Month: April 2018

After college, I spent a couple of years working as a cook in a chef owned and operated restaurant in Galesburg, Illinois. And while it wasn’t going to win any Michelin stars, it was a good restaurant and one of the more upscale ones in Galesburg. And it was a traditional kitchen… meaning that there was a lot of yelling and swearing and name calling and threatening. That’s part of kitchen culture. Paul Bocuse yelled. Auguste Escoffier swore. Marie-Antoine Carême probably called people names. Eugenie Brazier probably threatened people. Chefs throughout history and throughout the world have done all…
According to legend, Stephen was the first Christian martyr. One of the seven deacons appointed by the apostles to distribute food to widows in the community, he was full of grace and power, and a compelling speaker. He was arrested for blasphemy, brought before the Sanhedrin, and stoned.1Acts 6:1-7:60 And that’s an important story. The early Christians faced real persecution at the hands of the political and religious authorities of Judea and Rome. People died. More than that, people were killed by the machinery of power. In some parts of the world, modern Christians face similar threats. According to…
This sermon was delivered at First Congregational United Church of Christ in DeWitt, Iowa, on April 22, 2018. The scriptures for this sermon are Matthew 25:31-46 and Acts 10:9-16. We are a welcoming church. I’m sure of it. I’ve experienced it. I’ve been here with you for just over two months. I’ve attended committee meetings, eaten with the Lion’s Ladies, snacked with the Crafty Stitchers, watched WOW Kids classes, sat in on Faith in Motion sessions, led worship, visited a few of you, and enjoyed some of the other privileges of being your pastor. And at every turn, I’ve…
Posting is lighter this week because last weekend, I went to Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. When I was a student there, I played in the jazz ensemble, as well as a few of the jazz combos. And while I’m not nearly as good as I used to be — because who has time to practice anymore? — I enjoy going back for the Rootabaga Jazz Festival (named for Carl Sandburg’s Rootabaga Stories… the spelling is intentional). ‘Baga is a surprisingly good festival for a small town in Illinois. This year’s featured artists were Greg Ward & 10 Tongues, Matt Ulery’s Loom, and,…
I didn’t preach this Sunday, so there’s no new sermon today. This is an old one that I preached at Congregational United Church of Christ in Whitewater, Wisconsin, on September 15, 2013, when I was working for Back Bay Mission. The scripture for this sermon is Luke 15:1-10. Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming to him… and the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling. I know this scene. I imagine that I’ve seen it in some painting or in the pages of an illustrated Bible. Jesus is in the middle, all white robes and trimmed beard…
I am a nerd. I’m a nerd about my faith. I read the Bible, I study theology, I talk to people about Christianity in general and mainline Protestantism in particular. I’m also a nerd about news and politics. I read the Washington Post and Vox.com and other news sites and blogs. I listen to Crooked Media and On Point and other podcasts that cover politics. I watch national and local news on television. And I study the issues. And here’s the thing. I know that other people in my congregation aren’t nerds about their faith, and I know that…
This sermon was delivered at First Congregational United Church of Christ in DeWitt, Iowa, on April 8, 2018. The scriptures for this sermon are John 20:19-31 and Acts 4:32-35. There are stories about Bill Murray; you know, the guy from Groundhog Day. Some of them are not true. And the stories that aren’t true tend to follow the same format: Bill Murray walks up to someone when no one else is around, does something weird, and tells the one person who is there, “no one will ever believe you.” So, for example: One time, when I was driving a long…
A while ago, I did a series of posts called ‘People I Read’. In that series, I gave little blurbs about the other blogs and sites I regularly read. It was sort of a callback to the blogrolls of the early days of blogs. I thought it would be nice to do something similar for the podcasts I listen to. So here is a new series of blurbs. As with the previous series, I’ll try to put up a new one every couple of weeks. Today’s podcast I listen to is Stuff You Should Know. Stuff You Should Know…
I majored in philosophy in college. One of my classes was called ‘Morality and the Law’. As part of that class, we read and discussed a lot of Supreme Court cases (as well as other cases). And one of the ideas that cropped up in a lot of those cases was the idea of the reasonable person. This is the hypothetical — and entirely fictional — person who exercises case, makes good judgements, and is generally neither a genius nor an idiot in their daily lives. They are the standard that we judge other people against. For example, we judge whether…
This sermon was delivered at First Congregational United Church of Christ in DeWitt, Iowa, on April 1, 2018. The scriptures for this sermon are Mark 16:1-8. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! In churches around the world today, congregations are shouting with joy that the stone has been rolled away, that Jesus is not in the tomb, that hope has been restored to the world. This is a joyful day. Christos Anesti! Le Christ est ressucité! Atgyfododd Crist! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! And, as usual, the women are there first. Go into any of those churches…

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