Simple Gifts: Demand the Light

Demand the Light Rev. Dr. Amy Butler Mark 13:24-37 It was Christmas, 1975, and I began early that year crafting my letter to Santa.  I was five years old and it was the first year I’d written with real words, crooked letters and funny misspellings drawn in crayon, illustrated with my best attempts at drawing a Christmas tree.  I felt an urgency that year, I recall, because there was something I deeply wanted for Christmas.  I was pretty sure, in… Read more

Navigating the Church’s Engagement with the Digital World

The times, they are a-changing. This is typically the lament of the elders, a group in which I’m pretty sure I’m now included, and it certainly rings through the halls of every church I’ve ever encountered. Nobody likes change, and especially change to the institutions and experiences that provide structure and stability in a changing world full of upheaval. One of the ways our society has vastly changed in just the last 15 years has been the creation of an… Read more

Longing For Home

Longing For Home Rev. Dr. Amy Butler Matthew 25:31-46 I went to elementary school at a private Christian school, a small kindergarten through eighth grade program called St. Mark’s Lutheran School, where the pastor of the associated church loomed large in the awareness of all the kids.  Pastor Gundermann not only pastored the St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, he led weekly chapel services at school and was a prominent figure in the community.  With a loud, booming voice and a perpetual… Read more

How to Survive in Today’s America: Become an Evangelical

I proudly call myself an evangelical, though some argue that point with me. The bottom line is that I believe loving God and loving our neighbors can change the world, and that’s good news. Evangelical. That being said, I have worked long and hard to temper the evangelical mindset I was given, a mindset that taught me everything in the world is easily parsed into crisp categories. These categories include but are not limited to: holy, sinful, heavenly, worldly, Christian,… Read more

How Should the Church Talk About Money?

Money, Money, Money, Money Rev. Dr. Amy Butler Matthew 25:14-30 For most people, talking about money in church is almost as fun as talking about politics at Thanksgiving dinner. I’m not sure exactly why we shy away from talking about money in church; my experience of talking frankly about money with many of you has felt almost like a relief—like we all are secretly wondering how our relationship to what we have impacts our relationships with God and with each… Read more

The Church Must Lead in Talking About Sexual Harassment

Early in my first pastorate I found myself leading a church in the process of redevelopment. Because we worked, essentially, in a construction zone, offices were here, there, and everywhere depending on what work was being done where in the building. The senior minister’s study at the time was far away from the other administrative offices, upstairs in a little side room off the sanctuary. Most days it was quiet and peaceful, but occasionally I felt a bit isolated, then… Read more

Receive This Blessing

Matthew 5:1-12 If we were playing a game of word association and I said the word “saint,” what would be your immediate response? It doesn’t count if you say your own name…. Most of us would eventually call to mind Mother Teresa, of course. Known in the Catholic Church by her official title, Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Mother Teresa was an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary. Her service to the church eventually led her to India, where she lived… Read more

Wedding Crashers

Matthew 22:1-14 There are so many uncertainties in life, so very little we can ever know for sure.  There is one thing, however, that I am convinced is a universal truth of human life: weird stuff happens at weddings. Because of my profession I have perhaps attended more weddings than the average person, and been in-the-know on many behind the scenes situations.  My experience includes but is not limited to: too much hairspray causing a bridesmaid’s hair to catch on… Read more

The Posture of a Pilgrim

Image: Courtney Pomeroy Poem: Jan Richardson Philippians 2:1-11 When I turned 40 I finished my doctorate and decided I was done with classrooms and textbooks and theology and biblical studies.  You’re never really done with learning, though, so I thought that I should probably look for something new to learn, something totally foreign from everything I’d spent all my life studying.  So I decided I would set out to obtain a license to operate a motorcycle.  I called this a… Read more

What Belongs to Me

Matthew 20:1-16 I believe that fifth grade was my favorite year of school ever. And that’s saying something, when you’re someone who basically went to school nonstop until age forty. I loved that particular year of school, though, because every single day for several months we spent an hour in the afternoon playing the game The Oregon Trail.  I’ve learned that The Oregon Trail is now a computer game, but way back in the day, we played it old school. … Read more

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