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Preaching with Heart, Mind, and Spirit

Preaching is, first of all, an act of the heart. In the biblical tradition, the heart is center of experience and decision-making. It embraces the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. It is embodied and incarnational as well as intellectual. Good preaching moves the preacher and congregation alike. The pastor dances with the text through his or her bodily movements as well as lively ideas. The goal of the sermon is not to provide a final destination, but as philosopher Alfred North Whitehead says, to invite congregants to be part of an “adventure of the spirit.”

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The Jewish Annotated New Testament

Although major New Testament figures–Jesus and Paul, Peter and James, Jesus’ mother Mary and Mary Magdalene–were Jews, living in a culture steeped in Jewish history, beliefs, and practices, there has never been an edition of the New Testament that addresses its Jewish background and the culture from which it grew–until now. In The Jewish Annotated New Testament, eminent experts under the general editorship of Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Z. Brettler put these writings back into the context of their original authors and audiences. And they explain how these writings have affected the relations of Jews and Christians over the past two thousand years.

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Monthly eBulletin- Music in Sacred Community

There is nothing like that feeling of the heart soaring when music touches the soul. And knowing the deep place the music can descend into our psychology, isn’t it our responsibility to approach it with caution and a critical mind? Music teaches us about who we are and can evoke feelings in us we didn’t know were there. Doesn’t music in sacred community, then, need to also be sacred, relevant, and inspiring?

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Committal Service for the Dead

We come in sorrow, confronting the fact that life ends. Yet we also know that there is a power stronger than death—the transformative power of love. Love has joined us together as husbands and wives, as fathers and mothers, as parents and children, as brothers and sisters, and as friends and neighbors. To be touched by love is to have experienced the transforming power of God on earth.

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Jesus Modeled for Our Class Today

Jesus modeled for our class today,
naked in his open-palmed innocence.
We had never seen such a model before.
He even brought with him his own light.

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What Is

From A Place Where Secret Shadows Shine

If you can
tell me where
I’m going
after I leave here,
I won’t be
going there.

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Memorial Service

P: We have gathered here today to give thanks for and honor Name’s life. You have come because you are family – close family or extended family; or because you are friends – old, long-trusted friends or newer friends; or because you knew Name through other connections in his life. We have gathered to mourn his death and to grieve for our loss.

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Funeral Service for an Inclusive Community

Written by Rob Stoner, August 2009

I recently conducted the funeral for my father, who died after a long episode of declining health. It was a joy and a privilege to work with my family in preparing this service. But many of our family are not avowedly Christian so I wanted to respect their spiritual traditions as well as be faithful to my own. I also wanted the theology to reflect my own liberal/progressive Christian understanding.

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Four Yogas in the Life of Church

Sometimes issues need to be reframed, and it can often be helpful to look outside one’s own tradition for a framework. So for those who may be struggling with similar misunderstandings in their congregations, I offer the Four Yogas as a lens through which to see things differently.

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A Funeral Service (At the Crematorium)

Each birth causes us to wonder
where the spark of life comes from.
Every death makes us wonder
what of that life survives.

What we have done, and who we have been,
remains part of the wider universe long after we are gone.

None of us knows the whole truth about what lies beyond death.
Christians believe that as we journey between life and death,
we are safe in the hands of an infinitely gracious God.

What we do know and believe is that every human life,
with a mind to think and a heart to love,
is an expression of the creative spirit of God.

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