From a Small Circle

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out … [Read more...]

Good Samaritans, Good Immigrants, and Bystander Problems: Sermon for Lent 1

Maybe they were feeling a little disgruntled… After all, the Samaritans in the neighboring village had just been terribly inhospitable to them. Maybe that’s why the Samaritan, transformed by the narrative powers of Jesus, becomes the unlikely hero of this story. But “unlikely” is the operative word here. Even though "Good Samaritan” has become a blanket term for generic do-gooder in our modern day, secular culture, we cannot understate the inherent ‘bad guy’ implication that the term Samaritan c … [Read more...]

The Poetry of Emptiness: Reflections from the Festival of Homiletics

Guest post: My friend and colleague Rev. Laura Ann Phillips shares a good word from the Festival of Homiletics, happening in Atlanta this week. It feels like I have been “going” non-stop since October 2014, and if I’m completely honest, it’s exhausting. I’ve been reading articles about gluten intolerance and insulin resistance wondering if that’s what is wrong with me. Maybe what I’m eating is making me tired? I’ve been trying to figure out how to get more protein in fruit smoothies as a safe … [Read more...]

Because The World is Hungry

This was Sunday's sermon for World Communion Sunday. As always, the table was filled with different kinds of bread from all over the world. I moved around the table during the sermon and between each story, broke a few pieces of the bread. I will answer now a question you are going to have later--yes, I broke some graham crackers too. ***In the weeks following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, international aid groups hit the ground with food, water and medical supplies. But the … [Read more...]

Self-Evident Truths: 7 Ways the Constitution is Not the Bible

When it comes to guns, religion and the display of hateful symbols on public property, we hear much talk of “rights” and “freedom.”  The arguments amount to blindly sentimental patriotism at best, and toxic entitlement at worst. At the same time—and from many of the same quarters—equal rights for LGBT folks are met with language of “values” and “tradition” and “what God and/or our forefathers intended for all people.” This marks a tragic disconnect among those who embrace the Bible with one hand … [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...]

Not in the Fire, Not in the Wind

The following is from week 2 of the sermon series "Doors and Windows: Faces of Faith in Transition." Since many of you followed last week's conversation about "Mapping the Message," I thought you might like to see the product of all that series planning. I really enjoyed sharing some of the creative process, and I hope we can talk more about that soon!  Meanwhile, read on for some thoughts on finding that still, small voice--even when all around us feels like chaos. It’s official. Nothing is … [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...]

Holy Meddling: I Know a Guy

MLK, John the Baptist, and Forrest Gump: a sermon about holy meddling, and the art of pointing people in the direction of Jesus.You know...when I say "testify," you can REALLY hear the Kentucky.Sunday, January 19Some questions for reflection: do you have gifts for connecting with people? How might you use those gifts to connect people to the gospel story? Or to your community of faith?How have you been led to 'come and see,' encountering the love of Christ in the flesh?  … [Read more...]