Category Ruminations

On becoming fully human

Last week I invited you to name the one essential thing you’re living for. What is your single, compelling purpose in life, the one that guides your large and small choices every day? Can you state your answer in one short sentence? It wouldn’t be fair to ask that question of you if I weren’t […]

Sounds of hope, or death rattle?

What did I hear this afternoon, sounds of hope for a major Christian denomination (The United Methodist Church) that has been verging toward schism, or the death rattle of one whose vital signs are tanking? Death rattle, n. : a rattling or gurgling sound produced by air passing through mucus in the lungs and air […]

On choices in the wilderness

What are you living for? When Martha was distracted by many things, Jesus told her that only one thing is essential (Luke 10:41-42). What is your one essential thing? A meaningful life is not a matter of how many things you do or how fast and efficiently you do them; it’s a matter of what […]

On love for one’s enemies

Sometimes it seems Jesus expects too much of us. The invitation he offers makes the life of discipleship look pretty good. When we look closer, however, things look different. Jesus promises “more and better life than [you] ever dreamed of” (John 10:10 MSG). He says: Don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing; […]

On blessings and woes

Call it what you will – the reign of God, the kingdom of heaven, the more and better life than you ever dreamed of having (John 10:10 MSG) – the quality of life you’ve been yearning for is right under your nose, and most of us never see it (Gosp. Thomas 113). Why don’t we? […]

A homily for Michael Collins

A homily delivered on 19 January 2019 at the memorial service for Michael Wesley Collins at Central Park United Methodist Church, Buffalo, New York. “O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, / our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home!” Today, especially today, we seek shelter from […]

When you’re desperate enough

How desperate do you feel? Thoreau believed most people “lead lives of quiet desperation” (Walden, “Economy”), not the frantic desperation of someone who’s in imminent danger, but the subtler kind, the low-level anxiety that slowly eats away at us. We may pretend it doesn’t exist, but once in a while it bubbles up and lets […]

On keeping Christmas

Now is not the time to let down your guard. The Grinch who stole into town on Christmas Eve to steal Christmas was not the real threat. He was only a diversion. And he turned out to be a pretty ineffective one. It’s the other Grinch who is the real threat. You’ll remember that the […]

The power in telling the truth

Ozymandias (aka Trump) vilifies the mainstream press so much because he knows the unfettered, uncowed written word is ultimately the greatest threat to his attempt to hold what he craves: absolute power. The familiar saying “The pen is mightier than the sword” became a proverb because it’s true. Today Michael Scammell cites a good example […]

Christ the King?

This is the text of a sermon I preached at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Lancaster, New York. Today is the Sunday when we in the church celebrate Christ the King. We’ve been doing it since 1925, when the feast was established. It might be one of the things Jesus would most want us to stop […]