Even Eunuchs and Foreigners are Welcome!

Easter 5B – Acts 8:26-40

What follows is a sermon I preached on the 5th Sunday of Easter 2003. In the 18 years since I preached this sermon, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada has come a long way. The debate about the full inclusion of LGBTQ folk in the full life of the church has been resolved and we can truly say: “All are welcome!” But rule changes don’t always change practices. Sadly, there are still places in our church were not everyone is welcome. So, I offer this sermon to cybersapce as both a reminder of where we have been and how far we need to travel. Shalom.

read more

Who is God?

For eons, humans have viewed God as a huge, external, and all-knowing human-like figure who rewards some, punishes others, and ignores many, and whose actions in the world often seem mysterious and inexplicable. This is the projection model of God: we humans unconsciously created the figure of God in our own image and projected this image “out there.” Worse, this belief assigns the responsibility for change onto a fictional character to whom we keep praying, hoping that this “God” will someday hear us, or do what we ask, or show us why things are the way they are, or something.

read more

Hyper Change and Religious Trauma

After retiring as bishop, John Shelby Spong told us Why Christianity Must Change or Die, speaking as someone in exile from a church that was alienated from modern reality. I would like to add “Why is change so difficult?” and answer from the perspective of history in combination with science.

read more

Evangelicals join interfaith leaders in Washington to promote religious tolerance

As hundreds of Jewish, Muslim and Christian faith leaders from the United States and abroad descended on Washington for a conference on religious tolerance this week, attendees were quick to note an unexpectedly large delegation from one particular religious group: evangelical Christians.

read more

MLK’s assassination reminds nation of unaddressed gun violence

The 50th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination is sadly a searing reminder of unaddressed gun violence in America. And, because gun violence has gone unaddressed for half a century, future generations of children residing in a safer and healthier America MLK spoke about so dreamingly in his speeches now in 2018 live in fear of guns -when they are not running scared for their lives from them.

read more

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.

read more

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.

read more

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 …

read more

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.

read more

Abandoning Trench Warfare: 8 Ways to Find Common Ground in the Abortion Debate

More than any other issue, abortion is the poster child of the polarized culture wars. People just scream at each other. They recite talking points, often with their fingers firmly in their own ears. They lob verbal grenades at each other while staying lodged within their respective bunkers. Neither side gives an inch, and, perhaps because of this, neither side advances an inch. These steps are repeated ad infinitum. Many are weary of the fighting but don’t know how to stop.

read more

Palm Sunday Sermons

Rev. Dawn Hutchings shares past Palm Sunday Sermons

read more

Prayer of Confession

O God who suffers at our spiritual and ethical failings, and rejoices at the turning to virtue of our hearts and spirits: We confess that we have gone astray by our thoughts, words, and deeds. We have been irresponsible by what we have done, as well as what we have left undone.

read more

Watching the Watchers: Mindful Mysticism and Social Change

It is no longer paranoid fantasy to say that we are being watched all the time.

GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon) are literally studying our every move. These corporate black holes, concentrating capital and power through their monopolistic legacy positions, silently observe our physical movements, purchases, clicks, and fine-grained preferences. Cambridge Analytica watched us during the last election cycle, snatching personal data about us from Facebook and targeting misleading messages to vulnerable subgroups for the benefit the Trump campaign. Russia’s ruling kleptocracy is watching us, refining strategies to manipulate our elections. The US government is watching us, sampling our mobile phone conversations, internet activity, and even our facial expressions in airports and other public places.

read more

Is Quakerism Becoming a Christianity Without Christ?

I write as another who loves the Quaker Faith but increasingly wonders if he can find a place in it. I have been a part of three Quaker communities, serving as clerk for one and being invited to accept the pastorate of another. Having attended national Quaker gatherings and corresponded with meetings from the Atlantic to the Pacific, I have come to share the now widely held conclusion that unless the current trajectory is reversed, liberal Quakerism is headed for extinction. The patient is sick. The disease has been misdiagnosed. The prognosis may be serious but it is too early to hang black crepe from the windows and send out death notices. With the right medicine there is still hope. But let’s first examine the symptoms.

read more

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, …

read more

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.

read more

A message for young people – Interview with Robin Meyers

What message do you have for young people struggling through today’s world?

read more

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.

read more