The Promise of Pentecost You May Not Know

In the days prior to that first Pentecost, Jesus’ followers were huddled together, gathered around a single command, a solitary promise. Jesus had told them to wait in Jerusalem for the “promise of the father” (Luke 24;49). So they did. What would that promise have looked like to them? What exactly were they waiting for? A clue to the answer lies in Peter’s sermon, which he delivers after the upper-room faithful are filled with the holy spirit and speak in… Read more

Scot McKnight’s A Fellowship Of Differents

What happens when you cross a top notch New Testament scholar, a genuinely funny guy, and a former fundamentalist? You get Scot McKnight, who has ample skill to imagine the world of the New Testament (that’s the scholar part), who can happily compare the church to a salad (that’s the funny guy), and who can relate to many of his readers by talking frankly about his upbringing in a conservative church—though without rancor (that’s the former fundie). Scot McKnight is… Read more

When Will the Untold Stories End? Another Entry for Black History Month

Guest essay by Priscilla Pope-Levison Around the turn of the nineteenth century, Emma Ray and her husband L.P. experienced conversion to the Christian faith at an African Methodist Episcopal church in Seattle, Washington. Not long after, they experienced that distinctive, instantaneous experience of the holiness movement called sanctification. In her autobiography, Twice Sold, Twice Ransomed,  Emma describes a jolt like a lightning bolt that struck her head and coursed through her body “from head to foot like liquid fire.” As… Read more

Can o’ Corn! A Simple Practice for a Significant Lent

“Can o’ corn!” my high school baseball coach, Coach Hogan, used to quip whenever one of us popped up. “Can o’ corn,” in baseball slang, means “Easy play.” Boy, did I ever give Coach Hogan opportunities to say, “Can o’ corn.” Patheos’ Deborah Arca has asked some of us, If we’ve never considered a spiritual practice for Lent, what is a first step, or a first experience, we might consider? Heck, the answer to that is a can o’ corn…. Read more

Why Do We Give Up Something for Lent?

Deborah Arca, director of All Things Patheos, from my perspective, asked the question, Why does Lent typically involve giving something up? My trusty Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church tells me that Lent was originally a time of fasting. “During the early centuries the observance of the fast was very strict. Only one meal a day, taken towards evening, was allowed, and flesh-meat and fish, and in most places also eggs and lacticinia [I figure that’s milk products], were absolutely… Read more

The Holy Spirit: so much left to learn!

If you, like me, feel you’ve still got much more to learn—much more to experience, too— about the Holy Spirit, then this book is for you. It’s not a seminary textbook. It’s certainly not the final word on the Holy Spirit. It’s intended to prompt you to reflect at your own pace and to absorb, slowly and deliberately, the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life, your community of faith, and the world. I hope, too, after you’ve spent 40 days with this book, you’ll say, There is so much more to learn about the Holy Spirit! Read more

The Holy Spirit From Day One

At this point in the Bible—about the seventeenth word—God hasn’t yet dipped a ladle into the soup, pouring some out as mountains, some as valleys, some as coasts. But God’s Spirit is there already, above the dark deep with the promise of confusion come to order, with the hope of muck made into mountains and soup into seas. I know what that Spirit has meant for us, our family, for me over the years, and I hope to offer, too, something of what that Spirit can mean for you in the days ahead—a rare, elusive blend of stability, hope, and challenge. Read more

Is the Spirit in Everyone, even Richard Dawkins?

This morning I watched, in a half-embarrassed sort of way, while Nicola Menzie, of  The Christian Post, interviewed me. At first, the angle of my head was odd: I looked like a balloon–fat around the jowl–with glasses and a little tuft of hair on my narrowed head. Once I got over that, I settled in to listen. The interview started with the provocative point that the holy spirit—the spirit of God—is in everyone, including, as the people of The Christian Post noted,… Read more

I Dare You! A pre-Lenten Challenge

What struck me in the aftermath was how much—I think this was genuine—the Seahawk players trusted their teammates. Each one credited the others, as they should have, since most of them made serious mistakes. Each one said his teammates still believed in him; Russell Wilson, with four interceptions, needed that. So did Jermaine Kearse, who didn’t catch a pass until the game-winning one in overtime, as I recall. I got to thinking that I don’t really need to trust my teammates-in-the-pew in the same way. I got to wondering why. Why don’t I need most people in my church to believe in me? Why don’t most people in my church need me to believe in them? Read more

Life After a Shooting: The Metamorphosis of a College Campus

The real test of a community is not its immediate reaction to grief — but its tenacity. Even after a shooting that rocked us to the core, we can’t turn inward. Even after plummeting into a vortex of grief, we can’t turn isolationist. Even after numbness, we can’t turn away. What happens down the road tests the mettle of a community, when tragedies are put in perspective, when memories fade. That is when communities can build borders and raise walls — or, as SPU has done, stay the stubborn course of hospitality and hope. Read more

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