Just as You Are – A Progressive Christian Welcome

We follow the way of Jesus.
He opens our hearts
To know that our true selves are one with God, who is Love.
Jesus saves us from fear, from selfishness, from meaninglessness.
He leads us to serve with compassion and act for justice.

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Apostle to the Apostles: Mary’s Story

So here, let me honour Mary the Apostle to the Apostles with this my imaginary account of Mary’s story. Remember the power of our imaginations to breathe life into what appears to all the world to be dead.

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What Jesus Wants

I’ve been rereading Henri Nouwen’s The Way of the Heart: Desert Spirituality and Contemporary Ministry for a contemplative retreat I will be co-leading this spring. It’s amazing how much one can get out of what seems a simple little book each time it is read. This time I realized why Henri became popular among evangelical Christians. He emphasizes a very personal relationship with Jesus, so personal that “Christ…lives in us, that he is our true self.”

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On the Dangers of Not Giving a Fig  

Watching the NBC broadcast of “Jesus Christ Superstar LIVE” on Easter night was jarring. Not because it was bad. The New York Times called it “thoughtful, challenging,” and a “conceptual and artistic triumph.”[i] What was jarring was what I already knew was there: the anti-Semitism inherent in the story. A review by Jeffrey Salkin reflected on the ominous portrayal of priests Caiphas and Annas: “The Jews look like they might have been Darth Vader’s homeys. Pure evil.”[ii]  But who’s to blame for that? Certainly not the producers. And certainly not Webber or Rice. They were just working with the “source material” – and that would be our anti-Semitic gospels.

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Prophets and Martyrs

This week we mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Last month was the 50th anniversary of the My Lai Massacre and this June we will reach the 50th anniversary of the killing of Robert Kennedy. These events remembered within the martyr account in the gospel’s passion narrative give us reason to look more deeply into the meaning of Easter, beyond a childish hope for eternal life, there is the challenge to be a prophet who refuses to be afraid.

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Preparing to Preach on RESURRECTION: Giving up the notion of a physical resuscitation.

This Sunday worship services will begin with the proclamation that: Christ is Risen! Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia! Let me follow that proclamation up with a good Lutheran question:“What does this mean?” What does it mean that Christ is risen? What does resurrection mean? The truth is that there are about as many different explanations of Christ’s resurrection as there are Christians. And that’s a good thing, because the question of the resurrection is a question that lies at the very heart of Christianity. So, is it any wonder that Christians have been struggling to come to terms with resurrection since the very first rumours that Christ had risen began to circulate. Over the centuries the various responses to the question of resurrection have divided Christians as various camps work out various responses.

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The Transitory Nature of Beliefs, Part II

A reflection and commentary for Holy Week & Easter Observances from the perspective of a progressive thinker from the Christian faith tradition.

  Symbol, Ritual, and Learning to Distinguish True & False Myths Because religious progressives often like to emphasize actions over words, and doing over some musty, ancient, stratified system of believing, I’ve asked what part any creedal statement of belief might still be …

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Engaging in Good Friday

Easter week can elicit many questions. Did Jesus physically rise in a miraculous resuscitation on the third day after his death? Was the holy temple curtain torn in two from top to bottom at the moment of his death? (Mt 27:51) After his death, did the bodies of many dead saints rise up from their tombs and flood Jerusalem appearing to many? (Mt 27:52) Let’s face it, progressives often come to very different conclusions on these topics than most conservative evangelical pastors do. But one thing that most tend to agree on is that Jesus was executed on a day that we recognize today as Good Friday.

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The Immaculate Conception Equals the Immaculate Deception

I read a fun story in the newspaper last week about a congressman who received a lecture from a radio commentator because he confused the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception with the doctrine of the Incarnation—an easy thing to do, since both are total foolishness.

One might call the Immaculate Conception and the Incarnation fake news from long ago, but the church insists on continuing to market this fake news to its own detriment. In the twenty-first century, neither doctrine makes sense to anyone who has taken a biology course. That’s not how babies are made.

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Palm Sunday Sermons

Rev. Dawn Hutchings shares past Palm Sunday Sermons

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Being the 12: Peter, Andrew, and James

I am sitting here imagining the last supper. It’s 1st century Palestine, in a room with a simple, wooden, rectangle table where Jesus and 12 disciples are seated. There are no chairs, everyone is sitting on the floor. It’s a dirt floor, the room has a low ceiling and a narrow doorway.

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The Transitory Nature of Beliefs, Part I

Nowadays we talk about what’s real and unreal as real (news) or fake (news). But it’s all based on establishing some set of principles or criteria that one can assert is believable, or not.  But when the ground shifts beneath what one once considered solid conviction, what’s left? Are there any underlying fact, principles or life experiences upon which one can still say, “This I believe. Always have, and always will?” Note: this commentary includes a review of Jack Spong’s latest book, “Unbelievable: Why ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation can Produce a Living faith Today.”

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Easter Encouragement for the Journey

Remember that resurrection is more than mere resuscitation! It is life transformed!
It is faith in possibilities, when others are convinced of inevitability.

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Help From The Gospel of Thomas

Our Axial Age is in a state of exhaustion. It is approaching its end. It also could be our end. Planet earth is now giving us this warning: It is telling us that if we continue on the present path, like any other organism that alienates itself from the Biosphere, we will be rejected. Can we escape from this conundrum? Can Jesus be of help?

Yes he can, but only if we are willing to change the way we think. It will require us to accept cosmic interiority as expressed in The Gospel of Thomas.

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An Early Christian #MeToo and #TimesUp Movement

  Reading Laura Swan’s The Forgotten Desert Mothers as the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and the #TimesUp movement for equal employment for women were getting underway, I couldn’t help but notice the parallels with the women who, …

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A Progressive Christian Look at John 3:

What is it about John 3:16 that has made it the “go to” Bible chapter and verse for Evangelical Christians? Watch as Rev. Salvatore Sapienza, pastor of Douglas Congregational United Church of Christ, gives us a Progressive Christian view of John 3:16.

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Those Who Are Christ in Our Midst

I understand the very essence of Christ through the suffering of people. For example, twenty years ago this June, the remote east Texas town of Jasper consumed the nation’s attention because of a heinous crime against a forty-nine-year-old vacuum cleaner salesman named James Byrd, Jr. Walking home after a party one night, Byrd was offered a ride by some passersby. Little did he know that he would soon be chained by his ankles to the back of a pick-up truck and dragged to his death – because he was black.

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A New New Testament: A Bible for the Twenty-first Century Combining Traditional and Newly Discovered Texts

There are twenty-seven books in the traditional New Testament, but the earliest Christian communities were far more vibrant than that small number might lead you to think. In fact, many more scriptures were written and just as important as the New Testament in shaping early-Christian communities and beliefs. Over the past century, many of those texts that were lost have been found and translated, yet are still not known to much of the public; they are discussed mainly by scholars or within a context of the now outdated notion of gnostic gospels. In A New New Testament Hal Taussig is changing that. With the help of nineteen important spiritual leaders, he has added ten of the recently discovered texts to the traditional New Testament, leading many churches and spiritual seekers to use this new New Testament for their spiritual and intellectual growth.

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