April 16, 2021

C S Lewis repeats what a woman of his acquaintance told him: that as a child she was taught to think of God as an infinite “perfect substance,” with the result that for years she envisioned God as a kind of enormous tapioca pudding. To make matters worse, she disliked tapioca. The image of God certainly must be more that tapioca pudding! For the past several months my partner, co-pastor, and wife, Karla and I have been talking about the… Read more

December 2, 2020

Between These Heights In, For the Life of the World, Volf and Croasmun describe the overarching biblical story as a story of repair, but not as the primary story. “Redemption, the repair of the human condition…is a subsidiary theme…[the]primary themes are creation (expressed paradigmatically in the image of the Garden of Eden) and consummation (expressed paradigmatically in the image of the New Jerusalem)” (pg 73). Both Eden and the New Jerusalem are described as having rivers flowing from them (Genesis… Read more

November 16, 2020

Jesus is not the person you thought you knew Preaching from the lectionary forces one to deal with texts that I might rather skip. I’m glad it didn’t skip this one. I would not have chosen it. I don’t like the gospel text from Matt 25:14-30. Or, at least I didn’t until I spent some time working on it. Jesus is not the person you thought you knew. Or maybe he is, and that’s why this parable seems so messed… Read more

October 15, 2020

Normal is gone. It seemed to be here, not too long ago. But it isn’t here now. Normal is not coming back, either. Like the five stages of grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – we need to deal with the fact that we need to get over our dependence on “normality.” Normal is gone. Get over it. When Things Get Back to Normal “Normalcy” or even more common, “normality,” are not easily agreed upon. There is no… Read more

February 12, 2020

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me  (2nd Corinthians 12.9) (This is an updated and adapted version of a blog I wrote in the summer of 2015, I was thinking about it yesterday. So I gave it a fresh touch-up) I am a creature of habit. I like to… Read more

February 4, 2020

Are just cheesemakers welcome in the kingdom of heaven? Or, “any manufacturers of dairy products”. Every time I begin to study the Sermon on the Mount, I have to acknowledge my biases. If I try to ignore my preconceived ideas I will be manipulated by them. One of the simplest tools for helping me to hear the Sermon in a different way to hear it from some one else’s perspective. In Monty Python’s, The Life of Brian, while Jesus is… Read more

January 29, 2020

Preaching through the Gospel of Matthew every few years is an exercise in humility. This year, those of us using the Lectionary are back in the Gospel of Matthew for most of 2020. Looking back at my journals and notes, I find I expressed a great deal of assurance in my sermons. Looking back at my sermons and notes, I also find that I did not know what I was talking about. Each time I go through the gospels, I… Read more

January 27, 2020

Civility is lacking in public discourse. I have said this. Others have said this. Are we giving up on civility? Rants on social media. Abrasive political pundits on cable news. Foul-mouthed and derogatory comments and gestures from a president. All this lack of civility is like a plague. The time for civility to die a quick death has come. Civility, once the guardian of proper and polite interactions, should probably ride off into the sunset, retire, or simply be taken… Read more

January 22, 2020

The United States’ has been at war in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Persian or Southwest Asian for nearly 20 years. This is not normal. This is wrong. A generation of war is a costly human tragedy in terms of lives and money. It is a soul-souring force in terms of understanding, allowing us to become embittered toward others. It destroys imagination of the possibilities of hope and peace, coloring all our ingenuity toward feeding destruction. War has become normal. Allowing… Read more

January 16, 2020

There’s a strangely escalated form of bravado that is commonplace. Escalation is so obvious, we hardly even see it anymore. De-escalation seems cowardly. Fear is as commonplace as are our attempts to hide it. Certainly, there is a need to challenge and even to oppose. But, I have witnessed a hardening of the heart in the strong and the brave. Boldness and courage are seen through machismo and violent examples. As a generation has grown to adulthood without knowing a… Read more

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