4 reasons I’m not endorsing a candidate from the pulpit

I’m not endorsing a candidate from the pulpit this year.  In fact, I never have.  Here’s why: By the time it hits the pulpit, I’m too late.  We need to be in the practice of forming people in Christian virtue and character.  If they haven’t caught on to virtue and character over the years of sermons, Sunday School, prayer, and long chats over coffee, they’re not going to get it from the pulpit.  People are mightily wrapped up in their cultures–the… Read more

In praise of the rural life: Challenging the narrative of decline

As the 2016 US election rattles into its final stretch, rural people and communities have gotten an ill-deserved bad rap.  Commentators along the urban coastlines, seeking to understand rural voting patterns, cast rural communities as places of tremendous resentment, backwaters of poverty trapped in the past with all the past’s outmoded prejudices and fears.  Perhaps you’ve seen the caricatures. Take a recent NPR report pointing to “rural resentment” toward cities and perceived liberal elites as fuel for the rise of outside-the-mainstream political candidates.  A second article… Read more

An October psalm

Oh Lord, the whole earth is filled with your glory. Fire and hail, snow and frost, praise your name and obey your command. But do not forget the lowly zucchini, Oh Lord. Look down with compassion on the tomatoes, still just a shade too green to harvest. Remember, Oh Lord, how we thank you when we partake of the fruit of our little garden, And tell that frost to sing your praises somewhere else. Read more

He numbers the raindrops

Abba Moses said, “When we consider that He numbers the raindrops, the sand of the sea and the stars of heaven, we are amazed.”1 It’s been a rainy fall. The storm clouds have stomped about in the dark attic of the sky.  The rain has uncoiled with a shake.  We’ve squished our way into this new season, the soggy clockwork of autumn. Sometimes I pray about the weather, asking God to make some adjustments, but it’s hard to know what to… Read more

3 ways the Lord’s Prayer changed my life

About a decade ago, I began praying the Lord’s Prayer daily.  It changed my life.  Here’s how: Our Father, who art in heaven – Jesus addresses God as “Our Father.”  He brings all of us along into his filial love–the love of the Son for the Father and the Father for the Son.  Through Jesus, we’re not just talking about The Father or His Father.  Now it’s Our Father.  And that’s awesome. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done – Jesus’… Read more

Learning to love the dying

Shortly after graduating from seminary, I signed up for some unspecified “service” at a church convention in a big city.  My assignment came in: go to the Alzheimer’s wing of a local nursing home and hang out with the residents.  I had been imagining something with a little more pizazz–maybe playing with a bunch of vivacious and suitably multi-ethnic kids.  I could go to the nursing home any day of the week.  I wanted something more…life-giving.  So I tried to change… Read more

Blessing our first egg

Little Scurry laid her first egg behind the old recycling bin.  (Note to self: lock chickens in run until they figure out the nest box).  It was a tiny egg, a fragile brown the color of dust and pond water.  She behaved strangely all morning, throwing sticks on her back and clucking about as the egg-laying circuits in her delicate pea-brain lit up.  She tried to come into the house and managed to get herself wedged between the screen and glass door.  And… Read more

The goodness of useless things

It turns out you can eat corn smut.  Who knew? The ancient peoples of Mexico, that’s who.  They call it xuitlacoche, and they covet smut as a mushroom-y filling for quesadillas. I first discovered that you can eat corn smut in a radio program I heard last fall, and I’ve been half-hoping to see it break out in our tiny sweet corn patch ever since. I got my wish this year.  As summer ripened, the corn tasseled and silked.  Ears stretched and pebbled under green… Read more

Pray and soar

The Mississippi kites are migrating.  They’ve been wheeling over our neighborhood since spring, rising on thermals and diving on cicadas and dragonflies.  They’re just big enough that I keep a watchful eye on our chickens–and our chickens keep an eye on the kites.  The chickens have a distinctive cluck that means heads up!  (Yes, I can speak a little chicken). The kites gather in the sky in gray whorls as they prepare to migrate to somewhere in South America.  Their wings angle back like… Read more

On hearing our beautiful white laying hen crow

We experienced a tragedy in our house the other week.  Our beautiful white laying hen crowed. We weren’t sure what we were hearing at first.  The sound was hoarse and pubescent, nothing like the lusty, swaggering cock-a-doodle-doo of the big boys. But it grew louder each day until there was no way we could pretend we didn’t hear anything.  He crowed in the coop when I opened the doors.  He crowed on the lawn.  He crowed to wake the dead and–what’s… Read more

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