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Showing posts from May, 2010

Faith in a Poem

Sometimes, in the life of faith, someone else watches to keep your tent from blowing away. Sometimes, when you're stronger, you watch for someone else. This is why we're called to be the body of Christ. Faith is not for the faint of heart or for the individual. It's for the community and the community is for the individual. I think this poem expresses our need for one another well. Arc by Amy M. Clark My seatmate on the late-night flight could have been my father. I held a biography, but he wanted to talk. The pages closed around my finger on my spot, and as we inclined into the sky, we went backwards in his life, beginning with five hours before, the funeral for his only brother, a forgotten necktie in his haste to catch this plane the other way just yesterday, his wife at home caring for a yellow Lab she'd found along the road by the olive grove, and the pretty places we had visited— Ireland for me, Germany for him— a village where he served his draf

Pronouns and Pronouncements

Contemplation of the Trinity often leads to discussion about language. Can we refer to the Spirit as "She"? What about God? Do we have to say "Father"? The following is a reflection around some nuances of that discussion. Whenever I consider the changes to worship, theology or language, I think first about Luther’s understanding of the first commandment. Luther said, “Anything on which your heart relies and depends… that is really your God.” [1] It is too easy for change for change’s sake to be made into an idol and, conversely, it is too easy to remain unchanged because of the idol of tradition. When we are seeking alternatives to what we have, we must first explore the why before the what. Is our change meant to correct “years of wrong” by substituting one set-in stone decision for another? Are we looking for how the Spirit may lead us to a deeper understanding of God in our midst or are we looking for a more tightly defined orthodoxy? The unexamined life

Holy Trinity

This coming Sunday (May 30) is my favorite in the church year, Holy Trinity Sunday. I like this Sunday for many reasons, the first among many being that this is a good Sunday to encourage and support our faith in the mystery of God and how God works. In honor of Trinity Sunday, I'll be posting some excerpts from work I've done before on the Trinity. Some of this is a little more scholarly in tone than what I usually post here, but I'll edit it a bit and I think it's good fodder for conversation- with me, in your house, with fellow followers of Christ, with people who reject the Good News because of doctrines like the Trinity. As the Gentile Christian movement began to stream from the Jewish establishment that was its original riverbed, the triangle formed between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit began to look confusing to those who believed in the monotheistic base of the faith. The intensity of the struggle to defend the core monotheistic values is difficult to desc


Here is one of my big secrets. It's hardly a secret (or that big), but nonetheless... I don't like to exercise because I'm not good at it. I know that sounds ridiculous. It sounds as crazy to me as it does to you. But I don't enjoy doing things that I'm not good at and I enjoy doing things at which I am proficient or excel. Now there are things that I don't LOVE to do, but need to be done and I don't suck at them... so I do them. I'm hardly an expert dishwasher loader (though if sheer number of times counts for expertise), but I do that. I'm not an expert lawn mower, but I do that. There are things which I do that I don't enjoy, but I do them. If you've known me for years, you might say I'm "indoorsy", but I don't think so. I like being outside. I like hiking. Fishing. Camping. Playing with the dog. Swimming. Canoeing in peaceful circumstances. I enjoy them when I'm doing them (mostly) and when I'm done, but th

Reverend Ham

Some of you know and some of you don't that the Lutheran Church in Lake Woebegon has a new pastor. Reverend Barbara Ham came to Lake Woebegon just before Easter to fill in between the abrupt departure of Pastor David Inqvist and the next pastor (whomever that will be). Apparently, Pastor Barbara has caused quite a stir among Prairie Home Companion fans because Garrison Keillor describes her as overweight, gossipy, an ineffectual preacher and someone who talks on her cell phone in public restrooms. Longtime PHC fans have expressed frustration with Keillor that the appearance of a female pastor in Lake Woebegon is so disappointing. I don't think Keillor thinks for a second that all female pastors are like this. But I do think (and I believe he does as well) that some are. GK isn't creating a caricature, he's simply telling it like it is. Pastors aren't talented and virtuous because of their gender. They are through dedication, patience, hard work and the gifts of


Sometimes you meet people and you assume that brief encounter encapsulates the entire experience you will have together. That's why I often encourage people to remember that they may be the one encounter another person has with Christ in a day or week or more. It sounds very New Age to say that our actions have a ripple effect, but I don't mean that in a "woo-woo" way. I meant it from the deepest need the world has for the gospel. People need good news and the message of salvation by grace through faith is what so many are hungering for. Last February, in the middle of a cold snap, I got a call from a young couple to see if I would be willing to do their wedding. They really wanted to have it outside and every other pastor they had contacted said no. There was some urgency. She was pregnant. He was about to deploy for a year to Afghanistan. They were both from Florida. I figured if two kids from FL wanted to get married outside in 14 degree weather, then this pastor