Back when I used to travel a lot for work, there was always this question: fly… or drive? Sometimes, that was an easy decision. If I had to go to Chicago, I drove; if I had to go to Houston, I flew. But… there were these trips that were in-between. There were trips where the cost of mileage was a little bit less than the cost of a flight, and the amount of time it would take wasn’t all that different. And there were complicated trips where I would have to fly into one airport and rent a car…
Just in case you haven’t noticed, we are in the midst of a pandemic. And the thing about a pandemic—just like any other disaster or emergency—is that it peels back the layers of society and shows us what lies underneath. And one of the things that lies underneath—one of the things that we get to see in the midst of this pandemic—is incredible compassion. People are stepping up in amazing ways. Just in our own church community: we have had people offer to pick up groceries for folks who were exiling themselves for the good of the realm… text…
Last week, we heard Jesus tell the disciples what was going to happen… again. He told them how they were on their way to Jerusalem, the capital of their dispossessed people and their occupied land. He told them that he would be handed over to the Jewish authorities, who would condemn him to death. He told them that those authorities, in turn, would hand him over to the Roman authorities, who would mock him… and spit on him… and flog him… and kill him. And he told them that on the third day, he would rise again. This week,…
Jesus keeps telling the disciples what’s going to happen. The first time he told them, he told them that he would be rejected by the Jewish authorities and killed. And, after three days, he would rise again. And Peter didn’t think that sounded very messianic. And Jesus told him that he was setting his mind on human things and not on divine things. And then he called the disciples together and told them that if they wanted to follow him, then they had to pick up their crosses and follow him. The second time he told them, he told them that…
More than one person has explained the gospel to me like this: If you want to gain eternal life and avoid eternal torment, you must obey all of the commandments in the Torah. There are a lot of them. Rabbis have counted them. And while there is some disagreement, the standard model of things-you-must-do-to-gain-eternal-life-and-avoid-eternal-punishment includes following 613 commandments straight from the mouth of God. And no one could possibly keep all of them. You certainly couldn’t. You don’t even try. You eat bacon cheeseburgers. You think lustful thoughts. You don’t keep the sabbath. All of us have broken the…
In one of the rooms near the end of the hall, there are portraits of Jesus. They show him with children… which is right. They show him with a crown of thorns… which is right. They show him knocking on a door… which I’m sure he did and which is a good metaphor. And they show him being White, with flowing blond hair, a Greek nose, and striking blue eyes… and that is wrong. Now, don’t misunderstand me. There are millions of portraits of Jesus. Artists have portrayed him as every shape and size and race and color; with…
When Mariah and I bought our house, the basement was done in a… certain style. Let’s call it dive bar chic. The foundation walls were cinder block. Different partition walls were different kinds of wooden slats over different styles of frames. One door was close to a normal door; another one was a swinging door; another one was a saloon door. The tile in one area was asbestos; the tile in another area was vinyl; the tile in another area was a different kind of vinyl. Some lights were fully installed; others were powered by an extension cord draped…
On Monday, I participated in my second Democratic caucus in Iowa. Over the course of two hours that evening, a group of a little over a hundred Democrats spoke and listened, argued and persuaded, voted and counted. In the end, we split our five delegates between three candidates: two for Sanders, two for Warren, and one for Biden. And I’m glad I’ve had the chance to be a part of this weird little democratic tradition. But I would also love it if these caucuses were our last. That’s not because of the specific problems that we had this year….
Imagine that you are the greeter at the door of a party. There are two groups of people who want to get in. We’ll call one of the groups, The Blue Angels. And we’ll call the other group… Group Two. The host would like you to let all of the Blue Angels in; and none of the people in Group Two in. But there’s a problem. You can’t tell the difference between the two groups. And any system you come up with that lets all of the Blue Angels in, will also let in some of the members of…
Do me a favor. Close your eyes for a moment. Imagine something with me. It is a dark and stormy night. The clouds obscure the moon and the stars. The lights from town are off in the distance. The rain is falling in sheets. You can barely see your hand in front of your face. And any reasonable person would be at home, in front of the fire, safe and dry, with a good book and a cup of tea. But you had some errand in the countryside, and your car got stuck in the mud, and no reasonable…