Gratitude: A Spiritual Practice

“Meister Eckhardt once noted that if the only prayer you can make is “thank you,” that will be enough. And, I agree. Gratitude is the virtue of interdependence and connection, reminding us that what is best in life is a gift, not something we originated on our own and by ourselves but the result of the interplay of our creativity and the gift of life mediated through parents, friends, the environment, culture, our nation, and the divine who moves through all things.” Bruce Epperly reflects on the spiritual practice of saying “thank you.” [Read more...]

Praying The Future

Phillip Clayton of Claremont School of Theology says that the future of the church over the next 20 years will not secured by new and emerging forms of theology, but in ecclesiology. By this he means it is in how we DO CHURCH that is important. While we can expect the continued decline of Christianity in culture we can also expect new pockets of vitality and experience to emerge. [Read more...]

Electing a new Presbyterian Moderator, or Habemus Mamam

“When the Catholic council of superarchbishops or whatever it is gathers to choose a new pope, they sequester themselves in a room and send up a plume of white smoke when they come to a choice…Presbyterians do much the same, minus the secrecy…” Seminary student Talitha Phillips files her second report from the Presbyterian Church’s bi-annual gathering this week. [Read more...]

Live from General Assembly: What ARE We Doing?

“Nearly 3,000 Presbyterians have descended upon Minneapolis, with nametags flapping, outfitted in everything from suits to sloganed T-shirts, meandering like tourists around the convention center & associated hotels. We stick out like a circus. I watch us bumbling around and wonder — what ARE we doing?” Seminary student and guest blogger Talitha Phillips files her first post from the Presbyterian Church’s bi-annual gathering, General Assembly, happening this weekend in Minneapolis… [Read more...]

Trouble and Transformation: Reflections on Sunday’s Bible Texts

“Reading the prophet Amos hits too close to home these days. No one wants to be a harbinger of bad news, especially when anxiety is gripping the community already; but that’s Amos’ vocation. To speak words of disorientation, with just a few final sentences of hope, is Amos’ challenge to an already unsettled nation, facing the “perfect storm” of unfixable problems.” Theology Professor Bruce Epperly on how Amos’ words speak to us today… [Read more...]

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The Preacher as Last Comic Standing?

I am a fan of the show Last Comic Standing. I wouldn’t stand up in a pulpit and recommend to parents that they have their children watch it, because it is, of course, often profane and vulgar. But for me, stand- up comedy is a fascinating genre – both because of its delivery and its content. Preachers can learn some positive lessons, as well as some cautionary tales, from stand- up comedians. [Read more...]

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Fourth of July Spirituality

“In the dialectical movement of not “too much” and “not too” little, when it comes to the relationship of Christianity and national holidays, let me suggest some spiritual practices for the Fourth of July. These will place our national celebration in light of God’s present and future vision for our nation and the earth.” Bruce Epperly on expanding our sense of the Holy on our National Holiday. [Read more...]

A Christian Yogi

Several times a week, I willingly enter a small, 105-degree heated room and engage in a physically and mentally grueling set of 26 postures with nearly 20 other sweating participants for 90 minutes, concluding with a final deep savasana (dead man’s pose) in which i find myself completely exhausted, drenched and yet strangely renewed. These days, I claim Bikram yoga as one of my main spiritual practices, along with prayer and going to church. [Read more...]

How Not to Be a Disciple: Week Two July 4, 2010

When I’m preparing to preach on a text, after I pray for guidance, I begin by reading the text as if I had never read it before, not an easy task. I then make note of observations, stories, memories, and questions that come to mind. I look for things that seem odd or perplexing. With regard to Jesus’ instructions to the seventy in Luke Chapter 10, a number of questions and thoughts come to mind… [Read more...]

A Gateway and a Path: More on Summer Reading

“I was raised in a conservative Christian home. But, by the time I entered high school, I had forsaken my Baptist roots. As a rather precocious spiritual seeker, the texts that inspired me throughout high school were the Tao Te Ching, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, The Lord of the Rings, The Teachings of Don Juan, Walden, and the writings of Emerson and Hesse. I found God through Hindu meditation and psychedelic adventures rather than the black-backed Bible that was my childhood guide.” Bruce Epperly looks back on the books that have shaped his faith journey. [Read more...]

Dare We Call Them Christians?

“All are saved eventually, even the Hutarees and Westboro folk, who may surprisingly find themselves in the afterlife, growing beside homosexuals, Hindus, and liberals.” Bruce Epperly debates the faith claim made by Christian fundamentalist groups. [Read more...]

Simplicity & Transformation: Lectionary Reflections for July 4th

“In a world of chaos and complexity, this week’s scriptures invite us to trust God’s presence in the ordinary, simple, undramatic, and accessible realities that support and nourish us.” Theology Professor Bruce Epperly considers the countercultural vision of wholeness of body, mind, spirit, and relationship presented in the sermon texts for Sunday, July 4th. [Read more...]