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Hail, O Favored One (Luke 1:26-38)

I think it is interesting that Mary’s first reaction to the angelic visitation is fear. For some reason most people’s first reaction to the Divine is fear. All through Scripture, whenever God appears or an angelic representative of God appears, the first reaction of those who experience the encounter is fear. So the first words typically spoken by God or the angel are, “Do not be afraid.”

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Resource Types: Sermons.

New Era, new god, says Paul Saffo

Saffo discusses how technology, innovations, and population growth create a pressing need for a new god.

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Projecting Power or Promoting Peace: The Prophetic Call for Justice, Kindness, Humility

In times of political and economic, cultural and ecological crisis, Jensen asks us to evaluate the risks we are willing to take to work for social justice and ecological sustainability. He discusses his personal experiences and view points of recent political events and presidential actions. Urging us to listen to our own hearts, he calls us speak our truth to defend against evils of established systems, and practice a balance of passion and humility in order to cope and promote positive change.

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More Than One Way to Collect Deductions

This article informs the reader about several options for tax deductions.

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Resource Types: Articles.

Soul Seeds

Lawton discusses the healing power of being present in the moment.

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Is Downward Dog the Path to Hell?

Evangelicals and fundamentalist Hindus come together in their denunciation of yoga

Yoga- a beneficial practice or the work of the devil? The increasing popularity of yoga in the United States has sparked controversy among evangelical Christians and fundamentalist Hindus. In this article, Jain reports the view points of several Christian and Hindu figures, who criticize the practice of yoga in America, and provides counter arguments to the monolithic views on the ancient practice.

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The Jesus Factory

An Adventure Novel of the Spirit that Reveals the Lost Message of the Hidden Apostle. This is the story of one man’s search beyond religious fundamentalism to discover the real meaning of Christ’s message.

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Reading Jesus; A Writers Encounter with the Gospels

In this impassioned and eye-opening book, Gordon takes us through all the fundamental stories—the Prodigal Son, the Temptation in the Desert, the parable of Lazarus, the Agony in the Garden—pondering the intense strangeness of a deity in human form, the unresolved more ambiguities, the problem posed to her as an enlightened reader by the miracle of the Resurrection. What she rediscovers—and reinterprets with her signature candor, intelligence, and straightforwardness—is a rich store of overlapping, sometimes conflicting teachings that feel both familiar and tantalizingly elusive. It is this unsolvable conundrum that rests at the heart of Reading Jesus and with which Gordon keeps us in thrall on every page.

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BE LOVE NOW: The Path of the Heart

Jim Burklo presents a review of the book BE LOVE NOW: The Path of the Heart.

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Thank You, Mr. U: A Thanksgiving Idea

Is it ever too late to say thank you?  Yes, and no.  Here’s an idea for observing the Thanksgiving holiday in a less traditional way this year.

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Coming of Age

1. Eternal Love, your grace we praise Which shapes and comforts all our days, Evolves the world we know. Let worship, symbols come of age To help us read beneath the page And test the status quo! …

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Topics: Devotional, Fiction and Poetry, and Worship & Liturgy. Resource Types: Hymns.

The Manhattan Counters

Americans United for Separation of Church and State have together drafted a point-by-point rebuttal to The Manhattan Declaration, a right-wing Christian manifesto published (with 200+ prominent signatories) last November.  Our MANHATTAN COUNTER-DECLARATION aims at providing clarity on the issues they address, and defending the values they profess to (but fail) protect by means of their document.  We want to launch our Counter-Declaration so that the religious right can get busy responding to good arguments for a change, instead of spending all of their time composing bad ones of their own.  Progressives, moderate Christians, humanists, atheists, and other religious leaders are tired of being on the defensive and are putting forward our own agenda for the future.

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Aren’t We All Christians?

Frequently, after a lecture or seminar, someone will ask me: “Why do you have to call it Progressive Christianity? Aren’t we all Christians?” These were usually people who seemed to be a little on edge, and sometimes even angry, but their questions were sincere and frankly, they are good ones.

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New Religious Movements

From the Introduction to A Master Level Thesis:  For the impatient, the world is a frustrating place. We see, with the clarity of youth, what is needed in a given situation and we express this need many …

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The Human Faces of God

What should thoughtful Christians do with texts that propose God is pleased by human sacrifice or that God commanded Israel to commit acts of genocide?  What about texts that contain historical errors or predictions that have gone unfulfilled long beyond their expiration dates?  In The Human Faces of God Thom Stark moves beyond notions of inerrancy in order to confront such problematic texts and open up a conversation about new ways they can be used in service of the church and its moral witness today.  Readers looking for an academically informed yet accessible discussion of the Bible’s thorniest texts wil find it a thought-provoking and indispensable resource. 

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Here Before Us – A Christmas Song

Tune: In Dulci Jubilo
1. Our world cries out to be reborn:
a world of pain, all tossed and torn.
Babies born to mothers
scarce old enough to yet conceive,
like Jesus born to Mary,
so young, so fearful, so naive;
he was there before us,
Jesus born that way.
2. Our world cries out to be reborn:
where power abused is now the norm.
Leaders lead with violence
where life and innocence are slain,
as Herod murdered children
through fear of challenge in his reign;
Christ was there before us,
Jesus lived that day.
3. Our world of greed must free itself
from worship of material wealth.
Kings brought gifts to Jesus
and laid their treasure at his feet;
but he grew rich in spirit,
in poverty he was complete.
He was there before us,
there to show the Way.
4. Our world saw light on Christmas Day
when love drew breath amid the hay.
In the Bible pages
full of long-remembered tales,
through metaphor and story
the truth of Christmas still prevails:
Jesus is before us,
here to show the Way.
Jesus is before us,
he is here to stay!
Chris Avis Nov 2010
Notes and suggestions
The tempo should be a little slower than for ‘Good Christian men rejoice’, to suit the reflective nature of the words.
In some verses, lines 4 and/or 5 have an extra syllable compared to the usual length, requiring the original first note of affected lines to be sung as two crotchets instead of a single minim. This is a simple modification musically and should pose no problem.
The extra two lines at the end of verse 4 repeat the tune of the previous two lines, perhaps with a suitable rallentando.
If this is sung by a choir, the following suggestions might be useful, though probably inadvisable for congregational singing!
1. It could be effective to sing verse 2 a semitone lower, returning to ‘normal’ for verse 3.
2. Similarly, the more upbeat feel of the last verse might be enhanced by singing it in a higher key.

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Resource Types: Hymns and Music.

Is Progressive The New Liberal?

Is “progressive” the new liberal? The word progressive is frequently used these days referring to “non-fundamentalist” churches.  I used it as a theme for our Lenten sermon series: Progressive Christianity takes a fresh look at traditions and rituals. You may see the word used in newspaper and magazine articles.  What does it mean?  Is progressive simply the “new liberal”?  My perspective is yes and no. “Progressive Christianity” does not lend itself easily to definition.  It is more of a movement; a path; an approach than a belief system. It is often more interested in spirituality than religion. Unlike the “liberal churches” of the 1960’s and later, it is not necessarily closely aligned with one political perspective.  So how might we describe “progressive” Christianity?

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