MARY’s STORY:  Let It Be 

The way you tell the Christmas story, it all sounds so simple. So simple. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I really like it. It’s just that for so long now people have been telling my story and the way they tell it, it all sounds so simple and easy, so neat and tidy, that I hardly recognize myself in the story. It’s not your fault.  It all started a long time ago. Luke and that other fellow Matthew, they started it all.  They wrote my story down and wouldn’t you know it they cleaned it all up. But who can blame them.  Nobody likes messy birth stories. And as birth stories go, my baby’s birth was a really messy one.

read more

Pregnant with Possibility:  Was Mary a Virgin or Was Mary Raped?

Mary, this enigmatic woman has remained in the shadows for centuries. All too often the epithet “virgin” has been applied to the young woman who fell pregnant so long ago. As her Advent appearance approaches, I this re-post this sermon which I preached a couple of years ago in which I asked some questions about Mary. At the time I was reading Jane Schalberg’s “The Illegitimacy of Jesus”, John Shelby Spong’s “Born of a Woman” and “Jesus for the Non Religious” along with John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg’s “The First Christmas” and this sermon is laced with their scholarship.

read more

The Real War on Christmas – Sermon Video

Matthew and Luke tell completely different (and contradictory) accounts of the birth of Jesus. Neither are meant to be taken literally. They were writing a theological message (sermon) to introduce their gospels. Where the two agree is that the Jesus they were going to describe was a messenger who would turn the world upside down, casting down the rich and powerful in favor of the weak and poor. There is our real Christmas story, a story of liberation and justice.

read more

My spirit shall rejoice (A Reflection on the Magnificat)

From the Boundless Life collection

My spirit shall rejoice in God
Who breaks my chains of guilt and fear;
For God upholds each person’s worth
Throughout the ages of this Earth.

read more

Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Faith

The Greek word for “faith” in the New Testament is pistis, which occurs 243 times. As a noun, pistis is used as a technical term for “forensic evidence.” In other words, faith is not blind; we must investigate to establish the facts. I agree with retired Episcopal bishop, John Shelby Spong, who writes, “My problem has never been my faith. It has always been the literal way that human beings have chosen to articulate that faith.” To many Christians, faith means believing highly suspect claims, which is a problem for me. Thinking isn’t a sin. God created our minds and I’m certain that we were intended to use them.

read more

If You Want to Be Happy

From the ‘Sing Young, Sing Joyfully’ collection

If you want to be happy
Love life more than things
Finding the joys which sharing brings.
If you want to end grieving
For dying or loss
Cry till your tears dissolve your cross.

read more

Deep in the Human Heart

From the Boundless Life collection

Deep in the human heart
The fires of justice burn;
With visions of a world renewed
Through radical concern.

read more

Knock, Knock, Knock

From the Boundless Life collection

“Knock, knock, knock and the door will surely open, *
Seek, seek, seek and the questing heart will find,”
All that only seems to lie outside us
Also dwells within our heart and mind.

read more

Who Is Our Neighbor?

Who is our neighbor? That’s the question:
Who is this person we’re to love?
The one across the street? Or next door?
Or in the apartment up above?

read more

Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Hell

What Does Hebrew Scripture Say about Life After Death? There isn’t much in Hebrew scriptures about life after death. According to Ecclesiastes, death is final: “The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; …

read more

Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Heaven

Hebrew Scripture’s View of Life after Death It wasn’t until after the Babylonian Exile that the Pharisees accepted the idea of heaven and the resurrection of the faithful, but the Sadducees, the Essenes, and the community of …

read more

If you want to be happy (A Reflection on the Beatitudes)

From the Boundless Life collection

If you want to be happy
Let go and trust God
Finding pleasure in sharing wealth.

read more

Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Christian Missions

I think Christian missionaries should live among the people exhibiting their Christianity in their daily lives. If the people see something in their lives that is missing in their own lives they will ask about it, which gives the missionary permission to tell them about their faith.

read more

Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Grace and Salvation

For Christians grace is God’s gift of pardon. According to William Barclay the Greek word for grace was originally a military term. When an emperor came to the throne or celebrated a birthday, he would give his troops a donatirim (donation), which was a free gift that they had not earned; it was given out of the goodness of the emperor’s heart. This idea was picked up by the Christian scripture writers when they wrote about the grace of God. Grace is something that is unearned and undeserved – unmerited pardon.

read more

Beyond the Boxes We Create

From the Boundless Life collection

Beyond the boxes we create,
Beyond each image we can spawn
The process river flows along
To sweep aside the now outworn.

read more

Feast Day of Mary Magdalene

Mary, we did not know you.
Kept hidden for centuries you were despised,
A Queen not seen, under harlot’s disguise.
Mary, we did not know you.

read more

On Prayer and Pentecost

When prayers in Jesus’s name go unanswered, and when unrelenting “knocking on heaven’s door” produces no result – even when bargains are offered (“I’ll stop smoking”) – instead of confronting the possibility that God is not going to intervene, the failure is treated as a “test of faith” that “God has a better plan for me.” But the transformation of human thought is far more powerful than petitions to a discredited god. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, first given by John’s Jesus, descends in tongues of flames on the Christian community gathered in Jerusalem. They are empowered to tell the story of Jesus in every language of the known world. Peter quotes the prophet Joel, that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Paul proclaims, “For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – Jews or Greeks, slaves or free – and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” The imagery of fire represents the outpouring of the presence of sacred being and of creative power. No magic is required.

read more

A Few Thoughts on Prayer

The indication here is that the answer to prayerful request is not the new bike, not health, peace, or justice, not any of the results that we usually pray for. It is, rather, the gift of the Holy Spirit. What is this gift? It is a heightened awareness of who God is, who you are, and who your neighbor is. The answer to prayer, quite simply, is a level of consciousness that is more in tune with God’s ever-abiding love. Inasmuch as prayer leads to this result, prayer is its own answer! As that awareness grows, we will become ever more conscious of God’s presence. God is always for us, in every way we can imagine and those we can’t. Our task is to become ever more aware of this love, and talking to God can assist that process.

read more