Pope Francis on How to Prepare a Sermon

pope

The pope and I agree. He's in very good company! (Okay, I'll admit, it goes the other way, too.)What do we agree about? How to prepare a sermon.Here's the backstory to how I know Pope Francis and I agree.I wrote this week to Susan Stabile, a law professor and Faculty Fellow of Spiritual Life at the University of St. Thomas. Susan had written an endorsement for Forty Days with the Holy Spirit followed by a fine blog post. I wrote to her about my first term at Perkins School of Th … [Read more...]

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 other dialects, which scattered Jewis … [Read more...]

I Dare You! A pre-Lenten Challenge

seattle

Though they roll their eyes, I love to tell my kids about the Heidi Bowl. I was 12 at the time—November 17, 1968. The Oakland Raiders were playing the Jets--my team--with Broadway Joe Namath at the helm. At 7 PM, with a minute left, the Jets ahead 32-29, NBC cut away to the film Heidi. During that minute, the Oakland Raiders scored two touchdowns and beat the Jets 43-32. (Crazy, I know, but I had it backwards until I just looked it up on Wikipedia; I could have sworn the Jets won! Wow, am I a l … [Read more...]

Before Bethlehem

candle image

The joke is told about a priest, Father Murphy, and little Eileen O’Connell, a third-grader in his catechism class. Father Murphy was explaining one day that Jesus was a Jew, not a Christian. Jesus was born a Jew, lived a Jewish life, and died a Jew. The implacable, red-haired Eileen O’Connell shoved her freckled arm into the air and shook it violently. “Yes, Eileen,” the unflappable priest responded, “What is it?” “Well, Jesus may have been a Jew, Father Murphy, but his mother was a Catholic!”* … [Read more...]

A Wee Little Man and a Big Insight

zaccheus

Last weekend Priscilla and I flew to Dallas to teach in an organization called United Methodist Women. We’d written the 2014 spiritual growth study, How Is It with Your Soul?, so they asked us to teach. We had a wonderful time with a remarkable group of people who share an equal amount of hunger for scripture and for justice.I arrived late. Priscilla and I were scheduled to leave at 6:45 AM on Thursday, but it was not to be. Jeremy graduated on Father’s Day, and our whole family, one by one, … [Read more...]

Garage Sale Antics and the Church in Antioch: Reflections on Generosity

mercedes benz

Last Saturday, my wife and daughter held a garage sale. I wasn’t there because I went with my son to his college orientation. When I arrived home, Priscilla couldn’t wait to tell me this story.Mid-morning a woman drove up in a late model black Mercedes Benz. She nosed around then offered Priscilla and Chloe a quarter—that’s twenty-five cents—for a brand new bulletin board they had priced at a buck. In the spirit of garage sales, Priscilla countered, “50 cents!” The woman hesitated then packed … [Read more...]


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