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…]

The Work of Worship, Matthew 3:13-17

When they teach us to plan worship and preach in seminary one of the first skills we learn is how to use the historical-critical method to exegete the text we’re working with.  That sounds very complicated, but what it essentially means is this: before creating liturgy and proclamation we look at the biblical text from several [Read More…]

The Pastoral is Political

I told this story in my sermon Sunday: I met a new friend the other day, who, upon finding out I was a pastor, asked me a question framed with a story.  “What should pastors be saying about this election?,” he started.  “I am so frustrated!,” he continued.  “After church two Sundays ago I pulled [Read More…]

No More Vigils for Gun Violence

Last week we witnessed an inspiring demonstration of leadership as Democrats in Congress staged a sit-in on the House floor to demand a vote on pending legislation around gun control. U.S. Rep. John Lewis’ (D-Ga.) declared: “Deadly mass shootings are becoming more and more frequent. Mr. Speaker, this is a fact. It is not an [Read More…]

After Orlando, Our Silence is Sin

The following is a letter to pastors and church leaders. Colleagues: Sunday found us waking to the confluence of so many streams of hatred and vitriol in our society – homophobia, islamophobia, fear of the other in any form.  “Here we find ourselves again,” we shake our heads in numb, benign dismay.  It was yet [Read More…]

Welcoming Chaos

Pentecost always seems like such a celebration at church. At our church everyone wears red, a sea of commonality for a change. Often we hear different languages and dissonant music; we celebrate baptism and hear the voices of our children. It’s church in a messy cacophony, and everybody loves it. I find this love for [Read More…]

A Prayer After Resurrection

Beautiful words of a prayer written by my friend and colleague Rev. Michael Livingston and delivered in worship Sunday.   O God our God, like the disciples after that glorious morning of rebirth we have… Post resurrection blues: the shouting is over, so what now? We’re clueless, locked in our routines, without energy or direction, [Read More…]

Stopped in Our Tracks

The damp chill of the night air began to burn off as the sky lightened and the sun climbed over the edges of the lake.  As the temperature rose, the smell of fish and water became sharper, the sound of lapping waves against the hull of the boat rhythmic and lulling after a long night [Read More…]

Shine, Jesus, Shine

Shine, Jesus, Shine Luke 9:28-36 Today we’re at the fifth Sunday following the Epiphany, this little season of the church year that begins with the Magi following one star in dark sky, leads us through story after story about Jesus’ earthly ministry, and lands us here—this year it’s in the gospel of Luke, chapter 9—on [Read More…]

Revitalizing the Church: Tips for Congregational Leaders

I had a spirited conversation with some friends the other day about church revitalization.  The topic came up because, in my circles, some version of this question is on everyone’s mind these days: “How can we revitalize the institutional church?” My friends and I realized pretty early in our conversation that we weren’t really talking [Read More…]