When It’s Complicated, Just Show Up

A few months ago, my church sensed a call to get involved with refugee ministry. There was so much ugliness coming from all corners of the political world (some corners more than others). There was fear-mongering and moral posturing; there was "othering" and "not those people"-ing. We wanted to offer a voice to counter that inhospitable message. We wanted to embody the radical hope offered by both the gospel and the Constitution. Like compassionate people all over the world, we saw those h … [Read more...]

This is Sunday, All Day Long

What if I told you that you could change the world using only the first 3 things that you touched this morning?For instance… I bet shortly after waking this morning, you touched a cell phone. Turned off the alarm that woke you up. Checked the weather to plan the shoe situation and, oh look at that, it’s SNOWING. On Easter. Maybe you also answered a message or checked the news to see what kind of day it’s going to be.And then, maybe you had a cup of coffee. Before you got dressed, before y … [Read more...]

Meanwhile, Instead, Anyway: Christmas, the Great Conjunction

My high school English teacher--the one who showed me the wonders of eliminating 'to-be' verbs in favor of stronger action words, and the one who taught me to read for layers of meaning beyond the surface of the page--changed my life in the way teachers do sometimes. Just a few small nudges here and there, and the world of words opened to me in a whole new way. I've run into her a few times since high school, and she sent me a lovely flower arrangement on the day of my ordination. She was 'that' … [Read more...]

Let it Go: What Church Can and Can’t Be at Christmas

Here's what I did NOT need to see: that article from "Christianity Today" about how many Americans will go to church for Christmas.The answer? Everybody. ALL THE PEOPLE. They will come from the city and country, from hill and holler; the believing and the skeptical, and happy and the heartbroken, the long-lost and the never-known... It's Christmas and THEY ARE COMING. Prepare the overflow seating...These publications hit us all year long with the depressing 'mainline decline' … [Read more...]

Keeping the Light

Normally, I’m a purist. Nothing green or sparkly goes up at my house until the first Sunday of Advent. Not a strain of Christmas music creeps over my airways until December 1. No shopping until I really HAVE to. And even then, my version of ‘shopping’ is pretty modest.But this year? Somebody call the liturgical police—because I am like Buddy the Elf up in here. I finished most of my shopping online weeks ago. The minute I finished my turkey and mashed potatoes on Thursday, I cranked on the al … [Read more...]

$h*! Jesus Says: 7 Reasons I’m (Still) a Christian

This one's for the Skeptics, the Cynics, the Critics; the Dones, the Nones, and the Professional Bu!!Sh*t Callers--I hear you. You're my people. I see every bit of the drama, the pettiness, the poor stewardship, the moral grandstanding, the lack of authenticity and the love of tedious-meeting-having that defines westernized Christianity. I know it can be gross. I know. I know the music can be bad, and the utility bill is higher than the mission giving. I know that sometimes the coffee is … [Read more...]

Home By Another Way

I'm at my denomination's General Assembly this week. Every other year, in the HOTTEST PART OF THE SUMMER, Disciples of Christ descend on some unsuspecting town--usually in the Midwest--and share a time of worship, workshops, celebration and visioning. There are business sessions too. So I hear...Anyway, there's lots of STUFF going on, every minute of every day. At times, I've left my room at 7 in the morning and not gotten back until after midnight. (In a complete state of sensory overload, … [Read more...]

Holy Edges: 10 Things to Preach if Your Church is Divided on Gay Marriage

It’s going to be a great day at my church tomorrow. My congregation has been open and affirming since before that was a thing. So at our place, the news of the SCOTUS ruling on gay marriage will be met with rejoicing. There will be a special prayer. There will probably be cheering. We might haul the kids’ noisemakers out of the closet. I know, and it’s not even Christmas!But in other congregations, there will be a sharp, icy chill in the air. I’m not talking about the churches where everyone— … [Read more...]

Good Call: 10 Ways to Nail that Pastoral Search Interview

It's that time again. All over the country, exhausted pastoral search committees plow through another pile of profiles, fumble with the technology for another round of Skype interviews, and miss another week of family dinner times to make a series of reference-check phone calls. Meanwhile, pastors sit anxiously by the phone, like they are waiting for the daggone quarterback to call on a Friday night, just hoping for that next small sign of hope: "we are moving ahead in our selection process, and … [Read more...]


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