Twenty billion dollars, according to the National Retail Federation. That’s roughly the amount Americans are expected to spend this year for Mother’s Day. No other holiday is as popular for dining out; Hallmark reports it generates the third highest number of card sales, behind Christmas and Valentine’s Day; and only on Christmas are more gifts […]

The season for commencement addresses is approaching. In a single event at high schools, colleges, and universities all around us, a door will close, a door will open, and speakers – class valedictorians and distinguished guests – will try to make sense of the bittersweet stew of farewells and new beginnings. “For everything there is […]

Wednesday, April 21, was the birthday in 1838 of the man known both as “John of the Mountains” and “Father of the National Parks,” the man who wrote, “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.” John […]

Answers in life matter less than answering. The process of responding to questions, of responding to life itself, is more important than any particular response. As an old railroad song puts it – if you’ve taken a trip on an old railroad, steam-powered locomotive and all, you’ll know this – “Isn’t it the going and […]

“Do not be alarmed.” Usually the first words we hear in the Easter liturgy are, “Christ is risen! Alleluia!” – welcome words of exuberance after six long weeks of Lent, the deepening darkness of Holy Week, and the utter emptiness of Holy Saturday. But those words don’t appear in the first resurrection experience (Mark 16:1-8). […]

Today I’m wondering how many of us find in Maundy Thursday an experience like E.B. White described in an old issue of The New Yorker. He described a cowboy who commuted by plane between New York and Chicago. His job was to throw steers in the rodeos of both cities. The steers didn’t need to […]

Lent takes us not to Easter but to Palm Sunday. Easter is in God’s hands; Palm Sunday is in ours. In Easter, we celebrate what God has done; on Palm Sunday we must choose what we will do. Will we commit to taking the last decisive step to fulfill our part of the covenant God […]

One of my gifts to the church, I sometimes joke, is that I don’t sing, but it’s not true. I sing frequently – a hymn or gospel song, a folk song or a song popular in my youth, something from a musical – sometimes aloud, sometimes only in my head. Most of the songs have […]

There are a few stand-out passages in our scriptures that sum up the cornerstone of Christian faith, and one of them is in the letter to the Ephesians: “But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us […]

If God provides everything in a covenant with us and wants only our gratitude and love in return, why are there so many commandments? It started with ten given to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exod. 20:1-17), and before you can say “your will be done,” those ten begat 603 more. Six hundred thirteen commands to […]