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Skits for Worship: Little Words That Matter

Against or Through? With or For? But or And?

Skits for worship

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Mindfulness is Love

If I were to condense a definition of mindfulness into a single word, agape would be the one.

Every time I teach a five-week mindfulness course for students and staff at USC, I introduce the class with a simple definition of the state we are trying to reach in the practice: a loving awareness of thoughts, feelings, sensations, urges in the present moment, while letting go of judgments about them.

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How to Love People But Hate It When They Say “Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin”

“Love the sinner, but hate the sin.”

This phrase has been used countless times by some Christians to pretend to offer welcome to LGBT people while condemning the natural consequence of the way God made them. It speaks for a shallow kind of love at most: one that claims to be okay with a person’s same-sex orientation while stigmatizing its fulfillment. This noxious phrase also summarizes the underlying attitude of many people of other religions towards sexual minorities.

It is a phrase whose time has come – and gone. More than ever, it needs to be excised from the vocabulary of faith, once and for all, as it pertains to homosexuality.

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Body and Soul

Many saints of the Church’s history appear to have had contempt for their own bodies. The mortifications to which they subjected their flesh are incomprehensibly grotesque to Christians today. It is hard to reconstruct the cultural milieu in which these mortifications had meaning and purpose. There is a lingering disdain of the body still evident in most branches of the faith, and it is problematic. For too long we have viewed our faith as just a head-trip. We Christians need to take better care of the rest of ourselves, and to embody our spirituality more fully.

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Allies for Atheists: Why and How?

In the US, now is a better time to be an atheist than ever. A serious candidate for the presidency has declared on national television that he does not believe in God. The percentage of declared atheists and religiously unaffiliated people in America has risen substantially in recent years. To lack or reject religion is becoming considerably more socially acceptable.

That’s why the non-religious, and avowed atheists in particular, need theistic allies to defend them, more than ever.

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Anti-Abortion “Outing”

The people who want to make abortion illegal have just been “outed” for a profound inconsistency. Donald Trump, shooting from the hip, suggested that since abortion is murder, women who have abortions should be punished accordingly. The outcry from conservative culture warriors was immediate. Almost all anti-abortion campaigners oppose such criminalization, because they know that advocating for it would create a huge backlash against their efforts.

The right to choose whether or not to have an abortion is the mother of all rights. If you can’t be guaranteed the liberty to sort out something so intensely personal for yourself, what area of anybody’s life is secure from government intrusion? It is not a matter that can be put to a vote. God gave women sovereignty over their own bodies. So abortion is a matter to be decided solely by a woman through her God-given conscience.

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Reading Between The Lines, Adult Curriculum (Electronic)

BibleWorkbench is a lectionary based life-centered biblical resource designed for small group youth and adult education in church and home, for individual study or as an aid to preachers. One of the texts from the Revised Common Lectionary is chosen each Sunday. The exploration begins with encountering the story found in the biblical text. The focus then shifts to how this story is happening in the world around us. Finally the questions turn toward how the story is an event in the lives of the people in the group. The journey through the text seeks life-giving questions that wait to be lived.

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Reading Between The Lines, Adult Curriculum (Hard Copy)

Reading Between the Lines is a lectionary based life-centered biblical resource designed for small group youth and adult education in church and home, for individual study or as an aid to preachers. One of the texts from the Revised Common Lectionary is chosen each Sunday. The exploration begins with encountering the story found in the biblical text. The focus then shifts to how this story is happening in the world around us. Finally the questions turn toward how the story is an event in the lives of the people in the group. The journey through the text seeks life-giving questions that wait to be lived.

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Painting the Stars: Science, Religion and an Evolving Faith

Celebrating the communion of science and faith, Painting the Stars explores the promise of evolutionary Christian spirituality.

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The Mindful Mirror of Passion Week

“Mindfulness is “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” … It could have been at the mouth of one of the shallow caves carved by Nature out of the limestone cliffs of Mount Quarantania, facing Jericho on the Jordan River and the Dead Sea to the southeast, that Jesus sat to gaze at forty dawns in the wilderness before he began his ministry. This 40-day season of Lent invites us to join Jesus in practicing mindfulness as he did in the desert.

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The Good Samaritan Tax Lawyer

Taxes are the way that people of faith care for the most vulnerable of our fellow citizens, by funding our government’s social safety-net services. Charity through faith communities and other groups is a vital supplement, but no replacement, for the role we give our government in meeting critical human needs. For instance, Bread for the World, an evangelical Christian charity, estimates that the dollar value of all charitable food donations in the US adds up to only 6% of what the federal government spends on feeding hungry Americans through programs like EBT/Food Stamps and federally-subsidized school lunches.

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Mindful Prayer

In my own experience, the best thing I can do for my friends is to listen to them. If I’m doing too much of the talking, then I’m not adequately listening. And when I listen, I do best if I really listen: just be present in silence and give my friend my full, compassionate, truly interested attention. The fourth century Christian mystic, Gregory of Nyssa, said that “we consider becoming God’s friend the only thing worthy of honor and desire.” Mindful prayer is being God’s friend, and letting God be a friend to us: simply being, attentively, with each others’ being.

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Voting: A Call to Action for Congregations

Voting is liturgical. It’s a ritual expression of love for others when we vote for candidates and for ballot propositions that help to assure the welfare of our vulnerable fellow citizens. Our votes are forms of tithes or offerings that deserve blessing or dedication in worship. By lifting up voting in worship, we take it to heart and commit ourselves to participate. With voter turnout in a steep decline in recent years, congregations are needed more than ever to make a difference. The time to plan election-related events in our churches is now!

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State of the Union: Progressive Christianity

I’m here to give a version of this State of the Union that gives at least a hint of how things are going with this movement globally. And I do it to offer you spiritual encouragement and enrichment. Because understanding our religious identity feeds our spirituality. Knowing who we are in the realm of faith and spirituality helps us to express our religious experiences. And being able to express our spirituality helps us to experience it in our hearts. Language follows experience, but it also induces and inspires experience as well. It’s a feedback loop that helps us keep the faith and feel the presence of God.

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The Words of the Eucharist

I was . . . suddenly so uncomfortable with the words I have always known to say during communion

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Christian politicians won’t say it, but the Bible is clear: let the refugees in, every last one

But why not all of them? Surely that’s the biblical answer to the “how many can we take?” question. Every single last one.

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10 Ways White Liberals Perpetuate Racism

Somewhere down where we don’t like to go, is a place where racism lives. It’s automatic and hidden. Binding and resistant to change. No matter how well-meaning we are, no matter how open-minded. Like the “root kit” on a computer, racism is hidden and operating without our knowledge.

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Halle-Allah-lujia! Wheaton Reaps a Whirlwind

  The word “God” in the English version of the Christian Bible is rendered in the Arabic version as “Allah”. But Allah and Allah are two different entities, according to evangelical Wheaton College, which recently suspended one …

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