Last Sunday all over the world lectionary preachers were handed a challenging text from Matthew’s Gospel. The text was that little part of chapter 15, where Jesus is busy just doing his thing: using gardening metaphors to see if he can get anywhere with his hardheaded disciples and generally trying his best to manage the increasing demands of publicly saying things people find distasteful.  You know, the usual. The way Matthew tells… Read More

Reaction Genesis 37:1-4; 12-28 I confess I was not the world’s greatest science student, but reading our story from the book of Genesis today reminds me of something I learned in physics class. Or maybe was it chemistry? The teacher called it Newton’s third law of motion: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” It’s a scientific law but it’s also all I could think about as I read… Read More

These thoughts appeared first this week over at ABP/Religious Herald. Lately I’ve had occasion to think a little more deeply than usual about churches and mission/social justice programming. It seems to me that collaborative efforts to heal the world are critical parts of life together in Christian community. And that’s not just because we claim to be followers of Jesus, who was pretty clear about the transformative nature of his message. It’s… Read More

Here’s what I’ve been thinking lately, shared first at ABP/Religious Herald: You know, I’ve always thought that one of the principle practices of a good pastor is connecting people. But I’ve now come to believe that one of the principle practices of being a good human being is connecting people. Because the worst thing about walking through a hard time is feeling that you are all alone. The truth is that we need… Read More

You’ll also find this column over at Associated Baptist Press/Religious Herald.  where it first appeared earlier today.     I recently found myself asked to take a step back from leadership in worship. The pastor in charge was apologetic and very polite, but the public leadership of women in the church is not biblical, he explained, and as a pastor who believes in the Bible it was important to him to draw… Read More

As many of you know, my brother John died suddenly, and our family has been walking through a sad and unfamiliar path of difficult decisions and tearful goodbyes.  John leaves a wife, Susie, and four children: Cole (14), Julia (4), Sophia (4), and Grady (2). Yesterday we held a formal memorial service; today we took to the ocean, where John most loved spending time, to scatter his ashes. Who knows how you… Read More

Benediction John 21:15-19 Who knows how to plan a worship service like today’s worship service?  Turns out none of us in the church office do!  So, my amazing colleague Jason Smith did a bit of research, looking back over these past 11 years and specifically back to the first time I ever stood in this pulpit.  When he did, he found that the day I preached my candidacy sermon and this congregation… Read More

Calvary had the holy honor of affirming the ordination of Rev. Allyson Robinson this past Sunday.  As more LGBTQ brothers and sisters gather the courage and step into the opportunity of a fullness of life on every level, the church has the wondrous opportunity to be present in these beautiful moments, to name the work of God in a life and in the world, and to declare for the world the blessing of… Read More

A Curious Community Matthew 28:16-20 Genesis 1:27-28 A version of this sermon was preached at Calvary Baptist Church on Trinity Sunday in 2008.  Here’s a reprise! I just love today’s Gospel passage.  The disciples met Jesus up on a Galilean mountain and it was a joyful reunion.  Then Jesus gave them marching orders to go out into the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the… Read More

As many of you know, after many long months of prayerful discernment on my part and the part of The Riverside Church in New York, yesterday I accepted a call to become that church’s seventh Senior Minister. This decision represents a big transition in the life of our family, a transition full of sadness and excitement and fear and anticipation. We will now begin the process of saying goodbye to our dear… Read More

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