King David

From the ‘Sing Young, Sing Joyfully’ collection

King David was a man of fire
Who sang and danced for God.
The raptures of his heart’s desire
Were sacred gifts from God.

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Abraham Had Stirring Dreams

From the ‘Sing Young, Sing Joyfully’ collection

Abraham had stirring dreams
That called for emigration.
Steadfast faith sustained his search
Despite its worst privation.

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Food for Thought: February 2 – The Presentation of the Lord

In the midst of the liturgical progression from Epiphany to Lent, tradition calls the church back to the mundane details of Jesus’ infancy. Luke’s Chapter 2 fills in the story from birth to circumcision to presentation as the first-born son to the coming-of-age of a gifted religious leader anointed by God. In The First Christmas (HarperOne, 2007), Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan suggest that Luke’s purpose was to set up the birth of the Jewish Messiah as a counter to the birth of the Roman Caesar – also hailed as the “Savior, Redeemer, Son of God.” The scene in the temple in Jerusalem confirms the child Jesus as the expected one who would redeem Israel from bondage to imperial injustice and oppression.

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To Our Winters

From the Boundless Life collection

To our winters Jesus brings
Light and warmth and dancing,
Melting frozen lives and hearts,
Freeing and enhancing.

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Magnificat (Worship Download, Spanish)

Basado en el cántico de adoración de María en el primer capítulo del Evangelio de Lucas. El Magníficat transmite la escencia de cómo Dios galardona al humilde, y sacia al hambriento con buenas dádivas.

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Acts and Christian Beginnings: The Acts Seminar Report

Acts was long thought to be a first-century document, and its author Luke to be a disciple of Paul—thus an eyewitness or acquaintance of eyewitnesses to nascent Christianity. Acts was considered history, pure and simple. But the Acts Seminar, a decade-long collaborative project by scholars affiliated with the Westar Institute, concluded that it dates from the second century. That conclusion directly challenges the view of Acts as history and raises a host of new questions, addressed in this final report.

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The First New Testament: Marcion’s Scriptural Canon

The earliest version of the New Testament, now in English for the first time!

History preserves the name of the person responsible for the first New Testament, the circumstances surrounding his work, and even the date he decided to build a textual foundation for his fledgling Christian community. So why do so few people know about him? Jason BeDuhn introduces Marcion, reconstructs his text, and explores his impact on the study of Luke-Acts, the two-source theory, and the Q hypothesis.

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The Holy Nativity of a Human Jesus

On the First Sunday of the Advent season this year – for those Christian faith communities that observe a liturgical calendar — the traditional four weeks of waiting on the tiptoe of expectation only lasted until 1:37 PM that afternoon for our family; when my own daughter gave birth to her first-born child.

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God in the Belly

Full of God, full to birthing,
Mary howls: head back, hair tossed,
Hands skyward with joy
That wrongs are about to be righted,
Salvation’s about to be sighted.

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Admissions and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Jesus’ Followers

The four gospels divide Jesus’ followers into three groups. The Greek word “ochloi” refers to the crowds who gathered when Jesus preached; “Mathetes” refers to the followers who stuck around for more teaching; and “Apostolos” refers to the disciples, those chosen by Jesus as his inner circle.

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Affirmations and Confessions of a Progressive Christian Layman – Mary and Joseph

What does the New Testament tell us about Mary? Mark, the earliest gospel, did not include a birth narrative, so his mentions of Mary are vague and not very flattering. He says Jesus’ family (the family isn’t specified; does he mean Mary and Joseph or Mary and Jesus’ brothers?) attempted to restrain him because people were claiming he was out of his mind (Mark 3:21). If Mary was present, it seems strange that other gospel verses say she was visited by an angel who told her that she would conceive a special child or to whom Luke says shepherds came in wonder to visit her newborn child or to whom Matthew says wise men journeyed to bring gifts to welcome her wondrous child’s birth.

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Feast of the Nativity – Christmas Eve Liturgy

We have developed a liturgy for use on Christmas Eve, drawing upon the inclusive and scriptural images/metaphors of light and wisdom.

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Evolution of the Word:

The New Testament in the Order the Books Were Written

the full-text of the New Testament—and one of the only Bibles organized in chronological order and including explanatory annotations that give readers a more informed understanding of the Scripture

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“Christian” A-theism, Part I

The God I Don't Believe In

When it comes to religion, Atheism is as good as any, since religion is simply about how you put some order in your otherwise chaotic world, and come up with a list of things you believe or disbelieve. The atheist and the theist both want to ask the same basic question: Do you believe in God or not? Often they are not interested in going much deeper than that. The oft-repeated response a famous preacher once gave to a religious skeptic went, “Tell me about the God you don’t believe in. Chances are I don’t believe in that kind of God either.”

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Unalienable Rights, and the Question of a “Christian” Conscience

A Commentary for the Annual Observance of Independence Day, 2013

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

These grand words are etched in the American consciousness, and serve as a preamble of sorts to the Constitution’s subsequent ideal goal of “a more perfect union.” With the recent split Supreme Court decisions over voting rights and marriage equality, along with and passage of an immigration reform bill in the Senate that naysayers declare is DOA in the House of Representatives, it would appear that while progress has been made, we clearly remain a work in progress, as well.

As we prepare to celebrate our Independence Day holiday this year the fireworks have been set off a little early with the debate over the intelligence surveillance practices of the so-called Patriot Act by a government that was established of, by and for the people. Call them heroes or traitors, whistleblowers or hack-tivists, there are also a growing number of anti-authoritarian tech geeks who claim to be motivated less by notoriety than a certain principled conscience to which they claim to have pledged a higher allegiance.

So, what is the nature of “natural” or “divinely-bestowed” rights? What of human conscience, earthly authority, and more? And – for those of us who might consider ourselves both a red-blooded American and Christian of one sort or other — what might constitute a “Christian” conscience, based on a Jesus life-ethic?

You can find the latest commentary Here.

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Realism vs. Man of Steelism

Once upon a time, political conservatives in America were stereotyped as hard-headed realists, and liberals were described as ungrounded dreamers. How times have changed!

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Quote for Easter Reading

“Why look for the living among the dead?” [Luke 24:5] “We live in a post-resurrection age, which in many ways is not unlike that of the first followers of a Galilean peasant sage and martyr, who was …

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Religion and Politics, Then and Now

Paul endorsed the Roman status quo, politically. He made the real issue identification with a descended (divine) savior, spiritually raised and soon to return. The Jerusalem group shared the last point but emphatically not the first two of Jesus’ divinity nor acquiescence to Roman rule. Their expected Messiah (dramatically shifted after his death to a returning one) would establish peace with Jewish centrality and abolish the MILITARY dominance of other kingdoms but not the existence of other nations.

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