Sex, Death, and the Same Old Tree

I just keep thinking about that tree.You know the one. It stood in the center of the garden. Everything else seemed to grow out from its center, and lean in towards it at the same time. Drawn to its vibrant color, its fragrance, the life that seemed to hum from within. Everything else in the garden depended on that one tree for air and light.So the gardener told the tourists not to touch it. To please not pluck its leaves, or eat its fruit, or spray it with pesticide or put a fence … [Read more...]

Mapping the Message: A Choose Your Own Adventure Tale for Preachers

When I write about pastoral life, I try to make it interesting and/or useful to readers who aren’t clergy. There is almost always a spiritual or practical truth that applies to a broader audience.That said—if you are not a vocational minister, the following might literally bore you TO DEATH, and I don’t want to be responsible for that. Read on if you wish. But I won’t be offended if you go cruise another blog and come back here tomorrow (or the next day).Meantime-- I’m going to share some … [Read more...]

Love Anyway: An Ode to First Days

I was not the mom sobbing into my latte. Nor was I the mom skipping and cheering down the hall because it was my first moment of freedom in 5 years.  No, I was the mom frantically stashing school supplies into the cubby, because I did not know to bring them on meet-the-teacher night. I was the mom noticing that I was suddenly the last parent in the room, as the teacher started her welcome routine.  And mostly, I was the mom proud to know that I could leave my kid with strangers for a few hours, a … [Read more...]

Good Morning: Thoughts on Robin Williams, and Hearing Whole Stories

When I was little, my dad bought the soundtrack (cassette tape, of course) to Good Morning, Vietnam. For a time, we listened to it in the car. All the time. I knew every word to every song. And I also knew the dialogue. Dad probably thought I was too young to ‘get’ some of the  more crass humor (he was right); and that I was too little to catch the bad language (wrong!). Thing is, even though I didn’t really understand WHY “Follow the Ho Chi Mihn Trail” was funny--or what was so dissonantly hilar … [Read more...]

Peach and Potato: A Parable

Listen: Yesterday I went to rural Missouri with some youth and other church folks. We spent the day working with Migrant Farmworkers Assistance Fund. This program connects workers arriving in late summer for harvest season with vital resources and services -- assistance with food, clothing, dental care, school registration and more. Our congregation has supported this organization for many years. Since we have a sister community in a small village in El Salvador, working with MFAF is our answer … [Read more...]

#BecauseJesus

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While flipping through radio stations, I came upon a show where the morning hosts asked people to call in and 'tell me something good.' I thought, hey, people sharing good news. I like good news. So I stopped to listen and heard some nice stories about recovered health and restored relationships. The beauty of the day or a joy of a fresh start. Then a guy called in and said this:“Yeah, with all this stuff going on in the Middle East...I just think about how Jesus says in the Bible that when t … [Read more...]

View from the Fountain: A Pentecost Sermon

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[click here, if you'd rather listen than read]1 Corinthians 13:3-133Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God ever says “Let Jesus be cursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. 4Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord;6and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. 7To each is given the manifestation of … [Read more...]

Dig In: 10 Ways to Find Your Feet in a New Place

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Hey. I haven’t had much to say lately. I’m not sure why that is, other than that when you write and talk and write and talk, all day long, then go home and talk some more, you will at some point run out of words. They always come back, eventually—usually as an assault to the senses, like an alien, animal thing trying to escape you all at once; a rush of words that literally burns itself into your brain (maybe while you’re asleep) and MUST BE FREED AT DAWN OR ELSE YOU’LL RUN MAD.However—this p … [Read more...]

Life Out There: Celebrating 5 Years of Patheos

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As a writer, I live 'in here,' in my head much of the time. As a faith leader, I live ‘out’ in the world, and up in front of a big community much of the time. ‘In here’ and ‘out there’ are two scary places to be sometimes.  This is why I started blogging.It is easy to feel isolated with one’s own thoughts. Especially if some of those thoughts are doubts about faith, or critiques of the Church, and one is supposed to be a leader in said faith/Church. But doubts and critiques are exactly what m … [Read more...]