Author Archives: Rich Neal

With the eye of the heart

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 […]

Teach us to pray

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.” […]

First things first

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 […]

The key to life

It would be difficult to count the number of lives Dr. Jonathan Daniels touched, not only the parents and children in his pediatric practice who looked up to him but also the medical students in the school of medicine at the University at Buffalo for whom he was a mentor. “Students at the medical school […]

Wind the clock, drive the truck

At the end of their long captivity in Babylon, God promised joy and blessings to the house of Israel and its descendants, descendants that include you and me (Isa. 66:10-14). But what if that house is built upon foundations that crumble? If the foundations are destroyed, what can the good do? The question is as […]

In the debris and clutter

How can you live the best life possible, a life full and satisfying beyond anything you can imagine? The quest for that life is as old as human history. We see it in the search for the holy grail, for the fountain of youth, for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. […]

In praise of a small life

Our unhappiness arises from one thing alone, according to seventeenth-century philosopher and theologian Blaise Pascal. We’re unhappy, he believed, because we’re unable to stay quietly in one room. We can’t remain present and content where we are. We crave different things or more of the same things, and we strive after them. And in our […]

Listening to the Spirit

The best place to start if you’re serious about living a Christian life is in a relationship with a spiritual guide or companion, someone who can listen deeply to you and help you explore your relationship with God. And the first and best spiritual guide we have is the Holy Spirit. Briefly, there are two […]

Affirming our baptism

On this Pentecost Day in the congregation I serve, a young man formally and for the first time publicly affirmed the vows of Christian faith that were made for him at his baptism. It was also a day when all of those gathered affirmed their faith in the words of one of the historic confessions […]

Interrupted by grace

If you want to make the most of your life and fulfill your life’s highest purpose, and if you want the greatest success in your job or career path, you need to stay focused on your dream or goal and resist distractions and interruptions as much as possible. By setting aside distractions and defending against […]