If there is Godóif we live and move and have our being within, and with,
such a Loveóthen this Love must be with my granddaughter now.
Church Mary Can Love
This op-ed by Nicholas D.
Kristof is a "sermon" in the best sense of the word.
Welcome to Our Home
We should remember Prisca and
Aquila, and all those who supported Paul and other preachers in these
early house churches, with gratitude.
Does faith guarantee a long life or good health?
No, but faith is healthy.
A "Good Sam"
Health Care System
We may have more Good Samaritan hospitals than any other nation, but our
health care system does not embody the moral conviction of a good
What is Revealed
We need not interpret the testing of Abraham as
revealing a God who demands sacrifice, but may see instead our
propensity to attribute what we do not understand to God.
Fight Evil with
Christian faith does not offer an illusory hope of
life on earth without evil. Christian faith calls us to fight evil with
Green faith means accepting nature as it is, and
being filled with wonder.
Living faithfully now means reducing our
devastating impact on the earth's ecology.
Easter as Irony
Easter is about
life coming from death, but it does not confirm that God is almighty.
God Is and Isn't a
Perhaps thinking of God, like we think of a loving
father, means God is like a loving person.
Noah and the Flood:
An Ironic Allegory
If we read the
story of Noah and the flood literally, we miss its irony. For as
allegory, this Bible story reveals that the God of the Bible is not
The theory of
natural selection describes how diverse species evolved. The
biblical story of creation tells us why life began.
The past is always heavy with sorrow, but we can
choose to remember how those who loved us helped us get beyond our
in the Power of Good
Both Muslims and Christians have been peacemakers
and warmongers, yet we may discover that faith in the power of good is at
the heart of these two traditions.
None of the statements attributed to
Jesus in the gospels include the Greek word for conscience, but we find this
idea in the New Testament letters.
Faith and Ethics
Is ethics possible without faith? Is faith
only Christian? Might religious and secular people share a faith
that matters for ethics?
Sin is the evil that good people do. The war
on terrorism is America's sin.
Overcome Evil with
Violence may provide some protection against
terrorism, but only good will overcome evil. And for the goodness of
God to work, we need to repent of the evil we are doing.
Promise of Resurrection
A dialogue sermon using the accounts in the four New
Testament gospels and also Paul's testimony in 1 Corinthians 15.
In the gospel of Thomas, Jesus says: "If the
flesh came into being because of spirit, that is a wonder, but if spirit
came into being because of the body, that is a wonder of wonders."
If we are to pray today that our debts be
forgiven, we must forgive the debts of those unable to repay their debts.
If truth is known through living, and is living, and
requires living to be true, what might this mean for the life of the
God in Three
The outrageous Christian story is that God,
Creator and Sustainer of the universe, suffered and died in the life of a
poor person belonging to an oppressed people.
Crucified and resurrected truth means finding Christ
in strangers and forgiving God for death.
The gospel of John creatively links the Thomas
tradition of apostolic teaching with the witness of the apostles who
Sown like Seeds
Resurrection is not resuscitation. Our Easter faith
is that death is not the end of life, for we are "sown like
seeds" in the kingdom of God.
All four New Testament gospels present the
crucified Jesus reciting from the Psalms, the Jewish literary tradition of
longing for hope in the face of personal distress and national disaster.
When God is Silent
We are now, as always, at the foot of the cross,
where we are challenged to embrace our silent God with faith, hope, and
Deliver Us from
In this moment of enormous peril, our prayer to God
"to deliver us from evil" must not mean simply "deliver us
from evildoers," but must include a prayer to deliver us and the
world from the evil that we, with our nationís great power, might do.
Care of the Soul
We know soul is being cared for when our pleasures
feel deeper than usual, when we can let go of the need to be free of
complexity and confusion, and when compassion takes the place of distrust
Right and Wrong
Knowing right from wrong now requires that we admit
what we do not know, and then share with one another what we do know, so
together we might come closer to knowing and living the truth.
The State of the Church
The state of the church is no better than the love
and grace manifested in Christian living.
We may seek to realize together the first blessing,
the blessing of God in the creation story of Genesis, given to Adam and
Eve and, by implication, to us all. This original blessing is a promise to
humanity that men and women will be fruitful and multiply, if they live
To Follow Jesus
What does it mean to follow Jesus? Throughout the
centuries, there have been many ways of answering this question. Our
calling is not to condemn, but to carry on.
King of the Jews
The gospel of Matthew appeals to Jews to accept
Jesus as king of the Jews and Messiah. Christians
today read the story of the wise men as a childís story about "God
The Word Made Flesh
The church must say that statements in the gospel of
John made in the first century by
Jews about other Jews should not be read as a condemnation of the Jewish
A Christmas Faith?
Christmas is a mirror in which we see reflected what
life might be. We see ourselves moved by generosity, inspired by
hope, uplifted by love.
Mary, the Mother of Jesus
The story of Mary is at the heart of Advent. We
prepare for the birth of Jesus by remembering a young, Jewish woman in
Palestine two thousand years ago, whose unexpected pregnancy has become a
sign of hope for millions of Christians.
John the Baptist
Whoever John the Baptist was, the New Testament
gospel writers cannot leave him out of their stories.
We will never know the historical Mary of Magdala.
The New Testament gospels are not journalistic accounts of first century
events, but are narrative sermons witnessing to the meaning of Jesus
Christ for the first century Christians who wrote them. However, these
meanings include a prominent place for Mary Magdalene, as a supporter and
confidant of Jesus, and as a model of faith for many Christians in the
first three centuries.
James the Just
In the gospel of Thomas, when disciples ask Jesus
who will lead them after he is gone, Jesus answers: "You are to go to
James the Just." In the New Testament Matthew 16:18-19 identifies
Peter as "the rock" on which the church will be built, and Acts
confirms that Peter supported the mission to the Gentiles. So Peter, not
James the Just, is the leading apostle in our understanding of the
Facing Fear with Faith
Faith is not trusting in religious rules and
rituals, but trusting in the God we know on the cross, who leaves the tomb
to call men and women of faith into communities of justice and peace. With
this faith, we can face the fears of our time.
Reality is material and spiritual. Life is in the
real world, and love is about real people. If we embrace the material
stuff of our lives, weíll be able to let go of it, share it, even give
it away. Because itís all spiritual stuff, and so are we.
Call to Christian
The Roman Empire sought to destroy Christians, who
refused to give absolute loyalty to their government, and in three
centuries the Christian witness transformed the Roman Empire. The call to
Christian citizenship should now stir us to seek justice and peace through
the rule of law.
An Open Canon
We can correct the mistakes of the Protestant Reformers
by opening the canon to include the Apocrypha and first and second century
writings excluded from the fourth century canon.
The New Testament message is shocking. The first
shall be last. The divine is human. Heaven is on earth. The kingdom of God
is within us. Here. In the world. In our lives. Now.
We must acknowledge that
evil is a power that possesses people. We must accept the New Testament
witness that only the love of God can defeat the power of evil. We must
live the faith that allows Godís love to manifest its power through us.
The Fourth Freedom
Are we called by God in Christ to ensure
"freedom from want" for all people? If we are, we should support
economic. What would the church look like, if it took this calling
As religious and nationalistic "orthodoxy"
gains power in America and elsewhere, the history of the Samaritans may
remind us of the dangers of religious intolerance.
View from the
The story of Jacob and his sons in Genesis
34 does not judge the sons of Jacob for the murder of the men of Shechem.
In "The Red Tent" Anita Diamant speaks for Dinah.
Wealth is not simply a human possession. Justice and
peace require an economic system that checks great inequities. Anything
less than a living wage is unfair.
A regular spiritual workout is just what the doctor
ordered! But will it bring you closer to God?
The terrible and tragic truth is that our Bible says
God sanctioned ethnic cleansing so the chosen people could have the
promised. We cannot, however, accept this as God's will
One Nation Under God?
The debate about the Pledge of Allegiance is
unimportant, if it only concerns whether or not the Pledge contains the
phrase "under God." The real issue is the meaning given to the
phrase "under God." Will we, and other Americans, take to heart
the meaning that this phrase had for Lincoln, who saw the Civil War as
Godís judgment on America?
Where is Creation
Our question should be, not where is
creation going, but where are we going? Do we seek life with God? Are we
embracing eternal life now, as we live?
Is Faith Blind?
Because we are finite, we are blind. Faith is how we
are able to embrace life Ė despite the blindness of our finitude Ė
with courage, hope and love.
Is Jesus the only Lord and Savior?
We must now interpret the metaphors in scripture
about Jesus Christ in a way that makes sense both of what we now know and
what, as finite beings, we cannot know.
What is our Good
It is not that Jesus Christ will free humanity from
bondage to Satan. For centuries this has been horrible news for Jews and
Muslims and people of indigenous traditions.
Should Christians Proselytize?
our faith means doing God's will and explaining why we continue to be
Christian in a world that offers many other ways of believing and living.
Women with the
The apostles we know about, the disciples of
Jesus and also Paul, are men. But the New Testament is filled with women, who
worked closely with the apostles.
salvation in various ways, but affirm Godís love for those who live
faithfully does not end with death. In Christ, love overcomes hate,
and death leads to eternal life.
Why celebrate the Easter story as though it is
literally true, if we do not believe that it is? How would you explain to
friends, who may not be in church this morning, why you bothered to come?
Are We Worshiping Ourselves?
Our language about God is our way of understanding
what is beyond our understanding. So how are we to avoid worshipping
ourselves? Perhaps by the way we worship God.
Is the Christian Story
Our faith offers a living truth, if we acknowledge
our shortcomings, forgive others, and love our enemies. Faith in the God
of the Christian story, and faith in one another, may be a true way of
living, for us and for others.
What does "Faith
in Christ" mean?
not the object of our faith. In faith, we enter into Christ,
into the kingdom of God. Faith is how we live out the Bible story. Faith
is not a way of thinking, but a way of being and becoming.
Facing the Great
The point of the story of the temptation of Jesus
does not depend on whether or not we think Satan is a real person. The
story is like a bad dream, for the characters in the story represent
aspects of the dreamer. And who is the "dreamer" of the story?
This is Godís dream.
Living the Christmas
The Christmas story opens that last chapter of the
biblical story of God. Our faith is a decision about a Bible story that is
both factual and fantastic. At the intersection of fact and fantasy, we
are confronted with a choice: What story of life will we live?
Fighting Evil with Good
"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil
with good." (Rom. 12:21) This Christian teaching is good advice. May
we take it to heart and put it into practice.
Despite my doubts, despite my despair, despite the
darkness that threatens to overwhelm my spirit and our time, I worship the
God of Hannah and Samuel, the God of the psalmist, the God of Mary and
Jesus ó Creator, Christ and Holy Spirit.
Giving Thanks for Family
Our expectations for the church are too high, but
that's all right if we understand why. We are looking for a home. We want
to belong to the family of God.
What Does God Expect?
The "Lilies of the Field" passage is
telling first century Christians to strive for God's kingdom and
righteousness in their life together.
Why Mission? What Mission?
Why mission? We might as well ask, why Christian
faith? Being Christians means reaching out to others, sharing our faith,
and welcoming them into our community of love and forgiveness.
Mission and Message
The mission of the church will be manifested
primarily in what we do, not what we say.
Called to be
We too easily praise the Christian ethic of love and
ridicule our characterization of Jewish law. We need to face our
"unwritten laws," which stand in the way of living the Christian
ethic of love.
The Sin of Hypocrisy
Are we practicing what we preach? Do we acknowledge
the evil that we, as good people, do? We are called to proclaim he
good news of the gospel by exalting God, not ourselves.
Paul preaches a spiritual resurrection and not a
physical resurrection, but the gospels portray a physical
resurrection. A dialogue sermon exploring this difference in
A Liberating Gospel
The New Testament called the early Christians to
resist state idolatry. What might that challenge mean for us today?
Paul's teaching about resurrection challenges us to
move from literal truth through liberal
truth to living truth.
The "beautitudes" (Mt. 5:1-12) call us to
trust in God. If we seek first the kingdom of God, then we will be blessed
and our lives and our work will be a blessing to others.
Our faith is that the love of God, which is
manifested in the covenant with Israel and in the writings of the Old
Testament, has in Jesus Christ and the witness of the New Testament been
revealed as offering forgiveness for the sins of all people.
We declare that the things that are to
come will not be determined by the social and political events of our
time, and that the destruction of peoples and the degradation of nature
are not the final act of creation's play. We trust that the Spirit of God
(Jn. 16:13) will guide us into all truth
In the third century Greek Christians
using the Alexandrian calendar celebrated Epiphany and the winter solstice
on January 6th. A century later Romans using the Julian calendar
celebrated Christmas and the winter solstice on December 25th. When the
church began to celebrate both Christmas and Epiphany, Epiphany (January
6th) became the 12th day of Christmas.
(not Belief) is Saving
Through the witness of the New Testament,
God asks for more than belief in law, more than belief in good works, more
than belief in Jesus as the Christ. God asks us to follow Jesus, who
faithfully loved God and his neighbors. This is how we need to
understand John 3:16.
If you can open your hearts and minds to the eternal
Spirit of life, in prayer, meditation and worship, you will find the joy
of life that is there for all with ears to hear and eyes to see.
Faith in Human Rights
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 laid
the foundation for human rights law. Support for human rights involves
faith as well as law and politics.
The parable Jesus told about the prodigal son
(Lk. 15:11-32) shows us what love means. The
father forgives his younger son, completely and unconditionally.
The good news proclaimed by Paul (Gal.
2:1-16) and by the gospel of John (Jn. 8:31-36) is that we are free in
Christ. We are not saved by keeping the law, or by being Jewish or
Gentile, or by following Jesus because we agree with what he says. We are
saved by the love of God.
The gospel of Luke (Lk. 4:16-19) proclaims that
Jesus the Christ is good news for the poor. As Christians we are called
now in the spirit of Deuteronomy 15:1-6 and Leviticus 25:8-17 to support a
jubilee year that forgives the debts of the impoverish peoples of the
Living Our Faith
Can the church today that is divided by
beliefs be united by a living faith? Let us pray that the Spirit will
bring forth in the church of this new millennium a renewed commitment to
love God and our neighbors, so that others may know we are Christians by
our faith, our hope, and our love.
The gospel of Luke reminds us that poverty is not a
mark of human failure or divine rejection. This story of women, a
baby in a manger, and shepherds in the fields who come in wonder to the
stable, should elicit in us a renewed sense of awe and gratitude for
Sense of the New Testament
As Paul and other Christians realized
that salvation is not a matter of keeping religious laws, today we need to
understand that salvation is not a matter of having the right beliefs
about God or Jesus or the Bible. Salvation is the gift of God's love to
those who have faith.
This story reminds us that human rulers are subject to
God. The star created by God summons the three wise men. Herod is foiled
in his attempt to destroy Jesus, who will be king. The birth story in the
gospel of Matthew tells us that the promises of God will be fulfilled.
Palm Sunday is a celebration of the triumph
of God in Christ, not of our triumph as Christians. In worship we begin
with confessing our sin and then hearing the good news that we are
forgiven by the love of God in Jesus the Christ. That is the triumph we
celebrate on Palm Sunday.
Prophet of Galilee
Jesus calls us to enter into the kingdom
of God by loving our enemies, rejecting all discrimination based on
social, economic and political power, and affirming that character is more
important than creed. He challenges us to give up our role as caretakers
of religious institutions so we may become teachers, healers, and prophets
of the living God.
the Gospel in a Pluralistic World
We must come to see our faith as a way of
life, and then live it. We must embrace a spiritual and ethical practice
that is grounded in a biblical faith. We must seek justice, love mercy,
and walk humbly with our God. If we do this, then others will know what it
means to be Christian.
Renewal will come with wondrous worship.
Renewal will come with greater openness in contemplative prayer. Renewal
will come with new forms of bold service. Renewal will come because we are
and will continue to be inspired by Jesus and by women and men in the
Bible and in our own communities of faith. Renewal will come, as the gift
of the Spirit of God.
the Good News
We should proclaim a gospel of faith and
love, for this is how we have come to know eternal life. But we should
also acknowledge that Jewish teachings led Jesus and have led many Jews to
a deeper experience of God and love for their neighbors, as have religious
teachings from the great spiritual traditions of the world. This is part
of the "good news" of God's love.
Free by Christ
We can engage scripture thoughtfully,
reverently and critically in a discipline reflecting our trust in God. We
can encounter the God of freedom through the witness of the scriptures to
the freedom experienced by Abraham, by the Israelite prophets, and by
Jesus the Christ. We can enter into the faithful stories of the past in
order to embrace the present with faith, hope and love.
Human rights law guards our fundamental
civil and political freedoms, but we must find our eternal freedom in the
Spirit of truth (2 Corinthians 3:17).
The faith that saves is the result of
God's grace, which is freely given and is not a reward for good behavior
or for correct beliefs. We are not saved by keeping the law, or by doing
good works, or by adhering to church doctrine. In Christ, we are saved by
the love of God.
In the time of "the great dying"
our faith must be rooted in the community of the faithful, the communion
of those throughout history who have walked through the valley of the shadow of
death and found they were not alone.