April 9, 2021

Let’s start with this: silence and silencing are strategies of the powerful. Those with power use opportunities to distance and silence to buffer their preferred status quo, and they rely on the silence of others (typically, the majority) to retain their power and continue their abuse. Even more damningly, once they have used their authority to silence others, they use the silence of others to justify themselves. No one’s complaining, so there must not be anything wrong. The witness we… Read more

March 30, 2021

“We should call this Protest Week because it begins with the Galilean Non-violence Movement processing joyously into Jerusalem calling on Jesus to save them as the true Son of David.   Then Jesus prophetically clearing the Temple in proleptic action of its destruction.   Then negotiating with his opponents over ending the unholy alliance between mercantile religion and the occupying power.   Their buying off a leader to betray him, and then privately torturing him before publicly lynching him.  … Read more

March 25, 2021

The anti-trans legislation moving forward in multiple states across this country (here in Arkansas it’s already arrived at the desk of the governor) is predicated primarily on the notion that religious freedoms need to be protected. These poor doctors and insurance companies: if we don’t pass laws to protect them, they might have to provide care or fund services they disagree with on religious grounds… Poor souls. So let’s talk about this. I think we can start by simply pointing… Read more

March 15, 2021

Somewhat infamously, the early Christian Corinth congregation had communion issues. Perhaps the most famous phrase in Paul’s letters about their meal practices is this one: For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves (1 Corinthians 11:29) Now, when I was in elementary school it was drummed into me that “discerning the body” meant “believing in the real presence of Jesus in, with, and under the bread and the wine.” Except it doesn’t… Read more

February 27, 2021

I just finished watching Judas and the Black Messiah yesterday, and I’m also reading the new, and incredibly moving The Black Panthers: A Graphic Novel History, so of course I’m thinking of the life of Fred Hampton in light of the gospel for this Sunday. At one point, in a conversation with the mother of his as yet unborn child Deborah Johnson, and fresh out of prison, he says to her, “When I dedicated my life to the people, I… Read more

February 11, 2021

This Sunday we celebrate the Transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain (Mark 9:2-8). There’s a lot to be said about the story itself, and we’ll focus on the events of the Transfiguration this Sunday in worship, but here I’d like to help us see how the Transfiguration is not just a peak or mountain top experience, but is actually told at the peak of the gospel of Mark itself. And why that matters. In Scripture, as well as in much… Read more

February 5, 2021

Here’s an interesting proposal, and something we’re going to begin incorporating into Sunday worship.   For quite a while now, theologians have noted that a basic problem presented in the historic creeds (Athanasian, Nicene, Apostles’) is the absence of any content related either to a) God’s life with Israel, and b) the life of Jesus between birth and crucifixion.   One of the most concise and lovely proposals for what to insert into the creed comes from Jürgen Moltmann. He… Read more

January 31, 2021

Preached January 31st by Catelyn Gibbs I want to begin by saying that I very much want to celebrate my queerness today and this congregation’s acceptance of me and others like me; that acceptance is truly a gift that this congregation holds out to our community. But I think that in order to properly celebrate something, the object of celebration must first be intimately understood. So I have two notes to give you beforehand. First, much of what I am… Read more

January 28, 2021

The pastor sends a late night text: Wild hair thought for your Tuesday morning: I wonder if our church name, Good Shepherd Lutheran, actually had any legit or accurate meaning in 2021. Like, you’ve heard of us and even may be a member, but does the Lutheran part do or mean something to you? I have begun to think that another word might serve better… Good Shepherd Ecumenical, or Good Shepherd Peoples’ Church. Nothing against Lutheran theology but I wonder… Read more

January 28, 2021

As a progressive Christian of the Lutheran variety, I’m often contemplating what it means to be the kind of Christian I am. One of the accusations frequently leveled against progressive Christians by other Christians is that we are simply conforming to this world rather than being transformed by the gospel of Christ. So quite a lot of our communication is rearguard action, trying to defend against such critique. People will say, for example, “You welcome gay people at your church,… Read more

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