Watch Night with Simeon and Anna: Recommit to Racial Justice in 2018

By Leah D. Schade for Patheos

As a white clergy person, I had to learn the history of the Watch Night tradition. While it began with the Moravians in 1733, the service took on special significance for African Americans on the eve of January 1, 1863. That was when Abraham Lincoln designated that the Emancipation Proclamation would become law.
Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/ecopreacher/2017/12/watch-night-simeon-anna-racial-justice/#4EvjxC2kIZbv1SzG.99

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I Want to Die

I want to talk about the words I want used when my heart and brain stop working. I want people to say, “Bil died!” Please don’t say, “Bil passed.” I don’t like that word being used to describe what I was born to do—die.

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Bubble Up Faith

Perhaps adding bubble blowing to your spiritual practice will help you remember that doubt is a part of faith, and allow yourself to glimmer and gleam, like bubbles, as you move through life.

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Try a Little Kindness: The Politics of Engagement

I was walking with a good friend about a month ago and another white supremacist rally was in the news. “Joe, what can we do about these people?” I asked. “How do we change their hate filled values?”

“We love them,” Joe responded. “Engage with them. Stop demonizing them. That was Martin Luther King’s approach to such people.”

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Church, State, and Compassion

In a 2016 survey by the Pew Research Center, 23% of Americans said they have no religious affiliation, up from 16% in 2007. In 2017, 59% said it is not necessary to believe in God in order to be moral and have good values, an increase of 7% in three years. Fewer than 40% of Americans report attending church on a weekly basis, but that number is probably inflated according to church leaders, who say fewer than 20% are in church on any given Sunday.

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Poetry Makes Life Last Longer

Poetry Makes Life Last Longer

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 02:00 AM PST

“The breakers steady crash…”

The end of a year seems a good time to reflect on time: what shortens it, what stretches it. The beginning of this year I eagerly read most of Alan Burdick’s Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation (2017). Though I recommend it, I found the text sometimes contradicted the title as I trudged through scientific studies and jargon.

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A time of gathering

“Come Again?” …we ask meaning, “tell me one more time, I didn’t quite get your message.” …Come again?
And God, the creator, by whatever name we summon does.

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What does the Advent season call us to do in troubled times?

A Trump presidency is what I can best depict as a “disastrous opportunity,” because it encourages an intersectional dialogue as well as activism against potential erosion if not dismantling of decades-long civil rights gains. Americans on the margins have the most to lose in a country pivoting away from their full protections and participation in a multicultural democracy.

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For Black Women, Being Called the Democrats’ ‘Backbone’ Is No Compliment

Black women voters in the recent Alabama U.S. Senate race are being thanked for “saving” the state from Republican candidate Roy Moore, a homophobe, slavery apologist, and accused pedophile. And we’re all now are being lauded as “the backbone” of the Democratic Party.

As a voting bloc, black women in Alabama didn’t just suddenly emerge for Democratic candidate Doug Jones. What hubris to think they did and not for themselves. We always have had agency and voting-mobilization strategies to support our candidates. The turnout that Alabama and the nation witnessed derives from a history of battling voter suppression that the Nineteenth Amendment, granting women the right to vote in 1920, didn’t protect us from.

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The Darkness of the Womb: #MeToo and the Black Madonna

by Jasmin Morrell

In this season, I drink in silence whenever I have the opportunity to engage it, whenever I become aware that I need it. No matter how hard I try each year to create space around the holidays, to be less busy, to say no to overload, I find myself craving even more simplicity, more presence offered and received. In the past week I arrived an entire day early to not one, but two different appointments and had to ruefully smile at myself for allowing my calendar descend into chaos. And in those moments, after something has fallen through the cracks, I take a breath and let the silence do its work. It’s interesting what happens then: sometimes grief’s sinewy fingers tighten around my throat; sometimes my thoughts continue to race and that spot just between my eyebrows feels achy and tight; sometimes love warms my belly and bleeds into my fingertips; sometimes joy feels like a sunrise in my chest.

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Thank God you were born!

Or thank the cosmos! Or evolution! Or your parents! Or “to whom it may concern”!

“Thank God you were born” is the message I often write on birthday cards or Facebook birthday messages. I intend it as my own thanksgiving for the birth of the person I’m greeting, but I realize it could be understood as a spiritual directive to the recipient as well.

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As Legends Go: Conceiving of a Holy Nativity

For anyone who might still want to hold out that Jesus is still the reason for the season, the obvious question is why? If there’s any lingering claim to Jesus’ divinity by way of a virgin birth that could actually result in some sort of redemption for this weary old world, I might be all for it. But that’s an ancient hope, borne of a fanciful legend, whose fruition will take more than singing some beloved old carols, all the while debating whether or not to spike the eggnog.

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A Challenge to the Religions of Abraham

As human consciousness slowly developed over its evolutionary period, a high level of perception was the result but there remained a deficiency. That level of perception was incomplete. Humans were left unable to comprehend certain realities. One was the importance of their relationship to the biosphere of the planet. Within that biosphere there is a layer that allows all life to exist. Another; it did not provide comprehension of the importance of their relationship to planetary nonlife. The Abrahamic religions in their time attempted to address these issues. Care for the earth as a provider, care for each other, and an Apocalypse at the end well served their purpose. We now find that this religious understanding was far too simplistic and that the Abrahamic simplicity is coming back to haunt us. The reality is that we are facing the possibility of a Sixth Extinction. It is a reality of our own doing. Planet Earth is under siege. Judaism, Christianity and Islam urgently need to address this human consciousness deficit issue. The time has come for them come together with an intra religious configuration wherein all life and non-life on Planet Earth is able to find its universal meaning.

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Jesus Between Birth and 30

Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman - by Ed Taylor

Between Birth and 30

Unfortunately, the Gospels do not provide us with much information about Jesus’ early life.

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Outside the Box: Rethinking Holiday Charitable Giving

By Erin Wathen for Patheos

So, where to give? Find organizations that are credible, that do good work, and have low overhead to make the most of your giving. You also want to support efforts that work with people, and have a physical presence in the areas they serve–and are not just handing out band-aids (literal and figurative) for nice Christmas photo opps. Here are some ideas. Find the one that fits you– and the person you want to gift this season–and go nuts. Spiced, holiday nuts of course.

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“It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”—New Verses to Beloved Carol

“It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” is a 19th century American carol created in the context of war which addresses its horror directly.

Despite this, it offers hope and a plea for peace.

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Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming—New Verses for Advent/Christmas Carol

This beloved carol originated in a 16th century German monastery. Legend
has it that a monk was inspired to create it after a Christmas Eve forest walk during
which he saw a blooming rose. The imagery is based on Isaiah 11:1 referring to
the Branch of Jesse, a central Messianic symbol: “There shall come forth a shoot
from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.”

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If I Lose My Faith

In Alabama’s special election this week, more than 70% of white voters, most of whom are church going Christians, voted for a known racist, homophobe, xenophobe, Islamophobe, who was very credibly charged with multiple counts of pedophilia. There is a serious disconnect between the message of the gospels and public ethic on display here, a gap we must insist upon closing.

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The Troubling Philosophy of Kirk Cameron’s “Saving Christmas”

By Renegade Cut

Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas is the story of Kirk – playing a version of himself – and his brother-in-law, Christian White. Christian is not in the Christmas spirit this year and has concerns about the rampant consumerism and hoarding of wealth that he believes is antithetical to the season and to Christian teachings in general.

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The New Jim Crow targets LGBTQ Americans, too

As a black lesbian in this Trump administration, I now feel like I am moving into a new Jim Crow era reestablishing discriminatory laws targeting LGBTQ Americans. I grew up knowing about racist placards that said “Colored Water Fountain,” “Waiting Room For Colored Only,”We Serve Whites Only, and “No N-word Allowed, to name a few.

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John Shelby Spong Quote from “Unbelievable” (1)

In this final book of his storied career, Spong continues to integrate a rigorous scholarly tradition with the Christian faith and so offers a new approach, one that challenges Christians to explore their beliefs in new and meaningful ways.

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Every Christmas is a Thin Place – Christmas Eve Sermon

Christmas, every Christmas is a Thin Place. According to the Irish, a Thin Place is a place where the boundaries between heaven and earth fall away. Every Christmas is a Thin Place where the boundaries between our everyday existence and the reality that we are all part of something so much bigger than ourselves, well these boundaries fade away at Christmas. Thin Places are those precious moments in time when the sacred can be seen in the everyday stuff of life. Christmas with its powerful parables, myths, metaphors, and symbols acts as a giant welcoming Thin Place were the boundaries and veils fall away and we are able to recognize the sacred in ourselves, in one another, and in the world around us. I could go on and on about the power of Thin Places to open us to the reality of the LOVE that we call God. But rather than try to explain how the Christmas stories, parables, myths, metaphors, and symbols create thin places, let me tell you a story designed to create a thin place where together we can see the veil between the scared and the everyday fade away.

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Grow Your Heart Two Sizes this Season

Whatever you’re celebrating this month, I encourage you to look around in awe at the many ways we connect with something bigger than ourselves. There is beauty in all of it. In embracing the dark of the solstice and the darkness in us. In rededicating ourselves to a sacred path through eight candlelit nights. In celebrating the light of the world being born in the most unexpected place.

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Why I Love Terrorists- Video by Prince Ea

It seems like wherever we go we can’t escape conversation, media, or general fear of terrorists. In this video I share why I love terrorists and why I think we should all shift the way we think about terrorists.

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The Waiting is the Hardest Part – What I Learned About Advent from Tom Petty

Tom Petty transitioned this October, leaving the world of our senses and joining the great cloud of witnesses. An artist of humility and versatility, this Advent I’ve been reflecting on his 1981 hit The Waiting. Starting right …

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If your holiday season feels to you to be more holidaze than holy days, ‘tis on you, my friend.

The only one who can make your holidays feel wonderful – holy – is you.

You can bring holiness to this time of year.

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Should the sins of our spouses fall on us?

Democratic Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg, 68, looked heartbroken, shocked and devastated during an impromptu press conference outside of his office at the State House where he publicly addressed allegations that his spouse, Bryon Hefner, 38, groped and assaulted four men who do business before the Senate.

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The Case of Prodigal Job: A Closer Look at Grace and Faith

An important reason for declining biblical literacy, I believe, is spiritual starvation caused by the marriage of fundamentalism and materialistic capitalism in evangelical churches. Many Americans describe themselves as spiritual, not religious; thereby rejecting inflexible moral and religious guidance by churches that measure divine approval in dollars and attendance counts. There are lots of Americans who recognize the difference between genuine piety and marketing success tracked by congregational growth, donations, and merchandise sales.

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‘A different kind of church’: Boulder campus ministry reflects on its 100-year evolution

By Elizabeth Hernandez

Walking into the Wesley Fellowship building on a frigid Wednesday night, the first thing that hits you is the warmth — both temperature-wise and decor.

The voices of the Mosaic Gospel Choir bounce off the wood-paneled, A-frame ceiling. Downstairs, cozy couches with vibrant pillows and floor cushions beckon visitors to kick back with a cup of coffee brewing in the corner.

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David Ketchum: Telling the Truth About the Afterlife

Due to an unexpected flight cancelation, Roger Ray was not able to get to Springfield to deliver this sermon so he asked his friend and associate pastor to deliver it in his absence. The content addresses the religious and philosophical acceptance of mortality rather than asserting the existence of a personal and individual afterlife. This message is not going to be easy for everyone to hear but it deserves to be considered by both progressive people of faith and those who hold to more traditional beliefs.

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Reflections At The End Of A Road

What were the stained glass stories in this church that were based on predominant, traditional, Christian Bible interpretations? Those were the understandings that were given to me as a youth when in Sunday school and Vacation Bible School classes. I decided to walk by each window to take a really close look.

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Ad Vent Word Jazz

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
For he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant…”

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How to hold a Children’s Christmas Pageant today

If, as you say, the stories of Jesus’ miraculous birth are pious legends, what are the implications for staging a children’s Christmas pageant in a small suburban church?

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It’s Not Necessarily So: A Senior Priest Separates Faith from Fiction and Makes Sense of Belief

The title says it all! It’s Not Necessarily So: A Senior Priest Separates Faith from Fiction and Makes Sense of Belief. A wise parish priest and educator not only tackles the problems in the institution of the Catholic Church and the dogma of the Catholic faith, but also offers solutions and spiritual insights.

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If not for our sins, then why did Jesus die?

Sir, with all due respect, you shared well concerning how Jesus did not die because of sins. Please share your views on the reason or why Jesus died.

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Cultivating Wonder

In this hectic season help us to remember,
even the simplest actions count.
Let us pause and take a breath
to feel the miracle
of air filling and emptying within,
as though God is breathing into us.

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