To Be Free

Acts 16:16-34(-40)
On Friday my son and I visited with a pastor who works for a ministry in Turkey that helps educate Kurdish girls.  These girls are raised with two primary tracks for their life, either  marriage, at an average age of 14, and often as a mistreated second or third wife, or being handed a weapon and sent to the mountains to join the fighters. This is your freedom, they are told.  This is your salvation.  
But instead, with this ministry, they go to school, they learn a trade, they start a business, and when the marriage proposal or the gun comes, they say No.  The average marriage age for girls involved in this program is now 22.  And they tend to marry men who see them more as partners. They teach their own children to read, they hire friends for their businesses, they strengthen and build their communities. And the church is growing in that place – just like it was in Paul’s day, and in much the same way.  People are having dreams, “I saw a man on a white horse and he …

Some thoughts on Sabbath

Over the last ten years, I've done a lot of thinking, practice and work around Sabbath, both with my church community and in my own life.  I was recently asked to write a commentary for Working Preacher for a 3-week series on Sabbath.  Here it is.

Summer Sabbath Series

(For more on Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church's Sabbath practice, and our life together, check out some of these articles).

The measure of a life

Acts 9:32-43
My favorite uncle learned this week that he has a 5-inch tumor in his lung.  He has just retired and is building a house, just like his father, my grandfather, who died rapidly of cancer 36 years ago this week.  My uncle has three recently launched kids, and a 3-year-old grandchild.  When he heard the news he wept, and said, “I have so much to do!”  
Life doesn’t give us a blueprint, or a timeline in advance. We make our choices, each day, each season. We live our circumstances, waking up each morning and doing that day, and then laying down at night, satisfied or not, to do it all again.  One day it ends.  Our life is summed up and the verdict is rendered.  What will we leave behind us; what will our story have been?
There are people who make an impact in the world.  People whose kindness and goodness shapes those around them.  Their presence seems to leave a wake, or carve a path for others to follow, for us to emulate.  They make their world a better place.  When their st…

The story of your life

Acts 9:1-22
According to a study conducted by political scientists at Louisana State University and the University of Maryland,   "Just over 42 percent of the people in each party view the opposition as "downright evil." “Nearly one out of five Republicans and Democrats agree with the statement that their political adversaries “lack the traits to be considered fully human — they behave like animals.”” But their line of questioning did not stop there.  They continued by asking, “Do you ever think: ‘we’d be better off as a country if large numbers of the opposing party in the public today just died’?”  And some 16 percent of Republicans (or 7.9 million voters) and 20 percent of Democrats (that translates to 12.6 million voters) do think on occasion that the country would be better off if large numbers of the opposition died.  (As reported in the NY Times)
Every human being is living out of a story. 
Saul had a story. Saul’s story was that the Israelites had been corrupted by bad…

The Living

 Luke 24:1-12
I have always hated the question Why? Not as in, Why is the sky blue?  but as in, Why did you leave the car on empty? Why? can sometimes be less of a question and more of an indirect way to make a point.  
Why are we having that for dinner? Why didn’t you turn in that assignment?  Oh no! Why did you break that? 
Trying to answer these why questions only makes you feel like an idiot.
Because I wanted to make life harder for you.  Because I was hoping to disappoint you, and I succeeded!  Because I was trying to get in trouble.  Because I obviously wasn’t being careful and probably shouldn’t be trusted with valuable things.
So I think that the angels’ choice to announce the resurrection with a Why question is both kind of terrible and pretty awesome. 
Why do you look for the living among the dead?, they ask the terrified women.
The simple answer is, as you know, angels, they don't.   They are not looking for the living at all.  Don't pretend you don't know that they are looking…