An Unexpected Servant: The Leadership of Pope Francis (Isaiah 49:1-7)


By Lynn Huber Pope Francis signaled a new kind of Vatican leadership from the very first acts of his papacy.   As the New Year brings reflection over the past year, we have heard much about Pope Francis and the ways he has surprised Catholics and non-Catholics alike.  The suddenness of his predecessor’s resignation this past spring, the fact that he is the first Pope from the Americas, and his apparent commitment to his namesake St. Francis’ concern for the poor and … [Read more...]

I Know What God Looks Like (Luke 15:1-10)

Mathew Skinner

By Matthew L. Skinner Do you want to see what God is like? It just got harder to do so on Wikipedia. Wikipedia still has an article called “God,” and it hosts a range of ever-changing perspectives. But a few days ago the site made God less visible when it deleted its short article on Antoinette Tuff, the bookkeeper who in late August may have prevented a massacre at an elementary school near Atlanta. Wikipedia merged her name into another, more obscure article. The Wikipedians’ … [Read more...]

It’s Not About You (Luke 14:25-33)

Lutheran World Relief headshots

By John Nunes A life transition—like any effort to follow Jesus—is stressful: packing and unpacking, bidding farewells, refocusing from one set of commitments to a new future. It might be summarized in the early North African church leader’s interpretation of this Sunday’s Gospel reading from Luke 14:27: “Take up your stress and your tortures.” (Tertullian) This September, my family’s transition from the hazy days of summer’s more casual pace back into the … [Read more...]

The Ballad of Sour Grapes

GregoryCuellar Headshot

By Greg Cuéllar Many of life’s memorable moments can be brought to mind just by hearing a favorite song.  Consider Sam Cooke’s protest song, “A Change Is Gonna Come,” and the ways it evokes the civil rights crisis of the early 1960’s, or John Lennon’s song of peace, “Imagine,” which has as a point of reference the Vietnam War. These and many other songs not only encapsulate moments of the human experience but also give voice to a social critique. Attuned to Social … [Read more...]

The Power of Prayer . . . at the Kmart


By Rev. Susan Sparks When I want to remind myself of the power of prayer, I go to the Astor Place Kmart on the lower east side of Manhattan. Sure, I could read Kierkegaard or Augustine, but I prefer the Kmart. Specifically I favor an area in the far back corner of the basement. It is devoid of windows or natural light with a back wall of clear glass that faces the dungeon-like dark tunnel of the Number 6 subway train. There, you will find the most unexpected of things -- a plant … [Read more...]

Fear and Wisdom in the Immigration Debate

Nadella Headshot

By Raj Nadella They have many labels. Undocumented immigrants. Illegal Immigrants. Illegal Aliens. Wetbacks. Jan Brewer, the governor of Arizona, recently suggested that most of them are “drug mules.” Some have even called them “terrorists.” But few are known by their real names or treated as people with real lives. Most of them live at the edges of the society, under inhuman and dangerous conditions, and often separated from their loved ones. For some it may be a choice. However, … [Read more...]

What on Earth? Earth Day, God, and the Apocalypse (Rev. 21:1-6)

Adam Copeland

By Rev. Adam J. Copeland How Religious Leaders Are Taking Charge of the Environmental Congregations should be leading the environmental movement, says the Rev. Canon Sally G. Bingham, president of the Regeneration Project. Interfaith Power & Light, which mobilizes a religious response to global warming, promotes energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy. Have you ever heard someone described as, “So heavenly minded, he was no earthly good?” … [Read more...]

Why I Pray that April Tragedies Bring May Justice (Acts 9:36-43)


By Margaret Aymer Resurrection is the theme of the fifty days of Eastertide. Yet, for decades, the month of April has been filled with particularly horrific deaths: • The assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. (April 4, 1968) • The murder of 13 persons at the American Civic Association Immigration Center in Birmingham, NY. (April 3, 2009) • The shooting death of 32 students at Virginia Tech. (April 16, 2007) • The end of the Waco siege and the death of 82 members of the … [Read more...]

Repairing Our Grief (John 21:1-19)

By Greg Carey My Uncle Norman fought in Europe during World War II. An artillery observer, he didn’t return with many “heroic” stories to tell. When I was little, he would roll out some souvenirs from the war, and I’d be impressed: German military dress knives and lovely table linens. I don’t recall all of the stories or how these things became his, but I’m pleased to report the table linens were a gift. His war experience was hardly glamorous. Why Veteran’s Need Soul … [Read more...]

How Long Does Darkness Last? (John 20:1-18)


By Rev. David Lewicki There is a pall over this morning. As this story begins in John’s Gospel, “it is still dark.” It is still dark where we wake up today. Beautiful, beloved children of God awake this morning in rooms where no light will break through. Morning brings no solace. It is still dark. How Women Are Breaking the Church's Glass Ceiling Jesus treated women differently than others would have treated women during his time, serving as a sort of early … [Read more...]