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Showing posts from March, 2012

Remember Trayvon

Several months ago, I was reading a book to children at church. I pointed out the different skin tones of the kids in the book and asked why the children in the picture looked different. One of the children sitting across from me looked at me like I had crawled out from under a log, "Because they're people," he said. Being "people" means having different skin tones, abilities, hair colors, tendencies, heritage. It's great that these 3, 4, and 5-year-olds knew that. May they never forget it. Apparently, some adults have. Or never knew it. The stories about Trayvon Martin are breaking my heart. A teenage boy, on his way home from a store, shot to death for being people. For being black people. There may be enough evidence within a few days or weeks to arrest the shooter, based on witness accounts. (Though, if a black man were suspected of shooting a white teenage, someone would already be under arrest.) Or Florida's " Stand Your Ground &

Unraveling Religion

I recently re ad Christianity After Religion , a new book by Diana Butler Bass . I reviewed the book here .  Bass unpacks the struggle in contemporary society between Christian dogma (teachings) and Christian practice (habits). She argues that Christianity in America (and around the world) is undergoing a Great Awakening, the fourth in American history.  One of the hallmarks of this awakening, Bass writes, is way people are combining their experience of the Holy with reason that comes through study, examination, and experimentation. Faithful people are trying to bridge the divide between the head and the heart and come together in the territory of the Spirit. Bass calls this experiential faith or experiential religion.  Experiential faith seems to turn the current expectations of  religious life upside down.  Bass details how in our vocations and our hobbies, we learn by joining a profession, a group, a mentor. We take on the habits of the people or person from whom we are learni

Theology of the Cross (Sermon 3/18)

Lent 4 (Narrative Lectionary, Year B) Mark 12:38-44             I like to start sermons with a story. I feel like a story helps us to get into the groove of listening and pondering what’s happening in the Scripture reading. The story is like a little bridge that we cross over into history and that history crosses over to meet us.             However, in order to be true to the gospel of Christ according to Mark, today’s passage does not lend itself to a good story, to a catchy story, to a story that I want to remember and to tell. In Luke, the widow with her two coins is the hero of the story. In Luke’s account of this story, Jesus praises the woman for giving her last two coins. For generations, she has been upheld as the model of sacrificial giving for the cause of the church.             For Mark, the woman is symbolic, too. But she doesn’t represent sacrificial giving. Instead, in Mark’s gospel, the woman is a sacrificial lamb, preyed upon by greedy church

Wikipedia, The Great Evangelist

I have no idea where I heard this the first time, "For every bear you see when hiking, nine bears see you." Given that I've taken treks during which I saw 3-4 bears, I get a little shaky at thinking about 25-30 bears seeing me. That's probably a high estimate, but- in general- more bears see you than you actually spot with your own eyes. This leads me to tell you that, in the past 10 days, two separate people have told me that they learned about a) the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and b) Lutheranism through Wikipedia. That's right. Wikipedia. Wikipedia! The first person, "A", was looking for a church with a specific social bent. A read on Wikipedia (!) that the ELCA was a gay-friendly denomination. Technically, this is true about the denomination, but not necessarily true of all congregations. A visited Lutheran Church of Hope, felt very welcomed, but was a little overwhelmed by the structure of Lutheran liturgy, more formal than A

No Elaboration Needed (Sermon 3/11)

Lent 3 (Narrative Lectionary, Year B) Mark 12:28-34             When I was in my first couple months of seminary, there was a guy in a couple of my classes named “Bob”. Bob was one of those people who is not good at picking up on social signals. He talked a little too loudly, asked questions that were a little too personal, and volunteered more information than you might want. He was a very nice guy, though, friendly and well-meaning. No one disliked him, but no one really sought him out either. (Yes, you may point out the painful irony of this behavior in seminarians.)             One evening, I decided to walk from my apartment to downtown New Haven and I ran into Bob. He had been riding his bike, but he hopped off and walked along with me. We talked and we went to a little diner and had a piece of cake. Then we walked back up the hill to the divinity school. He was really talking and I felt awkward trying to say goodnight, so I invited him in for a cup of tea.   

Whose Vineyard is It? (Sermon for 3/4/12)

Mark 11:27 – 12:12             I don’t know about you, but I am about finished with this year’s politics. I know we have not even voted yet, but sometimes I think if I hear another political story my head might explode. Not only does the rhetoric seems particularly bad this year, but the issues on which people are choosing to focus seem, to me, coming from nowhere. And, I confess to you, this year’s politics are making me judgmental.             I mean… JUDGY… to extent that I’m not proud of, but seems hard to avoid. I keep trying to think of the 8 th Commandment; however, that plan is not going so well. The 8 th Commandment, you may remember, is “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” We usually interpret this to mean that we should not make things up, speculate, or tell lies about our neighbor. In fact, Martin Luther said we’re not only to fulfill this commandment by omission of lies, but by also coming to the defense of our neighbor, speaking we