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This I Believe

On this holy day, when we are encouraged to be in awe of God- the 3-in-one and 1-in-3, I am going to engage in a double prerogative- the prerogative of the preacher to stray from the texts and the prerogative of the birthday celebrant to do what she wants. Explaining the scriptures is very important to me, and I also believe our testimonies are significant as well.  I cannot explain the how of the Trinity to you. The only answer to how is, “I don’t know.”  As for why, I can either say- God’s business is God’s business or I can tell you that God is bigger than our understanding, our comprehension, our imagination and can only be glimpsed- ever so fleetingly- through awe.  Yet, I believe in God and how God chooses to show God’s self. Theology, studying God, is only useful if it actually helps us in our daily lives. I want to share aspects of my testimony, my theology, and what I believe with you today. Here is my statement of faith for this Holy Trinity Sunday on the occasion of my 41st
Recent posts

Pandemic Disgrace

Lent 4, Year B Joshua 5:9-12** This week I spent a few hours on the phone with two different companies, trying to use a credit I received from a flight that was cancelled in March 2020. These were frustrating hours, made more complicated by the grief they brought up in me. In early March 2020, I was supposed to go   to Texas to see some friends. We were going to laugh, run a 5K, go to the spa, and visit a pickle festival. Several of the friends are Episcopalian clergy. We began to wonder if we needed to cancel the trip when word of a new coronavirus, COVID-19, began to spread. And then a co-worker of one of the priests was found to have this illness, brought back from a clergy conference in another state. The trip was cancelled.     At the time, the airlines said too bad. Much later, they decided to issue credits for scheduled flights and, thus, I found myself trying to apply that credit this week to a future trip, only to get a run-around and to experience grief all over again. Grief

Turn It Off For Lent

“Be still, and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations,      I will be exalted in the earth!” The  Lord  of hosts is with us;the God of Jacob is our fortress.  -Psalm 46:10-11   This year we are entering the season of Lent in a somewhat precarious global situation. While we can never be certain what is to come, the present circumstances capture our imaginations and inflame our anxieties in ways that can be overwhelming and emotionally charged. It is very important for our mental, physical, and spiritual well-being to set aside time to be still and remember God’s power and presence in this world.  I do not often give specific directives relative to Lenten practice. I typically offer general encouragements and reminders to reflect on the activities or absence of activities in your life that may cause you to feel separated from God. Rarely has anyone told me that chocolate genuinely has a negative effect on their spiritual life. Lenten discipline is not merely about doing

The Politics of Good News

Transfiguration Sunday: Year C: Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99; 2 Corinthians 3:12--4:2; Luke 9:28-36    "Keep the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other."  - Karl Barth, German theologian (1886-1968) It has never escaped my attention that people do not like sermons that they perceive to be political. Furthermore, many people come to church, hoping for a break from the endless news cycle and its doom, gloom, and overwhelming encroachment on peace of mind and heart. Desperate for good news, when these people come to church, they implore the pastor to stay away from politics or news, just preach the gospel.  What is that gospel, exactly? Does this mean a desire to hear the story of Jesus welcoming the children over and over, with no assessment as to why the disciples tried to keep the children away or how children were treated in that society? Does it mean to only proclaim the stories of healing and ignore how the sick were marginalized and shut out from the benefits of th

At What Cost?

Scripture: John 2:1-12 A sermon is best presented as a smooth stone, something the Holy Spirit has worked on in me and then I present to you, with the Spirit’s help. You can then turn that stone over and over, seeing how it reflects brightness and absorbs shadows.     A good sermon has heft, as well as tiny flaws- keeping you focused on the perfect God and not the imperfect preacher. If the standard for a good sermon is a smooth stone, as I just said, then today- I do not have a good sermon. Today’s words, with no less help from the Holy Spirit, have a ragged edge. This sharpness has snagged at me this week and resists polishing.    It is not lack of preparation that has retained this unpolished roughness; it is the difficulty of the question at hand. The texts of the day bring us to a question that cannot be answered in this life, not without great risk to integrity and faithfulness. This is my content warning. While there are some smooth edges ahead, this sermon is more of a cutting

In the End, We are Loved

           When you think of John the Baptizer, what do you consider? His strange diet of bugs and honey? His wardrobe choice of camel’s hair? The fact that he did not become a priest in the Temple like his father and instead went out to the edge of the civilized world to preach?            If I asked you, what is the point of John the Baptizer; why does he exist? Maybe you would say “to point to Jesus”, which isn’t wrong, but is definitely not the whole story. John’s life is more than simply to tell people that his cousin is God’s chosen One. John’s existence has a complex purpose and reason for being, just like each of ours.             Consider what his father, Zechariah, says in the blessing that we read today as the psalmody (Luke 1:68-79): And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare the way, to give God’s people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on

10 Things to Know about Advent

    10.  Advent is Latin for “come in” and the practice of observing Advent prior to Christmas goes back before the Middle Ages. For these many centuries, Advent was a penitential season, like a slightly shorter Lent. Christians were encouraged to fast, give to the poor, and devote themselves to other outward and inward signs of faith as part of the work of getting ready for the advent of Christ, for Jesus to “come in.” We as Lutherans no longer observe Advent as a season of repentance, but as one of joyful anticipation in the fulfillment of God’s promises. Each candle we light, hymn we sing, and prayer we utter is part of how we join in the Spirit’s preparation for what is to come.     9.  By the 1600s, northern hemisphere Christians adopted the practices of their non-Christian (usually pagan) neighbors, using rings of candles to mark the passing of the dark season associated with northern winters. We know that versions of these candle rings were being used in connection to the Advent