Author Archives: smaxreisert

About smaxreisert

I'm a United Church of Christ pastor serving the small, faithful Old South Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, in Hallowell, Maine. I was ordained in Massachusetts in 1995, moved to Maine in 1997 and have served the Hallowell church since 2005.

Looking for the Opportunity in the Crisis

Last week, I read an article from NPR entitled, “The Faithful See Both Crisis and OpportunityAs Churches Close Around the Country.” ( The article outlined the continued issues experienced in the Christian Church and its many denominations. More churches are … Continue reading

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What’s So Funny?

I’m not sure where the practice began, but at the church where I grew up in suburban Boston in the 1970s, it was a common practice for the pastor to begin his weekly sermon with a joke. Perhaps it was … Continue reading

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125-48: You Do the Math

This year’s Easter Sunday worship service at Old South brought a total attendance of 48 people. That number includes guest musicians and guests of the guest musicians. Two days later, Old South “hosted” (I’ll get to the use that particular … Continue reading

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The Mirror of Holy Week

When the crowds gathered on the very first Palm Sunday, waving palms or branches, and laying down still more branches or cloaks (the details differ among the Gospel accounts), it’s likely that at least some of those who were part … Continue reading

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New Life and Its Consequences

Jesus replied, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you will see God’s glory?”  So they removed the stone. Jesus looked up and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me.  I know you always hear me. I say this for the benefit of … Continue reading

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Safety and Security?

Last week, I attended a workshop on “Protecting Houses of Worship,” offered by various state and federal entities in the state of Maine. The workshop included a whole lot of information on different aspects of safety in light of the … Continue reading

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I’ve Got that Guilty Feeling, or Maybe Not

Western religious practice and guilt have what might be called a cozy relationship. For some forms of religious practice, guilt is an important motivator for good works and for an approach to at least some relationships. Rather than seeking good … Continue reading

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Blurred Lines

I recently spent most of a day driving one of our family vehicles that I don’t use very often. Since I didn’t have a way of using my phone for entertainment or access to Sirius XM, I engaged in one … Continue reading

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To Be Welcomed, Or Not

The death of Pope Benedict XVI several weeks ago propelled me into a memory— a couple of memories, actually— about my experiences of welcome, or unwelcome, in the Roman Catholic Church. I’ve had a decidedly mixed experience. In reflecting on … Continue reading

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A Long December

And it’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe/Maybe this year will be better than the last/I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell myself/To hold onto these moments as they pass. “A Long December” by … Continue reading

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