Time for a New Perspective

Last week, I relocated to a new office at work.  While the move was only a few hundred feet, the change in perspective has been considerable. Think about your own experience of familiar places. How long you have been living in your current residence, worshipping in the same sacred space, and working in the same office. When did you become so comfortable in each that you stopped paying attention to some of the details? So What? Changing our physical location often allows us to Read More …

Christmas Story: Fact or Fable?

Over the years I have encountered many passionate people who were not only certain they held the only proper perspective about the Christmas story, but were equally committed to converting others to share such a view.  Interestingly, I have been involved in numerous one-on-one and group conversations with those who were certain the Christmas story is a fact as it is recorded in the Gospels and also with those who are certain the story is just a fable. Marcus Borg, a progressive Christian Read More …

Sermon: That Changes Everything

Sermon Text: Matthew 1:18-25 Sermon Excerpt . . . Immediately, Joseph flip-flops.  He goes from being certain he must divorce Mary to knowing he must marry her. God has shown him a better way.  Rather than seeking to live by the letter of the law, he chooses to be guided by the greatest commandment: love. Guided by the strength of this love, he recommits himself to his relationship with Mary. He continues with the engagement.  Joseph marries Mary.  He abstains from sexual relations Read More …

Personally Helping the Poor

December is a time for gift giving.  In addition to choosing just the right gift for friends and family, many people also extend their generosity to charitable organizations.  As I was thinking about my own end of year giving, I happened to read Stephen Mattson's recent blog post featuring five reasons why we should consider going beyond funding charities to getting personally involved in helping the poor. So What? Mattson wasn't suggesting that giving money to organizations that help the Read More …

Sermon: Misguided Expectations

Sermon Text: Matthew 3:1-12 Sermon Excerpt I begin with a question that has likely never been asked in this sanctuary before during a service or worship.  It isn’t the kind of rhetorical question I typically include in my preaching. It will likely surprise you and may even disturb you.  Nevertheless I must ask it: has anyone ever tried to scare the hell out of you? During my years in Dallas there was an annual event focused on just such a goal.  Of course, the organizers marketed it a Read More …

Sermon: Ready or Not

Sermon Text: Matthew 24:36-44 Sermon Excerpt I am good at many things, but waiting isn't one of them.  Once I determine I want something, I work to achieve it.  Simply waiting and allowing things to happen in good time seems unthinkable. Perhaps this is why I graduated from high school at the age of 16.  It may well be why I purchased my first house while still a teenager.  And, I suspect it played a role getting married to Susan less than a year after we first met. Could it be that Read More …

Please Slow Down

Tis the season for many things . . . atop my list right now are people who simply will not slow down.  Over the last 24 hours I have experienced several examples of this behavior, including: a very coffee-centered individual who asked if I was in a hurry or not because she really was (with my blessing and that of the couple ahead of me, she skipped to the head of the line at Starbucks) people who respond to various forms of communication in a manner that clearly indicates they failed to Read More …

The End of the Christmas War

James Martin is a Jesuit priest, the culture editor of America magazine, and author of numerous books, including The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life (2010).   In his recent article, "The War on Christmas is Over . . .  and Christmas Lost," Martin suggests that "in public discourse the holiday has been distanced from the holy day."  He argues that Christians have been losing for a long time and that this is the year he is willing to declare that Christians have Read More …

Lessons I am Learning

For those in liturgical congregations, this Sunday’s celebration of the reign of Christ will mark the end of the church year.  Next Sunday, November 28, we will begin a new year with the season of Advent.  As we near the end of this year, I have been reflecting on my journey of faith over the past twelve months.  Three experiences have played critical roles in informing and continually reforming my faith: Exploring Experience: After serving five congregations in lay or pastoral Read More …