As you look forward toward a new year, what are your hopes and dreams? While I am not a person who typically makes resolutions, I am always grateful for some time to reflect on the year.
I am always grateful for the testimony of the women who came to the tomb. This story is a powerful witness and an affirmation of the women’s part in the sharing of the good news that God gives us.
During the Christmas season, we often talk about loneliness and remembering those who are marginalized, those who might also feel abandoned as they get lost or overlooked.
Who among us hasn’t tried to push the attention away from ourselves when we are afraid? When the teacher starts calling names and the answer seems evasive? When the boss looks for someone to hold accountable?
Cyber Monday. Some of us have already spent some time trying to get the best deal online. Whether or not you participated in the last few days of shopping, it can be hard to avoid the hype that begins as we countdown toward what is supposed to be one of the most “wonderful times of the year.”
I love the beach. I don’t go often, but when I do, I pay close attention. Engaging my senses, I take it all in. I smell the musty, fishy breeze, taste the salty air, feel the sand between my toes.
Back in 1994, I received an invitation that changed my life. I was serving as campus minister in a city that housed a cutting-edge research clinic for the treatment of AIDS.
I have three children. It’s very important to me to avoid favoritism and treat each fairly. For example, when the last brownie is left in the pan, I meticulously cut it in three equal parts.
Each Sunday at the threshold of our Godly Play children’s worship classroom our doorkeeper bends down, looks each child in the eye, calls her by name and asks, “Are you ready?” Answering “Yes,” one by one the children enter our sacred space.
Most of us understand it’s impolite to blatantly brag. We might want to do it, but we know culture frowns upon it; however if we’re keen enough we’ll find a way.
It is a famed pastime to predict when Jesus will return. Who knows when Jesus will return? Scripture tells us “only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36) Perhaps then we should shift attention from when Jesus will return to how to live while we wait “for [we] do not know on what day [our] Lord is coming.”
I pastor a congregation of farmers and gardeners, and as a result, I have corralled cows on a four-wheeler. A calf has borne my name. I have learned about turkeys, chickens, goats, horses, and cows.
As a girl I posted a friendly little sign on my door: “This is Katie’s Room. KEEP OUT!” On occasion I deigned to let my brother in to play with me, but whenever we had a spat, I would lock the door to underline the point: KEEP OUT.
Love God with all that you are and love others as you love yourself. Having this kind of love takes courage. Living out this kind of love means that I am no longer the center.
The tension could be cut with a knife, questions flying all over the place. Matthew 21-22 make it pretty clear that Jesus and the religious leaders are not BFFs, for these chapters are filled with questions.
Lately, my heart has been aching. I have walked through life in the brokenness of the inner city. I have seen the way poverty, pain, and lack of equal opportunities shatter the dreams of teens.
When I try to imagine Jesus, I typically think of words like strong, humble, confident, devoted, brave, and loving. It seems strange to think of Jesus with four letter words dripping from his lips.
Can you just picture the scene one Saturday morning? Everyone is in the kitchen. One teen is sitting on the counter, pop tart in one hand, texting with the other hand. The other sits at the kitchen counter eating a bowl of cereal, headphones on.
The mother of James and John may have been the first “helicopter parent,” one hovering a little too closely to her children as they climbed the ladder of discipleship.
Living with children has turned me into a champion negotiator. They will bargain with me as long as I will let them. It has been assumed from the earliest practices of religion that humans could bargain with the gods to get what they want.
Most days, I believe it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for one of his disciples to interpret Jesus’ teaching. Why were they so caught off guard by this quip from Jesus that has become one of his most familiar sayings?
The bedtime rituals at our house include brushing teeth and laying out clothes for the next day. Then we read, pray, and just when we think we are done, there comes the request for just one more drink of water.
One year, with Ash Wednesday approaching, I found myself stewing about words spoken to me by a friend (who is now my husband). He casually mentioned to me that I liked to hold grudges. (Um, what?)
Jesus often confused people. These words confused his listeners then and continue to confuse us today. To smooth out that confusion, most people decide that Jesus was using hyperbole, exaggeration, to make a point. But was he exaggerating?
Seems like Jesus doesn’t want to give offense. “Um, Jesus, why not?” After all, Jesus wasn’t a fan of the temple regime, and he realized that soon he will be killed. But here Jesus goes out of his way to avoid offense.
And he was transfigured before them . . . Just like that. He was the person they traveled with every day (and if you have ever traveled with someone for any length of time you know that you get quite acquainted with their look, their smells, their quirks).
You are a whole person. You have a spirit that longs for God. You have a brain that produces an electrical storm even when sleeping. You have a body that needs food and water to operate.
Of all the disciples, Peter holds a special place in my heart. He seems to try so hard to please Jesus. He is the one at the front of the class, nodding his head in vigorous agreement with every word Jesus says.
When my family and I were preparing for a two-year mission in rural Alabama, we went through a period of training. During one of our training sessions, the leader talked to us about our prejudices and what it would be like to live as minorities.
This gentle Jesus who welcomed children, healed a blind man with spit-mud, and consorted with women of questionable moral character and height-challenged tax collectors certainly did some shocking things, but insulting a woman on her knees begging for mercy seems a little extreme.
As a mother of two pre-teen boys, I know far too well that some ugly stuff can come out of a mouth. Recently, Aidan, my oldest son, was finishing up his daily-allotted video game time when he mumbled something to his younger brother, Owen.
If all you’ve got of Love in your trembling hands is a measly five loaves and two fish worth, then start distributing what little you’ve got to your friends and neighbors, and immediately it will begin to multiply.
Imagine that you are 92 years old looking back on your life, trying to determine whether or not you have lived. Imagine there is one thing you did, or one thing you had, or one thing you were, that lets you know: yes, you lived and you can rest in peace.
Dream with me. Let’s say, you are a Christian. But you are sometimes embarrassed by this. Those other Christians have given you a bad reputation, you feel.
Imagine your ears are a plot of land in the countryside. Imagine everything you hear with them is seed with the potential to sprout. Imagine all seed is good seed.
We live in a time in which the current Christian trend is to focus on how our actions speak louder than our words; how it’s not enough to talk about Christ, but how we have to go out and actually do the things that Jesus would do. Doing what Jesus would do could be risky, unpopular, and uncomfortable.
Student ministry is my passion because I love watching students grow emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally. But student ministry is not for the faint of heart. One of the most important things I have learned about meeting a new group of students is how to sort them into three categories: the literalists, the intentionalists, and the politicians.
Once again, Jesus’ words are unsettling. Here Jesus lists all the discord that his presence will sow between family members. Harsh words that leave my nerves a little raw, if I am honest, because they don’t sound like the Jesus I know. I want to argue with this Jesus…with the Matthean scribe…and say, “No.”
After reading the first verses of Matthew 10, I had a really hard time moving past Jesus’ rather harsh calling of the disciples to ignore the Gentiles and instead to seek only after the “lost sheep of Israel.” I don’t like to think about Jesus excluding people.
Tears, drippy wet tears . . . they all must have had moments, or even days, in which tears streamed down their faces. A paralyzed man lying on a cot. A tax collector sitting at his table alone.
I met Carolyn in 2002, and I liked her immediately. How could I not? She was everything I was hoping to be when I grew up (and I was 41 years old at the time and still wondering if I would ever “arrive.”) Carolyn was a well-respected, published Baptist historian, a much sought after preacher and speaker, a long-tenured and well-loved professor, and a warm and caring wife, mother, and friend. Plus Carolyn spoke her mind, and I really liked her mind.
I love Jeopardy. I am sure I would score in the negative numbers if I were a contestant. I don’t have that much Shakespeare or potent potables trivia floating in my head, and I have pretty slow thumb reflexes. Plus I am pretty sure I would never remember to give my answer in the form of a question.
I am a West Texas girl—born in the town Big Spring. The land there is flat. The trees are small. You can see forever. In West Texas, you don’t really need a sense of direction. You can see exactly where you are going.
And so Lent begins. This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, which on the Christian calendar is the beginning of the season of Lent. For these days leading up to Easter Sunday on April 20, Christians around the world will participate in the spiritual discipline of “giving up” or perhaps “taking on.”
We have been seen by others, and they think they know exactly who we are. The Netflix account in our house keeps our favorite movies just a click away, which is perfect for my husband Jake, the movie buff. With data about the movies you watch, the types of stories you like, and the lead actors you favor, Netflix sets up a genre for you.
In seminary, I served at Big Bethel AME Church in Atlanta. Along with jumping head-first into new traditions, I got to know some of the beautiful people of this historic church. One of my new friends was Joshua.
Sometimes Jesus comes to your workplace. My friend Emily and I can each point to the time this happened for us. We were in a small discussion group for women. Our conversations often made their way to confessions that our work just wasn’t cutting it as far as our callings were concerned.
For me, it would have been chocolate. This moment of testing would begin and end with the Accuser showing up in my moment of deep, spiritual discernment and teasing me with candy. Hershey’s nuggets with toffee and almonds, to be exact.