Psalm 23-and-a-Half

The Lord is my shepherd,      whether I like it or not. I shall not want.      Except for a bigger house, a nicer car, a slimmer waistline;      a newer device, a little more power;      and to always, always, every day, be right about everything. He makes me lie down in green pastures      as the world grays with concrete      and browns with toxic fumes           and bleeds with violence and rage. He leads me beside still waters                            even though I pull away, and … [Read more...]

Dark Before Dawn: A Soundtrack for Lent

I usually put out a playlist sometime around Holy Week. But this year, I started on it way early because we are using so much secular music in worship. Our theme is "Nothing But Time," which lent itself (get it? LENT itself? no extra charge for the puns, folks) to lots of wonderful art support.Ever thought about how much of your stress and anxiety is wrapped up in how you think about time? From the day to day hurry to the broad, existential, why-are-we-here kinds of things. If we could c … [Read more...]

Water and Ash


From dust you were born. And to dust, you will return.Is that a threat, or a promise? On the darkest days, we sense death hovering in our vicinity, like a grey cloud. It feels chilly. It sounds like slow, dirge-y organ music in a minor key. It smells like ash and feels abrasive against our skin—like burlap.Sack cloth and ashes… That’s what we could be about today.Or.We can choose to hear those words as blessing and benediction. From dust you were born. To dust, you will retur … [Read more...]

Six People You Need to Forgive

Ah, the reject pile... No, not photos of people who got kicked out of new member class (KIDDING people, kidding. All means all). I’m talking about scraps of paper, stacks of notecards, and maybe complete folders: containing the anecdote or bit of commentary that didn’t make it into the sermon; the sermon that got started and never took off; Or the series idea that didn’t develop as fully as the OTHER series idea. But there it sits, all the same. Every preacher has this pile. Promise.Other peo … [Read more...]

In New Skin, Again


Yes, this is what I do when I should be working on sermon notes, or prayerfully reflecting on high holy days. I rhyme things. It's a sickness... My car and my office are both a big messAnd I’m a big pile of hot-wired stress--Even the preacher has to confesswhen It’s Holy Week again. Friday’s black (but not like for shopping)The dang Easter bunny comes hippity hoppingAnd I wish this headache would just start stoppingIt’s Holy Week again … [Read more...]

Broken and Othered


This morning, I went to an interfaith Service of Unity and Hope at the Jewish Community Center in Overland Park. Last Sunday, 2 people were murdered there. Another victim was shot at a nearby retirement facility, also connected to the Jewish community.The man responsible for these heinous acts of violence—we won’t say his name, because I don’t believe in making celebrities out of killers—he had a history. Some long and awful history. He was involved with the KKK, and was even a Grand Dragon, … [Read more...]

Buzzfeed Your Soul: Which Whatever Are You?


Which Downton Abby character are you? Buzzfeed wanted to know. Ok, fine. I’ll play.I started clicking on stuff. Pick a color…sure. But like…for what? For a new dress, or for new paint in the living room? For nail polish, or liturgical paraments for the sanctuary? Ooh, and if yes to either the nail polish or the liturgical stuff, WHAT SEASON IS IT?Then, pick a movie. Like, I don’t know what kind of mood I’m supposed to be in, or who’s watching with me? Husband, or bff from high school? Cle … [Read more...]

Drink it Up, Drink it In: The Lost Art of Celebration


The Sunday before Valentine's day, I was doing my usual Sunday afternoon thing--staring at the wall, trying to recover from the mental and physical strain of preaching.  As I mindlessly scrolled through Facebook, I noticed a trend. Several consecutive pics in my newsfeed of friends displaying the Valentine cards, treats, and mail boxes they were making with their kids. After scrolling through 800 of these (ok, it was probably 7, but still) I got nervous."Hey," I said to my spouse..."Does H- h … [Read more...]

If My Wings Should Fail Me


I'm back among the living after a week down with the flu. Not a 24 hour flu bug type thing: actual influenza. Think sharp knives stabbing your chest every time you cough (which is, let's just say, often) chills, all-over body aches and general awfulness. And then my husband and one of the kids got it, and well... all downhill from there.But like I said--I'm back among the living today, newly aware of the fragile state of life embodied.  It doesn't take much to lay us flat. And at all … [Read more...]