Yesterday was Christ the King Sunday in the wider church, though I’d forgive you if you weren’t aware—it’s not a holy day we lift up with consistency. We do typically mark this Sunday as the final one in the Christian Year, with this upcoming Sunday being the First Sunday of Advent and the start of a whole new year together. If the gravitational pull of Advent and Christmas wasn’t enough, this Sunday tends to fall around Thanksgiving, which risks it being even more lost in the shuffle. And yet in some ways the whole Christian year, which traces the life of Jesus and the early church, led us to yesterday’s service.Read More
“Three Gratitudes,” by Carrie Newcomer
Every night before I go to sleep
I say out loud
Three things that I'm grateful for,
All the significant, insignificant
Extraordinary, ordinary stuff of my life.
It's a small practice and humble,
And yet, I find I sleep better
Holding what lightens and softens my life
Ever so briefly at the end of the day.Read More
One of the best emails I receive each week comes from SALT Project, a nonprofit organization founded by some of my former divinity school professors and colleagues that creates artistic resources to help congregations “tell their story.” They also provide a fantastic weekly lectionary commentary and other occasional pieces. We used their Lenten devotional highlighting the poetry of Mary Oliver this past year.
To see more from SALT or sign up for their weekly emails, go to www.saltproject.org.Read More
The first Sunday in November is always a special Sunday here at First Baptist. We celebrate it first as “All Saints’ Sunday,” a holy day in the larger church that remembers and celebrates all those saints of the church who’ve come before and whose lives still touch us. Here at First Baptist, we focus our attention especially on all those from our congregation who have “gone home” over the course of the past year.Read More
“My hope—and my fear—is that I’ll feel responsible.”
This was the response of one of our members two Friday evenings ago when a group of us met with some friends from First Baptist Church on New St. to prepare for our pilgrimage to Montgomery, Alabama.
We would leave the next morning to embark on this journey to experience some of the Civil Rights cites there, highlighted by a trip to the newly opened National Memorial for Peace and Justice. This stirring memorial, which opened earlier this year, was built to honor the over 4,000 known victims of lynching in America and the untold number of other victims of racial violence in this country.Read More
In his book, The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead tells the gut-wrenching story of Cora, a runaway slave, making her way to freedom. At one point in the novel she happens upon a commune that is operated by a group of African Americans, some free and some runaway. The motto of the farm is “Stay, and contribute,” an invitation she received as an almost miraculous inversion of the planation law from which she had run.
Stay: find rest, fill your belly, settle your spirit.
But when you are ready, contribute: find your place, lend a hand, be a part of that which sustains you. Be an agent in your own recovery.
This invitation is as close as the novel gets to defining one of its key themes, that elusive place that is always so much more than a place: home.Read More
A few weeks back we introduced a different term for the encroaching world of God’s dreaming that Jesus preaches of in the Gospel of Mark: the “Kin-dom of God,” instead of the “Kingdom of God.”
Most of us have heard sermons and Sunday school lessons on the Kingdom of God for most of our lives and so it’s easy for it to become background noise. Jesus speaks of this new world of God’s dreaming as something bold and controversial meant to excite our imaginations, and so it may be that new language is necessary to for this to remain true for us.Read More
“Sit next to them.”
“Ask them what they need.”
These were the answers some of our children gave in the children’s sermon two Sundays ago when I asked them what are some good things to do when a friend is going through something hard. I honestly thought we could have ended the service right then and there, saying, in the words of Jesus, "Go and do likewise."Read More