Connections 12.04.2022: Seeking Peace

There are several different ways to “name” the four traditional weeks of Advent as we move closer to the celebration of Jesus’s birth. The most familiar is probably the quartet of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.

Connections 11.27.2022: Counting Down

When I was growing up in the Olden Days (you know, the 1980s), my family didn’t celebrate the church season of Advent. Once Thanksgiving was over and December 1 came, we went straight into red and green overload.

Connections 11.13.2022: Remembering to Forget

Where I live, the autumn trees have been spectacular this year and every time the wind blows a flurry of red and gold leaves spill to the ground. The trees are letting go until next spring.

Connections 11.06.2022: Looking Back and Working Toward

For the past several Sundays, the church my family attends has been gearing up for a time of visioning: where are we being called in the months and years ahead?

Connections 10.23.2022: God in the Midst

The “end times” are big business. When I was in youth group in the 1980s, we had a leader who was really into end-times stuff. At lock-ins we watched ‘70s-era apocalypse movies, and for many years I carried a bookmark in my Bible describing all the possible tribulation timelines.

Connections 10.16.2022: The (Im)possible Dream

The books of the Old Testament prophets are sprinkled with visions through which God communicates to these dedicated messengers. We may be so familiar with the stories of prophetic visions that we are no longer impressed or amazed by them.

Connections 10.02.2022: One Quiet Hope

The book of Lamentations is a book for the people. Five long poems of lament put a whole community’s grief into words as the people of Israel come to terms with their exile from their home in God’s holy land.

Connections 09.25.2022: Entitlement into Eternity

If I use enough imagination, do a bit of mental gymnastics, I can always find myself in the “good guy” in Jesus’ parables.

Connections 09.11.2022: About Us, or For Us?

One of the wonderful things about Jesus’ parables is the way we can find ourselves in them. When Jesus tells a story about a prodigal child, or a faithful servant, or a lost sheep, we can take encouragement from the ways Jesus shows his real-life love.

Connections 09.04.2022: Sound Bites and “Supposes”

I suspect most of us, at times, have encountered the Bible with a “sound bite” approach, our attention grabbed by a select handful of Jesus’ sayings.

Connections 08.14.2022: The Shaking and Unshakable

Six years ago, I wrote about this text for the Baptist Women in Ministry blog. We were in an election year, our national life seemed more fraught than ever before, and it felt appropriate to reflect on our human-made structures being shaken by God.

Connections 08.14.2022: Under a Cloud

The “cloud of witnesses” described in Hebrews 12:1 is one of the most beautiful, most encouraging images of our faith. It helps us imagine the way we are connected to all who came before us.

Connections 07.31.2022: All Kinds of Greed

Twenty-one years ago this spring, I wrote a sermon about this text. It was my final year of seminary and I got the best grade in my seminary career on it.

Connections 07.24.2022: What God Gives

They say, “God only gives you what you can handle.” “They” like to say this when people around them are struggling.

Connections 07.10.2022: Being Good

There are times when reading, reflecting on, and writing about Scripture is a relatively easy, fun endeavor. (Admittedly, I may have an unusual definition of “fun.”)

Connections 07.03.2022: Who Do We Welcome?

Author and creative coach Jennifer Louden talks about “signature themes,” that is, images and ideas that seem to come up again and again in our lives. One of my “signature themes” is moving.

Connections 06.19.2022: Things I Remember

Some biblical passages are so familiar they are almost hard to read; we’ve heard their phrases so often they practically stand up on their own. Chunks of them have become praise choruses so overplayed that the earworms have taken up permanent residence in our heads.

Connections 06.12.2022: The Spirit of Unfinished Business

There are times in our lives when we feel the despair of the psalmist crying “How long, O Lord?” (Ps 13:1) and the urgency of the visionary praying “Come quickly, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20).

Connections 05.29.2022: What We Mean by Freedom

It’s hard to write on days (weeks, months, years) like this, when the heaviness of current events makes any attempt at meaningful words feel futile. I know it’s hard to teach and to preach at times like this, to offer both condolence and challenge where each is needed.

Connections 05.22.2022: Embracing the Moment

Quite a while ago I saved a quotation from Thomas Merton and added it to the slideshow of photos that make up the screensaver on my laptop. It is a reminder that proves helpful again and again in my military family’s life.

Connections 05.08.2022: Show and Tell

Between Saul’s conversion in the first part of Acts 9 and Peter’s inclusive dream in Acts 10, two healings take place. Peter was going “here and there” among believers and made visits to the “saints” in Lydda and then in Joppa.

Connections 05.01.2022: The Unsaid and the Unseen

Between Saul’s dramatic conversion and the beginning of Paul’s ministry, the storyteller of Acts records four chapters in which Saul is “radio silent.” We don’t hear the voice of the typically talkative Apostle between Acts 9:20 and 13:10.

Connections 04.17.2022: The Mystery of Faith

As we edge toward Easter, the coming springtime and the celebration of new life seems almost absurd alongside the constant barrage of disruption, distraction, and disunity in the world around us.

Connections 04.10.2022: Course Correcting and Re-Commissioning

I grew up in churches where the Roman Road and the Great Commission were foundational stepping stones lifted from Paul’s teachings and laid end-to-end in a clear path for understanding the way to salvation.

Connections 03.27.2022: Going Home Again

In the mid-1980s the movie Peggy Sue Got Married was one of several Hollywood-ized versions of “the good old days.” In it, Peggy Sue mysteriously time-slips from her 25th high school reunion back to senior year.

Connections 03.20.2022: For the Hope of Figs

Cliffhangers are great plot devices; they keep you turning the page, or seeking out the sequel, or coming back for the next episode. “Same bat time, same bat channel.”

Connections 03.06.2022: Into the Wilderness

Before the season of abstinence and introspection begins on Ash Wednesday, people are anxious to enjoy extravagance and excess.

Connections 02.27.2022: The Weight of Sleep

When I read Luke 9 in preparation for writing this post, I expected to be amazed again by the dazzling transfiguration of Jesus and surprised again by the appearance of Moses and Elijah.

Connections 2.13.2022: Following the Money

In our world, money is power. Modern culture is consumerist and competitive, and in polite society we’re not supposed to talk numbers, even while we hustle to climb every available ladder.

Connections 2.06.2022: The Fear of Fish

Frustrated and exhausted fishermen ended their long workday—their long worknight—cleaning their nets. They shook out the catch: nothing salable or edible, just a few minnows.

Connections 01.23.2022: Homecoming and Holy Tears

My 13-year-old son hates it when I cry. When he was little he would automatically fetch a box of Kleenex for me whenever we watched a movie with sad parts (looking at you, Moana and Coco).

Lent. The Ugly Step-Sister Season.

Lent… It’s not Christmas, that’s for sure. It’s not a season when we’re hanging the holly and lighting the tree, twinkling and throwing gifts around like confetti and singing carols to strangers. It’s not a season that glitters.

Surrender to Love

My will to live has been stuttering like a rusty old engine. Not because I’ve failed to be Christian enough, prayerful enough, or hopeful enough. Not because I haven’t done the prayer and praise and people and potluck dinners. Not because of anything. My motor just hiccups and stalls; reminding me that in the great spectrum of mental health, I am no Olympian.