God’s Away on Business

When I was in seminary, I spent a few months as a student chaplain at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago. Along with the other student chaplains, I took classes at the hospital and covered on-calls.  During the week, during the day, there were real professional chaplains at the hospital. People who knew what they were doing. One night a week, there was only me. Just before my very first night, a pregnant woman had come into labor and delivery. She had a stillbirth. And after she spent some time with a real professional chaplain, she left alone. Her child

Read More »

Race and Charity Skepticism

This post is based, in part, on this post from 2016. Not too long ago, I wrote a book called Radical Charity: How Generosity Can Save the World (And the Church). If you haven’t read it, you should. You can buy a copy here. One of the challenges of writing a book is that some of what I wanted to say just didn’t make it in. Books have a limited amount of space, and I couldn’t cover every topic that I would have liked to. And one of the topics that I couldn’t cover was race. So I took an old post that

Read More »

A Terrible Prophet

The church is a hospital for sinners, not a country club for saints. And even pastors like me struggle to love as we ought to. If you’ve listened to my sermons, you know that I have some issues with how our country has been treating people who come to this country seeking asylum. And you can probably guess that I have some issues with how our country treats immigrants—especially immigrants from the south—in general. Well… earlier this week, while I was working on this sermon, there was a news story. There was a group on Facebook made up of about

Read More »

Scenes from General Synod 2019

A week-and-a-half-ago or so, I attended the United Church of Christ’s General Synod in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This is a time when a couple thousand people from across the denomination gather together to vote on resolutions, attend workshops and rallies, learn about what is happening in the denomination, hang out together, and worship. It is both amazing and exhausting. And while I wasn’t great about taking photos, I did take some.

Read More »

Bargains

Sorry there’s no recording this week! We’ve heard the first part of this story before. I know. I’ve preached on the first part of this story from this pulpit before. There was a man named Elkanah, who had two wives: Peninnah and Hannah. In a world where a woman’s worth was measured by the children she bore, Peninnah had many children… and Hannah had none. That didn’t matter to Elkanah. He loved Hannah. But it mattered to Hannah. So Hannah went to the temple in Shiloh, and she tried to strike a bargain. “LORD, if you give me a son,” she prayed,

Read More »

On Punching Allies

A Lutheran church in Oak Park, Illinois, had a fire, and was investing $3 million in rebuilding the church building. The church interviewed and hired only union labor for the project. After the project was scheduled with a start date of July 1, they discovered that they needed to remove asbestos before the project began. They searched for a union contractor to do the $20,000 asbestos removal project, but ultimately selected a non-union contractor in order to stay on schedule with the rest of the renovation project. This caught the attention of the Laborers’ Local in Oak Park, who put

Read More »

Mainline Churches and Producing Culture

A couple of weeks ago, some posts in my Twitter feed started talking about a vacation bible school curriculum from Group Publishing called Roar! The reason that people on my Twitter feed were talking about it was that it had a couple of deeply problematic lessons. In one, the kids were asked to pretend to be slaves while an adult leader treated them like slaves. In the other, the kids were asked to make up names for themselves using an African “click language” (like Xhosa). My Twitter feed was full of mainline and progressive Christians struggling with a basic part

Read More »

Wisdom

When I was in high school, I took an English class where I had to present and analyze a poem in front of the class. I chose a poem by Ogden Nash. I don’t remember which poem of his I chose, and his poems are still copyrighted by his estate so I can’t recite one here. But the thing to know about Ogden Nash is that he was… not a serious poet. My teacher gave me a decent grade on the presentation. She also let me know that choosing Nash as my poet was brave… but that discretion is the better

Read More »

Radical Charity is Available!

I am pleased to announce that Radical Charity: How Generosity Can Save the World (And the Church) is now available directly from the publisher! It should be available from Amazon within the next few weeks. It took me about two years to write Radical Charity. It took almost a year to move from submitting it to holding a copy of the final product in my hand. Creating a book is a lot of work and takes a lot of people. I am deeply thankful to and for all of the people who made this possible. Thank you! But the work

Read More »

That Holy Spirit

Sorry there’s no recording this week! For the last few weeks, we’ve been reading snippets of Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome. Three weeks ago, we heard Paul introduce himself. And he didn’t give the believers in Rome a summary of his resume. He simply told them a fact and a story. He wrote, “I am Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,” and he told them the story of Jesus. Two weeks ago, we heard a summary of the gospel of Jesus Christ. While the world was still broken—while we were still sinners—God loved us. While the world is

Read More »

Pin It on Pinterest