Author Archives: Rich Neal

First the silence

“For everything there is a season,” the Teacher wrote, “and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to keep silence, and a time to speak” (Eccles. 3:1, 7b). Following the murders at Tops Market last Saturday, it still feels to me like a time to keep silence – a time to “‘be still, […]

Remembering Thomas

Doubt is not the enemy of faith, and it’s not the opposite of faith; doubt can be the dark, rich ground where true faith is born. The story of Thomas and the other disciples on those first two Sundays after the resurrection is more than a story about a group of disciples huddled in fear […]

Plotting resurrection

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen” (Luke 24:5). On the first day of the week some women came to the cemetery to find the body of Jesus. They did what any of us would have done. They came looking for him where they had […]

The way to life

We don’t observe the season of Lent to seek redemption from our broken nature; that’s already been accomplished. And we don’t observe Lent to practice some stricter rules for Christian life; authentic Christianity is not about following any rules. We observe Lent because we want the experience of being fully alive and fully human.1 We […]

The way of love

Sometimes we make love too complicated. We make too much of it, our images so high, our ideals so perfect they’re out of reach. Maybe that’s why we’re not very good at marriages, nearly half of them ending in divorce or separation. But I’m not talking about that kind of love, the Hallmark movie kind. […]

The difficult grace of hating evil

Hating what is evil and holding fast to what is good (Rom. 12:9b) seems obvious and sensible advice until I try putting it into practice. Then it gets complicated; it starts causing problems not easy to solve; it unsettles the way I’ve been taught to think. Take, for example, this bit of wisdom from a […]

When night ends and day begins

There’s a game that might make your Lent a little more interesting; it does mine. It’s called “Purgatory,” named for the waiting room where, some Christians believe, your sins are purged and your soul is purified before entering heaven. The way poet W.H. Auden invented the game, writers with contradictory views of life would be […]

The tree with the lights in it

Have you seen the tree with the lights in it? I don’t mean the Christmas tree you took down months ago or the outdoor tree with the landscape lights. I mean one like the backyard cedar Annie Dillard described as suddenly “charged and transfigured, each cell buzzing with flame.” She wrote that her experience was […]

A test of faith

Some people think God never leads anyone into temptation; it’s the devil who does that. If you’re one of those people, think again. God not only leads us into temptation, God led even Jesus into temptation (Luke 4:1). Mark’s gospel tells us God drove him to it (Mark 1:12). When we pray in the Lord’s […]

Walk in gift today

The season of Lent, as I first learned about it, was a sack-cloth-and-ashes season when we church people felt sorry, maybe even ashamed, for how we had been living and the bad things we had done; we repented and tried to get back into God’s good graces; and we deprived ourselves of something we liked […]