Light

Light in the darkness. In every culture, in every religion, in every wisdom tradition, light is a metaphor for knowledge, sight, understanding, consciousness, awakening, birth and rebirth.

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Farewell

Memorial services in progressive communities are often in need of new words to express the emotions surrounding death. The comfort of the 23rd Psalm is pretty universal, but after that it varies widely.

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Transfiguration

In the traditional story of the Transfiguration, three disciples go with Jesus to the top of a mountain where they see a vision. Moses and Elijah appear and talk with Jesus, who appears radiant.

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God Views

So many conceptions of God… and each carefully described in words, which are by definition inadequate to capture that which they are trying to describe.

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New Beginnings

We make a new beginning every morning, indeed in every moment, but there is something about the yearly start in January that captures the imagination.

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Christmas Day

As Henry Van Dyke wrote nearly a century ago, “There is a better thing than the observance of Christmas day, and that is, keeping Christmas…

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The Visit of the Magi

The story of the visit of the three wise men from the East has inspired countless retellings.

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Christmas Carols

No time during the year is more perilous for the progressive church musician than Advent and Christmas!

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Advent Again

Can it be Advent again, already? I’m not ready… But then, are we ever “ready” for Advent? Perhaps that’s the point: Advent is the time to get ready.

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Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is an American holiday, but giving thanks is a practice for everyone, around the world, at all times.

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Thanks-Giving

Giving thanks, expressing gratitude … it’s a foundational part of a happy life.

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Veterans’ Day

We can be opposed to war in principle, and opposed to war in all its ugly specificities, and still express our gratitude and love for those who fight on our behalf.

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Global Community

It is easy for progressive Christians and their churches to feel isolated, as if they alone have stumbled on a great secret about living by the wisdom that originally inspired Christianity, and no one else seems to understand.

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Sacred Energy

Sacred Energy (Mass of the Universe) is a narrated musical exploration of the mystical sense of oneness and sacredness of all that is.

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William Blake

William Blake (1757-1827) was an astonishingly creative person. We know him for his mystical poetry, his unusual paintings and his printmaking inventions.

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Sing a New Song

Tell the old story with new words, sing the old song with new meaning, find a new interpretation of the old metaphor… We are comforted by our traditions even as we refuse to be bound by them.

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From the Heart

All wisdom traditions understand what it means to speak from the heart. But with the veneration of science and technology that exists today, it is increasingly difficult to hear one’s heart-voice.

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Time

“Time, like an ever rolling stream, bears all its sons away; they fly, forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day.” (Isaac Watts)

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Preparation

Transition into a time of worship can take many forms: a quiet moment of deep breathing and centering, a poem, a responsive invocation, gathering music…

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Praise and Gratitude

Praise and gratitude go hand-in-hand. Both are a natural response to our recognition that, as the old saying goes, “God is God. You are not.”

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Food for Thought

The inspirational power of a good idea is constantly amazing. Consider the case of California organic farmer Michael O’Gorman, who put together two seemly-unrelated trends: the aging of American farmers and the high unemployment among returning military veterans.

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The Way Ahead

When the way ahead seems uncertain, when the news is mostly negative, when we feel powerless to effect change, it is good to remember that we are hardly alone.

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Discovery

We are each walking up the mountain of spiritual enlightenment, each on our own path, each discovering the same ancient truths in our own way and in our own words.

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Getting to Peace

Getting to peace begins at home and extends out to neighborhoods, cities, states, countries and across the world. The challenge always is to stand for peace without using violence to accomplish it.

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Ritual

All cultures have rituals. One of the liberating outcomes of worshipping in a progressive faith community is the freedom to create new rituals as well as adapt old ones.

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Mental Models

To be on a spiritual journey is to be constantly evolving our “mental models” about how the world works, how we fit into it, who or what God is (or isn’t) and how God works in the world. Scientists use mental models all the time.

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Logos and Mythos

“In the beginning was the Word…” Words are both our means of communication and the source of most of our misunderstandings. Whether you are a rational scholar or a metaphorical poet, words are the common currency.

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Inspired by Nature

Nature provides us with a never-ending source of imagery for the Divine.

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Words for Prayer

More than 1200 years ago, the Islamic saint Rabia of Basra wrote:
In my soul there is a temple, a shrine, a mosque, a church where I kneel.
Prayer should bring us to an altar where no walls or names exist…
(from “Love Poems from God”, trans. Daniel Ladinsky)

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Expressing the Inexpressible

Consider these few lines by beloved poet Mary Oliver:
Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

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Openness to Change

Change is a challenge at any age in almost any context. Human nature seems to prefer the known, the predictable. Churches, as we know, are no exception!

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Father’s Day 2017

Being a father is one of the most challenging and most rewarding roles we may ever get to take on. Particularly in this day of self-help books and über-parenting, it is perhaps helpful to remember Clarence Kelland’s words about his father:

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Prayer

Prayer is our heart speaking. In most of our Protestant churches, we get an abundance of head speaking, which makes the balance afforded by prayer time all the more important.

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Pentecost

Pentecost commemorates the descent of the Spirit on the followers of Jesus, seven weeks after Easter.

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Even More Music for Worship

Worship music can come from almost anywhere. It doesn’t have to be a 200-year-old hymn, although that can work if it has meaning and resonance for a particular congregation.

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Benedictions

To be blessed as we leave worship and go out into the world is a lovely moment.

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