Meditations on Luke: Maundy Thursday

These words, straight from Jesus’ lips, have a haunting tone. Jesus is fully aware of what is about to happen. Nothing about our Lord’s passion is an accident, a mistake, or a coincidence; it is all part of the Father’s plan, and Jesus knows it.

Meditations on Luke: A Judas Living Inside Each of Us

In his memoir Telling Secrets, writer and preacher Frederick Buechner tells about his childhood after his father committed suicide. In addition to the trauma of losing his dad was the grief of being forbidden to speak of what happened.

Meditations on Luke: The Depth of Darkness

One the greatest measures of human creativity is our ability to rationalize almost anything. No matter how destructive our actions, no matter how foolish our choices, no matter how selfish our behaviors, no matter how dark our impulses, we can always come up with a good excuse or a reasonable explanation for them.

Meditations on Luke: “Do Not Be Afraid”

Over Christmas one of my daughters asked me a question. “Daddy, why is it that every time an angel shows up in the Bible, he always says, ‘Do not be afraid’?” I responded, “Well, what would you do if an angel suddenly appeared in your room one night?”

Meditations on Luke: Our Given Identities

When my wife was pregnant with each of our daughters, we felt a degree of stress in coming up with names for them. For one thing, we didn’t want to offend anyone in our families of origin. Use names from only one side of the family and you may alienate folks on the other.

The Night Before Advent

The calendar gave us an early Thanksgiving this year and it seems like it has been an eon between turkey and Advent. But I am ready for Advent. I need Advent right now. I need it more than I need Christmas.

Dreams for the Church

I like Reformation Day. Probably more than a person should like Reformation Day. I’ve written Reformation Day carols. I used a Martin Luther bobblehead in this past Sunday’s communion meditation. At our youth Halloween party, I dressed up as the Wittenberg-by-way-of-Asgard Avenger Martin Lu-Thor. Yes, I like Reformation Day quite a bit.

Meditations on Luke: The Last Laugh

The ministry of Jesus is such a ridiculous thing that it draws laughter. Everywhere he goes, he says and does things that are so out of step with what seems to be obvious reality that people think he is crazy. Imagine what the neighbors said when Jesus, somewhere around the age of thirty, walked away from his father’s vocation as a carpenter.

Meditations on Luke: Forcing Our Way In

It would be hard to count the gallons of ink that have been spilled over the years trying to interpret verse 16. For one thing, the wording in the original Greek is terse and difficult to translate into an English equivalent. Beyond that, the phrase deals in imagery that is awkward and feels out of place.

Death and All of His Friends

Earlier today, the oldest and I were riding in a car to an appointment. He was having a rough morning of his own doing and I wanted him to get re-grounded before we set off on the day. So I plugged in my phone and I played the Coldplay song “Strawberry Swing.”

Meditations on Mark: The Transfiguration

It is an obvious fact that you cannot look directly at the sun. Expose your eyes to that much intense light for more than a fraction of a second, and you can do permanent damage. And yet it is also an obvious fact that were it not for the sun’s intensity, life on Earth wouldn’t be possible.

Meditations on Mark: Family in the Kingdom of God

Few wounds cut deeper than those inflicted on us by our families. I have known plenty of otherwise strong and accomplished adults who still carry in their spirits the pain of broken relationships with parents, siblings, or children. This is an indication of the family’s importance in God’s plan for humanity.

The Walking 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

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.

Meditations on Mark: Prepare the Way

This is the promise John the Baptist makes in the opening chapter of Mark’s Gospel. Mark doesn’t begin with the story of Jesus’ birth. Rather, he jumps into the middle of the story with Jesus already as an adult, ready to begin his ministry. This is the urgency in Mark: The Messiah has come.

The Great Cloud

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.

His Heart Went Out to Her

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.

Meditations on Mark: The Soldiers’ Cynicism

One wonders what prompted the soldiers in this passage to act like they did. Why are they so mean and hateful towards Jesus? This is their first interaction with him.

Our Stories Will Probably Be Small, But They Will Matter

Sometimes I get discouraged because I feel like my story is very small. I live in a small city. I go to a small church in a land where churches can be quite enormous.

Satellite or Star

My eyes drew open a little after 4:30 this morning. The alarm wasn’t supposed to go off for another hour and a half, but I was awake. Though I knew I could go back to sleep, I also knew that I probably would wake up feeling more groggy than I did at that moment.

The Decline of the American Church, Boy Meets World, & Me

People can slice statistics any way they want to (and already have), but the short of it is this: While Christianity still remains the majority religion in the U.S., it is on the decline.

10 Things the Church Could Learn from Parks and Rec

On Tuesday night this week, Parks and Recreation aired the final episode of its seven season run. The writing is fantastic. The ensemble, led by Amy Poehler, is one of the funniest and deepest casts on TV.