Month: May 2018

After seemingly every tragedy that gets national attention, one colleague or another shows up in my social media feeds to remind us all that if we aren’t preaching about it that Sunday, we’re doing something wrong: “Preach with your Bible in one hand,” as Karl Barth didn’t quite say, “and your newspaper in the other.” That’s always bothered me. It creates the temptation to respond to every current event before we’ve had time to reflect on it, or to twist scripture to suit our response to the news, or to preach on some narrow set of issues that we…
Today is Trinity Sunday, a day when churches around the world — not just the United Church of Christ, but Catholics and Anglicans and Lutherans and Presbyterians and Methodists — recognize and celebrate one of the great mysteries of our faith. We worship one God in three Persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is easily one of the hardest bits of our faith to grasp. If it sounds difficult and nonsensical, that’s because it is. It’s difficult and nonsensical and true. It’s one of those things about God that we just can’t get our heads…
Last week, I talked to you a little bit about Matthias. After Jesus was betrayed, arrested, and crucified, after he rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, the apostles were down one person. Judas, who had set the events of Holy Week into motion through his betrayal, wasn’t with them any more. And the remaining apostles decided to fill his seat with someone new. So the community of believers nominated two people. And the apostles prayed and cast lots. And the dice landed a certain way. God said, “Matthias”. And suddenly this man was a leader of the…
A week or two ago, I had a stress dream. I was running late for Sunday worship. I couldn’t find any clean dress pants, so I threw on some jeans and a t-shirt and got in the car. And, in the dark, I started my drive to church. Now, in my dream, the road to church was long and winding and went through a cemetery and a small town. And as I was driving through that small town, I saw a gas station. I looked at my gas gauge and — even though I was already late — I…
It was going to happen eventually… and it did. A member of my congregation made a small complaint, in passing, to my moderator, who passed it on to the pastoral relations committee, who passed it on to me. It wasn’t a harsh complaint. In fact, I’m not even sure I should call it a complaint. It was a question: What does he do? He’s only here a couple of half days a week. Now, I think part of that question was a misunderstanding. It’s true that my official office hours are Tuesday and Thursday from around 9am to around…
Previously, at First Congregational United Church of Christ. A couple of weeks ago, when we were having our annual celebration of extravagant welcome, I preached on the beginning of the story of Peter and Cornelius. To recap, since it’s important: Peter was an apostle of Jesus Christ. And he knew that the church was a community of Jewish people who followed the Jewish messiah who would restore the homeland of the Jewish people, who were the chosen people of the Jewish God. But God had told a man — a gentile — named Cornelius to send men to Peter….
Lately, I’ve been playing with an idea I call ‘compassionate capitalism’. This is the idea that we can use capitalism — an economic system where private parties own the means of production and operate them to make a profit for themselves — to solve big social problems like poverty. One example of this is Lumni, a for-profit business that provides money to low-income students so that they can pay for their educations. Lumni does not provide loans. Instead, it uses income sharing agreements. Lumni provides the money for an education, and the student agrees to give a certain percentage…

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