Who Was Born on Your Birthday?

Knack for Noticing is Back!Dear friends and readers,For some time I wrote a weekly column for Patheos called Edgy Exegesis.Some weeks it was edgier than others! I stopped writing it a year ago, but appreciate the Facebook messages and emails I continue to get from those who find the archived entries helpful in their sermon preparation or devotional reading.I’m getting back into blogging now, but am broadening my focus from each week’s lectionary gospel text to reviving my Knack fo … [Read More...]

Icecream Store 4

Bacon Feta Chocolate Swirl?

We spent a week in August at Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. We’ve been going there off and on as an extended family for over 30 years now. One of my favorite features of the annual beach week is the nightly family walk to the boardwalk which inevitably includes a stop at the Ice Cream Store. Located at #6 Rehoboth Avenue, next to Candy Kitchen, this delectable stop features 12 flavors of snow cones, funnel cake, waffles, and 100 flavors of ice cream.I can’t remember them all, but along with the us … [Read More...]

A Lifeline in the Blizzard

When a new semester starts I usually feel a bit overwhelmed at the full fall ahead. I decided I had tagged the commitments facing me this fall “Demands,” and needed to retag them as “Opportunities.”To that end I committed to a change in the way I begin my mornings. Rather than begin each day with an anxious litany of “things Alyce has to do,” I pledged to begin it with prayer and some spiritual reading. I have a shelf next to my prayer chair in the corner of my office full of books related to … [Read More...]

The Parable of the Unemployed Fundraiser

Here is a story a friend of mine who works as a development officer told me recently. It's a true story that I think could function as  a modern day parable.The President and Vice-President for Development at a prominent north eastern university scheduled a meeting with a wealthy alumnus potential donor. The University was in the process of raising $5M to build a new cafeteria on campus. The appointed day and time arrived for the President and VP to meet with the donor. Their plan was to ask … [Read More...]

Alyce Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

The only way to be able to bear living far away from your family, assuming that you like them, is to avoid nostalgia at all costs. For the past 13 years, I’ve done so quite successfully. My mom, my husband’s parents, all of our siblings, cousins and nieces and nephews, and now, a grandniece, all live in Pennsylvania. I love my job and there are lot … [Read More...]

The Baby in the Middle

Several weeks ago our daughter Rebecca and her husband Dallas invited us to dinner on a Friday night. They’ve been married two years. In the middle of dinner, Rebecca said brightly, “I got Dallas a new white board for our home office. It covers the whole wall. I even put a green wood frame around it. Do you want to see it?”Rebecca is the Direc … [Read More...]

French Onion Soup

I preached at First United Methodist Church  in Rockwall, Texas yesterday. After the three services, one of the members asked me if I would like some vegetables from their community garden. He held out a box brimming with onions, red, yellow and white. “I got tired of looking at the big expanse of lawn behind the church that wasn’t doing anybody any … [Read More...]

You too?

This summer I’m going to the reenactment of the Battle of Gettysburg on its 150th anniversary. I am not a Civil War buff, though I do find it interesting. I’m going in place of my dad. My dad, Robert H. Fowler, Sr., was a Civil War Buff, published Civil War Times Illustrated magazine and wrote an award winning novel on the Civil War entitled Jim Mun … [Read More...]

Boot Against the Wall

I  was on a 6 pm flight from Memphis to Dallas several months ago. I had given several lectures at Memphis Theological Seminary. I had preached at their midweek Chapel service. I was physically and mentally fatigued.  It was a small American Eagle plane, the kind that has two seats on the right and one on the left and no first class. I had somehow g … [Read More...]

Saying Nes and Saying Yo: Discernment and Indecision

“Let your word be “Yes, Yes” or “No, No.’; anything  more than this comes from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37)Lately I’ve been translating this verse,Let your yes be “Not really, but maybe” and your no be “Sure, I guess I not.” (Matthew 5:37 the MCV version of the Bible = McKenzie’s Corrupted Version)I was doing so well earlier in the year … [Read More...]

“A Psalm for Boston?”

For a long time Psalm 121 has been one of my favorite psalms. I used to think the opening was lovely and inspiring “I lift up mine eyes unto the hills. Whence cometh my help? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.” I still think it’s inspiring, but in a more “Yikes, let’s get real!” kind of way. Because the hills are seen as places o … [Read More...]

Really? You’re Not Taking Any Notes??

I don’t give exams in my Introduction to Preaching classes. But maybe I should start. I don’t give exams, but, instead, students are evaluated on the basis of their sermons, the content based on a written manuscript, and the delivery in class. They also write several response papers to books I assign them to read. From week to week, class consists o … [Read More...]

My New Motto

Three occasions have arisen recently in which I have had to stand and deliver and, thank God, been able to do so. I am aware that the origins of “stand and deliver” are when English Highwaymen would stop carriages and demand that people deliver their jewels, pocket watches and valuables. It may be a dicey historical metaphor, but let’s just harvest … [Read More...]

How to Write a Pompous Letter

I get asked to write a lot of recommendation letters. Today I’m writing three of them. Perhaps because I have so many other things to do today, I’m wasting time staring at my computer screen, pondering the particulars of letter writing, with which, up until now, I have not unduly concerned myself.How should I open a letter to scholarship gra … [Read More...]

Harnessing the Darkness

As Easter approaches a lot of people are under the mistaken belief that being a Christian means living in a state of untroubled emotional bliss. They may feel that periods of anxiety and depression make one repellent to God. They may feel that they should not even attempt to scale the Kilimanjaro spiritual heights of Easter Sunday joy.When … [Read More...]

What Gives??

A pastor friend of mine told me the following story recently. About  ten years ago he was serving as a local pastor in Houston and owned a lake house on Lake Livingston in East Texas. The house was located in a wooded area with only two other dwellings nearby. His neighbor to the left was a vociferous atheist. His neighbor to the right self … [Read More...]