I recall an elderly congregation member telling me the story of moving to the big city from a small town in the Midwest more than 70 years ago. She came to town a young, single woman, choosing career and adventure over a more traditional course. I knew her to be a longtime and deeply dedicated member of my congregation, and I was curious: “How did you come to be part of this… Read More

No Jacket Required Matthew 22:1-14 This sermon was preached at The Riverside Church in the city of New York on October 12, 2014; listen here. I’ll tell you a little secret about ministers that you might not know.  Most ministers will tell you without hesitation that, given the choice between performing a wedding and performing a funeral, they will choose a funeral every time. Does this surprise you? If the only wedding… Read More

Yesterday I shared this beautiful invitation with my new church family at The Riverside Church–these are words worth hearing again. Today was World Communion Sunday.  As an invitation to the table I used Jan Richardson‘s beautiful poem, And the Table Will Be Wide. I loved it so much I am thinking we should use it every communion Sunday. And the Table Will Be Wide A Blessing for World Communion Sunday And the table… Read More

Invited to Freedom Matthew 21:33-46 Exodus 20:1-14; 7-9; 12-17 It’s good to be together in worship this morning. Today is a special day!  84 years ago on this day the very first worship service of The Riverside Church was celebrated in this beautiful space; later this afternoon we’ll gather again right here, to celebrate our covenant as we mark the beginning of our life together as pastor and congregation; and, today is… Read More

We have a busy installation weekend here at The Riverside Church, so the fine folks over at ABP/RH gave me a break and reposted a column I wrote last year around church budget season.  I believe this now even more than I did before! This is, hands down, the least favorite time of year for pastors everywhere: church budget planning season. Nobody likes budget planning, from the tedious work it entails to… Read More

Learning to Say Thank You Matthew 20:1-16 A sermon delivered at The Riverside Church September 21, 2014.  Watch or listen here.   Over the next several weeks in worship, we’ll be taking a tour through some of the parables of Jesus found in the gospel of Matthew. As you know, Jesus often told stories to try to illustrate what he called the Kingdom of God, or the Kingdom of Heaven.  What he… Read More

Looking back over my life I realize I’ve traveled a winding road as it relates to the spiritual practice of prayer. Lately I’ve turned another corner, and this week I’ve been thinking a lot about that journey. My earliest memories of prayer are memories of kneeling bedside with my parents before bedtime. Every night we’d review the day, express concerns and gratitude for the gifts of the day and pray for people… Read More

Some beautiful photos from yesterday’s Homecoming Sunday at The Riverside Church.  What a warm welcome this congregation extended to me!

Forward Genesis 50:15-21 A sermon delivered at The Riverside Church September 14, 2014.  Watch or listen here.   Good morning, friends! Well, here we are.  What a road we have traveled already to get to this week, officially beginning our journey together.  I want to say thank you to so many of you who have reached out to welcome me—your notes and calls and invitations and flowers have eased my transition to… Read More

Sonnets To Orpheus, Part Two, XII By Rainer Maria Rilke Translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy Want the change. Be inspired by the flame where everything shines as it disappears. The artist, when sketching, loves nothing so much as the curve of the body as it turns away. What locks itself in sameness has congealed. Is it safer to be gray and numb? What turns hard becomes rigid and is easily… Read More


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