Tamir Rice and the Anguish of Our National Sin (Nehemiah 8:1-10)

By Robert Williamson. On December 28, just before New Year’s Day, a Cleveland grand jury declined to indict the officers who killed Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who had been playing with a toy gun in a park near his home. For many, the news resounded as yet one more tragic refrain in the long litany of our nation’s utter disregard for Black lives. Extinguished in the innocence of childhood, without even a second thought. America’s history of white supremacy… Read more

Manifested Hospitality for the Greater Good (John 2:1-11)

By Rev. Dr. Shively T.J. Smith   The activities of the Christian community should be no less vigorous as we enter the mid-month point in January 2016 and the energy of the Christmas Season has passed. In fact, it is on this Second Sunday after Epiphany (the Christian feast day and season known as “manifestation”) that an honest evaluation of our situation locally, regionally, and abroad should be made. This is a presidential election year in America and the television… Read more

The Missing Piece (Luke 3:15-17, 21-22)

By Susan Sparks. Arno Michaelis has a change of heart after being shown kindness. Life’s difficulties can come in many forms: illness, loss, prejudice, pain . . . and assembling furniture from Ikea. Anyone who has attempted to put together anything from this wonderfully creative, yet maddening, merchant understands the frustration. The box arrives with a zillion pieces and, the best part, instructions in Swedish. After hours of deciphering the directions and gathering together the countless tiny parts, inevitably you… Read more

Looking for Jesus (Luke 2:41-52)

By Jim Kast-Keat. A look at the year 2015. You’ll always find what you’re looking for. Unless, of course, you’re Mary and Joseph, looking for your preteen son on your road trip home from the Passover festival in Jerusalem. This is the scene found in Luke 2:41-52, the Gospel reading for the final Sunday of 2015. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus joined other travelers on their annual pilgrimage. At the end of the festival they begin their trek home. Mary and… Read more

Learning from Mary in Our Age of Endless War (Luke 1:39-55)

By Matthew L. Skinner. Author and activist Shane Claiborne champions a program that turn weapons of death into instruments of hope. National Geographic magazine recently named Mary, the mother of Jesus, “the most powerful woman in the world” as an appraisal of her ongoing influence and popularity. But do Mary’s words and example have a prayer of being heard and effecting change in this time of war? Life during Wartime Indeed, this is war. America has effectively been engaged in… Read more

The Challenge of Jonah Encountering Radicalization Through Radical Inclusion

By Frances Flannery. Since the Paris attacks, many in the U.S. have drawn deeper boundary lines between “us” and “them” in an ugly way that in my lifetime I only recall seeing after 9/11.  It is true that ISIS is related to Islam in an extremist way, much as the KKK is related to Christianity (think of the burning crosses).  Yet this association has caused some politicians, pundits, and ordinary citizens to become much more suspicious of Muslims in general,… Read more

Ordinary Acts of Grace (Luke 3:7-18)

By Eric D. Barreto. Habitat For Humanity NYC enlists volunteers to help rehabilitate old homes and build new homes that will eventually house the working poor in New York City. John the Baptist is an irritant in the midst of Advent. In the Gospel reading for this week in Luke 3:7-18, he is in the wilderness excoriating the crowds who came seeking baptism and repentance and deliverance. “Who warned you…?,” John wants to know. Who told you to come out… Read more

Selective Salvation in a Fear-Filled World (Luke 3:1-6)

By Karoline Lewis. “All flesh shall see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:1-6). Well, that depends. It depends on where you are from. It depends on your country of origin. It depends on your religion. It depends on those with whom you are associated. It depends on your race, your ethnicity, your gender, your sexual orientation. The list of criteria for salvation, contrived predominantly from our many fears, is long according to the world as we know it today, but… Read more

Black Friday: Can’t Buy Love (Jeremiah 33:14-16 and Luke 21:25-36)

By Karyn L. Wiseman. Since 1924, the Friday after Thanksgiving has marked the start of the holiday shopping season.  Now “Black Friday” is an American phenomenon where shoppers wait in line for hours, some for days, to get their hands on holiday gifts at bargain prices.  Retailers lure shoppers with steep door-buster discounts, limited quantities,  and by opening early and closing late. Black Friday sales have been advertised for weeks now it seems. Doorstoppers, insane discounts, buy 1-get 1 free, and… Read more

Radical Hospitality: Building Bridges, Respecting Differences (Revelation 1:4b-8)

By Jim Kast-Keat. In the 1990s Arno Michaelis was a white supremacist and lead singer of hate metal band Centurion, but the kindness shown to him by his Jewish boss changed him in ways he could never have expected. When I was eighteen years old I knew that I knew everything there was to know, especially in regards to the “us” and the “them” of the world. Eighteen-year-old me knew that being gay was a sin and that LGBTQ people… Read more

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