Articles written by Rev. Carrie Benton


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  • "You Are Loved" flag stolen, to be replaced

    Rev. Carrie Benton, Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church, Seeley Lake|Jul 18, 2024

    The Sunday after the Fourth we learned that our “You Are Loved” rainbow flag had been stolen from the church, along with the pole and mounting bracket. The flag’s symbolism is very broad. It encompasses our response to God’s call to love all people, all races, colors, nationalities and our LGBTQ+ siblings, friends and neighbors. We have no idea who might have done this, nor why. Perhaps it was someone who really liked the flag and decided they had to have it. Perhaps it was someone who disagreed with what it stood for and wanted it gone. W...

  • More than words

    Rev. Carrie Benton, Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church|Sep 7, 2023

    Languages and words have always fascinated me. The way one word in one language is not easily translatable in another language. The way words are not merely words. The way we communicate with more than our speech or our writings. In high school and college the Spanish language held my attention. In seminary it was Greek and Hebrew. Creole when traveling to Haiti; Norwegian when traveling to Norway. I have come to understand that language is more so much more than words. This was made even more clear to me recently when listening to the Irish...

  • Finding rest and hope in the darkness

    Rev. Carrie Benton, Pastor, Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church|Dec 30, 2021

    At this time of year, when daylight is in short supply, I am reminded of the restorative blessing of darkness. My chickens first alerted me to the necessity of the dark. As daylight fades in the fall, so does their egg production. The sunlight signals their bodies to produce. Darkness gives them much needed rest for their little bodies. For most of my life darkness has always meant something bad or scary. Unknown. Mysterious. Frightening. I slept with a nightlight growing up to keep "monsters"...

  • Jesus is Lord

    Rev. Carrie Benton, Pastor, Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church|Sep 30, 2021
    2

    9 “Therefore, let all Israel know beyond question that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” 37 When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” (Acts 2:36-37) While the global pandemic of COVID-19 has revealed the brokenness of so much of our society, one very ugly bit has emerged in my world: blatant Christian nationalism. I saw it in stars-and-stripes banners claiming Jesus as Lord, held by angry violent people storming the Capital...

  • Dropping our guard

    Rev. Carrie Benton, Pastor, Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church|Jul 1, 2021

    “5 Let your gentleness show in your treatment of all people. The Lord is near. 6 Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. 7 Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:5-7, CEB) Over the years I have noticed how entangled anxiety and defensiveness are. Some of the most highly defensive people I have encountered are also the m...

  • Little deaths: A Holy Week contemplation

    Rev. Carrie Benton, Pastor, Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church|Apr 1, 2021

    This is Holy Week for Christ-followers. The time when we intentionally contemplate the events and attitudes which lead up to the crucifixion. It is a challenging week, focusing on all the moments where Jesus offers life and freedom, and those in power--the political and religious elite--try to find ways to silence him, kill him. At first glance, the crucifixion seems to show how those in power always win--they seemingly succeed in silencing the voices longing for healing, for wholeness, for rest...

  • When it gets dark, share light

    Rev. Carrie Benton, Pastor, Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church|Dec 17, 2020

    "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness doesn't extinguish the light." John 1:5 Common English Bible I grew up in a violent, alcoholic home. I remember dreading the holidays. More drinking. More fighting. My hand-made ornaments lying broken in the street as the tree was thrown out of the house. The literal darkening of the days was compounded by this other darkness. I think this was one of the reasons I needed the Advent season--the focus was on light. As an adult looking back, I...

  • Interpretation matters

    Rev. Carrie Benton, Pastor, Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church|Oct 8, 2020

    God does not make sin nor does God cause sin to happen. God created the world and is still creating the whole universe good. God blesses it all, breathing life into the whole creation, so that life, abundant life, would grow exponentially-so that blessing would extend beyond anything we could ever imagine. This is still God's way-God's modus operandi: To bless, to give life, that all of creation may experience blessing and thrive. To bring healing, wholeness and restoration. To bring truth,...

  • Called to freedom

    Rev. Carrie Benton, Pastor, Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church|Jul 16, 2020

    Galatians 5:13: “You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love. All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement: love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour each other, be careful that you don’t get eaten up by each other!” Freedom is a tricky concept in western democratic societies. Most of us think we know what it means. Or at least, we certainly react when we believe our personal freedoms are being t...

  • Willing to be surprised

    Rev. Carrie Benton, Pastor, Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church|Mar 26, 2020

    Why do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your neighbor, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," while the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye. (Matthew 7:3-5 NRSV) I heard recently that many Americans have lost their capacity to be surprised. The person surmised three primary cultural shifts have given...

  • Present incarnation

    Rev. Carrie Benton, Pastor, Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church|Jan 2, 2020

    We're going to look back a little bit in order to look forward. Christmas is all about celebrating the Incarnation. For followers of Christ, this is really an everyday kind of thing. So often, the whole "God-with-us" reality of the Incarnation gets lost amidst our tendency to focus on gifts, parties and the like. Incarnation means "being made flesh" from the Latin root. This activity in the past has on-going meaning and action in the present and on into the future. That's what the birth of...

  • Holy curiosity

    Rev. Carrie Benton, Pastor, Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church|Oct 10, 2019

    When the snow starts falling, a reverent quiet seems to settle on my spirit, inviting me to hold my heart open to possibility. Being quickly propelled into this blustery season, it seems a good time to let my faith wonder. Come along, if you like. Here in my house in the forest, I like to collect myself in front of the wood stove with a hot beverage - licorice tea this time - close my eyes and imagine what's in store for the season. What sorts of daily Divine occurrences will emerge, drawing me...

  • Exploring diversity at Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church

    Rev. Carrie Benton, Pastor, Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church|Oct 3, 2019

    For many people, the church, generally speaking, has been a difficult place - a place of woundedness, a place of hostility or rigid authoritarianism, an unfriendly place where not all have been welcome. Church people know this is true - but we don’t always know what to do about it. The Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church is earnestly trying to wrestle with these realities. We have designated the whole month of October as “Diversity Month.” Each Sunday during worship we will be exploring a particular aspect of human diversity. While there are a...

  • Truth unmasked

    Rev. Carrie Benton, Pastor, Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church|Aug 22, 2019

    “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) Many of us do not know who we are if we aren’t opposing something or someone. There’s such great energy underlying angst and rage, such momentum in the desire for retribution, in the urge to assert one’s agenda. How long, O Lord, how long? How long will we continue to do battle from the security of our ideological fortifications? We feel so safe behind walls built of ego and fear. We...

  • Noticing

    Rev. Carrie Benton, Pastor - Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church|Jul 4, 2019

    2 Imagine two people coming into your meeting. One has a gold ring and fine clothes, while the other is poor, dressed in filthy rags. 3 Then suppose that you were to take special notice of the one wearing fine clothes, saying, “Here’s an excellent place. Sit here.” But to the poor person you say, “Stand over there”; or, “Here, sit at my feet.” (James 2:2-3) 23 After a long time the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned under their slavery, and cried out. Out of the slavery their cry for help rose up to God. 24 God heard their groanin...

  • Nobody just reads the Bible

    Rev. Carrie Benton, Pastor - Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church|Mar 28, 2019

    “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105) “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) I get tired of people, mainly Christians, who say – “The Bible clearly teaches that…” and then expound on their received interpretation of the biblical text. I get equally annoyed when other people, usually those who’ve rejected Christianity, point out certain inconsistencies in the Bible and then conclude that it’s...

  • Advent begins

    Rev. Carrie Benton, Pastor - Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church|Dec 6, 2018

    What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out. John 1:4-5 “The Message” Per usual, the liturgical season of Advent begins just as our hours of darkness are getting longest. It’s such a fantastic reminder of God’s unexpected power. We are encouraged during Advent to expect hope. We are called upon to seek peace. We are roused to express love. We are gathered and sent to live out our faith with mercy and joy. This is God’s power at work among...

  • Jesus's table - An invitation to transformation

    Rev. Carrie Benton, Pastor - Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church|Oct 11, 2018

    This past Sunday, my congregation celebrated World Communion Sunday. This is a day set aside where we acknowledge the universal connection we have in Christ throughout the world. My denomination’s website describes the history of this celebration: “World Communion Sunday was adopted as a denominational practice in the Presbyterian Church (US) in 1936. Churches in other denominations were invited to celebrate with us from the beginning, but it wasn’t until 1940 when the Department of Evangelism of the Federal Council of Churches (a prede...

  • A Church for Groucho Marx: A Quest (Part 2)

    Rev. Carrie Benton, Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church|Mar 9, 2017

    Last time (Jan. 19, 2017) I invited you to join me on a quest, a quest to find “church” for those who are skeptical, cynical, or suspicious of churches, of religious organizations in a broad sense - what I am referring to as the “Groucho Marx” folks. Picking up where we left off then, the working definition of “church” that shapes this quest is “a group of people who come together, who form relationships and connections with those gathered, who share a common hope and desire for a deep life.” Let me also say – I am curious about a church th...

  • Practice, Presence and Prayer

    Rev. Carrie Benton, Pastor Mountain Lakes Presbyterian Church|Nov 19, 2015

    “Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.” (Romans 12:14-16 The Message) These last few months around here have been tremendously challenging as a community. There have been fires, some unexpected deaths, employment issues at the mill, families breaking up, more cancer diagnoses, increased alcoholism and drug use – all right here in Seeley Lake. Friends...