Hurricane Heroes and the Book of Exodus

With Hurricane Harvey barreling down on the Texas coast, with Galvestonians and Houstonians making their exodus north, I’m struck by the irony of this week’s lectionary text. The focus? The Nile River, which was famous for the floods that fueled the fertility of the famed Nile River Valley and fed the Nile delta. Many of the good people of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, who support the podcast that accompanies this post, are on their way north, fleeing the coast. Maybe… Read more

Beneath the Headlines: Another Presidential Committee Ups and Quits

In the minute-by-minute debacle of modern American politics, it is easy to miss something important. For example, on Wednesday, when the headlines had to do with the CEO flight from Trump’s manufacturing and business councils, Trump officially terminated the Central Minors Program. According to the Washington Post, Obama responded to a spike in the number of unaccompanied minors from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras by allowing children under the age of 21 with parents lawfully living in the US to… Read more

The Summer of ’17: Jacob’s Ladder and Esau’s Tragedy

Every year, without fail, we sang the chorus Jacob’s Ladder at church camp. Sung by a hundred Long Island high schoolers, it was interminable. (It never sounded like this. Wow!) We certainly had no idea this was a Negro Spiritual with a history that stretched back 150 years or so. So we sang it. We sang the life out of it. We are climbing Jacob’s ladder, We are climbing Jacob’s ladder, We are climbing Jacob’s ladder, Soldiers of the cross…. Read more

Summer of ’17: Sibling Rivalry on Steroids

Priscilla and I had three miscarriages before we had our daughter Chloe and son Jeremy. We waited, not decades, of course, but in the uncertainty of whether we could have children at all. Countless visits to doctors, to geneticists. Countless walks. Countless cups of coffee. Then Chloe was born after twenty-seven hours of labor—and whisked off to pediatric intensive care even before we knew her gender. But she soon thrived, and we had the distinct, even unexpected pleasure, of raising… Read more

The Summer of ’17: the Amazing Disappearing Man!

When I was a kid, my older sisters would say, “He’s useless.” No. That’s not quite right. They were exasperated, so they’d sigh, “He’s use-less. MOM!” That’s better. No doubt I was the useless younger brother of two older sisters. I probably still am. Both of them are nurses, who have spent hours upon hours actively helping people in need. Me? I teach and write and hang with students—and quip, “I’m the wrong kind of doctor. I’m the useless kind.” Well,… Read more

The Summer of ’17: Fragile

When our son Jeremy was just a kid, he often set himself up in the living room and built Lego gas stations, space ships, and castles. Our living room, where he held sway, godlike over his creation, had six floor-to-ceiling windows, which he faced. This meant Jeremy had his back to me, as he sat, searching, digging, hunting for just the right part–and I stood in the doorway. I watched for as long as I could, until he sensed me,… Read more

The Summer of ’17: a Summer of Trysts and Turns

The lectionary last week … Wait! Did I start a blog post with the word lectionary? How boring is that? Actually, not at all. For this entire summer, the summer of ’17, I’m working with Tommy Williams, the affable and able pastor at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Houston, to offer a series of podcasts that follow the lectionary texts from Genesis. For about 20 minutes each week, we chew over (with surprisingly few belches, given how undigestible some of this… Read more

Stuff the Style: Reflections on Preaching from Jimmy Dunn

I’m reading through Jimmy Dunn’s thick, beautiful, provocative book, Jesus and the Spirit. Enthralled, I’ve taken to making practical guidelines for the Perkins students who are in my class just now. I just can’t resist. I sent one of these wee practical guides to Scot Mcknight just yesterday. Scot studied with Jimmy–fortunate men, both of them–so I thought he’d be interested in the hay I’ve made of some of Jimmy’s book.  In fact, I  just finished another one moments ago… Read more

This Pentecost, Dump the Red and Go Green!

Normally Pentecost has its own color, red, to remember the fire that hovered over Jesus’ followers on that remarkable day of Pentecost over 2,000 years ago. Christians who follow the church calendar, in fact, wear red on Pentecost. Red shirts. Red pullovers. Red skirts. The church colors—vestments, banners, and altar cloths—turn to red for the season of Pentecost. This year, Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement changes Pentecost for all of us. So I have a suggestion for… Read more

The Detritus of Dreams

I saw this photograph today from Parsons School of Design in a New York Times article. It contains the backpacks left behind by migrants coming across our border. Of course, it is a powerful image of loss and naivete. Of dreams shattered. Of panic. Of giving up–both things and hope. That is where the photo took me. But it also took me to the days I watched my kids put on their jackets and climb into their daypacks to head… Read more

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