Have You Heard the One about the Pope Who Quit? (Seriously!)

(Jon Sweeney, The Pope Who Quit: A True Medieval Tale of Mystery, Death, and Salvation, Image Books, 2012, 288 pages) Jon Sweeney has written a relatively breezy history of an obscure chapter in church history: the story of Peter Morrone (1215-1296), a saintly monk, revered sage, and confirmed hermit, who stumbled backward into becoming Pope Celestine V. His immediate predecessor to St. Peter's throne, Pope Nicholas IV died on April 4, 1292. The normal procedure called for a new pope to be … [Read more...]

“Sorry I’ve Been Busy!” How to Bring Your Life Back Into Focus

(Arthur Boers, Living Into Focus: Choosing What Matters in an Age of Distractions, Brazos Press, 2012, 226 pages) "I'm sorry it's taken us so long to get in touch. I've just been so busy recently." I hear myself and my friends make apologies along these lines far too frequently. But "busyness" is rarely an idle excuse. Most of us are overwhelmed with responsibilities much of the time. And it can be easy to slip into the trap of wearing our busyness as a badge of honor or of trying to prove that … [Read more...]

Sermon Series Retrospective: “The Gospel According to Mark”

During Ordinary Time in 2010, we studied The Gospel According to Mark. The following are the sermon titles and a brief excerpt of the content. Most of the sermon titles are links to the full manuscript. Some of the earliest sermons in this series are not online, but copies are available on request:"What Is the Good News of Broadview?" (Mark 1) The only reliably effective way of growing a church is for the current members of the church to tap into their existing social networks. As continue t … [Read more...]

Sermon Series Retrospective: “The Gospel According to Matthew”

During Ordinary Time in 2011, we studied The Gospel According to Matthew. The following are the sermon titles and a brief excerpt of the content:“The Fathers (and Mothers!) of Jesus” (Matthew 1) Given the ‘dirty laundry’ in Jesus’ family tree, the ironic and unexpected — yet nevertheless clear — invitation is to see that no matter who you are, what you’ve done, or who your family is, God is working through you to birth new life, new love, and new hope in the world. “Listening to God in Your … [Read more...]

Sermon Series Retrospective: “Holy Adventure”

For Lent 2011, we studied Bruce Epperly's book Holy Adventure: 41 Days of Audacious Living. The following are the sermon titles and a brief excerpt of the content:“Life Is a Holy Adventure” Being fully present — even to the most mundane tasks — can allow you to experience the sacred and cultivate gratitude for the simple joy of being alive. “Transforming God” What does it look like to read the Bible for “formation” instead of “information?” Why would you want to “Start slowly, so that grad … [Read more...]

Sermon Series Retrospective: “The Prayer of Jesus”

For Epiphany 2011, we studied The Prayer of Jesus (also known as "The Lord's Prayer") line-by-line. The following are the scripture references, sermon titles, and a brief excerpt of the content:"Rabbi, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Teach Us To Pray: "How differently might Christianity look if we learned at an early age to ask with sincerity 'Teach us to pray'?" “Our Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:9a). Praying in the Plural: Jesus is teaching us to pray “our” first, not “my”; “we” before “ … [Read more...]

WWJD? (“What Would Jung Do?”): Jungian Spirituality for Lent

Note: This sermon is part of a Lenten study of Joyce Rockwood Hudson's book Natural Spirituality: Recovering the Wisdom Tradition in Christianity. Links to the previous installments in this series on “Jungian Spirituality” will be included at the end of each post.  21 I learned both what is secret and what is manifest, 22 for wisdom, the fashioner of all things, taught me. There is in her a spirit that is intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, … [Read more...]

Liberal Christians: STOP “Conceding” Readings that Victimize LGBT Christians

Adam Kotsko, professor, author, and blogger, has an provocative Twitter conversation going (@adamkotsko) in which he criticizes liberal Christians for making "half-assed" arguments along the lines of "Yes, God's inspired word is anti-gay, but...."He says, "It hurts my heart to see liberals so easily concede homophobic readings of the Bible."More importantly, he offers a potentially more constructive path of argumentation: The Paul stuff in particular is a case study in over-confident t … [Read more...]

“John 3:16 — The Rest of the Story” (A Progressive Christian Lectionary Commentary for Sunday, March 18, 2012)

Note: I previously posted this lectionary commentary in 2011, when this same passage was the Gospel Lesson. I offer it again for those who may find it newly useful or who may have missed it the first time. Part I: Floating on the Surface: the immediate context of Nicodemus and John 3:14 One reason "born again" Christians made John 3:16 famous is its proximity to the story of Jesus telling Nicodemus that “no one can see the kingdom of God without being born again.” To complicate matters, many tr … [Read more...]

“God is Not a Republican…or a Democrat”

Our county's bi-weekly newspaper published my latest Letter to the Editor this morning (Friday, March 16). Here's a copy of what was printed:I am writing in response to Chester Seaborn’s letter, “Christians: Will you support Obama?” (March 7). Mr. Seaborn’s diatribe against the Democratic Party was missing an important counterbalance. He did not once mention the Republican Party. Given our two-party system I can only assume that Mr. Seaborn’s screed against Christians who vote for Democrats i … [Read more...]