Bending Toward Justice

Martin Luther King famously wrote that, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” He wrote it in the context of how we, by our mortality, are limited from seeing the full fate of human history. We live a few decades on this planet and then step into the unknown. For someone as intimately involved in lifting oppression as he was, it was important to have faith that our human story was headed towards justice. It reminds me of the mathematical shape known as a parabola. Where we begin the journey seems terribly far from the ideal line. But almost imperceptibly, it bends towards what is good, and faithful, and true.

Pentecost 19
Sunday, September 30, 2018

Me Too and Proverbs 31

You either love-it or find it embarrassing; the passage in Proverbs 31 that begins, “A capable wife, who can find?” It reminds me of the movie, The Stepford Wives, that came out soon after I was married. Like all good satire, the film had too much underlying truth to be taken purely as fiction. In the 1960-70s patriarchal culture of the American suburb, a model home included a matching model wife, preferably ordered out of the Sears catalogue. A capable wife who can find? Indeed. Today, however, we see the ugly corollary, when men view women as objects they do terrible things to them at work.

Pentecost 18
Sunday, September 23, 2018

God Speaks in Triplicate

Back in the old days of typewriters and carbon paper, the most dreaded words heard by secretaries was, “I want that in triplicate.” Whatever the form or memo, it had to be important if it needed three copies. The process involved carefully aligning three sheets of 24 lb bond paper and two finicky carbon backed tissue in your Remington and striking each letter as hard as you could and spelling the every word perfectly, because corrections were impossible. Psalm 19 says that the creator God, speaks to us in triplicate.

First, He speaks to us through the world he has made. Everything about this world shouts intention and an intelligence beyond our imagination. Science and art join hands as our friends in seeking to understand what God is writing to us in the universe.

Pentecost 17
Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Long Ways from Jesus

If you want to know how far your congregation has come from the fellowship that first followed Jesus, then take a serious look at the book of James. Last week, I looked at how churches today often chase unicorns and silly superstitions, rather than engaging in pure religion, which according to James 1:27, involves caring for widows and orphans. The second chapter of James goes a step further in helping us to see how what we do with our everyday Christianity today is a long ways from Jesus. James was either a brother or cousin of Jesus, which depends upon your translation. He knew first hand the simplicity of what Jesus actions and practical teachings.

Pentecost 18
Sunday, September 9, 2018

Chasing Unicorns on Labor Day

There was a time, I’m old enough to remember, when religious people had 84 reasons to believe the world was going to end in 1984. Then there was a time, not long after that, when many churches, my own included, stockpiled batteries, bottled water, and baby diapers, because they were convinced that Y2K would make such things valuable. There was a time when almost every Christian woman I knew, wore a little angel on their shoulder (for protection or advice, I never found out). Unicorn chasing would be in the Christian Olympics, if we ever decided to have our own, because we think the Greek one has too many pagan symbols. Such malarky gives religion a bad name.

Pentecost 15
Sunday, September 2, 2018

Temple? Not my temple!

I have a problem with Psalm 84. It’s one of those poems that doesn’t make sense once you tear it apart. “My temple is a place where even a swallow finds a place to nest,” makes as much sense as, “My love is like a red, red, rose.” Howling, just feet away from the altar in Solomon’s temple, were lines of sacrificial sheep and boxes of doves, ready to be slaughtered. Temple sacrifice, up until 70 AD, was madness, bleating sheep, and nasty priests. Blood flowed on the rock where Abraham once bond Isaac. Did I mention that child abuse is one of the problems that the church is still dealing with?

Pentecost 21
Sunday, August 26, 2018

Not Being Smart

God must not like our prayers because he keeps giving us the opposite of what we ask for. We ask for patience and we receive more frustrations. We ask for peace in our household and we receive more conflict. We ask for enough wealth to be secure and we find ourselves jobless and dependent upon the kindness of strangers. I get the feeling that God’s intention is to throw us fully into life, like a baby being thrown into the deep end of the pool. We pray, “Lord give us a firm foundation of truth,” by which we mean that He should make us smart enough to always be right. God responds, “Hey it’s time for your swimming lesson. Keep your head up and remember to breathe.”

Pentecost 15
Sunday, August 19, 2018

Prayer before Dawn

I have a love-hate relationship with mornings. As a self-employed author, I have great flexibility regarding when and where I work. But the Holy Spirit and my own creative whit have their own plans. I have discovered that early morning hours are golden. But rarer than diamonds are the times when the cat, dog, or my bladder wakes me while it is still night, and instead of cursing these intrusions, I grab coffee and write like one possessed. In Psalm 130 we read, “My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning.” Something has awoken the psalmist to an hour when all he or she can do is pray. Perhaps they are at the bedside of a sick loved one, or a refugees escaping in the dark, or perhaps they stand with the watchman on the wall, keeping guard over a city at peril.

Pentecost 12
Sunday, August 12, 2018

Unity, All the way to Jail

  It’s helpful to imagine Paul in a prison cell as he writes the book of Ephesians, particularly chapter 4. To be imprisoned is to be divided off from humanity. So, Paul speaks about unity and provides a vision of what brings us together. He says that God considers us all to be one and that when we accept the Christian faith we all have the same baptism, even though some are sprinkled as infants and others dunked under the cold, muddy, waters of the Penobscot River. We are one, in spite of whatever wind of doctrine fills our sails. We are one, no matter what work fills our days, or what economic fortunes have befallen us. We remain united even though deceitful men have imprisoned some of us, have taken property from some, allowed others to be unjustly gunned down.

Pentecost 13
Sunday, August 5, 2018

Ruts & Spiritual Passion

One of the great bug-a-boos of life is our propensity for getting into a rut. As individuals we fall into comfortable habits and become attached to familiar rituals. It may be the routine of eating the same breakfast every day or preferring a particular style of clothing. Our ruts can also have a more sinister side, supporting our prejudices, restricting our generosity, stifling our creativity, derailing our spiritual experience, and instilling within us a reluctance to implement needed changes. Those recovering from dangerous dependencies, such as drug addiction, know how high these walls of routine can be. If we were wise, we would choose our ruts more carefully, for we travel in them a long time.

David and Bathsheba

I'm old, I admit it. The last time I preached about David and Bathsheba was during the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal. I remember my trepidation. At the 11 o’clock worship service where there would be families with young children. I had been asked to take on the famous Old Testament story by parishioner that knew I was the lone democrat in a congregation of republican wolves.

 

Pentecost 12
Sunday, July 29, 2018

Mary Sees All:  the Race to Save Jesus from the Cross, is a fast paced historical fiction set near Jerusalem during the fateful week that Jesus was crucified. Mary has a unique point of view, a lyrical voice, and a gift for drama. Both outrageous and outcast, she is an unforgettable heroine in this, the first of three books about the residents of ancient Bethany.

Available from:

Amazon print, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 350 page paperback:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/0999768735  for $15.99

Promo Starts: 
Saturday, June 30, 2018
Just Out!!!

Where Jesus Fails

In the sixth chapter of Mark, Jesus does an impressive number of miracles. He feeds five thousand people with five bagels and two fish, he walks on water, and he heals a multitude afflicted with diseases — just by having them line the road and touch the edge of his cloak. But, I am more impressed by what Jesus fails to do in this chapter.

1st, he failed to preach the sermon the home-town people wanted to hear. We all find ourselves in situations where nothing we say will make people happy. In those times its best to do what Jesus did and speak about the truth that we know. Let the chips fall where they will.

Pentecost 11
Sunday, July 22, 2018

An Attack of Conscience

Even the worst of people can have an unexpected attack of conscience. Call it the ghost of his dead mother, but King Herod starts to wonder if he’s gone too far, been too immoral, done one deed too foul for the universe to accept. He begins to wonder if there is such a thing as bad karma. In Mark 6:14-29 (see Remembering John the Baptist, last week’s take on the same passage) we read how Herod is haunted by the thought that his beheading of an innocent man, John the Baptist, might have been a mistake. John, or someone with the same miraculous powers as the baptizing prophet, has been seen in public. The rational response would have been for Herod to dismiss it.

Pentecost 10
Sunday, July 15, 2018

Remembering John the Baptist

King Herod had a critic named John. First he put John in jail and then he beheaded him, but that didn’t silence the baptizing prophet for we read his words still. John the Baptist is the patron saint of those who protest against injustice today. John was a journalist before there was newsprint. So on this weekend following the Fourth of July, we remember John’s martyrdom at the hands of Herod Antipas, as well as the slain journalists in Baltimore. I think the spirit of John the Baptist (or the “Dipping Man” in my Mary Sees All novel) leads us to ask, “When is Government Sinful?”

Government sin has three forms (in descending order):

Pentecost 11
Sunday, July 8, 2018

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