You Are Not One of Us06/30/15
The Old Testament history of the Jewish people had so many strange twists and turns that it is nothing short of a miracle that it survived to the birth of Jesus. And things haven't been straightforward for the Jewish people since either. The Jewish...
70th Anniversary Special
Paul, in the presence of Christ, was moved to ask a revealing question. The struggle and the yielding of that great soul are rolled up into it. As I look at the printed page, it seems to stand out in bold relief. When I think on the story, it seems to...
We of Little Faith
Jesus calms the storm. With a simple phrase, "Peace, be still," Jesus puts whatever is raging around us to rest. When oceans rise and the thunder roars, we can trust the captain of the boat to not only see us through the squall, but also ensure smooth...
Is the harvest going to be big enough? We need to do more, do something, because if we don't have a bumper crop this year we may have to sell the farm. My Facebook news feed is constantly filled with articles about how the church can't survive the...
Go, Church, Go!
In Brian Doyle's family, you were allowed to take the train alone from Long Island into New York City only after your twelfth birthday.[i] Brian sought to make this pilgrimage to pay homage to his beloved basketball team, the Knicks, in that great...
A Complete Makeover
A few years ago, my husband was in a car accident. Fortunately, no one was hurt. In fact, he was hit while sitting idle at a stop light! But, as anyone who has been involved in an automobile accident can tell you, the experience leads to endless...
Have you ever had one of those moments when you're driving in the car and listening to the radio--maybe it's an in-depth news story on NPR or some similar station--and you become so engrossed in the story that even though you have arrived at your...
Jesus' PDAs for Us
Some years ago, my children and I went to The Renaissance Festival being held not far from where we live. One of the friends in our group decided it would be fun to pay a whole slew of "wenches" to plant wet, slobbery, nasty lipstick kisses on my...
In my first rural parish in North Carolina, I was as a young whippersnapper of a pastor even more of a liturgical and theological and musical snob than I am now. I regularly used as my example of what we ought not to sing the hymn "In the Garden." Why...
I wonder if we are willing to abide in anything, to immerse ourselves wholly in something, to allow anything to captivate our heart and life, to view our whole existence through that one lens . . . At first I want to say, no, no one would be willing...
By What Power?
Some time ago there was an article in TIME magazine which described how over 100,000 former Christians have downloaded "certificates of de-baptism" in a bid to publicly renounce the faith. The website, sponsored by the National Secular Society of...
It's Touching Time
A number of years ago I knew a young woman who was looking for a church in which to get married. She nearly drove her fiance and her mother crazy, scouting out just about every sanctuary in the city, looking for just the right one...the one with the...
We have very limited parking available around our church which poses some special challenges for us, especially on top attendance Sundays, like Easter. We've developed a diligent and committed parking team to help with the problem, and one Easter a...
In the summer of 1979, I left Harvard for the priesthood. I was twenty-four years old, newly married, and had been a first-year graduate student working towards a Ph.D. in American History. I was a restless student, less interested in history than I...
God Is Dead
Twenty years ago this spring my father died from Alzheimer's disease. It had been a slow, agonizing end to a good, long life. The worst part of it was a stage, two or three years into the decline, when Dad realized that something terrible was...
Written Within You
It's been many years ago now, but I still remember the scene: Just a few days before I was to start my first-year classes at Vanderbilt Divinity School, my sister and I were riding in the car together, somewhere in rural, far-western Kentucky; and she...
The Appropriate Response
Today's lectionary passage from the Gospel of John begins in the wrong place, because for us to really discuss it, we will need to back up a few verses. The beginning of the third chapter of John is the better place to start, for there we meet a...
Driven from Distraction
In a church I once served as pastor, there was an infrequent attender who was always chasing after various get-rich-quick schemes that never amounted to anything much. Most of her pursuits involved little work and little investment, especially on her...
One of my all-time favorite cartoons comes from the New Yorker Magazine. It shows two businessmen sitting in a bar, one clearly despondent. The unhappy one says to his companion: "I was on the cutting edge. I pushed the envelope. I did the heavy...
Angels in the Wilderness
There were angels in the wilderness. It's important to remember that. After the same Spirit that descended on Jesus at his baptism like a dove, then turned into a dive bomber and drove him out to the desert, there were angels in that wilderness. Along...
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