This homily was delivered as part of an ongoing Lenten Series around the themes and images of Lent.In the BeginningIn the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, she planted a garden. And the story goes that from the dirt of that garden God formed two people. At first God and the people lived as friends, co-creator in the garden, but eventually this partnership doesn’t work out. We don’t really know why, the text says something about a snake and some fruit, which feels mor … [Read more...]

“You’re Only As Good As Your Friends”


Last night, Anthony Smith (aka Postmodern Negro) and I celebrated our 10-year friendiversary with an impromptu livestream conversation, recorded and shared here for posterity. During our hour-long conversation, we reminisce about the last decade of emerging church conversation, our local involvement in the Charlotte Emergent cohort group (which is still going, by the way!), and the power of friendship (among many other things, including the 15 books Anthony is reading right now!). As Anthony … [Read more...]

Lenten Peace in Israel


Today There are three big things in my cultural-religious mind going on today. Today is St Patrick's Day. It is also Lent. And it's Israeli Election Day.  First, St. Patricks's Day. With a maiden name like Riley O'Brien, each year on this day I try to feel a sense of connection to my Irish roots. And I never do. I've never been to Ireland and I don't even drink. Instead, observance of St Patricks Day for me is usually something closer to shuffling into my closet and thinking, "Shoot! Why don't … [Read more...]

If This Was the Last Thing I Could Post on the Spiritual Life


I recently gave a talk during a retreat weekend about agape, the unconditional love of God. As I prepared this talk, I realized this was the core of everything I'd ever want to say about God and the life of faith up to this point in my life. Here is a modified version of what I shared.Agape is the unconditional love and acceptance of God. It has saved me and continues to save me. I’m going to be vulnerable and honest about some of my journey and share how the love of God has brought healing i … [Read more...]

Any Resemblance is Purely Coincidental

Spoiler Alert: If you are a huge Star Wars fan and are currently watching or plan to watch Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Netflix, this does contain a spoiler about Ashoka (Ah-sew-kah) Tano and the end of Season 5. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.Ashoka Tano is a blue and white haired alien that is apprenticed to Anakin Skywalker (the future Darth Vader). The Clone Wars series takes place between movi … [Read more...]

Apocalypse on all Our Houses… a guest post from Pamela Chaddock


From a 7 minute slideshow presentation given at Christianity 21 in Phoenix, 2015, by progressive religionist, Pamela Chaddock.The term ‘apocalypse’ makes me think of Tony Jones. Well, that’s because at last year’s Christianity 21 in Denver, Tony Jones inspired me with his talk about apocalypse. He dismissed the prevalent definition of “catastrophic destruction” for the original meaning – to “uncover, disclose, reveal”. Tony described the book of revelation as “a fulcrum or pivot-point between … [Read more...]

On Darkness and Light

Ahnnalise Stevens-Jennings

Wash and make yourselves clean.    Take your evil deeds out of my sight;     stop doing wrong.  Learn to do right; seek justice.     Defend the oppressed.[a] Take up the cause of the fatherless;     plead the case of the widow. “Come now, let us settle the matter,”     says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet,     they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson,     they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1: 16-18Have you ever noticed how we speak abou … [Read more...]

Revolution, Evolution or Good Disagreement?


This post is prompted by a number of things that have left me pondering how as Christians we are to bring about change in our churches. When we strongly believe in an issue of justice and yet find that opposed. It is one thing to fight for justice against a government or institution, but what if the struggle is within your own institution? Indeed among the very people who share the faith that inspires our desire to see change? When those we oppose are our brothers and sisters in that faith? The … [Read more...]

The Jesus I Need — An Easter Reflection

Painting of Cross over Church

In the Passion narratives I’ve never been that interested in what comes after the crucifixion.  I know that some say the whole ball of wax hinges on the stories of Jesus as the resurrected Christ.They say it’s all one thing, the suffering, shaming, crucifixion, resurrection, and later appearances.  You can’t lose the end parts without changing the meaning of the whole thing.And that’s my point.When I look at it, all I see is a beautifully complicated presentation of how to accomplish … [Read more...]

Sway- a poem for your March Day

Sometimes the best art comes from the back porch. Sometimes, it comes front the front porch.

Happy March.Here's a poem for you. SWAY I like talking in tongues, painting in acrylic, petting my dog in the warm sun of midday,serving the poor, being the hands and feet, and following that Jesus Way. I cuss some, and moonshine is alright,I sound like a sailor and I read my bible by the candlelight, Sometimes in the cool of day, you can find me on my front port-SWAY SWAY SWAYsitting in the swing, … [Read more...]