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January 1, 2000

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Cutting Bait
September 2, 2014
We never think, "I'm happy, healthy, fulfilled, secure, my cup overflows, I could really use a change!" Change is attractive only when the new option outshines our current reality.


Relief
September 1, 2014
I know that I am sometimes, even as a paid professional, reluctant to call myself a Christian.


Party Pooper
August 31, 2014
There is a time for rejoicing, a time for partying. But there is also a time for record-scratching, bubble-bursting, party-pooping prophecy.


Music and Misery
August 30, 2014
The high notes of life have so much more appeal and applause than the low notes. And yet, none of our most enduring melodies and symphonies can be supported and sustained by the high notes alone.


Splainin'
August 29, 2014
We might not identify confession and forgiveness as the way to a grateful, loving heart but that's how Jesus splains it.


Hot Air
August 28, 2014
When terrible things happen to people we care about, as a Christian I can learn how to treat them by reflecting on where Bildad went wrong: he opened his mouth and started talking.


"We'll join the everlasting song . . . "
August 27, 2014
I grew up singing in church choirs and it was there, in the words of the songs, that I learned most of what I know about the Christian faith.


Death Pros
August 26, 2014
The last time someone in your family died, did you call in the professionals? Did you ask someone to remove the body quickly and do whatever is standard with it?


Do This in Remembrance
August 25, 2014
Last month I came across a little notebook with grease-splattered pages about the size of large index cards. On each card is a recipe, written in my mother's warm, yet tidy, handwriting.


Announcements
August 24, 2014
The most controversial subject in my congregation is the announcements, seconded only by joys and concerns.


A Finger Can Block Out the Sun
August 23, 2014
Obviously one small finger cannot block out the light of the sun for the whole world. But if you hold your own finger up at just the right angle, you can block out the sun from your field of vision.


Obey
August 22, 2014
I once visited a vast military cemetery - endless rows of white crosses covering rolling slopes of manicured grass, so tranquil that the only sound was the snapping of flags in the breeze.


Fake Hippy Love
August 21, 2014
Anybody can slap a bumper sticker on their car. But it takes a real Christian to be kind to an exasperating colleague, patient with a long-winded church member or committed to an ornery teenager.


Balancing the Budget
August 20, 2014
And yet, Jesus does something no one expects. When everyone else is stuck in a scarcity mindset Jesus is instead living in the abundance.


The Church is Magic
August 19, 2014
Every Wednesday, 100 empty backpacks arrive at a certain school in Gainesville. Around noon, a team of volunteers appears out of thin air, and before you can say 'Abracadabra!' the bags are full of enough food to last a weekend.


Honoring Our Fore-Parents . . . And Remembering Their Sins
August 18, 2014
There is a certain sacredness that some people attach to antiquity. Many believe that just about any kind of well-established historicity deserves to be recognized and respected by all.


The Reading Train
August 17, 2014
Sometimes we have to step away in order to go deep. Sometimes we have to turn things off or actually leave them behind. Sometimes we have to take a train away from our own distractions.


Invincible Singing
August 16, 2014
When human beings sing, we sing against the odds. It's an act of faith, fundamentally defiant.


Clothed
August 15, 2014
For a minister, going on vacation brings the glorious opportunity to worship somewhere else.


For God’s Sake, Pray for God
August 14, 2014
As the world erupts in genocide and epidemic, as the smoldering ashes of ancient enmities are fanned into raging flames, and as airplanes fall from the skies, our hearts break.


We Are Not Free
August 13, 2014
In America we are free. Our only rulers are our appetites. But as Stanley Hauerwas points out, our appetites make poor masters.


Dark God
August 12, 2014
How did darkness get to be such a bad thing?


Addressed By Name
August 11, 2014
If God knows me by name it means that God is a being and, what is more, a being who seeks to be in relationship with me.


Vacationing from Vacation
August 10, 2014
Vacation means to vacate, to empty the place where we were to be in another place. Vacation is one of the last few islands available for reflection now that so much life is taken up with reactivity.


Think Like a Woman
August 9, 2014
Perhaps we could arrive at more authentic solutions to our problems if we encouraged women to think like women.


Out of the House
August 8, 2014
'They have no wine.' That's all Mary says to Jesus after noticing the newlyweds' embarrassment. Could she be more indirect?


Piously Annoyed
August 7, 2014
Years ago I walked through Chicago's Field Museum with a childhood friend.


Attraction, Not Promotion
August 6, 2014
People in the recovery community often talk about the concept of 'attraction rather than promotion'.


Staring Problem
August 5, 2014
Whether the illness is physical, spiritual, or societal, the remedy always starts with a willingness to look; to observe and examine our wounds, our privilege, our apathy.


Marty
August 4, 2014
In the Academy-award winning movie, Marty, Ernest Borgnine plays a homely butcher who lives in Brooklyn.


The Power of Privacy
August 3, 2014
I was listening to a friend describe his work volunteering at a local jail, where he meets one on one with inmates. When he talked about what the inmates needed most from him, I was surprised to hear him say that it was privacy.


Battle Cry
August 2, 2014
Who doesn't love a story about a big-shot enemy commander getting nixed by a country girl with a tent peg?


Grace
August 1, 2014
I believe that grace at table is a dying art, a practice that more and more of us see as something that PK’s have foisted upon them by their minister parents, and which nobody else need bother with.


Love Your Enemies
July 31, 2014
'We are like family' is used to evoke intimacy, love, and bonding. Never mind what that phrase means to people whose families are bondage, not bonding.


Seven Different Shades of Green
July 30, 2014
Glee and beauty right outside our windows.


Atheists-in-Awe
July 29, 2014
Before we get glum about the rise of godlessness unraveling the moral and spiritual fabric of America and all that, let's give atheists-in-awe their props.


Unflattering Portraits
July 28, 2014
If I read the story of Jacob and Laban through the lens of race in America, an unflattering portrait of this nation emerges.


Glimpses of the Kingdom
July 27, 2014
Where do you catch glimpses of the kingdom of Heaven?


Name
July 26, 2014
What name would you give your kids if by doing so you could call into being the things they needed to survive?


If God Knows Our Prayers Already…
July 25, 2014
If God knows our prayers already, why do we have to offer prayers?  If God knows our prayers before we even articulate them, can't we just save our breath?


Play
July 24, 2014
Play gives us a glimpse of the divine. It is the opposite of a contest where somebody wins.


Our Storied Lives
July 23, 2014
The Psalmist imagines that he is very much like a character in a story that God has written.


Ghost-Writing
July 22, 2014
Lucky for me, God sees the self I hide and loves that true self truly.


You Kick and You Kick and You Kick and You Kick
July 21, 2014
Is God affected by our faithfulness?


I Didn't Know that God Was Here
July 20, 2014
It's easy to see God on a mountaintop. But it's a lot harder to see God in the broken places.


Fruitopia
July 19, 2014
Move in the direction that leads to love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.


Full Responsibility
July 18, 2014
It takes a big person to own responsibility for tragedy as well as triumph.


Your Brain's Brief Moment
July 17, 2014
There's more to life than brainpower.


Lobster Beauty
July 16, 2014
People look at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart.


Obeying the Future
July 15, 2014
Every kindness is a refusal to live by the status quo.


The Infinite Journey
July 14, 2014
This biblical text is on my top ten list of Bible verses to remember.


Are you Choking?
July 13, 2014
My grandmother was the Babe Ruth of worrying.


Incline
July 12, 2014
Maybe it's the spinning of situations and the rocking of reality under our feet that tear us away from the safety of life with God.


He Had a Name
July 11, 2014
Like so much of Jesus' teachings, this parable upends the usual order of things.


Refuse to Pay the Worry Tax
July 10, 2014
One of the biggest taxes on life is worrying about the future.


That's in the Bible?!
July 9, 2014
There's only one way to explain the presence of this book in the Bible: Human love is holy in itself.


Backwards
July 8, 2014
Ever since the rainbow, we have it backwards if we say our repentance leads to God's kindness.


The Eyes of My Eyes are Opened
July 7, 2014
Church teaches us see more than beauty. It teaches us to see ourselves.


Busy
July 6, 2014
Have you ever judged your self-worth by your productivity?


A Blessing Worth Stealing
July 5, 2014
Recently, I led a prayer workshop with our congregation's group for adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities. 


"God Bless America"
July 4, 2014
As we sing the praises of our great nation today, let us listen to hear if our praises are echoed by other nations.


Redeem
July 3, 2014
When was the last time you heard the word “redeem” outside of church?


Who Are You Wearing?
July 2, 2014
There was a time when people would not think about coming to church in anything but their "Sunday best."


When Illusions Fight
July 1, 2014
When illusions fight, wars persist.


Same Mind
June 30, 2014
Jesus relinquished his interests. That's why we trust him. He's not in competition with anything or anybody. He doesn't cling to privileges. That's why he can honor everyone and make friends of strangers.


Smitten
June 29, 2014
Creating an idol out of our children doesn't do anyone any favors. 


Today on The Church's Court . . .
June 28, 2014
As a young man who loved The People's Court, I would read Jesus' words - you must forgive - and hear in them a grave injustice. 


Our Eyes Are On You
June 27, 2014
There is often a certain kind of functional atheism that creeps into the way we do business in the church.


House
June 26, 2014
What kind of house is the next generation of your church going to find when they move in? 


Habits
June 25, 2014
Jesus is focused not on how we think or feel, but on how we act. 


Start Where You Are
June 24, 2014
Start where you are. Love your home place more than any other.


In Praise of the Word and Words
June 23, 2014
This devotional is a reminder that, as people of faith, we need to watch our words—whether they are spoken from a pulpit or in an intimate moment. 


Practicing to Pay
June 22, 2014
Too often the Christian life is presented as something fairly undemanding, worthy of little serious effort, not really important enough to be costly.


Let's Pray
June 21, 2014
At home we thank God before dinner. We join hands around the table and pray. Nothing elaborate, but it happens religiously. But not in restaurants. I don't pray in restaurants.


Refuse to Go Quietly
June 20, 2014
The stories of the early disciples remind me that there has always been a cost for those who wish to tell the truth about who they are, and what they believe.


Tips for Passover
June 18, 2014
Shortly before the birth of my nephew, my sister left a voicemail saying that she and her partner had a question about circumcision. Assuming her query was theological, I reread Galatians and made some notes on arguments for and against.


After the Argument
June 18, 2014
Like the argument between Job and God, most of our arguments are actual expressions of how much we really care about the persons with whom we contend.


The Midcourse Evaluation
June 17, 2014
When you think about it, we can all do our own midcourse evaluation, at the midcourse of anything.


Dying Laughing
June 16, 2014
It was a chaotic environment . . .  dogs barking, cats milling around, neighbors laying down new flooring, an electrician repairing faulty wiring, a cluttered house, and at least eight family members and a few friends surrounding this loved one.


Tattoo Eyes
June 15, 2014
I got my second tattoo in seminary, after a long and careful process of discernment.


Easy to Please
June 14, 2014
Jesus is always angling for an invitation.


Good Questions!
June 13, 2014
We were not the first people to question the troubling gap between what we believe about our God and the immense suffering in our world. The Bible is full of just such questions.


Loving
June 12, 2014
Here's a fact my minister friends don't know quite how to tell you: we are sick to death of having this passage at weddings.


Secret Giving
June 11, 2014
While a friend and I were waiting at the counter for our coffee, he asked, 'Do you wait to put something in the tip jar until the barista can see you doing it?'


Things that Words Can't Say
June 10, 2014
Gardeners don't mind dying; we know the seasons much too well for that.  We mind not seeing what happens next.


Aspirational
June 9, 2014
Have you ever found yourself at 9:55 on a Sunday morning, wanting to go to church but still in your pajamas and dissipating down into your third bowl of cereal, bound to the couch by anxiety, or fatigue, or simply by sheer inertia and the compulsion to binge-watch Game of Thrones because it’s, like, religious?


Courage and Grace
June 8, 2014
What's important about Pentecost isn't the shakes, but this blessed assurance, true in high winds and bright flames, true when fire flickers and wind dies away, true whether you feel it or not.


A Christian Story
June 7, 2014
It is a great story. But it is a Christian story. Which is to say it has a cross in it.


Drawing a Line on the Mountain
June 6, 2014
In a couple of weeks my family and I are leaving the mountains of southern Vermont for the seacoast of New Hampshire. I've been called to serve a new congregation there as their pastor. That means that here in Vermont I am saying a lot of goodbyes to a community that I love. 


Native Tongues
June 5, 2014
I am still new to birds, but I am starting to learn their languages.


Justice and Equity
June 4, 2014
Nelson Mandela said: 'It always seems impossible, until it is done.'


Staying Put
June 3, 2014
As you reflect on your relationship to God, where is it that you find your deepest roots?


You Are What You Eat
June 2, 2014
Have you ever listened to the communion liturgy, as you may have yesterday, and thought to yourself, 'Jeepers, shouldn't we downplay all the creepy, cannibalistic, 'flesh and blood' talk'


The King of All Monsters
June 1, 2014
Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.’ - Genesis 1:26


Be Made Well
May 31, 2014
Jesus, time and time again, when he encountered humans who were suffering, in pain, in frail mental and/or physical health, said 'do you want to be made well?'


Child Prodigies
May 30, 2014
The Church could use a generation of spiritual prodigies. The UCC needs them. The world needs them – kids hungry for a second helping of soul.


Lift Off
May 29, 2014
I think that when I first read about Jesus' ascension into heaven that's the way I envisioned it, with Jesus shooting up into the heavens space age style.


Picked
May 28, 2014
Remember back in elementary school when teams were being divvied up and a few kids were always the last ones to get picked?


Belay me, Lord
May 27, 2014
My stepson is nine, and he knows everything. His mastery of knowledge and logistics gives him confidence, and when in doubt, he asserts wisdom he cannot possibly possess.


Why is this a children's story?!
May 26, 2014
Did you hear that fairy tale about an iceberg six times the size of Manhattan falling into the ocean?


It's Not Your Book
May 25, 2014
If you don't enjoy reading your Bible silently, go easy on yourself. It's not beach reading. And it wasn't actually produced for individual consumption.


The Peace the World Cannot Give
May 24, 2014
No generation in history has put so much thought, energy and money into keeping itself safe and secure, but still we are not at peace.


Cake or Death?
May 23, 2014
Comedian Eddie Izzard has a classic routine in which he imagines how the Inquisition would have been conducted if the Church of England had been in charge.


Call My Name
May 22, 2014
Suddenly I heard him call my name.


Willful Resistance to Temptation
May 21, 2014
Not all temptations to sin appear obviously wrong or immoral.


Greater than Our Hearts
May 20, 2014
I know the angry God of this psalm will be unwelcome to many.


The Long Way Around
May 19, 2014
One of my seminary professors, Dr. Fred Craddock, used to tell us that the greatest distance in life is the distance between head and heart.


Giving Your Firstborn Isn't Required
May 18, 2014
She wouldn't let it go!  Almost weekly in our Wednesday Bible study, Ernesta would remind the gathered Spirit-in-the-Word seekers that the essence of the Judeo-Christian scripture was 'to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.' 


A Mighty Fortress
May 17, 2014
Our hymnals have often rightly been stripped of overtly militaristic language. We are no longer Christian soldiers marching as to war.


Lifted Up
May 16, 2014
Have you ever told a stupid person to go to hell? The psalmist has!


Wilderness Lament
May 15, 2014
We imagine ourselves as wilderness people and find comfort in what happened to good old Abraham.  He too had to leave home and not know where he was going.


Now Do ME a Favor
May 14, 2014
Some years ago, a member of my church died and left me $25,000. What to do?!


Moving
May 13, 2014
There is nothing more stressful and physically demanding than a move . . . And yet, there is something strangely spiritual about moving.


Why Should We Forgive?
May 12, 2014
With his face full of pain Dave said, 'Why should I forgive him? He doesn't deserve it and I don't feel like it.'


Eating for Two
May 11, 2014
I wouldn't be the first mother to mistake her own desires for the needs of her child.


Lost and Found
May 10, 2014
When I was in the second grade a boy in my Sunday school class named Kim was killed when he overshot the mark on his sled, went into the road, and was hit by a car.


Wisdom in Appearances
May 9, 2014
I hear a lot of grousing that 'young people just don't care about religion and spirituality anymore - this is the 'Me' generation.' 


Too Close for Comfort
May 8, 2014
Often what stands in the way of religious unity are not great differences, but rather the small differences.


Resurrection Appearances
May 7, 2014
When Jesus comes back, he's not quite himself. As he invites the disciples to join him on the shore, the story says, 'None of the disciples dared to ask him, 'Who are you?''


Growing Up
May 6, 2014
No one ever said what they meant by that weasel word, 'salvation,' and everybody had conflicting ideas about how you get whatever it is.


Kindness
May 5, 2014
Random acts of kindness are often the keys God uses to open up wondrous blessings and miracles in our lives.


An Insignificant Life?
May 4, 2014
In one day, I baptized a one month-old child and buried another who had lived for one hour


Something for Nothing
May 3, 2014
Every couple of weeks I have lunch with a good friend of mine. Early in our friendship we struck up a pattern of alternating who paid for lunch. So, about once a month I'd paid, and once a month she would take the check.


"Let It Go!"
May 2, 2014
In our spiritual life, we 'Let it go' when we set free the gifts of the Spirit given to us as gifts from God.


The Burning Sun of Envy
May 1, 2014
Whenever we imagine that everybody has trouble and that we are glad that everybody has trouble, release us, O God. 


Just Another Man or Woman Down
April 30, 2014
Recent archeological evidence suggests that Jesus was poor . . . dirt poor.


Running for Our Lives
April 29, 2014
Jonah was a man on the run. Unfortunately, he wasn’t running to stay in shape. He was running away from his work and did all he could to dodge his boss—God.


Outrageous!
April 28, 2014
Most folk, Christians and non-Christians alike, would agree the Resurrection is the most outrageous claim made by the gospels and Paul. I don't.


For Everything There is a Season 
April 27, 2014
This is my last regular contribution to the Stillspeaking Daily Devotional


Fierce Love
April 26, 2014
I wish more couples would choose this verse from Song of Songs for their weddings rather than the more popular passage from I Corinthians (love is patient, love is kind, zzzzzzzz).


Too Busy to Give
April 25, 2014
I try to give money to street musicians whenever I can.


The Oriole’s Nest
April 24, 2014
We had a hard winter here in the Berkshire Hills where I make my home.


Safe Arrival
April 23, 2014
I confess I have a terrible fear of flying.


Good-Bye
April 22, 2014
One of the reasons parting is so difficult is that, in parting, we confront our limits.  We cannot be both here and there. 


Angels' Wings and Eagles' Wings
April 21, 2014
Yesterday, by the sly work of the Holy Spirit, Easter Sunday and Marathon Sunday fell on the same day. 


Dark Easter
April 20, 2014
Easter is like a seed, maturing in darkness. You can't hurry its revealing. So don't fret if you don't see it yet, if you can't see it all, or if you believe you don't believe.


Lying in Wait
April 19, 2014
Faith, by its very nature, can never stay dead.  Its silence is deafening.  Its absence is a quiet storm. 


Good Friday
April 18, 2014
I think Jesus always knew what his end would be. When met with humanity's addiction to violence, the incarnation of God's peace must suffer an ugly end.


The Love Mandate
April 17, 2014
No one really uses the word “maundy” anymore in their daily lives. Which is why today can seem a little murkier than some of the other holy days in Lent.


Holy Wednesday
April 16, 2014
I remember the phone ringing, and looking at the Caller ID to see that it was the local sheriff's office. My heart jumped, as my beloved schizophrenic brother had been missing for three days.


Get Over It and Get on With It
April 15, 2014
The disciples sure are picky.


Holy Impatience
April 14, 2014
Would you say you are a patient person?  Here's a little quiz to find out.


Palm Sunday
April 13, 2014
Somewhere along the way Palm Sunday became Palm/Passion Sunday.


Where's my Hoverboard?!
April 12, 2014
Please, Marty, no one should know too much about their own destiny.


Supersizing Spoils the Small Surprise
April 11, 2014
Sometimes being given too much spoils us for smaller things.


A Cinderella Story
April 10, 2014
I hear folks say that the churches are dying, and lamenting our loss of influence and prestige in the larger culture. That's one way to look at it . . .


Atheists Among Us
April 9, 2014
There's an atheist who comes to our church regularly.


The One Who Stands By Our Side
April 8, 2014
Through the gift of the Holy Spirit we have Jesus' continued presence at our side always.


All-Nighter
April 7, 2014
I remember watching the sun come up over the hills of southern Indiana on the last morning of church camp.


Lazarus Isn't Easter
April 6, 2014
We all undergo many deaths before we're finally raised to the life that lasts.


Knowing and Understanding
April 5, 2014
People often make the mistake of assuming that just because something is read, it is comprehended.  A literal knowledge of something is one thing; an understanding of something is much deeper.


Making an Impression
April 4, 2014
Imagine: you, the way that God is planning to make an impression on the world.


Out of the Depths
April 3, 2014
One of the things I love about the Psalms is that they do not try to make it all better. Instead, they give us honesty.


Thank God for Animals
April 2, 2014
What sort of God would dream these creatures up?


A Good Trap
April 1, 2014
While I live I will praise the Lord.


When God Groans
March 31, 2014
I once heard Richard Rohr say the Incarnation did not happen in Bethlehem 2000 years ago. Thats just when we took notice.


Up and Running
March 30, 2014
Life in Jesus is not a stationary affair.


Other Religions
March 29, 2014
Some people believe that deep down all religions say the same thing. Each is a - Different path up the same mountain. - I wish this were true, but it isn't. 


The Natural Born Loser
March 28, 2014
When light and darkness square off in the ring, darkness loses every time.


Stop Listening to the People
March 27, 2014
At least every now and then, the effective pastor, teacher, parent, principal, president does not tell people what they want to hear, but what they need to hear.


You're Not Wrong, Walter…
March 26, 2014
To be a member of a church means living in beloved community with people who drive us up a wall.


I Have Winter-ism
March 25, 2014
Why not treat winter with respect?


"Like a Rock"
March 24, 2014
Long before Like a Rock was a popular Bob Seeger song, and later the theme for a macho Chevy truck commercial, it was a phrase used in the Bible to describe God.


He or She, or a little bit of each?
March 23, 2014
Every time I write a Daily Devo in which I use a female pronoun for God, I invoke the ire of a certain cross-section of readers, folks who believe that God should only and ever be referenced as He.


Christians are Joyful Sinners
March 22, 2014
In confession, we rely not on our own goodness, but on God’s forgiveness. 


Algorithms
March 21, 2014
If Jesus planned his travel by algorithm, he could have skipped Samaria entirely. Siri would have rerouted him.


Change Your Mind
March 20, 2014
Nothing matters more than mercy.


Older, and Sometimes Wiser
March 19, 2014
Sometimes young people are even more ideologically inflexible and even more certain of the course to take than older people.


Taking the Long View
March 18, 2014
Reinhold Niebuhr once wrote, Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.


Snakes on a Plain
March 17, 2014
One thing I’m routinely struck by in Scripture is that God transforms the perils of life that surround us into something better.


The Scared is Scared
March 16, 2014
People always ask me, can you give me a scripture to read about Worry?


Bed Bugs
March 15, 2014
I suddenly realized I never had the faintest notion what it feels like to be truly ostracized by an entire community and I still don't.


Who Needs Church?
March 14, 2014
Not going to church because of all the hypocrites is like not going to the gym because of all the out of shape people.


Super Human Christians
March 13, 2014
Sometimes we imagine that what it means to be a good Christian is to do it all -- to perfection -- without breaking a sweat. Christians as super-human


Far Astray
March 12, 2014
Newcomers: I always wonder what brought them to church.


Shut Up and Take a Compliment
March 11, 2014
Do you ever find yourself answering a compliment with a rebuttal? Next time, just say "thank you."


"Life is not a game. It's a test"
March 10, 2014
I look back on my life so far and see some tests I have met well and some I have failed at miserably.


The Power of Stuff
March 9, 2014
Things have so much power over us. We shop to abate heartache, distract from anxiety, or buy a new future (exercise equipment, anyone?).


Roll of the Dice
March 8, 2014
Our lives often seem as unpredictable as a roll of the dice.


First World Problems
March 7, 2014
Recently, a friend told me she'd had a meeting cancelled at work because the person she was supposed to meet with had a flat tire on his jet.


Bearing False Witness
March 6, 2014
Here are a few things I’ve heard well-educated progressive Christians say recently.


Grow Up
March 5, 2014
Lots of us approach church like self-righteous fourteen year olds.  We toss out ancient prayers and creeds for little more than the fault of not being what we would have written.


Excuse the Mess
March 4, 2014
When democracy works right, it's messy.


Barefoot on Holy Ground
March 3, 2014
When Moses comes close to the burning bush God tells him to take off his sandals, because he is on holy ground. Part of me pictures a basket of shoes by God's own front door, because God doesn't want the mud and snow and salt tracked in the divine living room either. 


Transfiguration
March 2, 2014
And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.


Healing
March 1, 2014
Is there a place between blaming a person for their sickness—whatever it is—and paying for healing with worthiness? 


By Heart
February 28, 2014
The heart is where we keep things. Where we carry things that matter.


Spiritual Speed Bumps
February 27, 2014
Some of my most cherished journeys were to nowhere, where I accomplished nothing in particular.


Thinking About Direction
February 26, 2014
I've discovered that you can travel the wrong road for a long, long time without even realizing that you are travelling farther and farther away from your desired destination.


Trouble Ahead/Trouble Behind
February 25, 2014
Sometimes when none of our options appear great, when we don’t see a clear way forward, and when tension mounts on all sides, the very best thing we can do is just to turn ourselves and our situation over to God and God’s care.


Honor
February 24, 2014
The difference between a good competition and an evil one is in its objective.  When it comes to showing honor, everybody has a chance to win.


Dogs and Hogs
February 23, 2014
Dog lovers may take offense at Jesus lumping dogs together with the likes of pigs. 


Awkward Playground Memories
February 22, 2014
I have a childhood memory of watching other children play during recess on the school playground. I longed to join them, but didn't know if I would be accepted.


Salt and Light
February 21, 2014
You can survive without salt, but not for long.  You can survive without light, but not very well.


What it Takes to Live in God's Kingdom
February 20, 2014
Anxiety threatened to overwhelm me while I repeated this mantra to myself: "I am living in God's kingdom and not in Chicago on a 10 degree day."


Dorothy
February 19, 2014
After some last minute drama with the birth mother—no one could find her for several days—a baby girl was safely delivered, ahead of schedule, on New Year's Day.


Breathing Spaces
February 18, 2014
In our already overcrowded lives, another space is being taken away.


Envy
February 17, 2014
I don't know about you, but I find the commandment that forbids covetousness to be the most challenging commandment of all. 


Only God Gives the Growth
February 16, 2014
Part of being a good leader is knowing it’s not about you.


Elders
February 15, 2014
Have you ever thought that problem with children, especially teenagers, might be their parents?


Drop it, Cupid
February 14, 2014
Why didn't God engineer humans to automatically love and worship God, like the angels? Wouldn’t that prevent a whole lot of headaches and heartaches?


Who Makes Coconut Cakes Anymore?
February 13, 2014
Every year, when my mother's birthday rolls around, I imagine how old she would be had she not died fourteen years ago. 


Veil
February 12, 2014
Only a few uber-holy people ever get to see God face to face


We Don't Know Much
February 11, 2014
"What we know is not much. What we do not know is immense."


A Different "Sorry"
February 10, 2014
Any limitation on forgiveness is not God’s; it’s ours.


Skipping
February 9, 2014
Sometimes I think [this] is what visitors see when they visit our churches for the first time:  a bunch of grim-faced grownups in a determined dance, who all know the steps and haven't left room for a latecomer.


It's an Inside Job
February 8, 2014
Aside from our religious affiliations and activities, what do our relationships with others reveal about our spiritual condition? 


Understanding
February 7, 2014
True wisdom is an awareness of our limits.


The Golden Calf
February 6, 2014
I have to start taking the golden calf around with me more in the car.


Whoa, Jesus
February 5, 2014
Are you some kind of socialist, Jesus?


Cell Phones on the Altar
February 4, 2014
Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.


Elijah
February 3, 2014
For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel…


Aggression, Revenge, and the Prince of Peace
February 2, 2014
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."


Divine Interaction
February 1, 2014
And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses who were talking with Jesus.


ALL CAPS
January 31, 2014
Look what large letters I make with my own hand!


"Just like a family!"
January 30, 2014
Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.


Get Up and Go
January 29, 2014
The words "fast-paced, explosive, full of action" aren't always the first to come to mind when I think "church."


Steering in a New Direction
January 28, 2014
When arriving in an entirely new area, there is one important factor to keep in mind:  how easy it is to get lost.


Love is Stronger than Hate
January 27, 2014
In 1984, I went to Nicaragua with a group of musicians. 


Nine Word Sermon
January 26, 2014
Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.


Who Says You Don't Know How to Pray?
January 25, 2014
Most of us find ourselves "Doing for God" instead of "Being with God."


The Gift of Encouragement
January 24, 2014
Simon, stay on your toes. Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat.


"There is nothing to be afraid of!"
January 23, 2014
The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?


Tap Water
January 22, 2014
As a deer longs for flowing streams, as my cats long for tap water, my soul thirsts for God.


Remembering His Baptism
January 21, 2014
This verse was still echoing in the room, filling the room with an energy that I didn't comprehend. 


A Radical and Revolutionary Truth
January 20, 2014
I've noticed an odd thing in my part of the country (the Northwest) about Martin Luther King Jr. Day. People either don't know or don't acknowledge that King was a Christian. It's completely overlooked.


Flow
January 19, 2014
How much flow and how much stagnation does our faith have?


If Necessary, Use Deeds
January 18, 2014
I do not seal my lips, Lord, as you know. I do not hide your righteousness in my heart; I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.


Pants on Fire
January 17, 2014
"Jacob said to his father, 'I am Esau your firstborn.'"


Bring It!
January 16, 2014
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; [and] has sent me to bring good news…


Siblings Without Rivalry
January 15, 2014
When parents compare their children, the children don't turn on the parents—they turn on each other.


God Still Rules
January 14, 2014
"Thou rulest the raging of the sea."


I Will Change Your Name
January 13, 2014
"God said to him, 'Your name is Jacob, no longer shall you be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.'"


Atheist Dentists and Smug Christians
January 12, 2014
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered, "The Messiah of God."


Do Gay People Control the Weather?
January 11, 2014
How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!


Watching. Waiting. Listening.
January 10, 2014
Then God said, Rise and anoint David; this is the one. . . and from that day on, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon David.


What Samuel Said
January 9, 2014
"Now the Lord came again and stood there, calling as before, 'Samuel! Samuel!' And Samuel said, 'Speak, your servant is listening.'"


But First It Will Make You Mad
January 8, 2014
" . . . the truth shall make you free."


Bread of Compassion
January 7, 2014
"I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."


Epiphany
January 6, 2014
"On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage."


I Just Can't Watch
January 5, 2014
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because God has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. God has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free…"


Bike Blessing
January 4, 2014
I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.


“Conflict à la mode”
January 3, 2014
“What is the source of conflict among you? What is the source of your disputes?”


The Food is Great!
January 2, 2014
An angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy for all the people!”


Believe It Or Not
January 1, 2014
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away . . . See, I am making all things new.


New Year's Eve
December 31, 2013
"May God send you help from the sanctuary, and give you support from Zion.


The Planet in Praise
December 30, 2013
"Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and maidens, old men and children."


I Had Planned
December 29, 2013
"I had planned to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord. . . and I made preparations for building."


Leaning Toward the Future
December 28, 2013
"This one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead."


Who Am I?
December 27, 2013
"Praise God, sun and moon: praise God, all you shining stars! Praise God, all the angels; praise God all God's host."


In the Beginning
December 26, 2013
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.


Hark!
December 25, 2013
Perhaps you are enjoying a wonderful Christmas. Perhaps it is everything you planned. I certainly hope so. But if you are far from home or feel distant from those who are very near, if there is more tension than cheer in the air, if you are exhausted, or feel a letdown, or if in any other way this feels like an unlikely place for Jesus to show up—pay particular attention.


Darkness
December 24, 2013
The Wise Men would never have been able to see that star if they'd been standing in the parking lot of a 24-hour Wal-Mart.


God's Preferential Option for the Unlikely
December 23, 2013
God chooses little, out of the way places (and churches). God chooses people who are too young or too old, too this or too that. People and places that are full of themselves have, after all, no room for God.


At Home in Jerusalem
December 22, 2013
Advent reminds us of how many times we have been unwilling to be at home in a nice place.


Star
December 21, 2013
Sometimes it's a miracle that we are ever able to see the star that rests over the simple birthplace of love and hope.


Unlocked
December 20, 2013
Have you ever been silenced by what you didn't dare say aloud? And did you one day find enough strength or faith or dire need to say it?


Listen for Advent
December 19, 2013
We need help to hear Advent because it has so much competition.


A Blessing for the Shop Keepers
December 18, 2013
By now, I can guarantee I have slipped down the slippery Christmas shopping practice of "One for you and one for me."


Look Up, I Can Help
December 17, 2013
When things start to go awry in our lives, we are likely to hunker down. We do what we have been doing only harder.


Rejoice! Again I say, Rejoice!
December 16, 2013
Many of us need to be told to rejoice in this season perhaps more than in others. After all, it is a dark time—in the world without, to be sure, but sometimes in the world within, as well.


Making it Personal
December 15, 2013
Advent just isn't advent, unless we make it personal.


Unclean
December 14, 2013
Here are some Christmas things that, while they may have nothing to do with the birth of Christ, I believe God approves of anyway.


Greatness Lives Among Us
December 13, 2013
As insignificant and inconsequential as we sometimes think our work may be, there is a great gift in just getting a glimpse of how our everyday service to those around us impacts the course of history and affects the trajectory of countless human lives.


Sometimes an Imperative
December 12, 2013
God is not like a hectoring parent exhorting us to eat our vegetables or to be nicer to our neighbors.


Invitation
December 11, 2013
What if "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near" isn't so much a threat as an invitation worth accepting?


A Halo for the Right Answer
December 10, 2013
We inheritors of the mainline Protestant traditions need to give more attention to Mary because she is one of us.


Love Needs a Head as Well as Heart
December 9, 2013
The next time you're not feeling the love, decide to love anyway.


Family Reunion
December 8, 2013
Ever notice how difficult it is to think about the seasons of Advent and Christmas without thinking about your family?


The Baby Grew Up
December 7, 2013
During Advent we tend to focus our anticipation on the sweet baby Jesus because, as every parent knows, we can see in an infant almost anything we want to see.


"Dumb Animal"
December 6, 2013
Why do the ox and ass keep popping up in countless nativity paintings and Christmas carols?


Not Christmassy
December 5, 2013
Everybody always talks about how busy they get around Christmastime. You'd think with all those Christians going full steam ahead for a month, the world would take a giant step forward at the end of every year, that the planet would lurch a little closer to Paradise each December.


Fiercely Waiting
December 4, 2013
This is what it means to be people of faith—to be still waiting, still watching, still hoping, still listening . . . for God. Fiercely waiting.


Home for Christmas
December 3, 2013
Imagine: God is our home. That means that, wherever you may be when the day arrives, you can be home for Christmas.


A Savior in Work Boots
December 2, 2013
Advent is a time to repent. Sometimes we forget that and leave all the heavy lifting to that other season of repentance in the church year—Lent.


I Must Decrease
December 1, 2013
John the Baptist has figured out what his heart desires most, while we mask our lack of clarity with busy, talkative religion.


Pilgrimage
November 30, 2013
Know what I wish we had in the UCC?  A place to make a pilgrimage to.


Holy Day
November 29, 2013
Faith more than hate, hope more than despair, conviction more than rejection.


All Circumstances. As In, All Circumstances
November 28, 2013
Give thanks in all circumstances.


Today We'd Put Them on Reality TV
November 27, 2013
I'm in awe of the early church in the book of Acts, where they shared it all in common. Today, we would talk these people into doing a reality TV show.


Living in the Past
November 26, 2013
Holidays -- a big one coming up later this week -- sometimes tempt us to live in the past.


Wildlife
November 25, 2013
This, I think, is how it is with God.  We are fascinated; we want a closer look, but we keep our distance. 


Head Trip
November 24, 2013
The point of faith is not to become a well-informed person who trusts their intellect but someone who loves well and trusts God.


I Love You, Too
November 23, 2013
Every night that I put my son to bed, we read and have our rituals.  The last thing I do is say, "Good night, I love you."  Then he says to me, "I love you, too."  And that means the world to me.


"Throw down your weapons!"
November 22, 2013
Will our walls and weapons keep us safe?


Steward
November 21, 2013
All our power and all our wealth is derivative, held in trust and exercised on behalf of the one to whom it belongs: Jesus.


Shams
November 20, 2013
One of my favorite words these days is "authenticity."


The Death of Church
November 19, 2013
Read any newspaper and you'll hear that religion is less like Zechariah's branch – spreading understanding as it grows – than a stump.  A dead end.  Here's the thing, though.  I'm so tired of hearing about the impending Death of Church. 


Consider Tenderness
November 18, 2013
When you have scraped away all the decades and regret competes with gratitude for your attention, consider tenderness.


Abundance or Scarcity?
November 17, 2013
Do you live out of a sense of abundance or scarcity?  That may be an economic question, but certainly it is a faith question.


Jumping Into the Saints' Gene Pool
November 16, 2013
As we ponder our faith family tree it becomes evident that all were willing to sacrifice their personal welfare for the good of the larger community. 


The Grace of Being Wrong
November 15, 2013
Sometimes the longest and most difficult journey is not from place to place, but from assumption to experience, from contempt to embrace, from fear to hospitality, from judgment to love.


Traveling Light
November 14, 2013
The material stuff we haul and store is nothing compared to the stuff we carry in our hearts and minds: painful (as well as "precious") memories, resentments, judgments about ourselves and others.


"I Belong to Christ"
November 13, 2013
To confess Christ, to say "I belong to Christ" cannot ever be a proud boast of one's spiritual attainment or being part of the divinely selected in-group.


War and Peace
November 12, 2013
Violence is a tragic form of practical atheism even among believers.


We Need to Remember to Remember
November 11, 2013
On Veteran's Day, begun in 1918 as Armistice Day, we remember the gifts and sacrifices of those who have served, our country's honorable military history, mistakes we wish to never repeat, and our ultimate trust in God's compassion.


If You Say So
November 10, 2013
The pastor was a rookie. She didn't know that churches are supposed to think small and aim low, or that when church folks get mad, it's often because they're scared.


Dis-ease
November 9, 2013
Many people imagine that unclean spirits are a thing of the past. So quaint. So primitive. So forgetful of the latest research on disease or addiction. Permit me to differ.


I Don't Envy You
November 8, 2013
A new term has come into common parlance these days:  Facebook Envy.  Researchers have found, and many people have experienced, that spending time on Facebook can make people more envious. 


Blessed Assurance
November 7, 2013
Though we may suffer, succeed or fail, God’s unfailing love is everlasting.


A Mean-Spirited Meeting
November 6, 2013
Sometimes, bringing a group of furious people together is not the answer.  


May I Bring Up a Difficult Matter?
November 5, 2013
In many places, and churches, today I hear people saying things like, "We don't believe in judgment."


Not Alone
November 4, 2013
For most people, mysteriously, not to be alone is better than not to be in trouble.


Waiting for a Vision
November 3, 2013
In my decades of ministry I have sometimes prayed to God in the mode of Habakkuk. In the car on the way home from a pediatric cancer unit or the graveside of a local saint, I have said to God, sometimes out loud, "You’ve got some explaining to do!"


More Wine
November 2, 2013
The God of Jesus Christ just isn't the stern and stingy sort. Jesus reveals a God of reckless generosity.


All Saints Day
November 1, 2013
Every year on November 1, All Saints Day, I remember Sacred Heart cemetery in the town I grew up in.


Say "Thank You"
October 31, 2013
At almost every turn, the authors of the psalms not only invite, but also demand that we offer our thanks to God.


Sandy's First Birthday
October 30, 2013
Prayer and liturgy are renewable forms of energy.


Dance
October 29, 2013
Never would I imagine my uncoordinated self voluntarily dancing and booty shaking in front of other people . . . or at all!


A Shotgun Under the Christmas Tree
October 28, 2013
When I was 12 years old, my father bought me a shotgun for Christmas.


Stand Up
October 27, 2013
When we don’t know what to do or to say, devote and empower us to stand before the authorities and make sure they know we are watching, with faith and hope in our eyes.


But As for You
October 26, 2013
Yes, there are people who tick you off, there are people who are full of you know what. I get it. Nevertheless, don't get fixated on them, stick to your knitting.


Principles and Practices
October 25, 2013
From time to time I think we all need to be prodded into sober considerations of just how much our daily practices betray our vaunted principles.


Lament
October 24, 2013
Before the name-calling, before we assign blame, before we try solutions that will, inevitably, create more problems, perhaps we should start simply.


Jesus of Michigan
October 23, 2013
The Sea of Galilee had some Lake Effect going on as storms were known to kick up without warning.


A Healing Tongue
October 22, 2013
It is one of the most multifunctional parts of the body but it also is the body part that can cause the most dysfunction in our human relationships.


Free
October 21, 2013
Just in case this sounds really cheesy . . . so what? Sometimes God gives us Hallmark moments to remind us that grace abounds and new life is real.


When I Was Thirsty
October 20, 2013
I thought of you today when I got back from my walk, cranky from too much sun and dying for water. You wanted water too when you sat down at noon by Jacob's well.


Altars
October 19, 2013
At my New England church full of migrants and misfits, we are in the midst of a heart/head identity crisis.


Ontological
October 18, 2013
"Ontological" is way too big a word for a devotional. 


The Decorative Boulder
October 17, 2013
Why would the cemetery put an enormous rock at their entrance, just large enough to tear up a car but too small to see from the rear view mirror?


Always? Yes, always!
October 16, 2013
Like the disciples, we still need a lot of help to be the church. But we often forget that.


Teresa of Avila, October 15 (1515-1582)
October 15, 2013
Once upon a time, a young woman with a restless intellect, a dread of marriage, and an unfocused attraction to God, slipped out of her father's house to a convent outside Avila's walls.


Prison Break
October 14, 2013
Many of us are trapped behind the barricades of work, of our clever and flimsy excuses, of the bottle.


Entitled
October 13, 2013
Sometimes we get this mindset: we're entitled. We are due a super school, a new car, the very best medical care and a terrific life full of great experiences and travel to exotic places. Why not?


Access
October 12, 2013
Thank you for all the prophets you send to remind us that everybody—the disabled, the (temporarily) able, the sick, the well—is clean in your sight and everybody ought to have a place at your table.


Comfort In, Dump Out.
October 11, 2013
If we are the hands and feet and wounds of Christ in the world, what does it mean to be "always ready"?


Why Watch Royalty?
October 10, 2013
Who changes the diapers? Who knows? But for some reason, we want to know.


Come on In, the Water's Fine
October 9, 2013
Some of us live lives of doubt, diversified by faith.  Others of us live a life of faith, diversified by doubt.


All Things to All People
October 8, 2013
Being everything to everyone usually means nothing to anyone.


A Ministry of Transportation
October 7, 2013
When people lose their ability to drive, or find themselves unable to be as mobile as they once were . . . they need people who are determined to get them to Jesus.


Unchained
October 6, 2013
Gospel is when we say yes to each other, the way Jesus said yes to all we are—wounds, tattoos, aging, all and more


Perspective
October 5, 2013
Tomorrow is Sunday. I will go to worship to get my attitude adjusted, my perspective restored.


Francis of Assisi, October 4 (1182-1226)
October 4, 2013
Before St. Francis died, he told his brothers, “I have done my part. Christ teach you to do yours.” He also said, “We have only begun to live the gospel.”


Active Waiting
October 3, 2013
Over the last several years I have spent my share of time waiting in doctors' offices: waiting to be seen, waiting for tests, waiting for news. I don't like this waiting, and I am never sure just what to do with the lost time.


Moving Mountains
October 2, 2013
Even though we live by faith (why else did you get out of bed this morning?), we also view faithfulness as a tall order.


Somebody Ought to Say Something
October 1, 2013
It is the Good News that despite all of the troubles, trials and traumas we face, love endures.


Redeem
September 30, 2013
Jesus gives us a purpose, holy and high, to which we can devote ourselves when we sicken of being in thrall to lesser purposes.


Something for Nothing
September 29, 2013
People say you get what you pay for but that is not really true.


Nostalgia Ain't What It Used to Be
September 28, 2013
Nostalgia is a very natural and powerful emotion, particularly for those of us who are older.  But nostalgia has its dangers. 


Losing Your Calling
September 27, 2013
We've all seen it happen before. The leader who builds something impressive but can't see when it is time to step aside. The retirement that happens a few years too late.


"Log in Eye" Syndrome
September 26, 2013
The world does not divide between saints and sinners; but between saints who know themselves to be sinners, and sinners who believe themselves to be saints.


Deep Devotion
September 25, 2013
Our church, like many others, has to depend upon the faithful gifts of those who give, not out of deep pockets, but out of deep devotion.


The 11th Commandment
September 24, 2013
I have a theory: there was an 11th commandment that fell off the tablets.


Superior Firepower
September 23, 2013
Faith, not superior firepower, is what truly counts. Faith is the greatest weapon there is.


Trees are People, Too
September 22, 2013
I begin to pray to the God of ALL creation that we may all be one, but I pause to ponder if, perhaps, we already are, but just don’t know it… yet.


Is This a Joke?
September 21, 2013
If you don't know what biblical prophecy's about, you might think Revelation is a prediction of future history.


Lure
September 20, 2013
Is God running around like a maniac, playing Whack-a-Mole with our prayer requests? Does God accidentally miss some?


Eyes of the Heart Enlightened
September 19, 2013
When our children were young, dinner time was always something a circus.


You Get What You Pay For
September 18, 2013
You do get what you pay for - and if you pay in the coin of immeasurable gratitude you have already moved into heaven.


"Territory"
September 17, 2013
"This is Psalm 91 territory."


Only One Vengeance
September 16, 2013
Vengeance does not belong within the purview of human action.


Happy Sin
September 15, 2013
There are worse things we could do than sin, worse things we could be than bad. We could strive to be better people—the sort of better people who believe they are better than other people.


My Methodist Summer
September 14, 2013
This summer we were Methodists. We worshipped at a small Methodist church in the little town near our cabin in northeastern Oregon. What did we find? Basically, we found the church being church - and it was a blessing to us.


Looking on the Heart
September 13, 2013
So often we judge others on their appearances, but God judges the heart. May we learn to do the same.


Stranger in a Strange Land
September 12, 2013
Years ago, out of great trust or great foolishness, I hopped a plane to Mexico.


"That they may all be one."
September 11, 2013
The day will come when our blindness will be healed and all who seek to love God with all their heart, soul and mind and their neighbors as themselves will be one, even in the midst of difference.


The Greatest Star
September 10, 2013
God, bless each one of us with a sense of responsibility for the part we play in your drama and the comforting knowledge that the show’s success does not depend on us.


Breaking the Silence
September 9, 2013
Throughout childhood and into adult life, I never heard the words "mental illness" or "suicide" spoken in church. The silence was deafening.


The Serpent's Vocabulary
September 8, 2013
All is well in the Garden of Eden . . . But then the serpent entered the scene and told the couple they had no reason to be so happy.


An Honest Prayer
September 7, 2013
A seminary intern was offering the pastoral prayers one Sunday and received a request to pray for a woman who had a last name he found very difficult to pronounce.


Got Rhythm?
September 6, 2013
To me the whole concept of balance sounds exhausting, like balancing on one foot or balancing a tray of full glasses while walking on a rocky path - I can do it, to be sure, but not for long.


"Eating the Fruit of Lies"
September 5, 2013
The prophets often remind us that the Word of God is frequently bad news before it is good news.


Do Not Back Up!
September 4, 2013
While our Christian faith invites us to look back into our biblical past for lessons to guide us today, we do not back up by blindly relying on tradition.


God and Green Chile
September 3, 2013
God and green chile. Not a bad combination. Had he lived in northern New Mexico, I think Jesus would have agreed.


Labor Day
September 2, 2013
It's a good day to honor and say thanks to everyone who serves the common good by their labor.


Sunburn
September 1, 2013
Sunburns are no respecter of persons.


The Salmon Know
August 31, 2013
I've heard it said that no one knows why salmon jump, fling themselves forth from their deep water homes into sun and sky.


Feelings
August 30, 2013
God doesn't seem to have time for all that touchy-feely stuff.


Revenge
August 29, 2013
Some people, especially those who have never been injured, intimately, find it easy to nod their heads "yes" at this passage.


Normal Families
August 28, 2013
When I hear reference to biblical family values, I wonder: are they talking about the rifts and alienation or about the sibling rivalry and bitter resentments?


The Modified Christian
August 27, 2013
I'm frustrated with the many labels we attach to Christianity in order to modify its meaning.


Who Can Believe in God?
August 26, 2013
Who can believe in God in a world where there is so much innocent suffering, in a world where injustice is a vivid, ugly reality?


How Do You Know?
August 25, 2013
Listening to your own inner voice can at times be more daunting than listening to the voices of others.


Cheers
August 24, 2013
From the beginning, the early Christian church knew that worship is central, but it's also good to get people around the table, laughing, eating, having fun and praising God.


Getting Yourself in Holy Hot Water
August 23, 2013
I don't admit this to many people, so please keep it to yourself: I was once a contestant in a beauty pageant.


Seek and Maybe You Will Find
August 22, 2013
Our prayers may not be answered in the way we wish. Sometimes I am simply not okay with that.


Clean House
August 21, 2013
Some days I feel like the only people I ever actually talk to, regardless of who's standing in front of me, are my parents and a kid who once said a very mean thing to me in fourth grade.


Zombies
August 20, 2013
Sociologists say horror stories reflect our greatest fears.


4.5.8.
August 19, 2013
Have you ever really thought about that: how every single inhalation you take, you are sucking God into your being?


Conflict
August 18, 2013
Phew. It is good to know that conflict is part of Jesus' intention for our world.


The Bulgies
August 17, 2013
In between his first and second year of college, my father got a job with the travelling circus.


We Need More Saints
August 16, 2013
We Protestants need more saints.


What the Cat Dragged In
August 15, 2013
Once a door is open, it's open; whatever comes in, comes in. There'll be all sorts of surprises, amazing gifts.


Open Your Mouth and Sing
August 14, 2013
Our voices are gifts from God.


Sorry, That's Not My Gift
August 13, 2013
We have done gift discernment inventories. We have offered gift discernment workshops.


What a Difference a Translation Makes
August 12, 2013
This passage doesn't sound like some laughable Puritan talking about body parts; it sounds like my life.


Lucky or Blessed?
August 11, 2013
Here's what I believe: there's luck, and there's blessing, and it's virtually impossible to tell which is which.


Is There a Heart in the Treasury?
August 10, 2013
The things we value are things that we are willing to pay any price to attain and to maintain.


Endurance Tests
August 9, 2013
I am reminded that the word "endure" has two meanings: to last and to put up with a lot.


Going to the Movies with the Father of a Killer
August 8, 2013
I have looked very hard and still cannot find any "sides" at the round table of justice.


Why Worry?
August 7, 2013
We think of ourselves, individually, as way too important than we really are.


Loud American
August 6, 2013
Canadians seem to take little ordinary things we do in the USA and make them cooler.


Tweaking or Transformation?
August 5, 2013
A case could be made that the truest images and metaphors of change in Scripture aren't about growth.


Ten Thousand Dollars?
August 4, 2013
Greed often signals that we're in denial about mortality.


Making Our Days Count
August 3, 2013
How often have we wanted to be older or younger than we are, rather than just living out our lives from day to day?


The First, Last and Only Thing You Need to Hear
August 2, 2013
It's an executive summary of everything the Bible has to say, forwards and backwards: God's love is forever. God is good. Give thanks.


A River Runs Through It
August 1, 2013
God never fails to send rivers of hope through deserts of desolation.


You Do Not Answer
July 31, 2013
The Christian life isn't about feeling feelings or acquiring spiritual experiences. Baptism ushers us into a life of greater depth than that — a life of faith.


At the Amusement Park with Daddy
July 30, 2013
I remember being at an amusement park on Lake Erie's shore as a sudden storm blew in and a huge funnel appeared over the water.


Unconditionally
July 29, 2013
In the marriage vow, we say no to consumerism in our romantic lives.


Mystery in the Sand
July 28, 2013
"The heavens are telling the glory of God."


So You Can't Carry a Tune in a Bucket
July 27, 2013
When the Angel Choir of four to six year olds sings at our church, let me tell you, it is not a solemn procession.


Got Worship?
July 26, 2013
Suppose you had to do "take-out" worship?


Resisting What You Know
July 25, 2013
Lack of knowledge is one thing. Resistance to learning is something else.


Contradiction or Conversation?
July 24, 2013
Jesus came for the imperfect people. He can save us, even after we have done terrible things.


The Meat Market (vegetarians beware)
July 23, 2013
The Bible has something like a meat market in 1 Samuel chapter 16.


Let's Play "Telephone"!
July 22, 2013
Just because lips are flapping doesn't mean communication is taking place.


Mourning
July 21, 2013
Funerals are not the kind of thing that most people, with the possible exception of morticians and ministers, want to get good at.


RESPECT
July 20, 2013
As St. Francis fully understood, you need to notice to be noticed, love to be loved – and respect to be respected.


God's Freshness
July 19, 2013
Open your windows today, both of home and soul. Take a long, deep breath. The storm is over. Dry land is on your horizon.


New Authority
July 18, 2013
We remember the true meaning of authority, which is the ability to control yourself, not others.


Why Having a Denomination is Good
July 17, 2013
UCC General Synod, our biennial national gathering, just ended, and guess what? I drank the Kool-Aid.


The Fierce Urgency of Now
July 16, 2013
I get the fierce urgency of now / So I'm asking with fierce urgency about how...


God Bless You
July 15, 2013
Not everyone gets to hear that they're worth everything to someone.


OMG! I just took God's name in vain!
July 14, 2013
If the church isn't attending to how it thinks and speaks about God it becomes a caucus of like-minded people pursuing their causes.


Busy
July 13, 2013
With Luther, let us "sin boldly," by daring - at least sometimes - to not be busy.


A New Thing
July 12, 2013
The Apostle Stephen had been preaching in Jerusalem. As good Christian preaching sometimes will, his sermon angered his audience


Besties
July 11, 2013
No one human can fulfill every single need of another human—even the person who shares your bed can't do that.


Excuse the Mess
July 10, 2013
Excuse the mess while we build a more perfect union.


Deacons Doing Dishes
July 9, 2013
The perfect definition of a deacon: "a glorified butler."


Blessing of the Toilet Paper
July 8, 2013
I want to offer help with domestic violence and I am asked to offer toilet paper?


The 80/20 Rule
July 7, 2013
When we hear that the harvest is plenty and the workers are few, we can go "Duh," and say we are familiar with the 80/20 rule.


Misplaced Confidence
July 6, 2013
Admit it, you know someone, somewhere, who is confident for all the wrong reasons.


A Changed Life
July 5, 2013
The message here from Paul is better than "misery loves company." It is that Christ really can free you for a new life altogether.


Love Your Country
July 4, 2013
If loving America is unfashionable in your circles, the Glorious Fourth is a good day to reclaim the practice. Knowing all you know, love anyway.


A Rock That is Higher Than I
July 3, 2013
We all know that the only way to get better at anything in life is to engage a challenge.


Cain, I Am
July 2, 2013
Just as God provided protective clothing for Adam and Eve after their big mistake, so God protects Cain after his. Sign me up for that!


Know your Bible
July 1, 2013
If God visited today, would you know enough Bible to recognize it?


Sabbath Day
June 30, 2013
We live in a world that says, "Get some rest," while at the same time criticizing those who are caught loafing or taking a break.


The Perfect Church for Imperfect People
June 29, 2013
What if the UCC became a great church where we stopped trying to get theology right?


Reading a Love Letter
June 28, 2013
"There is only one situation I can think of in which men and women make an effort to read better than they usually do."


A Clear Conscience
June 27, 2013
Whenever someone tells me, "My conscience is clear," I doubt it.


The Power of Prayer
June 26, 2013
Have you ever had someone come to you with a problem and it seemed that what they really wanted to do was to off-load that problem onto you?


Can You Remember?
June 25, 2013
Inclusion of "the other" is the real content of church history and Christian theology.


What is the Internet?
June 24, 2013
Many of us use the internet on a daily basis (like right now), but does anyone know what it actually is?


No Fool
June 23, 2013
So if you’re reading this devotional, I assume you are more or less in the “there is a God” camp. You’re no fool.


"Swans Love Jesus, Too"
June 22, 2013
What part of "all the earth" don't we get?


Rick Edition
June 21, 2013
Bekky and Rick got so into reading the Daily Devotionals together each morning that one day, Rick wrote a special one to surprise Bekky.


Going Naked
June 20, 2013
Each morning we clothe ourselves – not just with garments, but with schedules, meetings, partners, plans.


Memory and Personhood
June 19, 2013
We are more than our memories.


Good Law, Beautiful Faith
June 18, 2013
Laws and customs, especially the consensual, can be very good things. They manage the great mysteries of life and death.


Don't Think About Pink Elephants
June 17, 2013
If I tell you not to think about pink elephants, what is the first thing you are going to think about?


The Festival of the Christian Garage
June 16, 2013
These semi-sacred secular holidays pose a challenge for the church.


Get Up
June 15, 2013
What's "forgiveness change"? It's what happens when God's healing grace invades our lives and calls us to leave old ways behind.


What's Your New Normal?
June 14, 2013
Thirteen years ago my life changed forever in an instant when I flew over the handlebars of my bicycle and landed on my head.


You Are Enough
June 13, 2013
"I delight in you. I really do. I delight in your being, that you are here, that you are part of the whole crazy show."


Parched
June 12, 2013
I think most of the dry wastelands in which we find ourselves are of our own creation.


The Good Death
June 11, 2013
If death comes to us all, why can't it sometimes be "good"?


Omissions
June 10, 2013
In my life I've discovered that it's much easier to refrain from doing the wrong things than it is to commit to doing the right things.


Yes
June 9, 2013
If I were asked to summarize the Gospel in just one word, it would be the word "Yes."


God is...
June 8, 2013
The biggest obstacle to love and poetry is making it more complicated than it really is.


Your Best Life Ever
June 7, 2013
How do you arrive at the best funeral ever - your own? You arrive by living your best life ever.


When There Is No Perfect Solution
June 6, 2013
I doubt that there is ever a perfect solution to a problem. In the end, we have to settle for one of many imperfect options.


Getting Under Your Skin
June 5, 2013
Have you had the experience of something bugging you, something that won't shut up? Something getting "under your skin"?


I Am Awesome and You Are Not
June 4, 2013
Reading the words on a stranger's t-shirt can make for an awkward first encounter so I try to avoid it.


The Allure of Blame
June 3, 2013
If we can just find something to blame, then we can ridicule it, fire it, divorce it, disinfect it, vote it out of office and finally end our pain and fear.


Getting Back at It
June 2, 2013
Now I was one of those people talking about my aches, pains and doctor appointments.


Don't Gather All the Grapes
June 1, 2013
Have you ever decided to attend an event at the very last minute, but when you arrived there was not an empty seat to be found?


Pushing the "YES" Button
May 31, 2013
Isn't it easier to swallow your misgivings about Christianity rather than clog the system with uncomfortable questions?


A Little Dirt
May 30, 2013
Jesus knew a thing or two about how to make the human engine run a little better.


Google It
May 29, 2013
How long is the bridge between an American and his or her country's behavior?


Epiphanies at the Dump
May 28, 2013
Nothing brings home the crisis of the environment quite like loading up my car and taking trash and recyclables to The Dump.


A Table Before My Enemies
May 27, 2013
"A table spread in the presence of mine enemies." What does that look like?


Dominion
May 26, 2013
Dominion over that which we do not value and respect turns into destruction.


Blessed Trinity
May 25, 2013
Most churches tend to be churches of one person of the Trinity or another.


How to Hold a Boa Constrictor
May 24, 2013
I snapped a few pictures from a safe distance and soon wandered off past the sign that said, "Hold the Snake for $5."


Royals
May 23, 2013
The flowered crown God weaved for us in the beginning is a perfect fit, our dignity is immense, and our glory astonishes the angels.


One
May 22, 2013
If you pray, pray more than ever today, for many people in the town of Moore are unable to utter a single word to God in their shock and sorrow.


The Space Between Us
May 21, 2013
For human beings, there's truly no harder land to till than the spaces between us.


A Heart Patient's Pace
May 20, 2013
Studies show that people who walk faster, live longer.


God Goes Viral
May 19, 2013
Read any of Paul's letters and you'll see how God-gone-viral caused a world of diversity problems for the early church.


Delusions of Gender
May 18, 2013
Schooled in that "Women are invisible" point of view, I often miss what men or Jesus or fathers or sons are saying.


Green Pastures
May 17, 2013
If the shepherd is God, then you know who we are.


Life or Death? You Choose
May 16, 2013
People of faith and faith communities can play a unique role in addressing the environmental crisis. That does not mean we will, however.


Easter Laugh
May 15, 2013
There is nothing you will go through that is so hard that you can't dispel some of the darkness by laughing.


And It Was Good!
May 14, 2013
Everyone an Adam; everyone an Eve.


I Gotta Go
May 13, 2013
Jesus had to leave a space if the Spirit was going to get in.


Moms who make their kids go to Sunday School
May 12, 2013
Here's who I'm especially loving today: moms who make their kids go to Sunday school.


More Room
May 11, 2013
God's help often comes as more breathing space, greater freedom of spirit, a longer view, a bigger horizon, a little more time.


"Their Eyes Were Watching God"
May 10, 2013
When weather and the environment erupt and take things completely out of my control, my eyes should be watching God.


Excuses, Excuses, Excuses
May 9, 2013
I wonder how many excuses God hears every day.


You Have Got to be Kidding!
May 8, 2013
My confession: Part of me is afraid of everything.


Buying Boas in Bulk
May 7, 2013
Stoles tell us of the yoke of Christ, that yoke that is easy and that burden which is light.


Litter Bug
May 6, 2013
I remember childhood car trips when my family tossed trash out the window. I remember littering.


We Need the Eggs
May 5, 2013
Jesus is intent on taking from us all the ways we've learned to keep true life and real healing at bay.


"The World Needs Your Cargo"
May 4, 2013
Joy is often related to abundance - but not to excess.


God's Commencement Address
May 3, 2013
Today's passage from the end of the First Letter to Timothy would make a good graduation speech.


Moses at a Dead Run
May 2, 2013
An old story imagines what happened after Moses died.


Only Wonder
May 1, 2013
Every year, it seemed, sometime during the week of Summer Family Camp there was a thunderstorm.


Oily
April 30, 2013
This type of thing is exactly why I don't understand biblical literalists.


Jonathan and David
April 29, 2013
O God, let us not keep our arrows in a quiver or ourselves in a dither.


Being Available 24/6
April 28, 2013
"There used to be a time when only God was that important."


A Loaded Statement and the Benefit of the Doubt
April 27, 2013
I felt a strong connection to this total stranger. So in parting, I said, "I'll pray for you."


An Ecclesiastical Flash Mob?
April 26, 2013
I think the church could learn a lot from flash mobs. Maybe we could become a flash mob ourselves?


The Earth is the Lord's
April 25, 2013
"O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all; The earth is full of thy creatures."


Magical Thinking About Unread Books
April 24, 2013
I am always carrying books around in the hope of reading them.


Spiritual Water Skiing and Scuba Diving
April 23, 2013
I did not want to be a spiritual water skier, bouncing along on the surface from one faith experience to another.


Beating Up Brother
April 22, 2013
It's hard to be an obedient child when you're bent on beating the tar out of your brother.


Promise
April 21, 2013
And God had wiped every tear from every eye.


My Cup Overflows
April 20, 2013
Overflow energy comes after we spill, not before.


The Outermost House
April 19, 2013
Some of us discover that it will take a journey of solitude in order to reach the next season of our lives.


Someone Like Us
April 18, 2013
Boston is one more horrific instance of what human beings do, what we’re capable of, even as we’re capable of selflessness and love.


Be Not Afraid
April 17, 2013
A Boston policeman, right after the blast, said, "I need all the lanes open here." He meant it.


So Much at Stake
April 16, 2013
The church, like the family, is that rare place where we get a chance to practice living with people we did not choose.


A Prayer for Tax Day
April 15, 2013
The fact is, lots of good things have happened in my life because people I never knew filed their 1040's.


Spinning Straw Into Gold
April 14, 2013
Spiritual alchemy is not rooted in magic creatures, fairy tales, chemistry, finance or doctrine.


The Invitation I (Nearly) Missed
April 13, 2013
How might at least some of our interactions with others be different if we hear what they are really saying and not what we think, or fear, they may be saying?


Flurry
April 12, 2013
As far as I can tell, here is how Communion is prepared in every Christian church everywhere.


Concert Notes
April 11, 2013
May we be open, free, emboldened, and enlivened today, dear God, to join the great chorus, and sing out our Praise.


Pray for Peace
April 10, 2013
We must learn to live together as brothers [and sisters] or perish together as fools.


Whispered in Your Ear
April 9, 2013
This, in essence, is what we whisper in the ear of anyone who comes to be baptized: "You are God's beloved." Those are the first words we hear. That is who we are.


Hanging From Your Own Rope
April 8, 2013
"Those who live by the sword, die by the sword."


The Authority of an Open Wound
April 7, 2013
During Eastertide we have a choice. We can open the graves and rise from them, with each other. Or we can get stuck.


Another Rock Star Disses the Church
April 6, 2013
Unless some sane people claim the label, "Christian," the extremist fringes will have the last word.


Coming Clean, Starting Fresh
April 5, 2013
The hard path to new life means coming clean about our fears, failures and betrayals.


Say "Uncle"
April 4, 2013
Sometimes I allow myself to hunker down under the broom bush in my soul and surrender to the sweet agony of grief.


Satin-Lined Coffins
April 3, 2013
Death, as it turns out, does not actually have much of a sting. It's life that hurts, with all its uncertainty, intense feelings, learning curves throwing us for a loop.


I Met Jesus and My Life Is Not Better
April 2, 2013
Jesus may make life harder, but in ways that matter. He gives us problems worth having.


Facing Injustice
April 1, 2013
How could we ever live into the new realm of Christ if we forgot the injustices that necessitated our new beginning?


Easter Maybes
March 31, 2013
Even I, who have never missed an Easter Sunday in 65 years, have no way to explain the "resurrection of the body."


Anyone Can Pick Out a House
March 31, 2013
Anyone can pick out a house. What my mother did was make each one a home.


Raw Materials
March 30, 2013
We tell this story not out of guilt, but hope.


Jesus or Barabbas?
March 29, 2013
Why do we sometimes choose one part of ourselves over another - as if active and passive resistance, love and anger are opposites?


What's an Hour?
March 28, 2013
An hour can be hard. Sometimes we are not up to the challenges of an hour. Sometimes an hour is more than we can bear.


Faith
March 27, 2013
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.


Extravagance
March 26, 2013
But there are times when extravagance is something other than foolish or wrong. There are times when extravagance is beautiful and beyond right.


Show and Tell
March 25, 2013
Every person who has experienced the life-giving power of Jesus is up for inspection.


The Injustice of God
March 24, 2013
Social justice as well as injustice abound in the passion narratives of Holy Week, but not always in expected ways.


Spiritual Exhaustion
March 23, 2013
"Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."


The Things That Last
March 22, 2013
We are forever confusing the lasting and the momentary.


Glory
March 21, 2013
Even the fanciest of human-made crowns can't compete with the one Jesus wears.


An Antidote to the Antichrist
March 20, 2013
We don't use the term "Antichrist" much in the United Church of Christ. Neither does the Bible.


Fast Cars
March 19, 2013
Sin isn't only the doing of bad things; it's making anything into an ultimate thing.


Running Back and Forth
March 18, 2013
If evil can be defined as an absence from God, running back and forth can have a tinge of evil to it.


Why Life Is Short and So Am I
March 17, 2013
In the midst of bringing in new life, my mother dealt with the daily fear of death.


Didn't I Wash Your Feet?
March 16, 2013
"Hey, didn't I wash your feet on Sunday night?"


Jesus Performs a Non-Miracle!
March 15, 2013
Entering a church for the first time at age 34, I did not need the miracle stories explained away.


God Available
March 14, 2013
If a worship service has no prayer of confession, I wonder, "Am I the lone sinner in church looking for more power than I brought in here?"


At the End of Our Own Private Resources
March 13, 2013
It happens. We get to end of our rope. The end of our own private resources. What then?


Dancing on the Mountain
March 12, 2013
Sometimes, you can have your faith and sing it, too.


Practicing Easter
March 11, 2013
Alleluia, praise, and joy are not something we believe first and practice later.


Free at Last
March 10, 2013
It's one thing to be released from an abuse or an imprisonment; it's quite another thing to be free from it.


The Familiar Stranger
March 9, 2013
Is there someone in your life, perhaps very close, perhaps even a member of your own family, who is like a stranger to you?


What's That All About?
March 8, 2013
Go visit the Holy Land and you'll find rocks everywhere. Big ones, little ones and stacks of them, just like the pile described in Joshua 4 near the Jordan River.


The Sting of Death
March 7, 2013
We know about the sting of death, especially that worst kind of death, useless death, the kind that has no point and just stings and stings and stings.


My Election Night Doppelganger
March 6, 2013
How often do I just trust that I know what I saw? How often do I assume I don't need to check?


Strike the Rock
March 5, 2013
There are times to do something bold. Times to take a risk. Times to stop diddling around and strike the rock.


The Third Sacrament?
March 4, 2013
In baptism God comes to us. In communion we come to God. In Coffee Hour we come to each other.


Reckoning
March 3, 2013
"Faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness" [Rom4:9] Facebook will not save you!


Where Does Your Heart Lie?
March 2, 2013
The Bible is not a book of coupons redeemable for what we want. It's a book of connections with God that redeem our spirit.


Misleading Signs
March 1, 2013
How many misleading signs do we accept every day?


Holy Places
February 28, 2013
Most Protestants have more of a sense of holy place than we usually let on.


Laying on of Hands
February 27, 2013
The slightest touch, the slightest laying on of hands, can make all the difference in the world.


Different Spirit
February 26, 2013
I thank God for all the Calebs who give us the confidence to follow God wholeheartedly, even into strange new territory, even when we feel like grasshoppers.


I Promise
February 25, 2013
We all know that promises are only as good as the persons who make them, but there is another side to promise-keeping.


Free for Love
February 24, 2013
Sometimes what's corrupt is considered normal.


The Importance of Being With Friends
February 23, 2013
Is our culture so disconnected that we are in constant touch electronically, but just too busy to see one another in person?


Come and See What God Is Doing
February 22, 2013
What God is doing is our story, our hope, and the source of our energy.


When in Boulder
February 21, 2013
Discovering and experiencing God's grace in a Christ-centered community is what we all most desperately need and often it's the last thing we make time for.


A Mean-Spirited Meeting
February 20, 2013
As much as we church folk love bringing people together for meetings, there are times when it just doesn't work.


Accustomed to Discomfort
February 19, 2013
I often wonder what has happened to our sensibilities, so stoned are they by similarity.


In the Shelter of the Most High
February 18, 2013
Had the Psalmist lived in the Sonoran Desert, perhaps he or she would have written of a graceful palo verde protecting a baby saguaro.


Mercy
February 17, 2013
Mercy always sounds to me like a word for bigger-deal people than I am.


The Feast in Your Pocket
February 16, 2013
We tend to devalue small things. Jesus never does.


Don't Run Away and Join the Circus
February 15, 2013
It would never happen to me, I promised my young self. I would never become an exasperating parent.


Wiping the Dust Off Our Feet
February 14, 2013
Resorts and retreats work when they produce refreshment, even if only for a few brief days. They work longer if they carry the promise of broken habits.


A Cleansing Fire
February 13, 2013
In the UCC church of my childhood, we didn't "do" Ash Wednesday.


I Don't Even Know Where to Begin
February 12, 2013
God, I cling to your goodness.


We're Like God
February 11, 2013
What we ask of God, God asks of us.


Have You Been to the Mountain?
February 10, 2013
Grant us courage to risk the mountaintop.


Unmake
February 9, 2013
What do you spend so much time, energy, and money on that somebody would think it's the God you worship? Consider finding a symbol for it, taking it out back, and smashing it.


Morally Straight?
February 8, 2013
The church does not have a stellar record of overlooking race, sexuality or gender in favor of more important identity markers, like, say baptism.


Welcome Home
February 7, 2013
If the home in which you live is a sanctuary or roiled with conflict, grand or plain, a real place or merely the stuff of dreams, we all have the same gracious home in God.


Torn
February 6, 2013
In life, we never fit entirely into one group or another. But when a group demeans you for who you are and treats you like a second-class citizen, you have two choices: try to reform it or move on.


The Lessons of Lance
February 5, 2013
There are lots of things you can do for yourself by working hard, striving, struggling and competing. But being forgiven and set free aren't among them.


Against Reason - Sort Of
February 4, 2013
Is there anybody else out there who’s tired of a reasonable faith?


Dealing with Obstinacy
February 3, 2013
One of the things I love about the Gospel of Christ is that it can never be compelled by force.


Recognition
February 2, 2013
The demand for recognition is a basic human need. Its refusal is a common source of anger—or indifference.


Look Back in Wonder
February 1, 2013
When you hike the Grand Canyon, you're walking through literally billions of years of time and almost every eco-system on the planet, down to the center of the earth and back.


King at Eight
January 31, 2013
This morning I asked my eight-year-old what he would do if he were king. He said, "Make a law that says people have to eat pancakes every day!"


Perfection in Perspective
January 30, 2013
There is a certain Don Quixote in each of us. Who among us isn't on a quest to preserve and prolong the best of our experiences?


Expect a Miracle
January 29, 2013
I love seeing the "Expect a miracle" bumper sticker.


What I Learned at the Tattooists Convention
January 28, 2013
What would happen if we abandoned our careful discussions around the conference table and instead spent the day hanging out in the lounge with the tattooists?


Anointed
January 27, 2013
I don't want to exist but to be anointed to good news. That is what we mean by joy.


Seeking Jesus
January 26, 2013
Joseph and Mary were "seeking" Jesus, which put his parents in the same position as the rest of us.


Got the Answer?
January 25, 2013
There is no shortage of quick and easy answers for life’s perplexities. Some religions and some atheists and some everyday philosophers are armed and ready with all the right answers all the time.


Getting It Together
January 24, 2013
We can't know God's love if we overlook parts of ourselves we'd rather weren't true. Sooner or later that trips us up.


Filler
January 23, 2013
"Let the words of my mouth…be acceptable to you" [Ps19:14] Don't know how to start? Pray till you do.


Good Guys and Bad Guys
January 22, 2013
For Christians, as Paul puts it, the world does not divide into "good guys" and "bad guys." We wish that it did. If it did, it would be easy. Everyone thinks they are the good guys.


Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
January 21, 2013
Nonviolent resistance emerged as the technique of the movement, while love stood as the regulating idea. In other words, Christ furnished the spirit and motivation, while Ghandi furnished the method.


Free Food
January 20, 2013
Sometimes we get confused about what is free and what we have already paid for. God's grace is free. Pretty much everything else comes with a price tag.


Hen/Hostess
January 19, 2013
The Psalmist invites us to imagine God as a mother bird (those who insist on the maleness of God, take note!)


Let's get real about weddings
January 18, 2013
Let's affirm the good intent of the writer of 1 Corinthians chapter 7 and then let us move on. Let's get real.


The Beautiful Transience of a Remote Place
January 17, 2013
I'm in a tree house in a jungle in Nicaragua, looking out over a beach where the waves are so loud they keep you up at night. But in a good way.


Cheerful Givers
January 16, 2013
"God loves a cheerful giver," says the Apostle Paul. But is there any other kind?


What's On Your List?
January 15, 2013
What are your idols? What do you give your time, energy, or homage to?


You May Say I'm a Dreamer
January 14, 2013
Dreamers might be the most practical and useful people on earth.


Waters of Affirmation
January 13, 2013
At baptism we are affirmed. What else must we do but live into the fulfillment of who God says we already are?


Two Powerful Stories of Forgiveness
January 12, 2013
So many things are done easily the moment you can do them at all. But till then, simply impossible, like learning to swim.


Strength
January 11, 2013
Weak or little faith - "as small as a mustard seed," Jesus says - can "move mountains."


More Power to You
January 10, 2013
Worship and faith are about power, power that changes lives and changes the world.


Strong Isn't Enough
January 9, 2013
Don't you know people who are spiritually "strong," but who are completely inflexible?


Let's Start at the Beginning
January 8, 2013
How often have I forgotten to acknowledge God - the real leader of my life - and how often have I had to pay the price for my neglect?


Always Ready for a Resurrection
January 7, 2013
Do you miss kindness in your life? Become kind.


You Are Not the Power Source
January 6, 2013
It's a fine line between meeting God's power source with your own, and mistaking yourself for the whole power plant.


Both Sides Now
January 5, 2013
Transitions - whether of the calendar or in the seasons of our lives - are powerful, poignant, and challenging times. They can be both confusing and exhilarating.


Circumcised
January 4, 2013
Stephen, the first Christian martyr, gives his famous speech to the Council and hits 'em where it hurts: in the circumcision


Do Not Abandon That Confidence
January 3, 2013
In 1960, Madeleine L'Engel was a 42-year-old school teacher and aspiring writer. Married with two children (and a member of the UCC at the time), L'Engel hadn't published a major work since her early twenties. But she'd become fascinated by Einstein's theory of relativity and quantum physics. That year she incorporated those ideas into a science fiction fantasy for young adults.


Honest Agnostics
January 2, 2013
"Knowledge" comes from a Middle English word meaning acknowledgment of a superior, honor, to stand in awe of, to worship. Reverence has meant the same thing. In The World as I See It, Albert Einstein said knowledge begins in awe. "We cannot help but be in awe when we contemplate the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if we try merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day."


Commencing With Commitment
January 1, 2013
Have you ever noticed how many people live with "commitment-phobia"? Perhaps you are one of them. In these days of uncertainty, we find it daunting to make long-range commitments, especially publicly. What if we lose our jobs? What if the people we commit to prove untrustworthy? What if we just don't feel tomorrow the way we feel today?


Watch Night
December 31, 2012
It's New Year's Eve, and doubtless you've made your plans already. Happy to have survived the predicted Mayan apocalypse, you’re going to celebrate another year of being a living, breathing earthling. Perhaps you’ll mark the feast in a quiet way at home, or a noisy way out and about. Or maybe you're going to church. Church? Wha'?


What Are You Teaching Today?
December 30, 2012
We all know that some of the greatest lessons in life are not given by those designated as teachers. The great lessons in life are not confined to classrooms and lecture halls. The Christians at Colossae, a city in S.W. Asia Minor, were admonished to teach one another in word and deed.


I Had Planned
December 29, 2012
King David had great plans, but God had other plans. The one thing he wanted most—building the Temple—he had to leave for his son Solomon. David's story is a good one for this year's final days. What plans did you have for 2012? What do you need to let go of? As the year draws to a close, a prayer by Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, written shortly before his assassination in 1980, offers this insight:


Making Room for the Familiar Stranger
December 28, 2012
I have always loved the writings of Dylan Thomas, particularly his short stories. His prose sounds more like poetry than most poems do.


Jesus the Baby
December 27, 2012
Isn't it amazing that we get a text about the death of the baby so soon after his birth?


In the Beginning
December 26, 2012
Christmas day has passed, and now we are left with the wrapping paper, the empty boxes and perhaps a few empty hearts. For some people, yesterday may have been a delightful feast of love and giving. Others may look back on the day we are all supposed to look forward to with a little relief that it's over. Are we allowed to say that?


Merry Meditations
December 25, 2012
If you really think about it, the Christmas story is far too amazing to be fully comprehended. An ancient prophesy from Isaiah promising the birth of a child who would be called 'Wonderful' and on whose shoulders the government would rest. An imperial tax emanating from Rome that brings a carpenter and his pregnant fiancee to the obscure little town of Bethlehem. A barn that serves as a venue for the first-born of a young virgin. Shepherds on the night shift enraptured by a multitude of the heavenly host proclaiming: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace. Good will toward men."


A Stable Lamp is Lighted
December 24, 2012
Maybe more than anything else what we need is a reawakening of awe, something that stops us in our tracks, interrupts our usual thoughts, and inspires us to look again at what's right before us.


Don't Skip Church Today
December 23, 2012
Admit it. You know you were thinking about skipping church today. Or at least some of you were.


The Original Step Parent
December 22, 2012
In church tomorrow, and again on Christmas Eve, Mary and her son will be in the spotlight, which is as it should be. And they will be attended, as usual, by kings, angels and shepherds.


Merry Christmas
December 21, 2012
I come from a family that wasn't big on Christmas. By the time all the kids had gone to college, scarcely any effort went into Christmas back home. My father tried—he put a plastic wreath on the front door one year—but it wasn't easy to swim against the current of my mother's cynical attitude toward the holidays. She claimed to believe it was all a crock—not just the commercialism, but also what she considered the phony piety of religious people, the idiotic Christmas tunes on the car radio, and the pure insanity of light displays on people’s houses.


At the Foot of the Cross: A Reflection on Newtown
December 20, 2012
This is the season of the cradle, not the cross, but we need the cross now. The cradle is bathed in too much light from Star and Angel. Radiant beams only hurt our eyes, which have recently become unwillingly accustomed to deepest dark. For now, we need the cover of night.


They Might Be Giants
December 19, 2012
I remember three things about my encounter with the Rock. He was very polite. He used exact change. And he was reading the latest issue of The Economist.


Some Believe
December 18, 2012
Some believe because they see what is wasted become fertile. Others believe only if you show them that all people have some kind of strength.


Wells of Deep Joy
December 17, 2012
Wells, springs, early rain, late rain, snow, the dew on Mt. Hermon and Isaiah's streams in the desert. With the exception of Noah's flood, wherever water appears in the Bible, it's a sign of new life and God’s blessing.


What Can You Give to the God Who Has Everything?
December 16, 2012
God needs nothing from us. Indeed, everything we have and everything we are, we have received from God's hand. We cannot give anything in return.


Enchantment
December 15, 2012
There is a beautiful story recounted every Christmas in the forests of Provence in southern France. It's about the four shepherds who came to Bethlehem to see the child. One brought eggs, another bread and cheese, the third brought wine. And the fourth brought nothing at all.


Anam Cara
December 14, 2012
The ancient Celtic words Anam Cara mean "soul friend."


A More Generous Generosity
December 13, 2012
Those who have the least are often the ones who give the most.


Staying Close to the Water
December 12, 2012
What keeps the cattle around instead is a deep well of pure water. Cows may not be the smartest of creatures, but they soon learn you don't want to wander too far from the well.


Chosen for Peace
December 11, 2012
Being chosen by God involves sharing God's blessing, not monopolizing it or wielding it over others.


Holy Laughter
December 10, 2012
Our mouths are filled with laughter because, despite all, God is God, and God gets the last laugh.


Dayspring
December 9, 2012
If you haven't sung "Come, Come, Emmanuel" yet this year, chances are you're about to.


God Bless Us Every One
December 8, 2012
Charles Dickens reminds us that God can use remarkable dreams to open a person's heart.


Advent is a Process
December 7, 2012
In spiritual marination, we come slowly to the birth prepared by the pregnant God.


Cute At Any Age
December 6, 2012
While I have no trouble believing that God constructed us to be more careful with little ones, I think God made us able to love creatures of all ages and to delight in every stage of life.


Alternative Gift Giving
December 5, 2012
This year, consider an experiment. Keep St. Nicholas Day and give a gift secretly.


Nothing New
December 4, 2012
Something you probably already know: after Mary found out she was pregnant, she sang the revolutionary song we know as the Magnificat.


Dirty God
December 3, 2012
Cleaning up for guests, including God, is good.


Hassles
December 2, 2012
May we have "the strength and wits" to make it through everything that's coming up between now and Christmas! Much lies ahead before we celebrate the birth of Jesus, "the Son of Man."


Larger Than Life Visions
December 1, 2012
Let's leave dreams and visions that are worthy of dedicated sacrifice and support beyond our lifetime.


Sometimes Spirits Need Shelters
November 30, 2012
Ellie adapted and adjusted to limitations caused by aging, redefining loss as opportunity.


What Has God Done for You Lately?
November 29, 2012
Even if our experiences of God's saving grace didn't have the special effects of the Exodus, I suspect each of us can, as the old Spiritual sings, "look back in wonder at how we got over."


Eleven Words
November 28, 2012
At a couple of church gatherings the week before Thanksgiving, I asked this question: "Who will be around your table at Thanksgiving and does that represent any challenges?"


Mr. Heaven
November 27, 2012
Whenever the trumpet sounds, may we be sure to hear it.


Let me in…
November 26, 2012
The people have been telling themselves that God lives in their temple and will always do so, no matter how they act.


Rebuking Jesus
November 25, 2012
Sometimes I think Jesus, being God's son and everything, just doesn't understand the problems of everyday people.


Inoffensive Faith
November 24, 2012
Thinking generally of oneself and others is easier than being particular about what distinguishes us.


The Cure for a Turkey Hangover
November 23, 2012
So what's the best cure for a Thanksgiving turkey hangover? A re-do. A little hair of the fowl that bit you.


Thanksgiving
November 22, 2012
Thanksgiving seems to me a "deep well" kind of holiday. The fences are down as strangers and sojourners are extended an invitation to the table. Like the well in the outback, the feast draws people from far off, some even returning from being lost for a time.


To Walk with God and One Another
November 21, 2012
hether from 3,000 years ago or a mere 300, the covenant to walk with God and one another affirms that faith is a journey, best taken with others.


Love of Nature
November 20, 2012
We usually think this passage means that we love one another...as in each other, as in human beings. It may also mean that we love mother earth.


Do This in Remembrance of Me
November 19, 2012
Do this in remembrance. Do this because you remember. Do this in order to remember.


Thanksgiving Day
November 18, 2012
Thanksgiving Day is approaching and everyone's mind has turned to sides and strays.


Elijah
November 17, 2012
What would it take for you to believe in somebody else's god? What would it take for you to at least listen to what they have to say?


Remember the Sabbath - You Do Not Walk Alone
November 16, 2012
Hotel workers have asked the community to bear their struggles with them. And many religious scholars have joined them, so that they will not walk alone.


One Pray at a Time
November 15, 2012
In spite of all the ways we can misunderstand, enable, judge, or expect the worst of one another, every day is an opportunity to re-make relationships and recover hope.


How Did You Sleep Last Night?
November 14, 2012
What helps as we struggle to minister with ever-scanter resources is the assurance that we do what we do in the shadow of God’s wings.


What a Reward!
November 13, 2012
It has been said that we are not so much punished for our sins as we are punished by our sins.


Abundance or Scarcity?
November 12, 2012
Do you live out of a sense of abundance or scarcity? That may be an economic question, but certainly it is a faith question.


Arrows
November 11, 2012
The arrows in the hands of warriors today are infinitely more powerful and accurate than their equivalents of old.


Sleep, Play and Worship
November 10, 2012
Question: What do sleep, play and worship have in common?


Animals, Human and Otherwise
November 9, 2012
In today's story, which comes near the end of the whole ark episode, God makes a covenant not just with Noah and his descendants, but with every living animal, everywhere.


When it Matters the Most
November 8, 2012
I wonder what troubled marriage or life partnership couldn't be saved if one spouse/partner demonstrated more of a love like this.


Many Different Kinds of Power
November 7, 2012
We had to remind ourselves that there are different kinds of power than the kind we don't have


No Small Votes
November 6, 2012
From church meetings, to town meetings, to a national presidential election, there are no small votes. Because each voter stands on the big shoulders of the mighty cloud of witnesses who came before.


How Do Christians Vote?
November 5, 2012
Some say there is a Christian position. Maybe, but I'm not so sure.


Justify
November 4, 2012
What if I spent less time devising brilliant speeches that show the world how awesome and clever I am, and more time devising speeches that show the world how awesome and clever God is?


Front Stage
November 3, 2012
How much of our energy goes into being jealous of what others are, do or have, rather than into becoming the selves God made us to be?


Voting and Trusting
November 2, 2012
Voting and trusting are not the same thing. We vote for leaders we consider the best. We trust in God whose ways will prevail over any leader's violation of them.


Those Whose Race Is Won
November 1, 2012
We are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, but except on All Saints Day, it hovers over us unnoticed.


How We "Treat" Each Other
October 31, 2012
God, help me put on like a costume all my memories - the sweet and the teary, the deep and the simple - so that I can offer hospitality for all your wandering children. Amen.


The After-Tax Blessing
October 30, 2012
So when we got to the subject of charitable giving, I told him we were tithers. "Tithers, huh?" he said. "Is that ten percent of after-tax income or pre-tax income?"


Putting Feet to Our Faith(s)
October 29, 2012
People of faith, regardless of their particular practice, need to view the world through the lens of their religious beliefs.


Your Money or Your Life
October 28, 2012
I don’t believe God zaps people for holding back, but perhaps that is because God does not need to.


Patient Amusement
October 27, 2012
Do you want to be well? That was the question Jesus always asked as part of his healings. He knew all will be well. It is just a question of when.


Faithful Frustration
October 26, 2012
Patience may not have been Job's forte. Profound faithfulness certainly was.


Not in My Lifetime
October 25, 2012
When does one generation's present indulgence become the next generation's inherited curse?


The Bare Minimum
October 24, 2012
These days an increasing number of people are trying to pay their bills on minimum wage. That's harder to do today than it was thirty years ago because at $7.25 an hour, the minimum wage has not kept up with inflation.


False Promises
October 23, 2012
Being patient is difficult. Knowing what it means to draw on God is challenging. But this is how we can at least glimpse, and sometimes find, what's truly trustworthy - and worth waiting for.


Deeper
October 22, 2012
There's something haunting and powerful about Jesus' words to Simon Peter, "Put out into the deep water."


The Earth is the Lord's
October 21, 2012
When you enjoy a national park, raft a wild river or explore the wilderness, keep in mind Secretary Udall - and the Word that shaped him.


The Separating Power of Possessions
October 20, 2012
Sometimes the more wealth we have, the more impoverished our lives can become.


An Office Blessing
October 19, 2012
When was the last time you blessed your office?


The New Growth
October 18, 2012
The prophet tells us that the root of Jesse will return. He surely means something larger than the reconciliation of individual relationships – although, if you are like me, that often is your fiercest hope.


Fringe
October 17, 2012
The fringe of Jesus' cloak that the people touched was no ordinary fringe. It wasn't just the place where his outfit ended; it was his tzitzit, the tassels worn then and now by observant Jews, like Jesus.


No Longer a Foreigner
October 16, 2012
It was through her that I learned that although I am not of this world, I am a citizen of the place where I will one day see my mom again.


It's a Living Hell
October 15, 2012
My friend let his old adolescent relationship with his mom die. A new adult peer to peer relationship was born. Both son and mom were set free.


Talk About Your Faith
October 14, 2012
Progressive, inclusive, justice-seeking churches are learning that we need to share our faith, too.


We All Have Our Moments
October 13, 2012
All of us have our moments . . . and more than a few of us live with chronic depression.


Zapping Ourselves
October 12, 2012
I don't believe God zaps people for holding back, but perhaps that is because God does not need to. We pronounce judgment on ourselves.


Back to Where We Started
October 11, 2012
We have so much more going for us than we've realized!


Reading as Prayer
October 10, 2012
Many books - not only the Bible - but all those books that cause us to listen, to wonder, to pause and to ponder, can lead us to reading that is a form of prayer.


Paul on Sex
October 9, 2012
Hallelujah. For once, Paul gives sex advice that doesn't sound like it comes from somebody's maiden aunt.


Born Yesterday
October 8, 2012
We know all the quips that vaunt the value of our experience and veteran status: "I've been around the block a few times." "This isn't my first time at the rodeo." "I didn't just get off the boat, you know!" And of course, the ever-pervasive: "I wasn't born yesterday!"


Hardness of Heart
October 7, 2012
Hardness of heart is a spiritual matter in love relationships, divorces, between siblings – and in the garden.


"Making Health the Center of Your Life" and Other Bad Ideas
October 6, 2012
While we can support our own good health, there is absolutely nothing we can do to guarantee it.


Being "Convicted"
October 5, 2012
"I've heard a lot of sermons in the past ten years that make me want to get up and walk out," wrote Garrison Keillor.


Virtuoso
October 4, 2012
This is one of those places where knowing a little Greek helps a lot.


Integrity
October 3, 2012
Losing my family was hard, and I hated God and the church for a long time.


Avoiding Repetition
October 2, 2012
What we put down or brush off often comes back to haunt us in ways we don't recognize.


In a Storm
October 1, 2012
In a storm, whether literal or figurative, we can easily lose our heads and panic.


Today We'd Put Them on Reality TV
September 30, 2012
I love my church but I find it difficult to imagine all of us emptying our savings accounts and dumping them into a common pot.


A Biblically Bad Hair Day
September 29, 2012
Stylish looks are nice, but our genuine power comes from God, and our confidence thrives from being our authentic selves.


What Do We Have in Common?
September 28, 2012
According the book of Acts, the early followers of Jesus held "all things in common."


Ordinary. Bold. Ordinary and Bold
September 27, 2012
Rather than being surprised by the connection of the bold and the ordinary, we should, by now, have learned to expect it.


Acts of God
September 26, 2012
People abuse power; God doesn't. What good, I wonder, are God's mercy and grace if they are powerless?


Money and Value
September 25, 2012
We don't often admit it, but how we spend our money says a lot about what we value in life.


Strange Bedfellows
September 24, 2012
Any good love story has its complications.


Who's in Charge?
September 23, 2012
Jesus calls us to look beyond conventional ideas of success and what it means to be in charge.


The Power of Negative Thinking
September 22, 2012
The author of Ecclesiastes apparently missed the memo about being cheery and positive, and salting every other sentence with the word "Awesome."


Tell No One
September 21, 2012
Why did Jesus, after performing this marvelous miracle of healing, order the witnesses not to tell anyone about it?


The Living Faith of the Dead
September 20, 2012
Everything new is bad - that's the default credo of some congregations, and their dogged traditionalism drives them into the ground. But the opposite happens too. In their lust for change, some people believe that everything old is bad.


The Portable Church
September 19, 2012
The church is so much more than a building. Whether you're in your yoga clothes or in a long black robe, whether you are in the pews or at the gym, once you have a church, it has a way of finding you wherever you are. It's remarkably portable.


Death is Real, Not Poetic
September 18, 2012
What makes the most sense in this text is that word "hidden."


Is This a Joke?
September 17, 2012
When reading the Bible, genre matters.


We Shall Not be Moved
September 16, 2012
"What we most need," writes the author of The Wisdom of Stability, is "A way of life founded on solid ground, freeing us from the illusion that we can live without limits."


Just Do It
September 15, 2012
Right now. Just do what the psalm says. Stop whatever you're doing or whatever you're worrying about, and make a list. Not of your groceries or your "to-do's." Make a list of God's wonderful works to you.


Emergency
September 14, 2012
Years ago, when I was about to be ordained, I was at a summer folk festival on a gigantic farm in Vermont. Things went a little Lord of the Flies with all the drugs and alcohol around, and four young men got into a pushing fight with an older man. He had a heart attack, and died, just five tents away from me.


But Can You Dance To It?
September 12, 2012
Among the most non-committal people in the world are young teenagers at their first dance.


Looking Up
September 11, 2012
Before the 11th day of September, 2001, if something fell from the sky, it was snow, rain, or hail.


Is It Really a Battle?
September 10, 2012
Perhaps you, too, have noticed how often we speak of illness and death using the language of "battle"?


Correction
September 9, 2012
There are plenty of places in the Gospels where Jesus calls people names to get their attention, to wake them up, to turn them around. This is not one of them.


Announcements
September 8, 2012
It's hard to know where to put the announcements in a worship service.


The Way We Live
September 7, 2012
One of the great clichés about death is that we will die as we have lived.


Are You Positive?
September 6, 2012
When I was upset growing up I was always told to "look on the positive side." That never worked.


Honor Your Father and Your Mother
September 5, 2012
While people today sometimes lament longer life expectancies and accompanying decline - which I understand - I am grateful for these bonus years in which I have been given the chance to learn more deeply what it means to "honor your father and your mother."


Feminist Psalmist
September 4, 2012
The modern reader with modern views about gender and gender roles has much to put up with in the Bible.


An ethicist, a Bible scholar and a preacher walk into a hotel...
September 3, 2012
There are all kinds of reasons to ignore a boycott, but most of them begin with a concern with the self.


You're Different
September 2, 2012
I thank God again for the gift of difference. It's the chance to know one another and ourselves a whole lot better. It's the path to peace.


Spend, Share, Save
September 1, 2012
How do we know how much to keep for ourselves, and how much to give away?


What are you going to give up in order to do that?
August 31, 2012
So when I want to take on a new project, I like to run it by a wise person or two. And if I am filled with enthusiasm for the new thing, the wisest one will ask me this pointed question: "What are you going to give up in order to do that?"


What is Your Testimony?
August 30, 2012
God is still speaking to you in holy impressions. Do you miss God, thinking you are not worthy? Stop belittling yourself. You are one of God's windows into the world.


Take a Hike
August 29, 2012
I recently learned a new expression, solvitur ambulando. It's Latin and means, roughly, "It is solved by walking."


The Facts of Death
August 28, 2012
What I do remember with blazing clarity, however, are the conversations I had with them about the facts of death.


The Gift of Trust
August 27, 2012
She told me I could grow new hydrangeas out of old ones by putting a brick on a stem. In the fall, the plants are straggly, with shoots coming out of them all over. I trusted her.


Eating Right
August 26, 2012
To hear some of us super-smart, well-educated modern Protestants tell it, you'd think Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper just to give us something pleasant to contemplate, not to actually change anything about our lives.


A Knock at Midnight
August 25, 2012
A continuous knock at midnight can only be motivated by a strong faith.


The Monks Who Take Long Pauses
August 24, 2012
I was struck by how often I just barrel through readings in worship and how often I barrel through conversations in life. What a difference a few quiet pauses might make.


Every Time I Remember You
August 23, 2012
When we remember people who have died, simple things remind us of them - a smell, a song, a flower, the gathering of family and friends. And we remember them…


Having a Bad Day
August 22, 2012
When anxiety or frustration set in they can strike us blind, deaf and mute. What then? Take a break. Take a few deep breaths. Go for a walk. Figure that everyone has a bad day every now and then, even the disciples, even you. Even Jesus maybe. And then take it again tomorrow.


The Soul of a Building
August 21, 2012
Whatever our own house of worship may it be a sacrament - a place that embodies the grace of God.


Somebody Ought to Say Something
August 20, 2012
How many times in any given day are we assaulted by bad news? Seems like we can barely recover from one depressing declaration before we are confronted by another.


Why I Don't Wear a WWJD Bracelet
August 19, 2012
I have never been a fan of those WWJD bracelets, where the initials stand for the question, "What would Jesus do?" They seem to imply that we should answer that question at every turn and that it should then influence our actions. What would Jesus do? OK, then I will do exactly the same.


Climbing Everest
August 18, 2012
The singer songwriter Melody Gardot had a terrible bicycle accident that kept her in a hospital for 18 months. She described her ordeal as "like climbing Mt. Everest every day."


Tolerance
August 17, 2012
They say that those who, because of unpopularity or paranoia, suspect someone might one day try to poison them can defend against this eventuality by taking tiny doses of common poisons, gradually increasing them until they can withstand huge amounts.


The Uses and Abuses of Anger
August 16, 2012
Of all the Deadly Sins, only anger is so precariously perched on the border of good and evil.


Divine Hunches
August 15, 2012
What is the dream or hunch God gave you? God is still sending Divine hunches, many more than we acknowledge.


I Will Tear You Apart
August 14, 2012
"God is good!" we announce, and everyone responds, "All the time!" All the time, that is, except all those times in the Bible when God threatens to tear people apart.


Finding Friends in the Midst of Foes
August 13, 2012
One of the greatest disappointments of his life had to be the day that King David discovered that his chief adversary and rival to the throne of Israel was his own son, Absalom.


God's Perfume
August 12, 2012
In scripture there are many descriptions of the kind of life we are to live. The Apostle Paul offers a particularly vivid image. He says we are to be "the aroma of Christ."


Can Prayer Change Anything?
August 11, 2012
Why pray if it's not my will that counts but God's? Besides, doesn't God already know what I need?


Both / And
August 10, 2012
"Carry each other's burdens" and "Each one must carry his own load." Both are true. God gives us the task of discerning when it's the time and place for one or for the other -- or both in right measure.


Trap
August 9, 2012
Don't you know what it's like to be trapped by your own whatever - pride, anger, high moral dudgeon, offendedness, propriety, rightness, hurt?


Made in America?
August 8, 2012
Is it just me, or does it seem that the outsourcing of American manufacturing jobs only becomes a prominent issue during elections?


Games
August 7, 2012
In the greater gift, we get over competing. Really, what does it matter who has the best gift, or the most useful gift, or the smartest gift, or the most unusual gift, or the most expensive gift?


10 Signs You Should Not Be Getting Married in a Church
August 6, 2012
May God bless all those who marry, wherever they may do so, that they will rejoice even more in love's winter than in its springtime.


Failure
August 5, 2012
For weeks now (if you follow the lectionary) we've been hearing how great David is. David this and David that.


Neck Verse
August 4, 2012
History is rife with occasions when knowing Scripture by heart has made a material difference in people's lives, even saved their necks.


You Do Not Answer
August 3, 2012
Sometimes we think that if we work hard at our spiritual practices we are bound to experience God, to feel God within us. But not everyone feels God, no matter how hard they try or how much they want to. Many know only the ache of absence. The truth is that God is often silent, dark, and distant—so much so that it can be painful to be around people for whom God is cheerful, close, and chatty.


It's Better Here
August 2, 2012
The worst side of things is often more memorable than the best. It's always the red lights I remember driving downtown. It's usually the negative comments I remember after meetings.


Consider the Lilies, If You Can
August 1, 2012
This is the time of year when I begin to cross items off my to-do list. Not that I have accomplished them. I just cross them off.


Give To All Who Ask
July 31, 2012
I encountered a homeless woman, and gave her a dollar. She said, "Thank you for noticing me." Not: thanks for the buck. Not: thanks for the means to eat, or live. But: "Thank you for noticing me."


The Disciples Did Not Accessorize
July 30, 2012
Perhaps packing and repacking can be moments of theological reflection. What do we really need and why? What should we leave at home, but don't? What do we bring that works?


The Leftovers
July 29, 2012
I've sometimes wondered if the thing that would really challenge us in the church isn't another budget shortfall, but a wild, overwhelming abundance.


The God of Second Chances
July 28, 2012
I love officiating at weddings for second marriages. In fact, I often prefer them to weddings for first marriages.


The Question
July 27, 2012
At the Penn West annual conference meeting in June, someone popped the question. It was WHERE ARE THE YOUNG PEOPLE?


Pioneer
July 26, 2012
In the UCC, we're fond of making lists of the members of our denomination and its predecessors who did something pioneering while following the great Pioneer.


The God Particle
July 25, 2012
The recent announcement of the discovery of the Higgs boson particle has both scientific and religious communities abuzz.


The Power of a Funny Apron
July 24, 2012
I have heard a lot of stories like this, from people who wear a comma pin or carry something that points to our church.


Showing Up
July 23, 2012
I can't tell you how often people are absent from church for a while, then come back, and when they pass through the receiving line at church say sheepishly, "Sorry I haven't been here - I've been bad."


Naked Gospel
July 22, 2012
Let the church speak, speak the naked and urgent gospel. "Rise up O Church of God, have done with lesser things." For the people are as "sheep without a shepherd."


Hiding in Open Sight
July 21, 2012
Have you ever lost something and found it right where it was supposed to be - in some obvious place?


Voyage to Intimacy
July 20, 2012
Back in the 60's, Sly and the Family Stone intoned: "I want to thank you, for letting me, be myself, again!" I think that song makes for a great Christian anthem.


Lemonade
July 19, 2012
Many of the best stories are stories of origin. The best conversation-starter is how did you meet?


Talking Cancer
July 18, 2012
When we talk to people who are going through a very difficult time, we often don't know what to say.


Green Man
July 17, 2012
Beautiful, and dangerous, and the foundation of everything.


Happy Birthday!
July 16, 2012
I love birthdays, probably because my mother always made sure that our birthdays were fun and festive. Our family would all dress up for dinner and, as the birthday boy, I got to determine the menu.


Sunday, Sunday.
July 15, 2012
Sunday afternoons are a wasteland. Even when it’s not gray and rainy and can’t figure itself out, it often feels gray and rainy and not-able-to-figure-itself-out.


Is Nothing Sacred?
July 14, 2012
One Sunday at a church I was visiting in New England, the time had come in the worship service for 'Joys and Concerns.' People stood up one by one to request prayers for successful outcomes to minor surgeries and a few actually serious life situations.


Ownership
July 13, 2012
In these days of economic stagnation, public school crises and health care debates, it is extremely difficult to find any person or entity willing to step up to the plate and take full ownership and responsibility.


We Need More Saints
July 12, 2012
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.


Promising Friendship
July 11, 2012
It's hard to have close friends. Some blame this on the pace and pressure of life today, with financial and career demands more time-consuming than ever. Others argue that social networking lets simpler virtual friendship make up for the real thing.


Patience
July 10, 2012
When I was a kid my mother used to exclaim, "You go at everything like you're killing snakes," which I am pretty sure was a way of saying I was short on patience.


Chicken
July 9, 2012
Here's the real reason your church is in decline: you're not doing evangelism.


Jesus, Amazed!
July 8, 2012
Have you ever wondered if the Amazing Grace could ever be amazed? What could possibly cause Emanuel, God with us, to ever be astounded, taken aback, startled or amazed?


Spare Change
July 7, 2012
You see him on the street, long before he sees you. His posture is bent, as though he is looking for the courage to emerge. "Spare change?" he mumbles.


Tacky Weddings
July 6, 2012
There is no accounting for taste. I have seen it all when it comes to weddings, and heard even better stories from others.


Fireworks
July 5, 2012
America, we got a problem. With over 300 million privately owned guns, we are the most heavily armed civilian population in the world - by far.


Freed
July 4, 2012
David sings a song of gratitude to God for having freed him and Israel from the rapidly declining rule of King Saul.


Work
July 3, 2012
I was walking my dog around the local pond recently when I saw a father with his two small daughters riding along the bike path toward me. The Dad was steering his bike one-handed while talking on his cell phone, using the tone of voice I think of as "business-pompous." The two girls pedaled behind him silently.


What's Ahead?
July 2, 2012
What's ahead of me today is a lot of what I wanted to get done yesterday or some time ago


Touch
July 1, 2012
So much that is done cannot be undone. What we can do is touch. Or refuse not to touch. Then power circles.


What's to Become of the Double-Minded?
June 30, 2012
We admire people who pause at a fork in the road. Often they are the ones who are able to see both sides of an issue, and they know how to weigh options.


Not a Hometown Hero
June 29, 2012
When Jesus returned to Nazareth, his hometown, it began well, but quickly went sour. The people who knew him best honored him least. Why?


Is God Easy, or Hard?
June 28, 2012
When we come to God for healing, how we complicate things that are so simple.


Hybrid
June 27, 2012
Jesus went to extreme measures - walking on water - because he was intent on keeping us calm. So many of our other solutions don't work. I guess it took an extremist.


Work
June 26, 2012
It's like the psalmist is God's mom or something, and God's slept too late on the weekend again.


Exhausted
June 25, 2012
Life can be exhausting. Recently I have gotten into the habit of waking up at 4:00 in the morning just so I can get things done before my calendar begins exerting its control over me.


When It's Good to Have a Church
June 24, 2012
In the days after a death, a family will gather in my church office to discuss the service.


Look What They've Done To My Song
June 23, 2012
The ark of God's covenant includes a mercy seat that covers the law and is not complete without it.


Don't Go There
June 22, 2012
As his life and ministry drew to conclusion Paul was determined (like Jesus before him) to go to Jerusalem—even though doing so meant danger and possible death.


How Love Happens
June 21, 2012
What does it mean to be saved? There are many answers to that old question.


The End
June 20, 2012
What were you doing last year when the end of the world was predicted, twice (unsuccessfully, it would seem)? Did it change what you're doing today?


Light
June 19, 2012
I think that electricity might be a blessing but I am not sure. The evidence is not yet all in.


Are you an "innie" or an "outie"?
June 18, 2012
Are you an "innie" or an "outie"? Are you concerned with your physical body and everyone else's? Are you preoccupied with status, appearances or the social impression you make on the world?


Particular
June 17, 2012
For most of my life, I have not been a fan of babies. I do not mean that I disliked them. I mean that my appreciation for them was...academic.


Perhaps He Can Feed Me
June 16, 2012
I am grateful for the reminder that the point of reading the Bible is not to pick it apart but to be nourished by it.


Hosting God
June 15, 2012
If we truly believe God is still speaking, should we not leave room in our prayer time for God to speak?


Having Impact
June 14, 2012
In John 7 we find Jesus talking with his brothers. They are after him to leave rinky-dink, nothing-ever-happens-here Galilee and head for the big city.


Are You With Me?
June 13, 2012
We've heard a lot about the rigid ideologies that polarize people and impede government operations.


Jesus' Packing Instructions
June 12, 2012
People have different philosophies of packing.


Fight, Flee — or Pray
June 11, 2012
The "fight-or-flight" response is wired into our nervous system. In the earliest humans fight took the form of combative behavior, and flight was simply fleeing from danger.


Family
June 10, 2012
Often as I visit different congregations I hear the church described as a "family." I'm never quite sure about this — speaking of the church as "family."


Relax, It's Saturday
June 9, 2012
Could this be a moment to examine the way you spend your time? To remember a lazy childhood Saturday when the hours stretched out as possibilities, languorous and unscheduled?


Almighty Purpose
June 8, 2012
I can't speak for everyone, but I cannot imagine a greater living hell than that of going through life without a purpose.


Game-Changer
June 7, 2012
Very few of us need more instruction in what the epistle means about a "multitude of sins." We belong to the "would-a if we could-a" people.


Little Light
June 6, 2012
I was always faintly embarrassed by the singing of "This Little Light of Mine" by groups of adults. It was just a little too silly for grownup church — plus somebody with terrible rhythm always starts clapping.


Blessing
June 5, 2012
I want them to be blessed. And so I bless them, giving thanks to God for the privilege and responsibility of blessing others.


"O Lord-how long?"
June 3, 2012
Everyone has their favorite scripture texts, and this is one of mine (along with "How long, O Lord?" from Psalm 13). It is easy to memorize, and it comes in handy on those occasions when you think you just can’t stand another minute of whatever is going on, but you have no choice. You’ve got to endure until whatever it is ends. And you don’t know when that will be.


Go with God
June 2, 2012
Jesus is like a distant ideal. He's inspiring from afar but I can't see him as a role model because I'm not as good as he is


In the Last Days
June 1, 2012
Just about everyone has heard or read some dire prophesy concerning the cataclysmic upheavals and super seismic apocalypses of the last days.


A Ministry of Transportation
May 31, 2012
In church, when people lose their ability to drive, or find themselves unable to be as mobile as they once were, it's hard for them to get to worship.


Bone
May 30, 2012
Here's what the story says: dry bones are not the final state of things. Death will not win. Here's what it says: life wins.


See and Speak
May 29, 2012
We keep so much to ourselves in a kind of blindness to the need we have to know what others think of us.


Memorial Day
May 28, 2012
It is said that no one can hold back the river of time, and that is true. Time does rush on. But we can build bridges across the rushing river, and today — Memorial Day — is one.


I Was a Teenage Werewolf
May 27, 2012
Sometimes parenting is a job that is so hard, you couldn't pay me to do it. And sometimes it's a job I do so poorly, you wouldn't pay me to do it.


God's Outstretched Hand
May 26, 2012
Trouble comes to all types of people, and contrary to popular opinion, it is not God's punishment.


What Counts
May 25, 2012
It's often said, "No one is indispensable." And it is easy to wonder how important we really are and what lasting difference we actually make doing anything worthwhile.


Fiat Lux!
May 24, 2012
For our church's 150th anniversary, we celebrated throughout the year in every conceivable way, including turning Pilgrim Hall into a rainbow sparkle-themed disco for one wild and crazy Friday night, where our theme was "Party like a Pilgrim."


The C Student
May 23, 2012
O God, release the high school seniors and their parents from the clutches of college anxiety, and restore the sight of those blinded by the accomplishments of others. Amen.


Don't Disqualify Yourself
May 22, 2012
Dear God, we know that leadership is a divine call, but help us to remember that it is also a social responsibility.


Outfit
May 21, 2012
What if you dressed the same way? Not in the same outfit (though that would be awesome), but with the same kind of significance?


Where is the Good Soil?
May 20, 2012
We simply never know where God’s kingdom is going to take root. Our job is simply to spread kingdom seeds with something like abandon so they might take root where God sees fit.


The Peace of God
May 19, 2012
There is always a certain peace to be found in the presence of those we love and cherish.


Dazzling
May 18, 2012
You probably never do this, but I sometimes sort of skip over the verses from Scripture and go right to the rest of the devotion, especially when — like today — it's a long reading.


Miracle
May 17, 2012
If a meal can start with a prayer, it can be spiritually digested.


Unshaken
May 16, 2012
Psalm 93 focuses on what stands firm. It speaks of the mighty providence that sustains us amid all that works to tear us apart. It's hard to see this when trouble is rampant. More than our faith and vision alone we need the insight and support of others. Together we can know and inspire confidence that works of love are backed up by power much greater than our own—and stronger than death itself.


Majesty
May 15, 2012
The Psalmist says that the natural world is the robe of majesty God wears, a sort of regal outfit she puts on to show how great she is. There's nothing wrong with being awed by the outfit, but that's not the same as worshiping the one who wears it.


Now That Looks Like You
May 14, 2012
Service. Compassion. Justice. Mercy. Forgiveness. Restoration. Reconciliation. Patience. Steadfastness. Hope. Joy. Courage. Liberation. Friendship. Kindness. Honesty. These are all expressions of love.


The Other Duck
May 13, 2012
My mother was a magnificent entertainer, but it was not the cooking.


Doing a New Thing
May 12, 2012
It is axiomatic that people often resist change.


Favorites
May 11, 2012
Listen to a litany of that slave master, the self. Only you can prevent narcissism. It is all up to you. You are number one. If you don't take care of yourself, who will?


Laboring in Vain
May 10, 2012
Ever feel that you have little or nothing to show for all your hard work? Do you sometimes wonder if you have labored in vain?


Beyond Words
May 9, 2012
So the next time you are at a loss for words, or when all you can think to say has been said many times before, don't worry about it. Words have their limits. There are things that are beyond them. God is one of them.


The Surprising Samaritan
May 8, 2012
I was armed only with an idea: Each week we would act out a different parable. One week we gave the parable of the Good Samaritan a decidedly modern twist.


Watching. Waiting. Listening,
May 7, 2012
The whole town stopped in its tracks when Samuel showed up. "Is there bad news...from God?"


Branch
May 6, 2012
"You are the branches, and I the vine," says Christ to them who'd be free. Give over your life for those you love, and you find new life in me.


Times of Shaking
May 5, 2012
There are lots of experiences or events that can shake us up, some quite badly. Where I live we get earthquakes every now and again. It's quite a strange, and very disorienting, feeling when truly everything is shaking.


Magic and Miracles
May 4, 2012
The magic died the day I discovered what was really behind that veiled stained glass in my little church. But the miracle began the moment I realized that even though that room was not heaven, people used it to prepare themselves for baptism anyway.


Hack Time
May 3, 2012
Google and Microsoft inspire creativity by asking their employees to observe "hack time" and use 20 percent of their work day on projects that most interest them, regardless of regular tasks.


Grace
May 2, 2012
We are in a deep shift in this magnificent 21st century. We can no longer trick ourselves into thinking that there is one cuisine or one God. Thus we must learn to pray again, if for no other reason than to banish the awkwardness of table graces.


Dance Around the Maypole
May 1, 2012
In my first year at Bryn Mawr College, one of the five Seven Sisters schools that remains single-sex, I could hardly believe how excited a bunch of jaded, sophisticated, feminist intellectuals got over dancing around a Maypole.


A Messy Desk
April 30, 2012
So I no longer claim that my messy desk is more efficient. I don't call it a wilderness of free association. Now I think of it as a call to confession.


Please Advise
April 28, 2012
Agatha Christie once said, "Good advice is to be ignored, but that's no reason not to give it."


Politics and Religion
April 27, 2012
Politics and religion are linked. Spirituality and religion are linked. All four are related to each other. Get over it and on with it.


Even Our Ignorance
April 26, 2012
How many times have we been completely convinced that we were right, only to discover that our rightness was based upon a partial or partisan understanding of the truth?


Available 24/6
April 25, 2012
There would be no working, no buying, no selling—at least, not on that block, not on that day. These people of faith will make themselves available 24/6, but not 24/7, because the seventh day is hallowed as the Sabbath.


Chorus
April 24, 2012
When the ancients tilted their heads back and contemplated the night sky, they were filled with the same kind of wonder you are when you do the same thing. Which is why they thought God lived up there.


Loaves and (Gold)fishes
April 23, 2012
Maybe the Bible’s stories are alive all around us, and it’s our job to find ways to tell the old, old stories in beautiful new ways. You’ve heard of rose-colored glasses. Well, what if churches’ stained glass windows were lenses that colored the way we see the world through what’s depicted there?


Who Me, Repent?
April 22, 2012
It’s a loaded word, “repent.” We conjure the bearded, sandwich-board clad prophet of the end times, and the red-faced and angry preacher of the old times.


Cash the Check!
April 21, 2012
It's one thing to know we are loved and respected, another to act on it. But the less we act on it, the less we know it. What does love or respect mean if it's just left sitting there? Like a gifted musician or a skilled athlete, if we don't use our gifts they waste away and we wonder if we have what it takes to perform well.


The One Who Gives Us Room
April 20, 2012
"You gave me room when I was in distress," the ancient Psalmist writes. "You have put gladness in my heart...I will lie down and sleep in peace."


Antichrist
April 19, 2012
Know what's super fun? Picturing the world as a giant battlefield where the forces of good and evil are fighting it out.


Endangered Blank Spaces
April 18, 2012
From a recent article in The New York Times: "Add this to the endangered list: blank spaces."


Eternal Life
April 17, 2012
Eternal life is a scary concept. Consider all the laundry, dishes, dusting that could involve. Consider the arthritis or the love handles or the varicose veins. Also consider what it would mean to live unafraid of dying as a body and living on as a spirit.


Psalm for Getting it On
April 16, 2012
With a wink and the wag of a head, the singer asks an annoying question of the workaholic: What do you really gain running yourself ragged, rising before dawn and pushing past midnight? Why settle for "the bread of anxious toil," always coming home long after the plates on the table have turned cold?


Death, Taxes, and Resurrection
April 15, 2012
It's April 15. Taxes are due tomorrow. Today is also Easter Sunday for Orthodox Christians and the Second Sunday of Easter for the rest of us. Taxes and Easter. What a weird juxtaposition of timing.


Feet
April 14, 2012
Yet another in the long list of metaphors you might not have known comes straight from the Bible. King Nebuchadnezzar dreams of a scary statue and wants to know what it means. Daniel tells him: the statue has clay feet and so will fall.


Unity
April 13, 2012
If we understand that unity is not about collapsing everyone into sameness, but instead, allowing our differences to breathe and mature until they can all be collected into a collage of the very best, we could change unity from a distant pipe dream into a present reality. Behold, how good and how pleasant that would be.


Simple Church
April 12, 2012
In our own times and experiences of things breaking down, can we glimpse the new church that is breaking through, that is being born among us?


Secret of the Blues
April 11, 2012
Whatever stands between us and our strength in God cannot silence our faith. One way or another, that's what we can sing about.


Do You Have Anything to Eat?
April 10, 2012
Fifteen centuries ago, Saint Benedict wrote that Jesus comes to us disguised in every stranger knocking on the door asking for hospitality and asking for food. And if that is true, the question on his lips surely is: "Do you have anything here to eat?"


The Day After
April 9, 2012
We need a quiet Monday, so that the walls of the church can rest, the halls of the classrooms can breathe, the cloud of witnesses in heaven can sigh and remember that one day later, Christ is still risen. He is risen indeed.


Easter! A Really New Day
April 8, 2012
The sun came up that day. That's the one tangible thing about Easter the four Gospel writers agree on. They don't see eye to eye on any other details of the most important event in the Christian faith.


Holy Saturday
April 7, 2012
We don't need more time — instead we need to know that timing is everything, in life and death as well as seeds and money.


Now the Green Blade
April 6, 2012
They thought they were burying Jesus when they put him in that desert tomb. They thought he would stay in there forever. But here's what they learned, what they taught Wangari Maathai, what she taught the ladies of the Green Belt Movement: they weren't burying Jesus that day; they were planting him.


It Can Also Be Blessed to Receive
April 5, 2012
There's a time and place to be generous givers; and there is also a time and place to be generous receivers. This night, this week, is one such time.


Be Quiet
April 4, 2012
Sometimes the most impressive thing we can say is nothing. Sometimes the most eloquent defense is to remain quiet. Sometimes the most convicting word is the one that remains unspoken.


Every Vote Counts
April 3, 2012
In a real sense, all of us have a vote whenever we are confronted with the ethical questions of life. On certain critical matters, to abstain is to be morally irresponsible. And even if we find ourselves against the grain of the popular mood, we must remember that history respects a dissenting vote far more than no vote at all.


A Heads-Up
April 2, 2012
When someone tells me they're giving me advance warning about something, or "a heads-up," I assume I'm being told to be on the lookout for trouble. Not so with faith. You and I are told to be on the lookout for the new life that Easter is all about—a promise easy to miss amid all that's so wrong. "Take note!" It's soon to spring up on you!


Not a Victim
April 1, 2012



Palm Sunday
April 1, 2012
There's a neat trick to folding the palm fronds in just the right way so that they become crosses. Let's turn our palms into crosses so we won't be tempted to use them as swords.


A Prayer for the Holy Season
March 31, 2012
During the Holy Season that is upon us, it would be great to learn to see what has long been held in denial about the economic crisis in which we dwell. Offered here is a prayer for conversations around holy tables that deny denial.


Tremble
March 30, 2012
Sometimes you tremble because you're scared, or cold. Sometimes it's because of neurological or muscular issues. Sometimes you just overdid it at the coffee shop.


Abundant Emptiness
March 29, 2012
"He emptied himself," Paul writes of Jesus, and he entered into the emptiness of human life. Because he did, we can, too, for we know that even in the hard and empty times of our lives, God is there.


The Thing That Bit Me
March 28, 2012
Jesus' followers blessed and healed those who cursed, oppressed, imprisoned, and killed them, humbling themselves as did their Jesus, reaching beyond short-term failure and disappointment; embodying the One of precious salvation, healing, and forgiveness. They overcame the deep darkness and grasped Easter hope, in a Good Friday world.


But God
March 27, 2012
When it seems the end has come, "but God." When you see no way forward or out, "but God." When death has done its work and it seems all hope is gone, "but God." Because of these two little words, because of the defiant divine disjunction everything is different now.


Broken
March 26, 2012
This side of eternity we can't know it all. But in the spirit of Christ we can work for, and look forward to, the remaking of all now incomplete and, often enough, torn apart. Thank God.


Terrible Taste in Friends
March 25, 2012
Sometimes it seems like Jesus has terrible taste in friends. And, of course, I am among them. But, in essence, Jesus says to the church, "If I can put up with all of you, you ought to be able to put up with one another."


The Temptation to Judge
March 24, 2012
Don't let other people's comments or judgments slow you down or discourage you. You know what you need to do for Lent, and God is still eager to help you do it.


What's God Got to Do With It?
March 23, 2012
Too often we find ourselves turning away from love – human, divine, all of it. (As Tina Turner put it, "Who needs a heart, when a heart can be broken?") So the next time you find yourself shutting down, turn on your radio or pull out your Bible, and listen for the words of God, singing to you.


When You Feel Like Quitting
March 22, 2012
Though you will surely suffer for it, don't quit. Others will get rich financially and you won't, but don't quit. Keep loving through the mystery of uncertainty to experience a sustaining abundance of Divine joy...just don't quit.


Who Is That Singing?
March 21, 2012
One day, when our children were still very young, a Beatles song came on the radio. I grew up listening to the Beatles so, of course, I began to sing along. Then our daughter, Alanna, asked, "Who is that singing?"


The Way Out of No Way
March 20, 2012
The author of Psalm 107 is thankful for many things — the hungry being fed, the prisoners set free, the sick healed. He or she sums it up in one line: "God delivered them from their troubles and led them by a straight way."


Water
March 19, 2012
Have you noticed how many of the stories in the Bible revolve around water? Seas, wells, floods, rivers, bitter water, holy water, living water. The biblical storytellers had water on the brain because they needed to think about it pretty much all the time just to survive.


Touchy Feely
March 18, 2012
While I wouldn't ever leave the church over the passing of the peace, I do appreciate the profound awkwardness of it. Some people greet each other with such warmth, it makes the rest of us feel left out. Others are so sullen and lock-jawed, you wonder if they are passing the peace under duress.


Repetition
March 17, 2012
So the psalmist calls us to repeat, and repeat again, aloud or silently, words of thanks and praise to God, our never-ending source of strength and guidance. That's what produces excellence in faith.


Giving Up Our To-Do List
March 16, 2012
Maybe this Lent, we could focus on and rejoice in what God has done for us to set us free and give up, at least for a little while, our own sometimes self-centered "to do" lists.


The Rough Places
March 15, 2012
Life is pretty full of rough places, not to mention pressure points. But we're not put here to spend our lives looking for the most ingenious padding to put between us and life's every unyielding surface. We don't hear it very often in our therapeutic culture, but sometimes the best thing to do is tough it out.


House
March 14, 2012
So back to my wonderings: what do you love about the place where you worship? What's your favorite part of your sanctuary? And what do you know about God because of it?


The Great Church Fire
March 13, 2012
Long before I was the pastor, on a winter Monday back in 1988, fire trucks from neighboring towns came together to fight the blaze at my church, struggling to keep the water in the hoses from freezing.


The Miracle of Multiplication
March 12, 2012
We tend to devalue small things. Jesus never does. Instead, he points to the power in small things that we might so easily overlook.


Talk About Best Practices
March 11, 2012
Houses of worship are made holy by the zeal of their people to worship God by practicing justice. Houses of worship are made holy by the sacred offerings of love and devotion that the people bring to give to God and each other.


Steering in a New Direction
March 10, 2012
When arriving in an entirely new area, there is one important factor to keep in mind: how easy it is to get lost


Magic Words
March 9, 2012
Part of what is going on in worship and prayer, when we praise and thank God and join with others in the community of faith, is that we, too, are "rescued from our own selfishness."


The Danger of Being Brought Back from the Dead
March 8, 2012
Most of us understand the hazards and perils of life. We've constantly been made aware of the physical dangers and toxic behaviors that threaten life, liberty and limb. But those of us who, through faith in Christ's resurrecting power, have been brought back from the death of sinful selfishness and wanton materialism face even greater dangers.


Queen for the Day
March 7, 2012
It will come as no surprise that pastors and priests are sinners. You might want to think something else, as it is so spiritually convenient to have a spiritual surrogate. But your house will be built on sand.


Multiply
March 6, 2012
I feel a little weird about it, but here is a true thing: I give my money away because I want to be richer.


Changing Faith
March 5, 2012
In God, our life never ends but we're called to move on. We will find new ways of believing and seeing what's always there, seeking us out, loving us, leading us, and supporting us.


Again and Again and Again
March 4, 2012
A faithful churchgoer was talking with a skeptical friend about why he bothered going to church. The friend asked him what his favorite part of the service was.


Tell No One
March 3, 2012
It's not the first time in Mark's gospel that Jesus has told someone not to talk about him, nor the last. Scholars have a fancy name for it. They call it "the Messianic secret."


Spoken Words and Unspoken Thoughts
March 2, 2012
Ethical behavior is vitally important. Yet, there is something about faith in God that moves our consciousness beyond outward actions to the viscera of inner intentions, desires and meditations.


In Search of a Girlfriend...or Maybe Just a Sixth Cat
March 1, 2012
Other people seldom agree to our rules. Other people have their own ideas about things. Other people can be needy or they can ignore you. Other people can be warm and cuddly one minute, cold and aloof the next. Come to think of it, sometimes other people are a lot like cats.


Leap
February 29, 2012
Every once in a while, time just doesn't add up. Doesn't work out. Every once in a while, you need to mess with time a little bit to make it all come out right.


Less Boasting
February 28, 2012
We may be warned against boasting, but that doesn't mean we don't boast! Karl Jung says we sneak our biography into just about everything we say.


What Are You Hungry For?
February 27, 2012
The Psalmist cries, "As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God." Could it be that all of us long to have a relationship with God, but that much of the time we don't recognize that that is what we were hungry for all along?


A Kiss Before Dying
February 26, 2012
The only constant between the affirmation and the tribulation of Jesus is the Spirit of God. The same God who confirms us in love is the same God who drives us into difficulty. In this life, there is something about the need for everyone to be tested that is as compelling and as necessary as a mother's love.


Some Really Good News
February 25, 2012
In a world that at least sometimes is nasty and harsh, this is the really good news. "God keeps God's word even when the whole world is lying through its teeth." God is faithful. Trust this and live this day boldly.


Why Me?
February 24, 2012
Just as Jesus turned a loaf and a few fish into food for thousands, so with us, small and powerless as we feel. Being chosen means believing God can do a lot with our littleness and never more so than when we think our caring and compassion don't amount to much.


Mentor
February 23, 2012
Everybody recognizes the importance of mentors on the job. The best mentoring relationships tend to be the intentional ones, where the older, wiser, seasoned person agrees explicitly to take some promising green young thing under her or his wing. Usually, not only the mentor and protégée profit; the organization or profession does as well.


Ash Wednesday
February 22, 2012
Let this day, this Ash Wednesday, be a day for fewer words all day long. Let it be a day for some stillness, for paying quiet attention to mystery, to beauty, to the sacred.


Cheap Grace
February 21, 2012
Cheap grace drives you to inconsequentiality. Grace drives us to consequentiality, not the kind that makes us self-important so much as the kind that pours out, overflows, gets everything that was all dry all wet again. We are NOT to sin more so that grace may abound. Just the opposite: we are to make our mark as creatures of a God that was not fooling around.


Who Wants to Be the President?
February 20, 2012
This President's Day, I want to say a prayer for them all, past, present and future, for seeking a job that strikes me as impossible. And I pray for a more peaceful political culture in which an impossible job might be redeemed.


Free Will
February 19, 2012
The truth is, when we choose to improve the world through selfless service we come to know a joy beyond our comprehension.


The Difference
February 18, 2012
It's the loving vigil and simple care we show others that makes the difference


Train
February 17, 2012
I've recently become something of a runner, and the more I've done it, the more convinced I've become that the running metaphors one finds all over the New Testament actually work quite well.


Tiger God
February 16, 2012
Today's reading from the Letter to the Hebrews is all about discipline. God disciplines God's sons and daughters. The message is that God's discipline is an expression of God's love.


The Goodness of the Lord in the Land of the Living
February 15, 2012
Sometimes religion can be a means of escape from the urgent realities of now.


"Sit Down and Eat"
February 14, 2012
There is something about the bond that is formed over that meal that leads us towards the light. And like those meals with our children, the more we commune together, the stronger we become.


Expecting Too Little
February 13, 2012
The man crippled since birth in today's story began to ask for money from Peter and John. He didn't ask for what he really needed but got it anyway: the ability to stand up and walk and even jump and leap for joy. Now he could take care of himself!


Trust
February 12, 2012
The leper may have had that dreadful disease of leprosy but he was also full of trust. If you have ever wanted for trust, you might even be jealous of his skin condition. Being bereft of trust is an acute kind of poverty.


Name Change
February 11, 2012
Names are important. A name is so much more than, say, a label attached to a jar. We identify with our names. In fact, I feel so closely identified with my name that if I had a different name I feel like I would be a different person.


Known By Our Enemies
February 10, 2012
Make no mistake about it, our identities are confirmed as much by our foes as they are by our friends. We are known not just by the company we keep, but by the haters we incite. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus warns his followers to "Beware when all people speak well of you."


My Last Will and Testament
February 9, 2012
As an adult, it took me far too long to make a will. Who wants to consider the time of one's death? I didn't. Besides, there was nothing complicated about my estate, I reasoned. Anything I had would just go to my family. Wouldn't that just happen naturally?


Very Good/ Not Perfect
February 8, 2012
For which we can be grateful. "Perfect" would have been like, "don't touch a thing." "It's perfect, don't mess it up." It's complete, finished . . . perfect.


Evaluation
February 7, 2012
There is nothing like an evaluation to shake things up. Paul and Barnabas are doing a review. They are taking the risk of looking back. If you love something, like the gospel, enough, you won't dare be unaccountable to it.


For the Institutionalized
February 6, 2012
I'm not saying every committee meeting the church has ever held mattered; most of them didn't. I'm saying that all institutions are annoying, AND that the church is the one that brought your faith to you. So when you're feeling ground down by yours, right after you refuse to chair another task force, but before you decide to quit forever, just remember this: the work you're doing is at least as much for your grandkids as it is for you.


Write Your Own Ending
February 5, 2012
You may not be able to find today's reading in the regular part of your Bible. Chances are good that it is hidden in the footnotes in very small print with a line that says, "Not part of the best manuscripts, probably added later." Mark, scholars tell us, really ends at 16: 8 with the words, "They said nothing to anyone for they were afraid." That doesn't so much end as it breaks off. But then someone came along and added on. Wanted to pretty it up.


Restless
February 4, 2012
Relationships, love, and even our own faith leave us "restless," as Augustine put it, until our hearts rest in the assurance only God provides and nothing less.


Not "Staff"
February 3, 2012
A few years back I got grumpy about hearing myself, as an ordained minister, referred to as "staff," as in "our church staff." In a way, of course, it was true. My colleagues and I were "church staff." But in another way it seemed to me misleading and a bad sign.


Overlooking Insults
February 2, 2012
It's only natural to want to give an immediate response to an insult. If we've been injured, we feel that we have the right to respond immediately with wrathful indignation. After all, the sooner we let those who hurt us know how we feel, the better. And if our responses are bitter and acidic, so be it! Maybe next time they'll think twice before they cross the line with us.


Lessons from the Shoe Museum
February 1, 2012
I was struck by how long human beings have been torn between practicality and beauty. In some rare cases, they pulled off both, as was the case with a pair of Cherokee moccasins covered in hand-sewn glass beads hundreds of years ago. They looked both beautiful and comfortable, something to delight both the wearer and the world. But do we always have to strike that balance? As Marilyn Monroe’s bright red stilettos bear witness, sometimes the extremes are what we remember most.


A New Thing
January 31, 2012
So here's what happened. The Apostle Stephen had been preaching in Jerusalem. As good Christian preaching sometimes will, his sermon angered his audience. They stoned him, and that understandably scared many of the other apostles out of town.


Sweet Spot
January 30, 2012
Many people claim that to be at the center of conflicting ideas and opposing opinions is valueless. Many believe that compromise is never a viable option.


Still Open and Affirming, After "All" these Years
January 29, 2012
It seems like a long time ago that our church went through the Open and Affirming process and made a statement welcoming all people to the church. But when I look at my calendar, I see that it was only two and a half years ago. In a congregation that is celebrating its 150th anniversary, that is very recent history.


God Dwells in the Details
January 28, 2012
It's easy for those of us who fancy ourselves "big picture" types to pooh-pooh such attention to detail. But we're wrong when we do that. As a rabbi friend puts it, it is God (not the devil) who dwells in the details.


Appointed and Authorized
January 27, 2012
He imagines we can find the clumsy words to speak his gorgeous message. We are appointed and authorized. Our names have been called.


Shoots
January 26, 2012
Here's how it appeared the word of God had failed: the Shoot of Jesse was cut down. Here is how it did not fail: turns out, the Shoot of Jesse was like the Jurupa Oak, and it sent up shoots, and they were you. And if they are burned down, he will send up more, and more, and more, and each time they will spread further, until the whole world is green and rustling with salvation.


God and the City
January 25, 2012
Some folks don't have much use for cities and don't think God does either. Cities are too big, too messy, too . . . much. God dwells, we imagine, in green pastures and amid soaring mountains. Personally, I think God likes both, both city and country.


Street Smart in Sunday School
January 24, 2012
If you have a Sunday school teacher you appreciate, send them this devotional, and thank them for moving beyond the simple answers to the wisdom in the streets.


Be Still
January 23, 2012
"Be still and know that I am God." Being still, even if people get your name wrong, is a place beyond serenity.


A Prayer for the New Year
January 22, 2012
Sometimes a prayer like this is needed to wake us from our slumber, to shake us loose from our fears, and to set us on our way of "immediacy" toward long-forgotten hopes and longings and dreams. I think this is a prayer for the New Year.


A Silly Question?
January 21, 2012
Jesus asks so many questions in the four gospels—307 different questions, to be exact. Some of his questions are profound, while others are probing. And then there are the silly questions.


Daffodils
January 20, 2012
Deep participation in a tradition greater than our own invention is the bulb under the earth. It will live through the cold, to rise again, long after my self-made bouquet has faded.


One Possessed of a Knowing
January 19, 2012
If we are to believe The Jerome Biblical Commentary, "Nazareth was an insignificant village never mentioned in the Old Testament. [And] no prophecy had connected the Messiah with Galilee, and certainly not with Nazareth."


Helpless Believers
January 18, 2012
It's amazing what God can do with just a few who dare to let weakness out of the closet.


A Mother's Imagination
January 17, 2012
You know, my mother thought I could do anything, too. She was always exaggerating my gifts.


A Teachable Spirit
January 16, 2012
Conversion for Calvin was not an ending or a finished point. It was a beginning, an opening point. Experientially, it is closer to waking after a long sleep. Awake and teachable.


The Value of a Good Name
January 15, 2012
I’m old enough to remember when a person’s good name meant something. My mother would send me to the corner store in our neighborhood with a list of things that she needed, but with no money. The grocer would fill the bag with the items on my mother’s list and give the bag to me to take home. No payment was required at the time, simply because of my mother’s good name and her reputation for paying her debts. My mother’s good name alone put food on our table many nights.


Christians are Joyful Sinners
January 14, 2012
Does worship in your church include a prayer of confession? If so, it is probably near the beginning of the service. One reason for this placement is that God’s presence reveals things to us. In God’s clarifying presence we see things about our lives that we might not see otherwise. So when Isaiah had a dramatic encounter with God in the temple, his first response was confession. And it can be the same for us in our worship.


Back it up!
January 13, 2012
Paul was asked to speak an encouraging word by a leader in the Jewish community. What he then said was all about Jesus as the proof and power of faith. His words moved many because they were backed up by specific instances of history and experience beyond just his own.


Appearances
January 12, 2012
Appearance matters. What other people see when they look at us matters. We care what others think. Some of us are also slightly bothered by how much we care about what others think. We live with a sense that we are being pulled in too many directions. Time runs out, just about every day.


For Those Who Are Doing Just Fine
January 11, 2012
Psalm 86 is the kind of prayer usually reserved for when things go really bad. A prayer for when it has all fallen apart and you’re at the end of your rope. If that’s where you are today, then pray it, hard.


The Real Zeal
January 10, 2012
It's one thing to challenge injustice out there in the world. But when the injustice is manifested in our own family; when prejudice is as close as our own dear friends; when phobias dominate the mentality of our own fraternities, sororities and civic organizations; or even when our religious fellowships attempt to sanctify discrimination, do we possess enough zeal for God to make a godly difference?


Touchdown Theology
January 9, 2012
A few weeks ago, Tim Tebow's pastor, Wayne Hanson, said he knew why the Denver Broncos were 7-1 since installing Tebow as quarterback. "It's not luck," Hanson said. "Luck isn't winning six games in a row. It's favor. God's favor."


Baptizing Newborns of Any Age
January 8, 2012
Unlike some Christian traditions, in the United Church of Christ we do not have a normative age for baptism. So I have baptized infants who are just weeks old and I once baptized a man who was 87. Somehow the waters of baptism make newborns out of us all.


The Right Altars
January 7, 2012
South African Albie Sachs wrote a prize-winning book called The Soft Vengeance of a Freedom Fighter. In 1988, an assassin found him in Mozambique, where he was exiled from South Africa, and blew up his car. Sachs missed death but lost a leg and an eye.


Kneel
January 6, 2012
We're good at listing all the people we won't kneel before. We don't kneel for crowned heads. We don't bend for terrorists. We're clear on how we feel about kneeling to bishops. By and large, we are a straight-backed, lock-kneed people.


Why Trifle with Anything Else
January 5, 2012
On its surface, the book of Proverbs appears to offer laws or maxims that have their own irrefutable formula. If one follows them, one will reap their outcome.


Steve Jobs and the Bible
January 4, 2012
Why worry about the future? We can't do anything about it anyway. Few can get away with this attitude anymore. Too much is at stake with our children's future, our financial well-being, and our national and personal safety and security, not to mention that of those far less fortunate than we are.


Wisdom Bites
January 3, 2012
When I think of wisdom I think of my grandmother, Victoria Moon Robinson. Orphaned as a child, she was raised by a kind family in Ohio. As a young woman she became a licensed pharmacist, not all that common for women in the World War I era.


Creed
January 2, 2012
The word “creed” comes from the Latin “credo,” which means “I believe.” It’s a statement of faith, an attempt to capture in words the essence of the content of the faith.


The Break Down
January 1, 2012
New Year’s is the perfect time to plan and to execute building projects. Whether we’re building better health through diet and exercise, or building better relationships through listening and compromise, or building a better democracy through voter education and registration, there is always a certain excitement that characterizes our building endeavors.


Resolve
December 31, 2011
If you've started thinking about your resolutions for the New Year, maybe you've noticed that some of them are depressingly familiar. Lose 40 pounds, take ballroom dancing lessons, get that tattoo removed. Now it's December 31st, and you're no closer to doing any of those things than you were a year ago.


Acting Out on the Airplane
December 30, 2011
Even before the flight took off, we knew who would be offering our in-flight entertainment. The man in the seat in front of me began by taking out a ballpoint pen, putting it into his mouth and then taking a dramatic inhale.


Become both Spiritual and Religious
December 29, 2011
The "Spiritual but not Religious" crowd practices without preaching, prays without sourcing: they soul without body. The "Religious but not Spiritual" preaches without practicing.


Encore
December 28, 2011
C.S. Lewis said a great obstacle to loving God is summed up in one word: encore. Instead of being satisfied with what God always offers us, we are greedy for the next performance.


The Planet in Praise
December 27, 2011
Make no mistake about it, the entire earth is a declaration of God's awesome power to create and sustain life with wondrous beauty and fathomless splendor.


Leaning Toward the Future
December 26, 2011
For many, this season is laced with nostalgia. We might glamorize the old days, perhaps being, in John Irving's phrase, "nostalgic for a time that never was." Or, it might be more like it was for my father, who, this time every year, would evidence the effects of a potent mixture of nostalgia and melancholy.


The Last Minute Gift
December 25, 2011
There was one Christmas when we didn't know whether my father would make it home. He was a foreign correspondent, covering the Iran hostage crisis, and I was a nervous kid, because one of my father's journalist friends was being held hostage at the time.


A Subversive Story
December 24, 2011
We've finally arrived. In Bethlehem, at the manger. As Martin Copenhaver noted in the Introduction to this Advent booklet, it's the same story every year, the familiar story, nothing different.


Small is Beautiful
December 23, 2011
Praise is the purpose of Christmas. If we miss its joy, we miss Christmas. If we find its joy, we find Christmas. My friend has a sign on her refrigerator: "It's not going to happen that way." She is preparing herself for a day and a life of surprises.


"How Can I Keep From Singing?"
December 22, 2011
"My life flows on in endless song," affirms an old hymn, "above earth's lamentation. . . . I hear the real, though far-off hymn that hails a new creation. Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear the music ringing; It sounds an echo in my soul—how can I keep from singing?


Interruptions
December 21, 2011
For the most part, I don't like interruptions. I would rather plan my day and plan my life. So usually I begin the day by surveying all the things I want to accomplish and hope no interruption will prevent me from doing so.


Who Am I?
December 20, 2011
Martin Luther described sin as life curved in upon itself. The theme of today's psalm, praise, is pretty much the opposite of that. Praise is life opened out, expansive, a jubilant response to a gracious and astonishing God.


Different This Year
December 19, 2011
There's so much that can make us say with regret at Christmas, "it won’t be the same," and our most fervent wish is that things could go back to the way they were. Since they can't, a lot of people feel downcast at Christmas, when reminders of loss seem to spring up everywhere.


Home for the Holidays
December 18, 2011
In a basic sense, "home" is wherever we feel that we belong. Many of us find that sense of "belonging" at specified addresses among certain people. Others find belonging in the various corridors and communities they inhabit in their journeys along the roads of life.


Don't Forget to Eat
December 17, 2011
I know there are two types of people in the world: those who forget to eat and those who can't imagine forgetting to eat. But either way, this passage speaks to us all. It's about tending to the basics in our bodily life.


Angels All Around
December 16, 2011
At this time of the year we're into angels. There's angel Gabriel showing up to say to Mary, "Hail, O favored one!" There are angels on Advent calendars and perched on Christmas trees. We hear of choirs of angels filling the night sky to serenade shepherds.


Ark
December 15, 2011
A few miles west of Jerusalem is a town called Abu Ghosh. Tradition says it's the location of Abinadab's house, where the Ark of the Covenant rested before coming to Jerusalem. The Ark was the chest—now lost—that contained the Ten Commandments.


The Challenges of Waiting
December 14, 2011
Advent is a season devoted to waiting. It is a time when we celebrate waiting, honor those who waited for the coming of the Messiah, and seek to learn something about how we might join them in waiting for the Spirit of Christ to be born again in our midst.


On the Lookout
December 13, 2011
Elisha knew that the older prophet Elijah was about to be taken from him. He wanted the assurance that the spirit of Elijah would be his as well. This request would be granted, he was told, "but only if you're watching" what’s about to happen.


How Tall is Your Tree?
December 12, 2011
A child stood with her parents in a store. The parents stood with a frazzled clerk who had opened a white plastic Christmas tree to show them what it looked like. The child looked at the tree and made a quick conclusion. "No," said she, "it's too small. There won't be room for all the presents you're going to give us under such a small tree."


Hope of the Righteous
December 11, 2011
I was taught that righteousness is simply having a "right" perspective and acceptance about one's relationship with God and one's fellow creatures and creation, and one's powers and limitations. Such perspective does not come from ordinary human knowledge alone but through attentiveness to life's "holy moments" amid the mundane and the frightening.


The Prophets of Advent – Cost and Joy
December 10, 2011
We should never assume that our celebrations of the advent of God in Christ Jesus will attract and appeal to everyone. Isaiah’s prophesy about the life and sufferings of Jesus are enough to prompt the question: Is anybody really willing to celebrate and to follow a messiah of sorrows, who was acquainted with grief?


In the Ups and Downs, God Levels Things Out
December 9, 2011
People who are facing a serious illness tell me they have a new respect for how changeable life is. Suddenly, they realize how precious the ordinary moments are. One man once told me what many others have said in different words: "I used to complain about being bored. But I could use a little boring right now."


Impractical Gifts
December 8, 2011
Here are some of the gifts being offered in various catalogues this season: There is “The Remote Controlled Rolling Beverage Cooler.” If someone across the room looks thirsty, you don’t even need to get out of your seat to serve them. Then there is the toaster that can emblazon the emblem of your favorite team on your morning toast.


"Can You Hear Me Now?"
December 7, 2011
How many times have we abandoned all efforts to communicate with persons who were non-responsive? After a few unanswered messages or e-mails we've had it!


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Ms. Christina Villa
Acting Director of Publishing, Identity & Communication
700 Prospect Ave.
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