Anatomy of a conference: Why God and Guns?

At the beginning of October, The Riverside Church hosted God and Guns: Faith Leaders Address Gun Violence. Highlights from the day and video of the presentations can be found here. Over 100 faith leaders from across the country gathered in New York because they were tired of seeing on the news story after story of [Read More…]

What Lies Within

2 Timothy 2:8-15 With all due respect to all you brilliant academics out there, I have to tell you today the most important lesson I learned when I was finishing the dissertation for my doctoral work: sometimes it’s not exceptional creativity, deep and profound insight, or even all that much intelligence that gets you to [Read More…]

Refuse to be Amused

I think it is an objective fact that this presidential election is a circus, a national embarrassment.  Every morning just the practice of reading the headlines takes uncommon fortitude; at this point I’m prepared to say that very little surprises me anymore.  To think about what America looks like to the rest of the world [Read More…]

What Lies Behind

2 Timothy 1:1-14 World Communion Sunday In addition to my well-known aversion to most animals (please do not judge me, and take the opportunity to watch me look extremely uncomfortable by coming to the Blessing of the Animals next Sunday afternoon), it is common knowledge that I am not as interested in sports as, say, [Read More…]

Bridging the Great Divide

Luke 16:19-31 Thomas Jefferson, as you know, is famous for many things.  One thing in particular is currently housed in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.  It’s a Bible, sort of.  He created it by cutting passages out of a Bible with a razor and pasting them with glue into a collection he titled: [Read More…]

Bread on the Water

In April 2015 I gave the closing address at Faith Forward in Chicago.  It ended up being some deeply personal reflections on the loss of my brother, John, only one year before.  Yesterday would have been John’s 40th birthday, and even with the passing of time occasionally the grief is so sharp it makes you [Read More…]


Luke 15:1-10   I don’t quite know why I was so surprised by this. As I prepared for my sermon this week, today—the 15th anniversary of the terrible and terrifying day that airplanes crashed into the World Trade Center towers and hit the Pentagon in Washington, DC—it was not far from my consciousness that so [Read More…]

Out of Many, One

I doubt I’m telling you something you don’t know, but just in case you’re wondering, let me say from the start: leading a church is hard work. It’s just perpetually difficult to bring a group of people together, united or at least generally aligned around a shared conviction and mission, and move them toward action. [Read More…]

People Are Watching

Luke 14:1; 7-14 When I was in seminary I had a professor who taught us a lesson about hospitality that I will never forget. Some of you may know that I went to seminary in Europe with Baptists from all over the world.  Occasionally we would travel for study trips into areas of Eastern Europe [Read More…]

Bent Over

You would think that after preaching almost four cycles of the Revised Common Lectionary a preacher would have at least one sermon on all the interesting texts that come around regularly. For some reason unknown to me, however, it turns out that I have never written a sermon on the Gospel text assigned for last [Read More…]