On Friday morning we took a train ride in the most northern neighborhood in Jerusalem, Pisgat Ze’ev, which really is a Jewish settlement built after 1967. It is the largest neighborhood in Israel with over 60.000 people living there. The very next stop on the light rail was the Palestinian neighborhood of Shoafat, where 16-year-old Muhammad Abukader was kidnapped and burned alive as revenge for the tragic and brutal killing of 3 Israeli boys in the West Bank.  Because of… Read more

We, ironically, began our interfaith tour at yet another very Christian place: the Garden of Gethsemane. We wandered into the church at that site and then gathered next to the fence around the garden.  I tried again there to explain the significance of the place, and as I did I suddenly and surprisingly began to feel emotional.  Tears sprang to my eyes as I tried to explain. Have you ever felt that your vocation demands more from you than you… Read more

The next few posts are reflections on a trip to Israel/Palestine this month.  Follow me @PastorAmyTRC on FB or Twitter, or search the hashtag #HolyWomenHolyLand to see even more from me and my colleagues. Six rabbis and five pastors travel to the Holy Land…but first: Knowing that an interfaith group spending a week and a half talking about very intense conflict was going to require information and perspective I didn’t yet have, it seemed important to try to get my feet… Read more

Goodbye, 2017.  I can’t say that I’m going to miss you all that much; I think even you’d agree that our relationship has been rather difficult.  As a brand new year begins, I’d like to remind you of some of the things you brought us: We’ve had a whole year now with a president who is objectively unhinged, persisting in his attempts to institute a travel ban that discriminates against our Muslim brothers and sisters.  We experienced the loss of… Read more

Rise Rev. Dr. Amy Butler Luke 2:22-40 Today we’re still talking about gifts, and we’re rounding out our series on Simple Gifts by naming the gift of presence.  You know, not the brightly wrapped packages under the tree, but presence, being intentionally in relationship. It’s loved ones who traveled from far away and grandchildren running around excited and dear friends with whom we share the holiday.  It’s you, right here, sitting in a pew this morning or watching online.  It’s… Read more

When a Letter Isn’t Enough Rev. Dr. Amy Butler Luke: 1:26-38 Imagine my shock this week when I mentioned how I used to use Aerogrammes all the time when I was in seminary and lived overseas, and my younger colleague looked at me blankly. Aerogrammes.  You know them!  They are these crinkly, extremely thin blue papers that you write a letter on, then you fold over and secure the edges?  An aerogramme folds into the exact size of a letter,… Read more

I Will Sing Rev. Dr. Amy Butler Luke 1:46-55   The beautiful words of today’s gospel are Mary’s Song, The Magnificat, a young girl’s treatise about the state of the world and her stubborn insistence that it doesn’t have to stay that way.  But even with the haunting notes of a beautiful song of expectation ringing in our ears, we cannot forget the pain and desperation into which that young, timid voice defiantly sang. She was a young teenager, as… Read more

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

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 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

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