Fishing for Young People Will NOT Save the Church!

A sermon for Epiphany 3B – Mark1:14-20

What I am suggesting is that if we be authentic to who we are; if we play to our many strengths we will continue to be the kind of congregation which is attractive to all ages. Healthy communities are attractive. Communities who know who they are and who they serve are healthy communities. Healthy communities are able to play to their strengths. We don’t need to become what we are not in order to survive. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need to challenge ourselves to be more than we are. It does mean that we need to remain open to the challenges of the world in which we live.

But from time to time, we need to hold up a mirror and celebrate who we are together. Holy Cross is fearfully and wonderfully made. We have so much potential. So many strengths. Yes, there is so much more that we can be.

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Why some faith leaders see net neutrality as a religious issue

By Kelsey Dallas for Deseret News

Since the FCC’s decision last month, religious leaders have been circulating a petition that describes net neutrality as a moral issue. Nurturing a fair society includes protecting the open internet, although the connection between the two may be less obvious than feeding the hungry or caring for the sick, said Cheryl Leanza, a policy adviser on media advocacy for the United Church of Christ and co-founder of Faithful Internet.

“The internet has been one of the greatest levelers we’ve ever had,” she said.

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How Did We Get Here?

By Shane Phipps for Patheos

Welcome to Bizarro World. For more than a year now, millions of Americans have been walking around in disbelief. I’ve been struggling to put my thoughts on this into words for a while now. A quick perusal of my archives will reveal dozens of attempts to express my exasperation. Sometimes I fear I’m caught in a Groundhog Day scenario where I get up and write the same article day after day. I keep searching for a new way to say what I need to say in a way that satisfies. In the past 24 hours I have happened across a couple of bits of wisdom that have helped crystalize my thoughts enough to try, once again, to tackle the question that’s been eating away at me for months; how did we get here?

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The Search for New Vocabulary

Part Two

the second concept for which we might find common ground pertains to the actual difficulty we encounter when we try to love. How easy is it to act lovingly in an unconditional way? Are we capable, or does something stand in our way? And if there is a blockage, what might that be? The traditional Christian answer is, yes, there is a blockage, and it goes by the name of sin.

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Finding peace with reality, alphabetically.

All relationships require tune-ups.

Relationships between parents and children, relationship between co-workers, and relationships between ourselves and reality all require the occasional tune-up – and some forgiveness.

It’s the last relationship that I want to talk about – you getting right with (the) God (of your understanding).

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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

By the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948

  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed …

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Occupy Love

Could the crisis of our time become a love story? This moving, transformative, and heartfelt film explores how love can unite as much as greed can divide.

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Out with the Mold, in with the True

Every spiritual truth is a paradox. Life is precious, beautiful and filled with joy, and it is painful, dark and lonely. A short time ago a vicious predator came into my life and took my breath, and didn’t ask permission. It forced me to surrender the only thing I had. Life. This demon penetrated its way into me, and now I am a troubled stranger lingering between hope and desperation. Yet simultaneously, I sit here demonstrating life in its most simple, precious, gracious, funny and authentic way by laughing and crying about my moldy refrigerator. I think we need both of these experiences -our joys and our sufferings are indeed our wholeness.

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How to define yourself by discovering and re-claiming who you really are.

  Question & Answer John from Tucson, asks: Question: First let me tell you I am an atheist. Prior to this I was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition and was a member in good standing for …

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My Top Ten Tips: “Expert Tips for Resilience”

“Expert Tips for Resilience,”

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The Foundational Way -The Human Life of Jesus

Although revered as a ’Jewish holy one’ Jesus was seen to much enjoy ‘secular’ life on the streets, and in doorways, on hillsides and seashores and in village centres. He was most often seen and heard in these ‘secular’ places for there he carried out nearly all his teaching, demonstrating and healing.

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“Old News”

It was MLK Sunday
A point of purpose
perhaps for dreamers
and churches and every
person of faith
and conscience with hope.

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Live the Love

Today we have large numbers of people who say they are spiritual but not religious. They are not interested in a ‘feel good religion that promises heaven.’ They want to be involved in making the world a better place and are tired of a religion that often comes across as bigoted and judgmental rather than accepting others in love and advocating justice for all.

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Gathering

Have you come here this morning looking for hope and good news?
Yes! We have been searching for ways to draw new meanings from our old stories.

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Interfaith Dialogue Quotations

ver the last few years, I have collected a number of quotations that relate directly or indirectly to the field of interfaith dialogue. These are attached. You may find various ways to use these quotations.

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The Personal Face of God

God is not a “thing” to be grasped or known or understood absolutely; yet the entire witness of scripture and saints and Jesus is that God is within our reach.

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#TimesUp

This is the second in a four part series on the #MeToo movement.

This is the second in a four part series on the #MeToo movement. This one, “#Time’s Up” addresses the hope for dramatic change in the nature of male and female coupling and the dangers inherent in allowing the revolution to lose its ethical moorings.

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Tillich’s Challenge: The Search for New Vocabulary

Part One

We started by asking if we could replace the word god with the word love. We have seen that both words are not easily defined or understood. And yet, given the importance of finding common ground, I think that at least for the time being, we should give it a try and replace the word god with the word love in the context of humanist/Christian dialogue. Christians can talk about god all they want when talking among themselves, just as humanists can deny god all they want when talking among themselves. But when talking to each other, using the word love, as exemplified by the Samaritan, would be a helpful way to begin the dialogue. If we can agree on love, then will follow the awareness that indeed we have much more in common.

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King’s dream of “the beloved community” extends to your community, too.

Martin Luther King articulated his dream of wanting every town and city throughout the world “Building the Beloved Community.” The King Center explains the concept:

“In the Beloved Community, poverty, hunger, and homelessness will not be tolerated because international standards of human decency will not allow it. Racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood.”

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A Prayer to NoOneUpThere

I first discovered the Reverend David Keighley and his poem “Leaving Home” years ago in a newsletter published by Bishop John Shelby Spong. I read “Leaving Home” every Friday as part of my early morning quiet time, when I do prayers (Progressive Christian style), relevant readings, and prep for the day. I always look forward to my weekly time reviewing “Leaving Home.” It helps me realize that I am not in this alone as I try to paddle upstream and show people an alternative to the church’s fourth-century approach to living in the twenty-first century.

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My Year of Preaching with Donald Trump

As a theologian and minister, how can I not address these weekly rants by the President in my sermons? How can I not stand up and denounce xenophobia? His bullying discourse and reprehensible behavior? How can I not stand up for justice and compassion for the broken, the marginalized, and the forgotten people of this world? How can I not remind people that an “eye for an eye” is attitude that will leave all of us blind, and that a nation only thrives when all its citizens are thriving?

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Reading the Gospels as midrash

  Question & Answer   Ginny from Reno, Nevada asks: Question: Why is it so important to you to view the Gospels as “midrash” rather than as history? Answer: Rev. Mark Sandlin   Dear Ginny, It’s not …

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Recycling Our Lives, Recycling Our Religion

How can we re-use, re-purpose, recycle, reduce, and even compost the incidents and memories and experiences and trajectories of our lives into a new narrative that serves us and others better?

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“In the Bleak Midwinter” — New Verse to Old Carol

This carol features words by 19th century English poet Christina Rossetti which were set to music by composer Gustav Holst.

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Jesus as Critic of Hypocrisy, Then and Now

The very lifestyle chosen by Jesus showed little concern for the separateness purity required. Jesus was a practicing Jew who observed the Sabbath and kosher requirements; but he objected to the pride, self-righteousness, and pettiness of criticisms by scribes and Pharisees as he emphasized serving God through ethical action more than ritual observance. Jesus did not criticize purity in temple worship; however, extending temple purity to normal life resulted in focus on oneself rather than on ethical behavior toward others. His emphasis was on serving God through actions that recognized the rule of God now and helped prepare for complete realization of God’s sovereignty and justice in the future. Present and future depended on actions now.

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Why Progressives Need God: An Ethical Defence Of Monotheism

Environmental destruction, poverty in the midst of obscene wealth, one war after another. Our biggest crises are getting worse. Secularism makes this inevitable by denying any moral authority higher than the ruling classes. By contrast, religious traditions offer accounts of who made us, for what purpose and how we should live, but whilst some are more constructive than others it is only monotheism, defined as divine harmony, that provides the philosophical and ethical framework necessary for people to lead better lives. Drawing on cultural analysis, political philosophy, Christian apologetics and theodicy the author shows why, in order to resolve our crises, progressives need to reaffirm the goodness of the natural environment as a blessing from a good god.

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Spiritual Acceptance

  Acceptance is saying “what is is.” Acceptance The more we fight with reality, the less smoothly our lives go. The spiritual word for “not fighting with reality” is acceptance. (The religious word is surrender.) The more …

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Rolling The Stone Away: LGBTQI Elders Meet The Next Generation Of Christian Activists At A Watershed Conference

Five hundred years after Martin Luther’s reform, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex people, and allies celebrated fifty years of valiant efforts to make churches Christian—that is, welcoming, inclusive, and just.

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Spiritual Care in Changing Times: Initial Glimpses from Theological Education

By Wendy Cadge and Beth Stroud for Huffington Post

Chaplains and spiritual caregivers sit with people in distress, support the grieving, care for the dead, and coordinate local religious leaders — all in the face of the kind of suffering that leaves most of us at a loss for words. Where and how do they learn how to help?

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Lessons in Political Theology from Jerusalem

On Wednesday (12/6/17), President Trump announced a dramatic change in Middle East policy by declaring the United States would move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Most Israelis were thrilled. The government of Israel declared Jerusalem to be its eternal capital in 1980. What is important to note about this declaration is that it is an expression of Jewish nationalism. The claim has little support in Jewish history or from Jewish scriptures.

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Sermon: Us, Evolution, and the Universe

Everyone in this room shares 99% of their DNA with everyone else. And 98.8% with chimps. And 50% with bananas. How can that be? Well, most of our DNA contains instruction on cell reproduction, a process that all living things share. But it’s that 1% that differentiates us- blue eyes and brown, a big nose, a little nose, 5’6” and 6’5”. And 4% of that one per cent is from our Neanderthal cousins. Homo Sapiens who stayed in Africa never met Neanderthal and so have none of that DNA. The rest of us do.

Given these facts, certain questions arise. The first question is: who are we?? What are we??

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The Gifts of the Magi Are Always Here

Myths are traditional stories told in every culture, oftentimes with much of the historical basis lost over time. Myths are our collective story of what our lives mean and how to thrive. Jean Houston, scholar, author and philosopher active in the “human potentials movement” says, “Myths are more than old tales; they are ‘codes and roads and maps.’ Where we wind up on life’s journey depends on the map we carry with us.”

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Where Charity and Love Prevail: The Matthew 25 Solidarity Test

When people express opinions about a particular issue, I always look to see how charitable they are in this. Do they take the concerns of others seriously and try their best to get to the bottom of it? Or do they simply dismiss their concerns outright without getting involved? That is often a clue as to whether their opinions are in line with Christian discipleship.

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Gospel Americana, the music at Thad’s

Thad’s Band plucks the heartstrings with tunes that evoke real-life spiritual experience. The lyrics, peppered with oblique biblical references, invite the listener to explore their many possible meanings. Thad’s Band vibrates the essence of progressive Christianity, lyrically liberating the faith from the confines of dead dogma. Like the kin-dom of heaven that’s coming but already here, Thad’s Band is the present future of music for progressive worship.

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Robin Meyers Interview: Do you call yourself a Christian?

ProgressiveChristianity.org’s Interview with Robin Meyers: Do you call yourself a Christian?,

Robin Meyers is Senior Minister of the Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ in Oklahoma City.

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The Power Hidden in a Choice

The two-faced Roman god, Janus, was often portrayed as a door with one face looking toward where you have been and the other looking towards where you are going. New Year’s Day ushers us into the month of January, named for Janus, symbolically suggesting that we are leaving an old year and entering a new one. Which seems like a good idea, especially this year, as long as we don’t drag our anger, resentment, and hurt from 2017 into 2018.

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