Connections 03.27.2016: The First to Know

When I was seventeen, my church put on an Easter play that one of our members wrote, paraphrasing directly from various Scripture accounts of Jesus’ last week, his death, and his resurrection.

Uniform 11.08.2015: A Fence around the Kingdom

Women deacons weren’t widespread at the time, but the church my mother attended had made the change to their constitution, ruling that the office of deacon was open to qualified “people” rather than just “men.”

Thrive: Words of Promise – Amy Shorner-Johnson

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.

Thrive: The Depths and Mysteries of Life – Amy Shorner-Johnson

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.

Thrive: The Gift of Acknowledgement – Amy Shorner-Johnson

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.

Thrive: Vulnerability and Risk – Amy Shorner-Johnson

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?

Thrive: Love is Stronger – Amy Shorner-Johnson

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.”

Thrive: Couldn’t You Stay Awake with Me? – Cynthia Insko

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.

Thrive: When Did We See You? – Cynthia Insko

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.

Thrive: Is it Fair? – Cynthia Insko

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.

Thrive: Are You Ready? – Cynthia Insko

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.

Thrive: Insisting on Titles – Katie McKown

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.

Thrive: We Work – Katie McKown

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.”

Thrive: KEEP OUT – Katie McKown

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.

Thrive: Loving – Allison Kentle

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.

Thrive: Questions – Allison Kentle

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.

Thrive: The Temple – Allison Kentle

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.

Thrive: Jesus Curses – Allison Kentle

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.

Thrive: Two Sons – Allison Kentle

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.

Thrive: The Request – Valerie Burton

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.

Thrive: The Generous One – Valerie Burton

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.

Thrive: Easier for a Camel – Valerie Burton

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?

Thrive: Jesus Blesses Little Children – Valerie Burton

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.

Thrive: Surely Seven Is Enough – Lauren Brewer Bass

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?)

Thrive: Be on the Lookout – Lauren Brewer Bass

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).

God’s Feminine Side Is Plain to See

Any half way decent theologian will tell you that God is decidedly not an old man on a throne in the sky. That this image of God persists somehow in the popular imagination, most likely has to do with some language we find in the Bible and the layers and layers of patriarchy involved in the whole shebang.