Your Church Does Not Need Volunteers

I was writing my weekly note to the congregation  (a few days late, because I took Monday off and it's all downhill from there). Usually in this note, I share a few words about the message for Sunday so that we can all be reflecting on the same topic throughout the week. It makes the sermon more of an ongoing conversation. I sometimes discuss something that's going on in the life of the church, as well. But this week, it was more of a thank you note. Because when I think about how much work my ch … [Read more...]

Stories Untold: Saving Sesame Street from the America First Budget

Guest post: Rev. Elizabeth GrashamI won’t bury the lede: I vehemently oppose President Trump’s “America First” budget for innumerable reasons.  But one of the big reasons I oppose it is because he’s threatening Sesame Street.Before my divorce was final, I took my son to see his incarcerated father on a once-a-month schedule.  Our visits were always the same: the car would be searched at the entrance gate, we would take a Ziploc bag of quarters, my keys and ID inside, we would go through a … [Read more...]

The False Idol of “Results:” The Sins of Our National Budget

If you want to know the heart of a nation, just look to its budget.Ours, at the moment, does not contain anything resembling a heart. Or a conscience. Or a brain, for that matter.The first draft of the proposed national budget, revealed this week, shows significant cuts to everything except security. Programs like Meals on Wheels, that serve the most vulnerable, have been eliminated completely. School lunches and after school nutrition programs are still on the chopping block. The … [Read more...]

The World All Around: How We Can and Can’t Shield Kids From Violence

I recently wrote a post about letting our kids have their privacy and not sharing every blessed part of their lives on the internet. I stand by it. That said--I'm going to share this thing, because it is important. And not just about my kid.Last week there was a terrible shooting in our neighborhood. In what is now (finally) being called a hate crime, a man in a local bar and grill shot two Indian natives, as well as another man who tried to stop it. One of the men has since … [Read more...]

The Fast I Choose: Lent, and What Consumes Us

Years past, I have rejected the notion of giving things up for Lent. I adhere more to the practice of adding a discipline TO my life, rather than the discipline of taking something away. The act of self-denial has always felt a little pious and inauthentic to me. Fine for other folks, if that works for them; but for me, nothing has ever felt meaningful enough to purge. I mean, in the grand scheme of the suffering of the world, what does it matter if I give up chocolate or t.v.?But I find … [Read more...]

Overshared Childhood: Parenting and Privacy in the Social Media Age

Friday night situation: everybody's home after Dad's been traveling all week, nobody has anyplace to be, the house is clean, and there's Chinese takeout for dinner. I'll add to this perfect tableau that my kids have mostly graduated from watching cartoons full of grating, whiny voices and now like to watch kids cooking shows on the Food Network.  All in all, a lovely evening--and if you've got a busy family, you know that these kinds of peaceful home nights don't happen often. Or at least, they … [Read more...]

Refugees are Not Political

I'm sure I'm the only pastor in the world who's been accused of "being too political."Lol. I'm kidding. Every minister who addresses justice issues will inevitably be accused of being political.Sometimes it's true. Sometimes the church IS political, and sometimes that's ok. Read Benjamin Corey's post about how Jesus was political; and maybe we should be too.At other times, we aren't being political at all. Rather, the person who's accusing us of "wading into a political issue" is … [Read more...]

Our Billion-Dollar Heart Problem: 7 Non-Consumer Ways To Do Valentine’s Day

This just in: Americans will spend about 18 Billion dollars buying stuff for their sweethearts today.18 Billion. I have to write that out because I don't even know how many zeroes that entails.This is nuts, people. I mean, we could use that money to build a giant wall. Or like, pay for healthcare for every child in America, or something crazy like that.$18 billion would also cover our National Parks budget for about 8 years. Someone, not naming any names, could do a whole lot of d … [Read more...]

7 Reasons to Keep the Johnson Act: Protecting our Binding Covenants of Church and State

When he wasn't picking fights with our allies; or Tweeting war threats in the middle of the night; or appointing a grotesquely unqualified Secretary of Education, or appointing a known white supremacist to the National Security Council; or de-funding the NEA; or dismantling the EPA... wait, I think I was going somewhere with this.Right. When he wasn't busy with all of these other equally appalling and shady dealings, the new President promised to roll back the Johnson Act--the thing that … [Read more...]