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Jesus and the Sacrificial System

The religious culture in which Jesus lived was the sacrificial culture centred on the temple in Jerusalem. It provided the background to his thinking and that of most other Jews including Paul, and the idea of sacrifice continued to influence the thinking of the first Christians.

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Original Blessing

I was blessed at birth
And have struggled to reclaim the blessing
In my innocence, I was loved unconditionally
Simply for being me,

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Our Eternal Roots

While it may look like there are individual trees in the above picture, quaking aspens grow in colonies of tens of thousands of trees, or stems, which are all connected by a single root system.

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Willing to Be Wrong: Rachel Held Evans

It ends with this sentence:  “Even on the days when I’m not sure I can believe it wholeheartedly, this is the story I’m willing to be wrong about.” And that humility suffuses the whole book. 

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Pebbles and Gemstones

We are a little bit obsessed in our culture around ideas of worth and value. We spend so much of our time running after something, what we might call the “gems,” or running away from other things, the “pebbles,” in the hopes of having a sense of belonging, feeling worthy and valuable.

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The Quintessential Good Samaritan

The Authorized Biography of John Joseph Kelly, Champion of Social Justice

The parable good Samaritan helped his “neighbor.”
Jesus meant help everyone, especially those less fortunate than you.

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The Toxic Evangelical Variant

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the evangelical church saved me in every way a person can be saved. They introduced me to Jesus. They became the family my childhood family could not be. They loved and affirmed me. They educated me. They gave me a vocation. And they gave me exceptional opportunities of service. Although I left the evangelical church years ago for a more progressive expression of faith, I’ve always appreciated the gifts they gave me.

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How should people honor Martin Luther King

How should people honor Martin Luther King on this year’s observance of his holiday on January 17th? It depends.

As of this writing there is no clear assurance of the passage of two Voting Right Acts both stalled in that profoundly and structurally undemocratic institution, the U.S. Senate.

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Dialogue with Roger Lipsey, Dag Hammarskjold Biographer

A Zoom dialogue with Dr. Roger Lipsey, Hammarskjold biographer ‘Hammarskjold: A Life’ published by University of Michigan, 2013. His ‘Politics and Conscience: Dag Hammarskjold on the Art of Ethical Leadership’ was published in early 2020 by Shambhala.

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Religion as Encounter v. Religion as Belief

I would like to build on Carl Krieg’s recent essay in the resource section of the PC.org website entitled “The One You Feed.” His article reminded me of my past life as a political scientist studying public opinion and voting behavior.

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The Big Lie

It’s a scary thought, but true. To quote the Nazi, Joseph Goebbels, “If you tell a big lie often enough and keep repeating it, people will come to believe it.” A full 60% of Republicans today believe that Biden is not the President of the United States.

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January 6 and Beloved Community

The attack on  the Capitol on January 6, 2021, was a low point in the ongoing struggle against dark forces in the American character. It was also another moment when leaders of Christian churches betrayed the message of Jesus while claiming to uphold Christian principles.

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Let 2022 Be Your Ode to JOY!

I wonder what the numerous losses our world has experienced in the past two years may have liberated us from. What joys may we discover in this liberation? In the freedom from the way things were? In the discovery of stars to guide us? In the joy we allow ourselves to take in each new birth.

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Remembering our sister-friend bell hooks

“bell hooks has always been the truth. Now perhaps more than ever, it’s paramount that we lean into her work. On this day of her passing, let us celebrate the rich published legacy she leaves behind.”

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Measuring the Evil of “the Big Lie”

In John 8, Jesus observes that when you know the truth, “the truth will make you free.”  In the Bible, truth-telling is an important matter.  Indeed, the commandment truth of the ninth commandment spells this out for us: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”.

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Humanity Sunday

For leaders of the church service

These Sundays are Seasons of Creation Sundays, so, each different aspect of creation is the focus of each Church Service.  This Humanity Sunday gives the church a golden opportunity to celebrate the mysterious wonder and the beauty of humanity.

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Hope – Remembering Christmas Eve 1941

Woven into the fabric of the disturbing news that continually bombards us are those moments of humanity, mostly unreported, that tell us who we really are.

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Will Smollett’s hoax affect public perception of hate crimes?

Smollett’s hoax exploited black trauma. Smollett testified that his assailants were white because one purportedly shouted “MAGA country,” then-President Trump’s campaign slogan “Make America Great Again,” and both men put a noose around his neck.

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Lo, Christmas Songs Reworded; SF Opera chorister Amy McKenzie sings

Blessed Christmas-tide even in a particularly bleak mid-winter. One carol includes a metaphorical rose blooming in darkest winter.

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Peace, Health, and Democracy on Earth for a Second Pandemic Christmas

Jesus was best known for healing and exorcising. The crowds that came for medical help got more than they may have expected as they heard him speak about justice for everyone and love for neighbors and enemies. Spreading health and preaching compassion were at the heart of being the Prince of Peace.

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Prayer as Participation

Praying for others strengthens the bond of compassionate awareness. It may trigger other ways to help. Also, knowing that we are being prayed for or are in the thoughts of others while being wheeled into surgery does help, whether we believe in its causal power or not. We are not alone. Others are connecting with us, and we with them. Prayer is a form of participation.

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The Reconstructionist

People > Text, Mercy > Sacrifice, and Love > Fear

The Reconstructionist is about an earthquake of loss one pastor experienced that led him to identify three major fault lines running through the foundation of Western Christianity. You’ll be invited to tour some of the wreckage as he names the fault lines and reconstructs a more sustainable faith.

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Opening Worship Special Edition General Synod

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr.’s history in the United Church of Christ and the Civil Rights Movement go back years and reflect a legacy of justice orientation and activism.

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The Omega Tree

With childlike wonder and anticipation, I too will be dreaming this holiday, less of a White Christmas than a multi-colored, trans-religious, trans-disciplinary, trans-“everything” world, one complete with an iconic (conic?) tree, party hat, and in a literary sense, megaphone.

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Recent trials reflect white fragility

When a predominately white jury found the McMichaels and Bryan guilty of felony murder among other charges in the Ahmaud Arbery case, many assumed justice was served compared to the Rittenhouse verdict. The juxtaposition of images of the two trial cases conjured hope for change in our two justice systems: Rittenhouse went home, while the McMichaels and Bryan went back to jail.

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The Challenge for Evangelicals

Everything changes, and often not for the better. Life on this planet will end eventually, possibly sooner rather than later, due to, for example, nuclear annihilation, still quite possible but no longer front page.

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We Love Our Guns More

One Progressive's Response to a Culture of Gun Violence

The lack of reasonable restrictions when it comes to guns is rooted in their obvious appeal; leading to their preponderance in staggering numbers in a culture that allows utter unreasonableness to pose under the guise of “protection of freedom” and individual rights. That’s why we will not simply legislate our way out of this one through reasonable debate, a half-baked compromise, or a better argument. As a society, we love our guns, and what they represent.

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Immersive Programs in Transformative Practices

With great pleasure, Spirituality & Practice invites you to become part of the inaugural group for two training programs based on the recognition that all of life is a spiritual practice. These programs are for individual seekers, spiritual leaders and companions, caregivers and service providers, and activists in change-making organizations.

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May Their Memory Be For Blessing

A friend of mine, who grew up on the Pine Ridge Reservation, told me that his people’s practice is to not speak the name of the dead for a year. Only after twelve months of their name remaining unsaid are the rituals for gathering loved ones and telling stories undertaken.

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Adventures in Faith and Family

Offering practical, intelligent, loving, spirit-filled wisdom rooted in the joy and deep love of the Christian faith as well as developmental psychology, this book includes personal reflections, suggestions for family faith practices, reflections on biblical passages, ideas for family holiday activities, and original music.

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Re-seeing and re-valuing the Christian Cross

The Christian cross, taken as a modern working symbol, can also find a new role, a complementary one to its original deep association with the crucifixion. One that speaks a common language in cross-religious or interfaith contexts.

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The January 6 Epiphany

The word epiphany means “a manifestation, a showing forth.” Starting in the third century, January 6 became the Feast Day of the Epiphany, when Christians celebrate the Magi finding the baby Jesus with his mother at their “house” in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:11). The Western churches use Luke’s story (2:1–20) and December 25 to celebrate this birth.

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Be Fearless. Inspired. Unstoppable. For Change.

You can now access the teachings and vision from the unprecedented weekend retreat with Andrew Harvey and over twenty visionaries who are changing the world:

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Luminous Darkness: An Advent Exercise to Embrace Every Part of You

As the days grow shorter and autumn deepens its hues, this past Sunday marked the beginning of the season many Jesus-followers call Advent. Once, Mary began her long journey to Jerusalem to oblige their state’s census while growing the life of Emmanuel (God-with-us) within her. Now, we attend to the ordinary matters of life while carrying the hoped-for life of the Divine kin-dom, culminating in our collective celebration of the Christmas season.

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Cataclysmic Calamity

Are too many Christians in the USA standing by while our country crumbles at the hands of the elite who exercise political and corporate power? I do not refer to the partisan religious who promote candidates, parties, conspiracies, etc. I refer to those who could, but do not, demand justice from all political parties and interests for equality among all in our country.

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The Self- Destruction of America’s Churches

And How You and I, with Insights from Jesus and John, Can Help Stop This Needless Tragedy

This book offers hope for today’s dark world. It does so by identifying the self-debilitating illness of churches and prescribes robust medicine for their health, survival, and positive impact on our lives.

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