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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Grace and Salvation

For Christians grace is God’s gift of pardon. According to William Barclay the Greek word for grace was originally a military term. When an emperor came to the throne or celebrated a birthday, he would give his troops a donatirim (donation), which was a free gift that they had not earned; it was given out of the goodness of the emperor’s heart. This idea was picked up by the Christian scripture writers when they wrote about the grace of God. Grace is something that is unearned and undeserved – unmerited pardon.

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The Soul of the Psalms: from ashes to alleluias

Structured for Lent, but practical for any time of the year, this new resource examines the lament psalms for their connections to contemporary experiences. The introduction acquaints the reader with Dr. Walter Brueggemann’s analysis of the psalms into the categories of orientation, disorientation, and reorientation. A contemporary psalm/poem for each entry discerns the emotional tenor of the psalms and makes it relevant for the challenges of contemporary life and relationships.

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Topics: Fiction and Poetry, Spiritual Exploration & Practice, and Theology & Religious Education. 8 Points: Point 5: Non-Dogmatic Searchers. Seasons & Special Events: All Seasons and Lent. Ages: Adult. Texts: Psalms. Rituals: Lent. Resource Types: Books, Poetry, and Readings.

Redeeming the Bones: A Ritual of Participation

The dry bones raised by Ezekiel are a metaphor for those who died in the service of God’s justice: those who died working to restore God’s distributive justice-compassion to God’s Earth, and who themselves never saw the transformation. The army of dry bones is an army exiled from justice. Fairness demands that if Jesus was resurrected into an Earth transformed into God’s realm of justice-compassion, then all the other martyrs who died too soon should also be raised with him. “But in fact,” Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:20, “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.” It is the Christ – the transformed and transfigured post-Easter Jesus – who has started that general resurrection, which restores justice-compassion to a transformed Earth. The transformation has begun with Jesus, and continues with you and me – IF we sign on to the program.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – the Crucifixion

One of the most reliable facts concerning Jesus is that he was crucified during the reign and by the action of the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate, who served by appointment of the Caesar from 26-36 CE. The Roman senator and historian Tacitus referred to Jesus’ execution by Pilate in his Annals, which was written circa 116 CE. Beyond that, however, there is not much historical evidence.

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Community Making

So what do I mean by a sacred community or spiritual community, or as Peck would call it a true community? I refer here to an intentional community with an identifiable common purpose. Maybe that purpose is simple to grow spiritually as individuals. It is a community where one can transcend oneself and experience a sense of the interconnectedness of life. It is a community in which each member seeks to see and relate to the divine or the sacred in the other.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Judas Iscariot by Ed Taylor

Judas Iscariot, the anti-hero of the story of the crucifixion, has been heaped with scorn and ridicule over the centuries. “Judas” is not used as a child’s name because it became the synonym for betrayal, for being a back-stabber. In Christian art, he is portrayed in dark, sinister tones. Events in western Christian history from the Inquisition in the fourteenth century to the expulsion of the Jews from almost every country of Europe at one time or another, to Martin Luther’s call for the burning of synagogues, to the violence and killing frenzy of the Holocaust in the twentieth century are all rooted substantially in Judas and because he was a Jew, applied to all Jews. Even his name is identical with the name by which the entire Jewish nation was known… Judas is simply a Greek spelling of Judah.

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A Liturgy for Baptism

Wording is for more than one child

Dear Family and Friends, let us gather around for this celebration of Baptism.
Parents and God-Parents, who are you presenting for baptism?
Parents and Godparents: We present _________________ to be baptized.

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Seasons & Special Events: Baptism. Texts: Psalms. Rituals: Baptism. Resource Types: Full Service Liturgies.

You Who Delight Me – Poems of love & Words of spirit and faith

“you who delight me” is in two parts:
poems of love—secular and spirited writing about people, places and events; and
words of spirit and faith—inclusive language, contemporary liturgies for individual contemplation and progressive faith communities.

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Psalm 22

Oh, vacant sky! Oh, empty land!
Oh heart of mine, bereft of hope!
Why do I even bother crying? What’s the use
Of even complaining? When there is no one to hear
And no one to see my tears?

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Topics: Fiction and Poetry, Peace and Justice, and Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 4: Act As We Believe and Point 6: Peace and Justice. Seasons & Special Events: All Seasons. Texts: Psalms. Resource Types: Readings.

Psalm 100

May the sounds of every city in every land–
the rush of traffic, the din of piledrivers
the hum of power lines, the roar of furnaces

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Texts: Psalms. Resource Types: Prayers and Readings.

“Christian” A-theism, Part I

The God I Don't Believe In

When it comes to religion, Atheism is as good as any, since religion is simply about how you put some order in your otherwise chaotic world, and come up with a list of things you believe or disbelieve. The atheist and the theist both want to ask the same basic question: Do you believe in God or not? Often they are not interested in going much deeper than that. The oft-repeated response a famous preacher once gave to a religious skeptic went, “Tell me about the God you don’t believe in. Chances are I don’t believe in that kind of God either.”

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Psalm 8

O dear One
whose name is more than a name
whose power I cannot tame

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Topics: Devotional and Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 7: Integrity of the Earth. Seasons & Special Events: All Seasons. Texts: Psalms. Resource Types: Poetry and Readings.

Call to Worship from Psalm 107

Leader: Give thanks for the Lord’s goodness, God’s love is steadfast and forever.
People: God has gathered us from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south, and rescued us from trouble.

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. Seasons & Special Events: All Seasons. Texts: Psalms. Prayers: Call to Worship. Resource Types: Prayers.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to Diablo
looming over the bay, a diadem of gold and green
spreading its dun folds down to its urban skirts

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Topics: Worship & Liturgy. 8 Points: Point 7: Integrity of the Earth. Seasons & Special Events: All Seasons and Earth Day. Texts: Psalms. Resource Types: Poetry and Readings.

Sara Kay: On The Way

Soulful music that combines elements of folk, blues, jazz, and gospel. Lyrics are spiritual yet progressive, philosophical yet earthy, and realistic yet hopeful. The topics include: enjoying the sacredness of daily life, finding hope in difficult times, …

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The Treasures of Darkness

Great Spirit, Source of Love and Life,
Help us bring an end to strife;
Fill all our hearts with peace and grace,
May we enhance the human race.

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“Blessed Are the Job-Creators…”

More enervated than inspired by this year’s campaign season, I thought of writing a parody of Jesus’ Beatitudes (you know, “Blessed are the job creators…”) or maybe collect Jesus’ sayings about the way things are and the way things should be and place them in contemporary U.S. contexts (such as the parable of the laborers in the vineyard whose time cards differed but whose pay was the same)…

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