I don’t know why the “apostles said to [Jesus], ‘Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5). It may have been because their faith was being increasingly tested. Jesus had told them clearly about the high cost of following his way (Luke 9:21-27). Now they’re on the way to Jerusalem, where his death awaits him (9:51), and he […]

If it’s not a church-goer’s nightmare, it’s probably at least a very bad dream – a gospel passage and a sermon about money, about our relationship with it, and about how we use it – but it leads to helpful guidance for how to faithfully use the money entrusted to our care. I’m referring not […]

Today is Rally Day in our congregation, as it is in many others. Family vacations and holidays are mostly over. The kids are back in school; high school students are back in class; college students have begun a new semester. And in the church, we’re gearing up for a new season of ministry. Before we […]

There used to be a feature in the Sunday Buffalo News called The Magic Eye. At first glance, it appeared to be the kind of image you’d see on your computer screen when the mother board was failing, a mass of colorful, squiggly, incoherent lines. But if you changed your perspective and focused your eyes […]

The best blackberry cobbler I ever ate was served in the mid 1960s during a family reunion. Four generations of the Neal clan harvested pail after pail of the big, juicy fruit from the hillside behind the house in the Oriole Valley where my grandfather was born and raised. The next day some of those […]

Appearances are almost always deceptive. You need to look at a person very closely, with full attention and sometimes for a long time, to see the truth hidden below the surface. And a person’s truth is not found so much as it is revealed. In a congregation I served several years ago, there was a […]

After reading today’s gospel (Luke 12:49-56), I have a bone to pick with Jesus. I understand he might have felt frustrated with those who didn’t see what he saw, who didn’t understand what he understood. I imagine he might have wondered if he’d ever get through to the knuckleheads who wanted to be his disciples […]

One of Jesus’ disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). If there’s ever a time when we need to learn how to pray, this is it. Following every mass shooting, as predictable as sunrise, the comments come, mostly from politicians and public officials, about communities being in their “thoughts and prayers.” […]

An approaching vacation brings to mind the words of Pogo, the cartoon character who’s been one of my longstanding spiritual advisors. “Important work,” he said, “like sittin’ around fishin’ remains to be done.” I’m not a fisherman, but I do enjoy “sittin’ around” occasionally. And I recall the words of William Henry Davies (1871-1940), the […]