Lessons from St. Patrick’s Day

“Our people know about coffin ships — boats that sink to the bottom of the sea with everyone on board.” Close your eyes and imagine the voice who said those words. Who do you a picture? An African-American describing slave ships on the Middle Passage? A Cuban refugee who knows what it is to cling [Read More…]

Everything Must Change: The Past

Exodus 17:1-7 You cannot have grown up in the 1980s without having had your childhood shaped, at least in part, by Michael J. Fox’s hit 1985 film Back to the Future.  The film is the story of teenager Marty McFly, who is sent back in time to 1955.  While there he figures out pretty quickly [Read More…]

Everything Must Change: Home

Genesis 12:1-9 Even if I had a blindfold on, I would know I was at home. There’s something unique about the air of the Hawaiian Islands, where I grew up.  For one thing, the air smells…sweet.  It’s a smell that’s a mixture of ocean and flowers that I have never smelled anywhere else. And it’s [Read More…]

Truth in a Post-Fact World

These days the words of the Psalmist keep coming to mind: “I will lift up my eyes to the hills; From where shall my help come?” I imagine that when he wrote these words, the chaos of his life was swirling around him, and perhaps the only way he could think to navigate his way through the [Read More…]

Everything Must Change: Paradise

Genesis 2:5-17; 3:1-7 Controversy is swirling in conservative Christian circles this week over the release of the movie based on the best-selling book, The Shack.  The book, originally self-published by author William Paul Young in 2007 has sold more than 10 million copies and been translated into over thirty languages. Of course there’s a movie! [Read More…]

Ashes, Ashes

Last week I received several expressions of gratitude for making myself available to impose ashes at two Ash Wednesday services. People said the kindest things, like: “I know you have so very much on your plate. Thank you for taking time out to lead services today.” I found these comments a bit curious, as leading [Read More…]

Overcome by Faith

Matthew 17:1-9 Transfiguration Early in my career I was responsible for planning and leading a women’s retreat.  I made up a carefully detailed schedule and lists of preparations that began the very first night with an ice breaker.  We went around the room and everyone was asked to describe and demonstrate, if possible, a special [Read More…]

Some Uncomfortable Words

Just last week I participated in a panel of guests discussing religion and advocacy in the current political climate. This sort of experience is not that unusual for me, especially in these difficult days. What was unusual for me were some of the details of the gathering, details that were definitely out of my usual [Read More…]

Praying in Dark Days

Having trouble finding the right words? Here’s last Sunday’s prayer prayed by Riverside’s Minister of Justice, Advocacy, and Change, Rev. Bertram Johnson. “God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, Thou who has brought us thus far on the way; Thou who has by Thy might Led us into the light, Keep us [Read More…]

The Hardest Commandment

Matthew 5:38-48 This week the senior staff spent a day and a half in intensive staff development.  This is notable, because we rarely have occasion to spend this much time all together in one place, and honestly most of us came into the experience pretty sure it would be a waste of time and definitely [Read More…]