A few years ago, I was driving home from church on a Wednesday night when the greatest number of emergency vehicles that I had ever seen whizzed past me on the other side of the highway, their bright lights flickering and sirens blaring. I soon discovered that a fertilizer plant in the neighboring town of West, Texas had exploded.
God is dead. He left us to pray and they found him in the garden and God is dead. They dragged him before the High Priests and then they took him to Pilate and God is dead. They didn’t care about how many people he had helped or about the lives he had changed. They didn’t care about our lives. They didn’t care about the good things he had devoted his life to and God is dead.
Let me start off by just laying it out there. The title of this sermon is “The Walking Dead.” I do not like scary movies or TV shows. At all. “Well, Chris, that’s silly. Scary movies aren’t real.” I know that. I know that the odds of being chased by a chainsaw-wielding maniac are infinitesimally small.
Crappy first drafts. Anne Lamott phrases it slightly more colorfully, but that’s the gist. Can’t write? Don’t wait for the Almighty to hand you a perfectly formed manuscript from the sky. Put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and just write. Will what you write fall somewhere beneath the quality of a hundred grand emoji? Often yes. Often much less.
Asking good questions communicates at least two things to learners. First, it says they are valued, that each person has valuable contributions to the group. Second, asking good questions says that the leader wants to hear what the learners think.
O God, Thank you for your Spirit that is with us, within us, and among us.
Thank you for the spirit that we are.
Thank you for the spirit of your creation.
About this time each year, I start to feel a bit sorry for myself. The weather is usually dreary and cold. The excitement of the holidays and the promise of a new year have passed. I have not made any progress on my resolutions since the first week of January.
A popular quote being passed around the internet says that no phrase appears in the Bible more times than “Be not afraid.” One version of the quote claims this phrase occurs 365 times, one for each day of the year. That’s a beautiful idea. Unfortunately, it’s not accurate.
Earlier this month many of us joined a gym, bought exercise clothes, and stocked the pantry with quinoa. We decided to de-clutter our lives once and for all. We planned to try Marie Kondo’s method of picking up every object we own and giving away whatever does not bring us joy.
There was no room for Jesus in crowded Bethlehem, but that did not stop him, and it did not stop God. God became flesh, regardless of the space limitations. Christmas this year comes at a time when millions of people have no room, no home, no space to live in safety, without fear.
For many, 2016 is coming to a close with anger, fear and brokenness. How can we move forward? Some of my friends are writing, protesting, wearing a safety pin, donating money or praying. A public school teacher I know has hung signs on her classroom door indicating that every child is welcome and safe in that space.
As you come to us, please come bearing faith, hope, and love.
We need to trust, hope, and love more.
Another Veterans Day is upon us. If you’re like me, this is one holiday that doesn’t conjure up nostalgic childhood memories or necessitate family get-togethers. In fact, this will only be my 10th Veterans Day that I remember ever caring about.
Anyone ready to flee to the hills today? Do you feel the wicked have bent their bows, strung their arrows, and are ready to shoot those whose heart is right (v. 2)? Do you feel like the very bottom has fallen out and that a righteous person like yourself can do very little about it?
We read the end of Jonah’s story on Election Day for the United States. In less than twenty-four hours our fears will be relieved or realized.
I have been thinking a lot about my spiritual journey recently. The truth of the matter is that whatever has been done to get me to the nebulous “here” of being ordained is not solely my doing. Not even close.
We see many of the needs of our returning service members and their families by also looking at Psalm 69 and the life of David, a warrior himself. This week, for our final devotion in this series, I want to focus on verses 12-13.
The waiting room of the Health Department is crowded as Rajaa, Sarah, and I make our way to the back of the building. We’re lucky we have an appointment today. Mondays are always busy.
We’ve been focusing on some of the struggles that veterans face after coming home from war and how we might help them. But we’re looking at those needs through a unique perspective: the eyes of biblical hero King David, who was also a warrior for most of his life.
Pretty much all of us here have enemies, but I doubt any of us have the kind of enemies that David had. David had been facing enemies since he fought Goliath as a young man. His own mentor Saul repeatedly tried to kill him. The Philistines tried to kill him. In fact, while king, all the surrounding nations were trying to kill him and destroy Israel.
Of the 162 nations in the world, 152 are currently at war or involved in armed conflict. Only ten nations are completely free of conflict.
Every Sunday while growing up, I ran down the aisle at my church and slid in the pew beside Mrs. Rose. Mrs. Rose was the church lady who children regarded with wonder, trying to figure out if she was related to Mary Poppins and borrowed her famous bag every Sunday morning.
David is in a bad place. He has been sinking in the miry depths, the floodwaters are rising over his head, and he can no longer get a foothold. He’s in trouble so he is calling out to God for help. In fact he has already been calling out to God. He says he’s been calling for God’s help so much that his throat is parched.
I’m excited to begin with you a five-part series looking at the life of David through the lens of Psalm 69. We will discuss this psalm from the perspective of David, not just as a king but as a warrior.
When I first shared my experience with a blue-haired girl and her friends, I noted the deep hurt I was hearing. But I also noticed the beautiful community created at this two-week teen writing workshop.
A few days ago, I got home from a summer camp for middle and high school writers. It’s more than just a writing program, though—for many of the campers, it’s the only opportunity they have to be themselves.
Getting to the auditorium late was bad enough. Then I had to find a seat. After several “oh, it’s saved” interactions I finally found seating next to a 14-year-old girl with electric blue hair.
Listen, my friends and you will hear,
Some stories that will not be new to your ears.
For today’s translation is sure to surprise,
So pay attention, and open your spiritual eyes…
O God, We praise you that we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
We praise you for the human genome.
We are in the midst of a presidential election season.
It’s been ugly. We expect it to get uglier.
Our society is so violent. Why are people so afraid? Why do they assume the worst of others and see them as threats?
As part of our lesson looking at endurance (a link to athletes preparing for the Olympics), we used Duplo blocks and labels to put together the memory verse we were looking at.
A family member of mine recently sent me this article (“Can a Christian Watch Game of Thrones?”) and asked me to respond. The author argues that the show contains sex, violence and power struggles without the obvious good versus evil struggle contained in works like the blatantly Christian Lord of the Rings where the reader knows who will win.
For years a friend of mine faithfully visited his mother in a nursing home. On each visit, en route to her room he passed a thin Alzheimer’s-ridden woman in the hallway. Red-faced and wheelchair-bound, she repeated, “I want a good deal.”
There is this simple moment that is essential to my understanding of Jesus. Sometimes I think we see him as almost a miracle-working robot, the unstoppable antithesis of the Terminator. He was sent to our Earth to save, heal, and point others towards God.
A friend once told me that her favorite season was fall because winter was too cold, summer was too hot, and spring felt like too much pressure. All those blooming flowers and sprouting leaves.
I suffer from a mental illness. At times, it can be crippling and debilitating. I just spent some time in the hospital dealing with my illness. One of the doctors knew I was a divinity student and Christian minister and asked me, “Have you lost your faith?”
Art and repair merged in 15th-century Japan when a shogun sent a prized tea bowl to be repaired. When it came back mended with ugly metal staples, the shogun was so displeased that craftspeople jumped at the chance to find a better way to repair it and other broken ceramics.
My church knew some of the problems my mother and our family dealt with as she battled mental illness, but they didn’t really know how to react when I muttered the words, “It was suicide.”
I like plans. That’s no secret; my closest friends and family always rely on me to be the first to ask, “what are we doing next?” I plan and revise plans and talk about plans and write them on calendars.
So in Zimglish, “nicodemusly” means “to do something secretly, under cover of darkness.” This, of course, got me to thinking about other possibilities. Allow me to share some I came up with.
You just want cruelty to beget cruelty. You’re not superior to people who were cruel to you. You’re just a whole bunch of new cruel people. A whole bunch of new cruel people, being cruel to some other people, who’ll end up being cruel to you. —The Doctor
A major event came and went on February 27th on which the church as a whole was, as far as I could tell, troublingly silent on. Yes, I understand the issues inherent to suggesting some form of deep homogeneity to our religion.
Although long a fan of Clarence Jordan’s Cotton Patch Gospel translation that recasts Jesus in the southern part of the United States in the middle of the 20th Century, it still took some time to develop even a hint of Jordan’s prophetic vision.
I’m not very good at being still. I fidget. I pace. I drum my fingers on counters and chew pencils into nubs. There may be some deeper issues at play, but I have always struggled with being still.