July 17, 2019

Because I pastor a Lutheran Church in Arkansas, and because many people who come to our church and join it aren’t originally Lutheran, one of the most common questions I get asked is, What does it mean to be a Lutheran? I often have some discomfort answering this question because I don’t want to individually or single handedly define an entire tradition. I can’t and shouldn’t. Lutheranism is really big, its global. There are many people who are Lutheran. And… Read more

July 4, 2019

First, there’s the law of Israel, exemplified most clearly in the Decalogue, which prohibits the making of idols or graven images. Exodus 20:3-5: “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them.” Then, there’s the wider orbit of… Read more

June 29, 2019

A resolution on detention divestiture and shareholder advocacy Whereas, “Don’t mistreat any foreigners who live in your land. Instead, treat them as well as you treat citizens and love them as much as you love yourself. Remember, you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” (CEV Leviticus 19:33-34); Whereas, “Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you… Read more

June 22, 2019

“In the ELCA, the proportion of churches with average attendance of 50 or less increased 15 percentage points from 2000 to 2015—it’s now at 37 percent. The Episcopal Church had an even larger proportion of small congregations in 2000 (33 percent), and it too saw a large increase—to 47 percent in 2017—rapidly approaching half of all Episcopal congregations. ” Okay, so half of Episcopal congregation, and over 1/3 of ELCA congregations, have average attendance of 50 or less. How are… Read more

June 20, 2019

June 20th marks Refugee Day – the 18th time the United Nations-designated day has been observed. This year’s celebration comes as a record number of people are forcibly displaced around the world – 42,500 people a day are forced to flee their homes because of conflict & persecution. World Refugee Day is dedicated to both remembering the struggles that refugees face while fleeing violence and to celebrating their invaluable contributions to the societies of which they become a part. This… Read more

June 13, 2019

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

June 6, 2019

Gracious Lord, I beseech you, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, give our President Donald Trump restful sleep. Help him, in every way, in the exercise of his office, that he might advocate for and support those most in need in our nation, and welcome those abroad most necessarily dependent on our amnesty, security, and care. Bless him in his family relations. Help him, in the midst of his many duties, to love and serve especially children, mothers… Read more

May 31, 2019

Edwin Friedman said there are basically three characteristics common to any system that becomes imaginatively gridlocked. Such systems are always trying harder, looking for answers rather than reframing questions, and engaging in either/or thinking that creates false dichotomies. In his now classic A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix, he helps readers consider strategies for breaking through such gridlock by considering third ways beyond false dichotomies, reframing the questions, and trying differently. He then says, “Many have pointed… Read more

May 23, 2019

We’re not done yet. This is what I keep telling myself each Easter season. I have this mantra, “It’s the gospel of the 40 days. There’s another festival coming. We don’t have to wait until Christmas.” Unfortunately the wider culture doesn’t celebrate Pentecost on a level with Christmas or Easter. No trees to decorate. No eggs to color. Just a holy day liturgical geeks attempt (unsuccessfully) to promote, while graduation and Memorial Day and life in general gather our greater… Read more

May 15, 2019

“Trauma is the confrontation with an event that, in its unexpectedness and horror, cannot be placed within the schemes of prior knowledge” (Cathy Caruth) “When believers are conformed to Christ, they are conformed to the other, to the neighbor in suffering and need. Again, through the same love, we are to be changed and to make the infirmities of all other Christians our own; we are to take upon ourselves their form and their necessity” (Martin Luther) When I first… Read more

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