Sometimes I think the main problem with Christmas may be the infant Jesus. It’s easy to romanticize the sweet babe of Bethlehem. And it’s easy to forget what Simeon said when Mary presented her child in the temple: “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many,” and “the inner thoughts of […]

The thing about a good story is, if you let it, it will tell itself. It doesn’t need embellishment or interpretation. All the storyteller needs to do is stand out of the way and let the story speak. That’s true of the Christmas story. It’s also true of the story of our lives. Wednesday Sheryl […]

“You must be ready,” Jesus said (Matt. 24:44). How do you get ready for what you already have, for what’s already here? Do we even know what we’re getting ready for? Those are the questions of Advent. All through the scriptures we hear echoes of God’s encouragement. “For surely I know the plans I have […]

It’s profoundly ironic that we’ve created a Sunday called Christ the King (the gospel for the day is Luke 23:33-43) to celebrate Jesus, who went out of his way to avoid being made a king. We sing, “Crown him with many crowns, . . . and hail him as thy matchless king,” despite reading that […]

Read Isaiah 65:17-25 and Luke 21:5-19 What do you do when life falls apart? “The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men / Gang aft agley,” poet Robert Burns wrote, “An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain, / For promis’d joy!” Our best-laid plans often do go awry and leave us nothing but grief […]

Look at a piece of coal, and what do you see? Merely a piece of coal, a bit of fuel for grilling burgers? Or do you see the plants and processes that made that coal? Do you see fire to forge a plow; and the crops that will follow in season; and the families those […]

A week ago we were celebrating Reformation Sunday and the church renewal movement launched by Martin Luther. It’s too soon, only a week later, to overlook his teaching about the Feast of All Saints and the renewal of our faith. Here’s what he had to say about the day: “Here is the true foundation for […]

What must I do to inherit eternal life? People keep asking that question. Someone asked it of Jesus (Mark 10:17-31, etc.), and we’re still asking it. When asked about your most urgent question last month, several of you responded with questions like these: Will I make it to heaven? Am I pleasing to God? Will […]

During the years immediately after I completed seminary, a question from Thomas Merton – actually, two questions – lodged permanently in my consciousness. “If you want to identify me,” he wrote, “ask me not where I live or how I comb my hair or what I like to eat, but ask me what I am […]

The story of the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19) is not a story about the healing of ten individuals, and it’s not about the value of expressing gratitude. It’s a story about faith that transcends tradition, that grows beyond the limits of religious practice, and that fosters a uniquely personal, authentic, and original relationship with the […]