Author Archives: Rich Neal

And who is my neighbor?

It’s important to know who my neighbor is, the one I’m to love, because my life depends on it, and yours does, too. Having life, the abundant life that was the whole purpose of Jesus’ life and teaching, the more and better life than anyone ever dreamed of (John 10:10 The Message), depends on two […]

Becoming the Word

We’re still close enough to the season of commencement addresses to remember the advice of Ray Bradbury: “Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. . . […]

Companions in the journey

Sometimes Jesus just seems cranky, like during this road trip through Samaria (Luke 9:51-62). Someone offers to follow him, and Jesus encourages him to reconsider. You’ll have no place ever again to call home, Jesus tells him, no place even to rest (vv. 57-58). Jesus invites another, who wants to honor his father, and tells […]

The power of one

Have you been saved? I remember the last time someone asked me that question. It was during my undergraduate years when I was working at a funeral home – an oddly appropriate place to ask the question, don’t you think – and someone whom I vaguely knew came up to me and asked with all […]

Hearing Wisdom’s call in a noisy world

If you recall 1975’s pet rock fad, you won’t be surprised to learn of the fellow – Larry was his name – who lived alone with a stone he was trying to teach to talk. He rescued the palm-size oval stone from a beach and kept it on a shelf, covered it with a piece […]

Whitman at 200, no. 3

Celebrating Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday, 31 May 2019 — In a quotation that photographer Dorothea Lange took as her credo and that I could very well take as mine, Francis Bacon (1561-1626) wrote, “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitute or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than […]

Language of the heart

Every Christian, and every congregation that professes to be part of the body of Christ, is ultimately concerned with two things. There are many other particular concerns, but I believe it’s absolutely necessary to be able to make a direct connection between each one of those other concerns and the first two. If we cannot […]

Whitman at 200, no. 2

The mystical presence of God was celebrated by the earliest Christians. Saint Paul knew God as the One in whom “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), there being nothing that is not of God. Jesus said the kingdom of God is spread upon the earth and we don’t see it (Gosp. […]

In the time between

The folks at Paul Masson wineries used to say, “We will sell no wine before it’s time.” It was their assurance that they were offering the real deal: a high-quality wine, not a cheap imitation pretending to be wine. It takes time to create a fine wine or anything else of value, especially good ministry […]

Walt Whitman at 200

Today, 31 May 2019, is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Walt Whitman. Since there’s hardly anything I might add to what has already been written or spoken about him that would be an improvement, I’ll show my appreciation for his mind and spirit, his vision of life, by letting him speak for himself […]