Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sermon: Easter 4 - Year C

People are calling it, “The Bible Wars.” Which is another way of saying that Christians are fighting again.

Of course, this is nothing new. Since Peter and Paul went slugging it out in Jerusalem, Christians have taken sides against each other, while the world stood on the sidelines either shaking its heads or egging us on. Kind of like the neighbours next door who yell so loudly at each other that your fancy china rattles in the cupboards.

Some say that the bible speaks plainly, that it says what it means and means what it says.

And yes, that’s true. For me there are some parts that, on first reading, are clear as fresh water, plain as an Amish dinner, a theological “Run, Spot, Run.”

The gospel of John isn’t one of those parts. John delights in throwing mud in clear theological water. The Jesus in his gospel seems to walk two centimeters off the ground offering philosophical insights to deep spiritual questions. He rarely tells stories and he speaks in bizarre metaphor. John is like your university roommate who switches his major from business to philosophy, adopts a European affectation and starts sporting a beret. When I am looking for a plain word from God, John gives us a $1000 word when a $10 word will do.

The disciples in today’s gospel must have found John’s Jesus...(whole thing here)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

via Erin

Monday, April 23, 2007

Haloscan sux

So here's the deal. I screwed around with my template, followed the instructions to the letter, and STILL, halsocan comments have disappeared. I'll play around with this later this week.

Sorry for the screw up.

UPDATE: Got it working. Go back to sleep.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sermon: Easter 3 - Year C

“How can we evaluate worship? What criteria would you use? Worship is too intangible to measure,” I protested.

“Just watch me,” said my professor.

Being not at all pleased with that answer but also recognizing that I had no other choice, I joined my assigned group to plan worship for one week, one month after starting seminary. On the Friday, the group would gather in a professor’s office to evaluate the weekly worship events.

They called that one week in Hades “Rota.” I don’t know why, but every time I heard the word I couldn’t help but imagine thumb screws and hungry lions waiting in packed arenas; the sacred Roman Rota being an ecclesiastical tribunal, a final court of appeal.

Kind of a bizarre name for worship planning, don’t you think?

“Maybe the name was supposed to warn us about something,” I thought.

It didn’t help that the senior students would approach the week with much fear and trembling. It was their job to organize the group, set meeting times, and make sure you showed up each day of that week.

Lisa approached me with hesitant eyes and shuffling feet. I thought she was going to tell me she backed over my cat. But instead she...(read the whole thing here)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday Afternoon round up

First draft of my sermon is done! So I thought I'd do some housekeeping.

Dim Lamp is a blog by a colleague, Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson, pastor, chaplain, fantastic preacher, and all around good guy. Check it out.

Erik is a Lutheran seminarian with a really cool blog. Make sure you visit.

Barbara Brown Taylor reflection

Jesus was not brought down by atheism and anarchy. He was brought down by law and order allied with religion, which is always a deadly mix. Beware those who claim to know the mind of God and are prepared to use force, if necessary, to make others conform. Beware those who cannot tell God’s will from their own. Temple police are always a bad sign. When chaplains start wearing guns and hanging out at the sheriff’s office, watch out. Someone is about to have no king but Caesar.

This is a story that can happen anywhere at anytime, and we are as likely to be the perpetrators as the victims. I doubt that many of us will end up playing Annas, Caiaphas or Pilate, however. They may have been the ones who gave Jesus the death sentence, but a large part of him had already died before they ever got to him--the part Judas killed off, then Peter, then all those who fled. Those are the roles with our names on them--not the enemies but the friends.

Whenever someone famous gets in trouble, that is one of the first things the press focuses on. What do his friends do? Do they support him or do they tell reporters that, unfortunately, they had seen trouble coming for some time? One of the worst things a friend can say is what Peter said. We weren’t friends, exactly. Acquaintances might be a better word. Actually, we just worked together. For the same company, I mean. Not together, just near each other. My desk was near his. I really don’t know him at all.

No one knows what Judas said. In John’s Gospel he does not say a word, but where he stands says it all. After he has led some 200 Roman soldiers and the temple police to the secret garden where Jesus is praying, Judas stands with the militia. Even when Jesus comes forward to identify himself, Judas does not budge. He is on the side with the weapons and the handcuffs, and he intends to stay there.

Or maybe it was not his own safety that motivated him. Maybe he just fell out of love with Jesus. That happens sometimes. One day you think someone is wonderful and the next day he says or does something that makes you think twice. He reminds you of the difference between the two of you and you start hating him for that--for the difference--enough to begin thinking of some way to hurt him back.

I remember being at a retreat once where the leader asked us to think of someone who represented Christ in our lives. When it came tie to share our answers, one woman stood up and said, “I had to think hard about that one. I kept thinking, Who is it that told me the truth about myself so clearly that I wanted to kill him for it?” According to John, Jesus died because he told the truth to everyone he met. He was the truth, a perfect mirror in which people saw themselves in God’s own light.

What happened then goes on happening now. In the presence of his integrity, our own pretense is exposed. In the presence of his constancy, our cowardice is brought to light.

Barbara Brown Taylor, “Truth to Tell,” from “The Perfect Mirror,” copyright 1998 Christian Century Foundation., 89-92.

via Bp.WW

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Skakes' sermon

Skakes has a much better sermon than mine, so I post hers instead:

“Peace be with you”. These are the first words the frightened disciples hear Jesus speak that night in the locked room. The first words they hear after witnessing his brutal death on the cross. The first words after they have witnessed the empty tomb and feared the worst. These are the words Jesus chooses to use the first time he sees his disciples after he has been raised. Out of all the greetings He could have given to the disciples upon their reunion He chose one of peace. What did these words of peace mean for those disciples and what do they mean for us today?

By the standards of the English dictionary peace is defined simply as: quiet; tranquility; mental calm; serenity; or freedom from disturbance. While these are all valid representations of peace, within the Christian faith peace is much more then this literal translation. Within churches we often use peace as a form of greeting but how often do we stop to examine what this word mean. To really think about what it mean for us and for the person we are saying it to. The peace we are offering to one another is the same peace Christ first shared with us and with those disciples on that night in the locked room. A peace that is far greater then any dictionary could ever attempt to define. It is only within the human heart that we can truly know this gift of peace....(the whole thing here)

Friday, April 13, 2007

No Shortage

You may have noticed a shortage of posts over the past week. The reason is that I’m trying to spend less time online and more time with people. My goal is to spend 80% of my time away from the office and visiting with folks. And there is no shortage of folks to visit.

So far, so good. But be sure to check back often.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Sermon: Easter Day

Recently, a book about atheism has topped the best-seller lists: The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins. In it he comes up with reason after reason why one does not have to believe in God.

In his case, he thinks science has the answers as to how we got here, why we human beings are sometimes so awful and sometimes so wonderful. And those scientific answers, he figures, should be enough, both to satisfy any spiritual desire we might have and to debunk religion entirely.

But as a reviewer of his work notes, Dawkins doesn't understand the impulse to faith at all. Faith comes not from a search for answers of process, but answers of meaning. “How?” is not the most important question to religion; science is very good at answering that one. The most important question to religion is “why?” and science hardly touches on that one.

“Faith in the modern era...comes from...the need to see the world and our place in it as substantive, as meaningful, from the point of view of the universe.” (George Steiner; Walrus review, April '07)

Atheism generally fails to provide answers as to our purpose in the world. Atheists don’t believe in God, but what do they believe in?

If Dawkins really wants to displace religion, he needs to provide the purpose, the rituals, the character formation that faith does. He needs to provide hope for a hurting world, and comfort for anxious souls. Without that, he’s just shouting into the wind.

Where Dawkins has it right is...(the rest here)

Friday, April 06, 2007

Induhvidual Quotes

Courtesy of Dogbert’s New Ruling Class (DNRC), more True Quotes from the people who put the duh in Induhvidual:

“Do you think I’ve been sitting here twiddling my arse?”

“At no time do I ever condone you making changes to improve things
in the office.”

“Snakes on a Plane – what’s that about?”

“Go jump off a lake.”

“He’s not the sharpest canister in the ocean.”

“Keep a stiff upper chin.”

“The squeaky wheel gets the spoke.”

“I can lead you to horsewater, but I can’t make you drink.”

“He’d give you the arm off his back.”

Announcement in store: “We have a customer by the balls in Toys
needing assistance.”

“You play ball with me, and I’ll scratch yours.”

“It’s half of one, six dozen of another...”

“We do not have a smoking cow at this point.”

“Is there 264 days in the year? Or is it 265?”

“My daughter is as smart as a tack.”

“I’ve got a higher IQ than your little pinky finger.”

“Well, it may be the wrong tool for the job, but it is the right tool for
the business.”

“It’s our golden goose. We better figure out how to make her purr.”

via RT

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Maundy Thursday Sermon

I was surprised by how deeply moved she was when I gave her holy communion. Leah was living under house arrest for stealing a car. Or as she put it, “Taking a trip to the store.”

Her mom asked that I pick up Leah’s medication for her, since she didn’t have a car, and Leah lived way out on the outskirts of the city, where rent was cheap, and where the buses didn’t run.

I met with her each week for about six months. When we visited we talked about what she wanted out of life. Surely, dabbling in drugs and taking cars without asking hadn’t been her childhood dream.

“I think I want to be a hairstylist,” she said looking in the mirror, primping her hair. “I think I’d be really good at it.”

One day, as I was leaving one of our visits, she hesitated, and then asked...(the whole thing here)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Rich Mullins

Favorite songs by one of my favorite artists.


Hello, again.

So, I’ve been without a computer for about a week. Wow. I didn’t realize how much I was dependent on technology! It took about 3 days for the headaches and shakes to disappear.

But now I’m back.