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 stuff is) stories … [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 and thought, " … [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 fo … [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 off to school. "Have you got your assignment?" Check. "Your … [Read more...]

The Cross and the Old Testament (with a little help from NT Wright)

In 1978, it became clear to my director of studies at Christ’s College—a little-known, shy, heavily-bearded young Anglican theologian named Rowan Williams—that I had no clue about how to take a Cambridge University tripos examination in theology. That’s not quite right. I knew how to take it. I just didn’t know how to succeed in it.So Rowan Williams sent me to the equally young chaplain of Downing College, Cambridge, a New Testament scholar named N. T. (or Tom) Wright. Tom painstakingly led m … [Read more...]

Refugees: The Great Reversal

What's the most cherished verse of the Bible? For many Christians, it has to be John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." It's so popular that it has season tickets to sporting events. If you watch football, you'll see it, with its own placard, right there behind the goal post: JOHN 3:16. (I didn't happen to see it at the Super Bowl, but I bet it was there, in one heck of an expensive … [Read more...]