Advent Prayers of the People

For Gaudete (Joy) Sunday, the Third Sunday of Advent: God of light, break into our darkness. You see us all, and you’ve heard everything we’ve been praying here today – make us aware of your presence and your work. Today we’re praying for the people of this church – for their healing, for peace for their lives, for comfort in mourning, for hope when there seems to be no hope. Bless these people with your light, God. On this particular Sunday, God, we ask for joy to be shared in the lives of others. Hear the names of these people…
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Alternative Worship

This entry is a poor exuse for an essay in response to the article “God’s Mission and the Christian Assembly: The Search for an Alternative Practice of Worship” by Thomas H Shattauer, published in “Dialog: A Journal of Theology” on June 1, 2011. This author argues that contemporary worship is not so much about an alternative to tradition, but to conventionality. Conventionality means – especially in Mainline American context – institutional Christianity. In other words, the “alternative” in alternative worship is about an alternative to the Sunday morning sitting in pews sermon/reading focused service augmented with studies and committee-organized efforts. The question posed by alternative worship isn’t “how can we get rid of tradition”, but “how can we continue Christian practice and make new traditions?” In this framework, the question of how to maintain the institutional church becomes less…
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Listening to the Word

Today I was reminded yet again of how important it is to read Scripture and spend time in prayer. I sat down to do my devotional today and decided to use The verse for the day is “Don’t do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. Instead of each person watching out for their own good, watch out for what is better for others.” (Philippians 2:3-4) This is not a new verse for me. I took an entire semester on Philippians in college, and I’ve translated most of Philippians between English, Greek, and German….
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Reclaiming Jesus

I will add my name to this statement.   From We are living through perilous and polarizing times as a nation, with a dangerous crisis of moral and political leadership at the highest levels of our government and in our churches. We believe the soul of the nation and the integrity of faith are now at stake. It is time to be followers of Jesus before anything else—nationality, political party, race, ethnicity, gender, geography—our identity in Christ precedes every other identity. We pray that our nation will see Jesus’ words in us. “By this everyone will know that you…
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Untying the Colt

Untie the colt. Jesus tells us this donkey is for us to take – is it? Really? Untie the colt. Is this donkey good enough, is it strong enough, is it appropriate? Untie the colt. We leave too much tied up – it’s time to let it free for Jesus to use. Jesus is coming into Jerusalem as a hero. A celebrity, a favorite teacher, but one whom the people in power dislike because he’s too much of an upstart. They yell and scream and riot, but they’re just looking for excitement. He’s not actually teaching them anything new –…
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Following the Leader

People think Christians hate others: we hate immigrants, we hate lawbreakers (depending on which law), we hate black people, we hate gay people, we hate transgender people, etc. If we don’t say anything to correct that impression, people will assume we’re full of hate. It’s up to us to change the narrative. We have to say that we don’t wish the south had won the war so that we’d still have slavery. We have to say that we don’t think committed monogamous homosexual relationships are sinful. We have to say that we don’t think Native Americans deserve to have their…
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Multilingual Congregations

Since Pentecost is coming up, I thought it would be appropriate to share my honors project from college about multilingual congregations in the PC(USA). It has some particularly interesting things to say about the Tower of Babel story and the Pentecost story (even if it is only an undergraduate work!) Click here to take a look: Multilingual Congregations


Christian practice today requires acceptance, tolerance, and inclusivity in order to reach those not being reached by the church. Without those values, conversations either can’t begin or won’t go far. They must stem from a humble spirit, but contrary to what you might expect, the path to acceptance, tolerance, and inclusivity begins with an inward, not outward, journey. In order to accept others (because acceptance is the height of tolerance and inclusivity), you must first be able to accept yourself. In order to truly be a presence of love for someone else, I have to first accept myself as I…
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Miriam and Jyn Erso

Rogue One was a great movie that, in my opinion, did a great job of exploring a small part of the greater Star Wars story. The original Star Wars hinted at a great sacrifice having been made to get a hold of the Death Star plans – without which, Luke wouldn’t have gotten very far on his epic journey that now spans 4 movies (I don’t count Revenge of the Sith). As it turns out, getting the Death Star plans was a great adventure and I am better off for having heard the story. In every story, there are little…
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Planting Seeds at Christmas

Jesus wasn’t born as a baby, he was planted as a seed. Jesus refers to himself agriculturally a few times: In John 12, he refers to his life as a grain of wheat that has to fall to the earth and die in order to bear fruit. In John 4 he tells the disciples that they are reapers, harvesting what has grown because of the work of others, including himself. And in the parable of the sower, he is both sower and seed, because he is himself the word of God. Paul picked up on this metaphor, referring to himself…
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