Why do you stay?

I remember when I was in college I wanted to be a counselor.  Differences in how people respond to situations fascinated me, and I particularly enjoyed abnormal psychology. I also enjoyed child psychology, nature versus nurture, and how children reacted during different circumstances and to various types of people.  And, how situations in childhood could … Continue reading Why do you stay?

What do you mean I have to stop?

It was Winnie the Pooh who said, “Some people say that nothing is impossible.  Well, I do nothing every day.”   It was Audrey Hepburn who said, “I have to be alone very often. I'd be quite happy if I spent from Saturday night until Monday morning alone in my apartment. That's how I refuel.” … Continue reading What do you mean I have to stop?

What should I ask for?

There’s a story written by a brilliant, moral fiber of our American South.  An author of significant renown who, upon hearing about the death of a neighbor, said, “I did not attend his funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying that I approved of it.”  This witty man of significant depth of character, two … Continue reading What should I ask for?

Who does he think he is?

Thomas Wolfe wrote an incredible story about a man named George Webber.  George, our protagonist of the story, writes a scandalous yet, from his perspective, accurate reflection of his experiences growing up in deep-south Libya Hill.  Initially, when news of a hometown boy’s story gets published, the town is overjoyed that one of their own … Continue reading Who does he think he is?

Suffering, Relationship, and Baptism

“The sun lay on the grass and warmed it, and in the shade under the grass the insects moved, ants and ant lions to set traps for them, grasshoppers to jump into the air and flick their yellow wings for a second, and bugs like little armadillos, plodding restlessly on many tender feet.  And over … Continue reading Suffering, Relationship, and Baptism

When is this ever going to get easier?

Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote: “Below the thunders of the upper deep; Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea, His ancient, dreamless, uninvited sleep The Kraken sleeps:  faintest sunlights flee About his shadowy sides:  above him swell Huge sponges of millennial growth and height; And far away into the sickly light, From many a wondrous grot … Continue reading When is this ever going to get easier?

Are you sure it’s me that you really need?

"Once there was a tree.... and she loved a little boy. And everyday the boy would come and he would gather her leaves and make them into crowns and play king of the forest. He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches and eat apples. And they would play hide-and-go-seek. And when … Continue reading Are you sure it’s me that you really need?

Did Jesus redefine what family actually is?

I’m not a joke teller.  I couldn’t even tell a knock knock joke to save my life.  I always get the punch line wrong or I forget to tell an important nugget of the story that is critical to making the joke actually work.  So, if you ever hear me tell a complete and funny … Continue reading Did Jesus redefine what family actually is?

Is There a Place for Me, Too?

I read of a Sunday School class that was studying the Apostles Creed in order to more fully understand God and the Trinity.  Each member of the class was given a section of the creed to learn by heart, then Sunday by Sunday they would take turns reciting the creed, each student repeating his or … Continue reading Is There a Place for Me, Too?

What?! Those People Too?

One of my favorites movies, probably in my top 5 favorites, is a movie called High Fidelity. It’s about a man, John Cusack, who owns a record store and measures the activities and reactions of his life to the lyrics of music.  And everything is measured on a “top 5” scale.  He has a conversation … Continue reading What?! Those People Too?

Who or What is this “Hired Man”?

What didn't make it into the sermon from Sunday? As I worked through the lectionary readings for Sunday's sermon, the most significant image that reverberated throughout the passages (click here for a link to the Lectionary Readings for the day) was that of the Shepherd. The Shepherd who was the chief cornerstone that the builders … Continue reading Who or What is this “Hired Man”?

Sermon Seeds: Advent 3

To say that 2020 has been tension-filled is an understatement! But, as we continue in our Advent Season, we are reminded even more acutely the push/pull dynamic that exists both within and without us! Our passage from the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) encourages, "He has cast down the mighty..., and haslifted up the lowly...He has filled the hungry...and the rich … Continue reading Sermon Seeds: Advent 3

Saint Clement of Alexandria

In the age of Gnosticism, Clement's diligence to his studies and his passion for writing powerful texts covering philosophy and theology help to pave the way for another Great of the Church: Origen. It is understood that Saint Mark traveled to Egypt's Alexandria and established the Christian Church in that region. In the 2nd and … Continue reading Saint Clement of Alexandria

The Fire is His Presence that Gives us Faith

This morning I step into a unique and beautiful position.  This position is one that affords a perspective of a people who has faced many challenges in the past two years.  This group of people — you — have been forced to examine who you are and where you have come; in turn, you have … Continue reading The Fire is His Presence that Gives us Faith

A Handful of Humility and a Pound of Persistence

One of my favorite books is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  This story holds a wealth of lessons and illustrations and anecdotes about life, relationships, hardship, injustice, doubt, grace, and community.  In the text Scout Finch is raised by many people:  her father Atticus, their maid Calpurnia, their neighbor Miss Maudie, and Atticus’ … Continue reading A Handful of Humility and a Pound of Persistence

Pray for the gift of unity, and we all will be changed.

Seventh Sunday of Easter Readings. When I was in college, my grandmother wrote letters and cards to me quite regularly.  Most of the time, her letters were not very long — a small stationary page or two.  She also sent cards and would write a note on the facing page, underline or circle certain words … Continue reading Pray for the gift of unity, and we all will be changed.

And we scratch our heads in disbelief

I subscribe to Christianity Today and read this article today regarding the SBC discussing the expulsion of churches within their organization who have been covering up abuse. My response is twofold. "The SBC is considering requiring background checks for denominational leaders and has urged churches to include such screening in the ordination process." This quote … Continue reading And we scratch our heads in disbelief

It’s a Matter of Perspective

Our lectionary readings this morning brought to mind so many different scenarios for me.  There is a wealth of instruction and encouragement from these passages, and I was inspired to reflect on stories I have heard and relationships in my life.  So, this morning will be a different sort of sermon from what I have … Continue reading It’s a Matter of Perspective

.-.. . – / .. – / -… .

I listen to a podcast from Mike Rowe.  You know him, the voice behind most of our current-generation Ford commercials and dozens of nature and science related documentaries as well as the television show “Dirty Jobs.”  Well, Mike has this podcast called “The Way I Heard It.”  It’s reminiscent of the Paul Harvey-style of storytelling:  … Continue reading .-.. . – / .. – / -… .

God’s Ball of Yarn

Little Nellie and her father were visiting an elderly neighbor. They were raking the neighbor's leaves, organizing the neighbor's garage, putting the trash out, and performing other small jobs around the neighbor's house. The little girl had not really seen the elderly neighbor closely, but on this day she was going to meet the neighbor … Continue reading God’s Ball of Yarn

We Define Ourselves by What We Are Not

There’s a conversation in one of my favorite novels between a father and his six year old daughter. Scout is confused by the anger and tension that is going on in her town of Maycomb, Alabama. Atticus joins Scout on the front porch swing and begins talking to her about what’s going on. He says … Continue reading We Define Ourselves by What We Are Not

What is Ascetical Theology?

Benedict of Nursia wrote that a monastic must have three intentional qualities of life in devotion to God: stabilitas , obedientia , and conversio morem. These behaviors -- no, relationship-bearing vows -- are what anchor a person to an ascetic life. One must be in a consistent church body home in which there is accountability … Continue reading What is Ascetical Theology?

God and Trinity

Two chapters from Alister McGrath’s Christian Theology: An Introduction focuses on the doctrines of God and of the Trinity. The first concern addressed is the doctrine of God. McGrath offers the minor theory that God might not be male and quickly moves forward. He identifies the “personhood” of God through such philosophers as Tertullian, Spinoza, … Continue reading God and Trinity

Simon Chan

In his text Spiritual Theology  Simon Chan addresses these topics: nature of spiritual theology, doctrine of God, nature of sin, and elements in salvation. Chan states that spiritual theology is quite different from spirituality: “spirituality is the lived reality, whereas spiritual theology is the systematic reflection and formalization of that reality” (16). Spirituality could be … Continue reading Simon Chan

Julian of Norwich

Addressing the introduction to Julian's Showings is a challenging task, indeed. Edmund Colledge and James Walsh have densely packed their research of the text noting the differences between the Short Text and the Long Text, Julian's theology and exegesis of her showings, her keen development of the rhetorical style, the role of contemplation, and the … Continue reading Julian of Norwich

Margery Kempe

Described as "a 'wet blanket in any company which was innocently enjoying itself,' " such is Margery Kempe according to a source included in Anthony Bale's introduction to her Book. Bale offers an objective -- if not twinged with tongue-in-cheek -- observation of Kempe's colorful life. He includes the standard background to the life of … Continue reading Margery Kempe

Chronicles (in two threads)

Historical Challenge of Chronicles The inconsistencies within the text of Chronicles versus Samuel-Kings does not imply that one is truth and the other lies.  Inconsistencies also occur in the creation narrative.   What comes to mind, however, if we allow the inconsistencies to occur and still regard the whole text as valid is that we must … Continue reading Chronicles (in two threads)

Walter Hilton

Most likely written to an anchoress, Walter Hilton offers instruction and guidance concerning the spiritual journey towards God in his Ladder (or Scale) of Perfection. This text, however, is prefaced by Clifton Wolters in the introduction; Wolters reflects on Ladder and Hilton specifically with a sense of objectivity mingled with admiration. Wolters, familiar with Hilton's … Continue reading Walter Hilton

What I Heard from the Pulpit…

Today is the celebration of the Transfiguration, a moment in Luke's Gospel (our reading passage for today) in which Jesus reveals Himself in His Divine Glory to Peter, John, and James.  The sermon this morning offered a different perspective on this event.  The lectionary reading also included Moses, face shining from having experienced the Glory … Continue reading What I Heard from the Pulpit…

The Cloud of Unknowing

"The quality of the contemplative effort which measures all progress in the interior life of the solitary is immediately related to the reflex conscious awareness of the self in its relationship to God, the supreme and single object of its desire" (64). While James Walsh in writing the Introduction to The Cloud of Unknowing understands … Continue reading The Cloud of Unknowing

How Much Does It Cost?

Henri Nouwen writes: "Nuclear man no longer believes in anything that is always and everywhere...He lives by the hour...His art...is a combination of divergent pieces, is a host impression of how man feels at the moment [emphasis mine]." Further, "We see man paralyzed by dislocation and fragmentation, caught in the prison of his own mortality...We … Continue reading How Much Does It Cost?

Is it live, or is it Memorex?

In post-modern culture we guard the written word and even the ideas behind the ideas with patents, trademarks, and copyrights.  We protect and lay claim to our creation like a dog marks its territory.  However, there are some scholars who find it necessary to analyze the verbiage, syntax, and style -- to distinguish the "authentic" … Continue reading Is it live, or is it Memorex?

Aquinas, Grace, and Sacrament

Aquinas speaks to the relation between nature and grace concerning the sacraments.  However, we should first understand the value of grace according to Aquinas and his predecessors. In Question 2, Article 10, he references Augustine:  “By the same grace every man is made a Christian, from the beginning of his faith, as this man from … Continue reading Aquinas, Grace, and Sacrament