Posts

Attuned and Ready

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John 1:29-39

I am really awkward at parties. Maybe it's because I didn't go to a lot of them when I was younger so I'm still learning or something, but I just can't seem to find my way in to relaxing and being normal at a party.  

Last night I was at a party in a neighbor’s backyard. And as we were standing there with our drinks in our hands making small talk, a mom in the neighborhood, who I’ve known since our kids were in kindergarten, began complaining about the religious teaching at the private middle school where her daughter attends. And she kept apologizing to me.Knowing that I am a pastor, so not just a Christian, but like, a super invested, professional Christian, every time she brought up any criticism about, as she called it, “churchy stuff,” she would lay her hand on my arm and say, “I’m sorry,” and then go on to finish her comment.
I am not sure how to take it when this happens. As though I represent all of Christianity in any given situation, a whole belief …

Telling the stories that change us

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Psalm 40:1-10
Growing up, I used to think I needed a better testimony. It’s no good to just say you grew up a pastor’s kid and kind of always knew God.  I would simmer with righteous jealousy whenever I heard someone really lay it out there, drug addict and homeless, and God saved them from all that and gave them a new start. Or filthy rich, self-serving lawyer who met Jesus and gave it all up to go into youth ministry.  God, of course, is capable of saving people from all sorts of things. Their things just seemed way more interesting, and way more important to be saved from, than mine.
This is our last unit with the Psalms – what Brueggemann calls, "Psalms of New Orientation." In many ways, these are the testimony Psalms. We started the summer with Psalms of Orientation – which praise the reliability of God’s goodness and the order of creation. Then we moved into Psalms of Disorientation – those prayers that invite us into our experience when all trust in God’s goodness and t…

Praying the dangerous ones

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Psalm 22
When I was learning to preach, and I would come to a text and not be able to figure out my way in, Andy was learning to be a theologian, and he would prompt me to ask a particular question of the scripture. This question, he would remind me, would surely reorient me out of whatever rabbit hole I had gone down trying to figure out what to say, and return me to the purpose of the sermon, and the bible itself.   The question is: Who is this God? And what is God up to here?  (Two questions, really, but he’s always struggled with run-on sentences, so we're going to go with them as one).
This question has shaped my faith more than any other.  I’ve found that it opens every scripture passage, because surely every single part of the bible is trying to say something about who God is, and trying to show something about what God does.  Whether it is a historical accounting of an ancient battle, a graphic love song, a miracle of Jesus, a letter of Paul, or apocalyptic poetry, the reason…