will start on Holy Trinity Sunday, May 22, with the Invocation.
May 29: The Passing of the Peace and Benediction
June 5: Communion
June 12: Call to Worship
June 19: The Lord’s Prayer and Prayers of the People (outdoors)
June 26: Offering
July 3: Confession
July 10: Scripture
July 17: Sermon
July 24: Hymns

I hope you’ll join us as we read scripture, sing hymns, and otherwise explore our worship together!

Mark 15 (all of it)

Join us on our Lenten journey through Mark!

Mark 15

Have you ever been tempted to kick someone when they are down? Why? What would it be like to act as Joseph of Arimathea does in today’s world?

Mark 14:43-45

Join us on our Lenten journey through Mark!

Mark 14:43-45

Have you ever felt a betrayal that make reconciliation impossible? Have you been able to come back around to a place of peace?

Mark 14:6-9

Join us on our Lenten journey through Mark!
<a href=”″>Mark 14:6-9</a>
What does the woman seem to understand that the disciples don’t? Do we get lulled into a sense that things can’t be very different than they are?

Mark 14:3-5

Join us on our Lenten journey through Mark!
Mark 14:3-5
Do you ever struggle with this question? How do you think about extravagances in your life? Is this an extravagance? (Nard is used in burial preparations)