Author Archives: Rich Neal

Down by the river

There are blessings that accrue and appreciate only as one’s years accrue. As the time remaining in life decreases, experience increases, and so does, one hopes, wisdom. Perspective lengthens, and in the longest perspective all of life’s experiences – diverse and contradictory as they seem – may be viewed in their proper places, as integral […]

Love’s yoke

It may be time to reread your Christian discipleship agreement. When you do, pay attention to the fine print. The invitation says something about an easy yoke and a light burden (Matt. 11:25-30), and if you’re feeling weary and heavy laden you might stop there. Keep reading, and you’ll find a model for effective prayer […]

When night has ended

Jesus erases differences so completely, he leaves me dumbfounded. For example, “Whoever welcomes you,” he says to his disciples, “welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me” (Matt. 10:40-42). For anyone who welcomes you, you are not merely someone who holds certain beliefs or belongs to a specific faith tradition. You […]

On becoming who you are

In early summer, I look for good commencement speeches. I look for speeches that offer sound advice for living, insights that help me wear my life better, timeless truth dressed in fresh language. Most of what I find offer little more than ordinary boilerplate, quickly and easily forgotten. A few rise above the ordinary and […]

And this is such a time

When will we see the harassed and helpless crowds (Matt. 9:35-38), really see them? When will the concerns of those who’ve been beaten down in life become our concerns, enough to liberate our compassion, enough to break our hearts, enough for their suffering to become our suffering? When will we see the harassed and helpless, […]

Once in a while

Today is Trinity Sunday, a day given to the attempt to explain the unexplainable. Long ago, tradition created a package for God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – and preachers and theologians have been trying to explain it ever since. When I was a newly minted pastor, Trinity Sunday was my opportunity to explain […]

To listen for the silken sound

With all the languages people were speaking when the Holy Spirit came to the church on the day of Pentecost – Luke lists fifteen (Acts 2:1-11), and there were probably more – I wonder what language God spoke. Was it one of those Luke mentions? Was it all of them? Was it none of them? […]

Lower your vision

For 2,000 years the ascension of Jesus has been the subject of countless paintings and church murals, so it may be surprising how little is actually said about it in the scriptures. Only Luke tells in his gospel that Jesus “was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-53) and, in the Acts of the Apostles, that […]

On seeing the risen Christ

You may be familiar with the drawing depicting both a young woman and an old woman at once. Several versions are circulating. If you look at it and see a young woman, it can be very difficult to see the old woman, and if you see an old woman, it can be next to impossible […]

An untroubled heart

The first thing that comes to mind for me when Jesus says goodbye to his friends (John 14:1-14) is that I expected more from him. He knows he’ll soon be arrested and that he’ll be executed, probably in a few hours. The disciples probably know it, too, though they don’t want to admit it even […]