Post-sermon Anxiety

When I lay my head on the pillow after a Sunday of preaching, my most common worries are these: Did I make it too easy? Did I wrap up the message too tight? Was there someone there whose life is falling apart that felt excluded from the good news?Yesterday my sermon was full of good news. I preached on our image of God and how essential it is to know that God is with us, for us and ahead of us (with full credit and gratitude to Rob Bell’s new book, What We Talk About When We Talk About G … [Read more...]

What We Do: Good Friday

This is my first in occasional posts about the church that I am privileged to serve as a pastor. First Presbyterian Church of Bend has been in Bend, Oregon for over 100 years. In the last seven years, it has doubled in size and continues to grow. We are diverse theologically, politically, and generationally. Our community includes lifelong Presbyterians, agnostics bordering on atheism, refugees from many faith traditions, and the spiritual but not religious. We continue to live out a long … [Read more...]

Solitude in Community

In response to the Patheos Progressive Christian question: What spiritual practices are helpful and/or meaningful to you during Lent?The picture in my mind when I think of spiritual practice is being in a room by myself, going inward, connecting with God, connecting with my soul. Prayer, meditation, spiritual reading. These are solitary activities. Necessary, beautiful solitary activities that provide a powerful counter to our outward-facing world that demands constant engagement and … [Read more...]

A Drama Queen’s Lent

For Lent, I am giving up drama.Chocolate is looking like an easier choice.I recognize this is an unorthodox thing to relinquish and I can’t claim to have chosen this discipline on my own. It came to me from that mysterious space in my soul that I have learned to recognize as the Holy Spirit. And it is rooted in ongoing work with my Enneagram type.If you aren’t familiar with the Enneagram, I would definitely recommend some reading and exploring. Start on this website and then read a bo … [Read more...]

Christianity in ashes

I didn’t grow up with it. It was a strange antiquated concept to me. A black smudge on the forehead announcing to everyone you were just that religious or maybe superstitious to risk such public identification with the Catholic church.And then I became Presbyterian. And I realized it wasn’t just a Catholic thing.“From dust you came and to dust you will return.”Startling words in a society that prizes youth and spends fortunes on beauty creams and sports cars.I now pass all of my c … [Read more...]

impressions of Cuba

Open your eyes and you are in the late 19th century. Horse-drawn carriages clip along, the spokes of their wheels blurring together as they deliver cargo to its destination.Close your eyes and open them again. It is 1950. Gleaming Buicks, Chevrolets and Oldsmobiles parade by touting progress and post-war determination.Close your eyes and listen. The clip of horse hooves and the roar of engines join the boom of hip hop and the sound of street vendors hawking their wares. Roosters crow and … [Read more...]

Sacred Apricots

On a summer afternoon this past summer, I received the news that my grandmother had mostly lost consciousness and, under hospice care, hovered in that mysterious space between life and death.I had said a meaningful goodbye to her just days before, and now, 500 miles away, there was nothing left to say. I was restless on the doorway of grief and had no further capacity to work that day.I left the office and went to a local farm stand where I purchased a $12 box of perfectly ripe apricots. … [Read more...]

Why an Incarnation

A response to the #progGod Challenge: Why an incarnation?Easter gets all the buzz.But personally, I am less concerned with resurrection and more transfixed by incarnation.Every year of my life, the sentiment goes stronger, the belief grasps tighter, that it is the incarnation that saves me, that incarnation is the germinating seed containing the healing of the world, that incarnation may be Christianity's best hope for a relevant future. Easter is not possible without Christmas. In … [Read more...]

A sermon in response to Newtown

Just a note... Our church community is doing an Advent series entitled "Unwrapping Jesus." We started with an Easter story with Jesus as Savior, moved to Palm Sunday with Jesus as Revolutionary, and yesterday moved to Jesus as Healer with this story of the friends who bring their friend to Jesus for healing. You can also listen to it at because the manuscript is just what I thought I would say.  There are no words that can adequately address the pain our nation is … [Read more...]


Tomorrow is my last day here in Guatemala. I will go home with many memories and lessons from this trip as I did last year. This year, however, my familiarity with people and a short history in the country helped me see Guatemala not only as a place to receive help from our team, but as a place from which I have much to learn and in which there are many people that I respect.It's a fine line between idealizing someone and respecting them. I think when you come to a place like Guatemala, it … [Read more...]