Where the Real Sin Lies

Young people grow into an ever-widening circle of people for whom they must show love and compassion. First it is their siblings and parents, then their playmates, then the people at school, especially those who are being bullied or ostracized. As we enter into adulthood, our calling to compassion must extend to those who are poor, or subject to abuse.

Sunday, March 31, 2019
Lent 4

The Randomness of Tragedy and the Richness of Grace

The human heart is not built for random tragedy. We crave for order in all of life. Thomas Friedman describes how the people of Beirut developed complicated folk cures for the daily violence. They said, “Don’t shop between 11 am and 1 pm,” or “Walk on the right hand side of the street when you go   west.” In Kalamazoo, the news interviewed a man who was planning to walk home from a party, but when he heard that someone was shooting people, decided to call for an Uber cab.
Sunday, February 24, 2019
Lent 3

The Hiding Place

He shall hide me in the secrecy of his dwelling...
People like Saint Patrick practiced their faith in a hostile land. Prayer formed for him a hiding place with God. Psalm 27 does an odd thing, it has a number of high security phrases like, “The Lord is the stronghold of my life,” and “set me high upon a rock.” It appeals to the fortress mentality of our faith, as if to say that is the reason for religion. It being Lent, I was struck by the wilderness and the 'seeking God for God’s sake' quality of the Psalm. David is saying, I only want to seek the Lord’s face, nothing else matters.
Sunday, March 17, 2019
Lent 2

Lent as Process

Lent, is a process. A process is any series of sequential events that are guided by a master, in this case God, to take raw material, or people, from one way of being and transform them into a more useful end product. A process always involves some experiences that break down the raw material, or us.

Sunday, March 10, 2019
Lent 1

Changes ahead for the UMC

The adopted Traditional Plan will force some members, congregations, and church leaders to leave because the United Methodist Church. Think of this exodus as three concentric circles. There are those clergy and laity who must leave because the church no longer recognizes the loving and covenantal relationships they have entered into, or because they are being asked to accept a gender identity which they feel is false. Surrounding this small inner circle of people who must leave, is a much larger circle of people who may choose to go...

Doorways and Empty Space

Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.

A beautiful vase is made mostly of space. Without the emptiness inside it, a tennis ball won't bounce. We tend to think that religion is about what we do; the songs that we sing, the offerings that we bring, and the words that the preacher says. Religion is really about the meeting space, the doorway, the emptiness, the wilderness, and the mountaintop where people and God meet.

Sunday, March 3, 2019
Transfiguration Sunday
Epiphany 8

Enemies are not problems to be solved

Jesus doesn’t distinguish between type one enemies and type three enemies. He doesn’t distinguish between moderate enemies and total jerks. He doesn’t have one response for those who are merely annoying and another for enemies who are dangerous. He says, “Love them all.”

Sunday, February 24, 2019
Epiphany 7

Putting Yourself in the Right Position

Because we aren’t there, in the same place as those crowds, we are reluctant to consider Jesus’ promises of blessing as something that is already happening. Those who were blessed in Jesus’ sermon were the same people who saw the blessings of his healing touch and his compassionate lifestyle. We tend to put these blessings up in heaven. Those who encountered Jesus looked for his blessing to be right now, on this earth.

Sunday, February 17, 2019
Epiphany 6

Why Fishermen?

"Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people."

Jesus didn’t start with a blank slate when he called disciples. He started with natural gifts that could be spiritually transformed. May it continue to be so in our lives. May we each become fishers of men.

Sunday, February 10, 2019
Epiphany 5

Jesus Goes Over the Wall

No prophet is accepted in the prophet's hometown.

In Luke 4, Jesus goes over the wall between us and those we consider foreign or different. He does this in two ways: First, by physically placing himself where he encounters the foreigner. Second, Jesus used the scriptures to show that all of the great people of the Old Testament went over the wall and lived with foreigners. Jesus' own stories, which have become our scriptures, always showed foreigners in a good light.

Sunday, February 3, 2019
Epiphany 4

Jesus and the Wall

...he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.

Since the beginning of time, those with means have shown little restraint in screwing over those who are born poor, or on the wrong side of a border, or to the wrong family. What is different about the current government shut down, is that our rulers have decided to go one step further and screw over middle-class people. What would Jesus do?

Sunday, January 27, 2019
Epiphany 3

A Prophet?

I think of Martin Luther King as a modern prophet. It's been said that if the canon of scripture wasn't closed, his Letter from a Birmingham Jailwould deserve a place beside Isaiah and the Apostle Paul. We are in the midst of a time of mass demonstrations. King wrote that letter to explain why he came from Atlanta to Birmingham to organize the protests there. He wrote it to the clergy-persons, who believed the fake news that those in the streets were being organized by malevolent actors. He writes, "I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C.

Bias to Belief

Not everyone sees the same thing. In each of the Gospel of John’s miracle stories, two people stand side by side, one believes and the other doesn’t. Like the wedding of Cana, the servants who pour the water that has become wine, believe and see. The master of the feast doesn’t.

Sunday, January 20, 2019
Epiphany 2

Hand in High Water

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you... Do not fear, for I have redeemed you...

Each of us have been created twice. On the one hand, we have been birthed into this world as unique individuals. God has a plan for each of us. Unfortunately, everyone else does too. We pray for our creator to help us discern what He has created in us. On the other hand, we believe that God has both created and owned our nation.

Sunday, January 13, 2019
Epiphany 2

About Herod

One key difference between Jesus and Herod the Great was that Jesus had a succession plan. Herod the Great seemed oblivious to the fact that he would die. Jesus came into the world in order to die for sinners. Herod considered anyone who challenged him to be disloyal and a threat. Jesus forgave his enemies and invited them into his kingdom.

Sunday, January 6, 2019
Epiphany 1

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