Just and Unjust

"He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45). That phrase from Jesus uttered during his Sermon on the Mount has been on my mind of late. I used to hear it a lot when I was growing up on the plains of Nebraska. The routine of our daily lives revolved around weather, and most of the time we seemed to be bouncing from one extreme to another. During particularly stressful moments, my Dad would opine at length on "why the heck didn't his Father who settled on our farm stop his travels westward a couple of hundred miles farther east where the rains are more dependable, the soil is deeper and richer, and the winds of January not qu

The Pain of the Cross

As we move more deeply into Lent, I want to share an experience a friend told me about having when she was in seminary. In one class, a fellow student gave a presentation on what happened to a human body during a Roman crucifixion, drawing upon some medical research that had been done on that topic. As the student spoke, his description was very complete and very graphic. He described what the driving of the nails into the wrists would have done to the muscles and tissue. How the nails driven into the arch of the foot would have flexed the knees. What happens when the body sags and carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and the blood, causing intense cramps to sweep through the muscles, pre

The Practice of Silence

In my most recent sermon, I talked with you about spiritual practices -- those activities that have developed over centuries as ways to grow closer to God. All kinds of experiences can be identified as spiritual practices. For one friend of mine, it's sitting on a stump in his backyard. For another, it's journaling her morning prayers. Yours may be walking, or listening to music. The most commonly known practices are: prayer, fasting, meditation, study, self-examination, fellowship (including worship), rest, solitude, and hospitality. For some time now, the one I've been most drawn to is the practice of silence. We're probably all familiar with Psalm 46:10, in which God says, "Be still, and

Enough Already!

As most people know by now, I am not a doom and gloom guy. My glass is always half full, not half empty. But, I can be worn on the edges and this COLD weather and extended winter has been brutal at times. Yet... what comes after winter? ... Spring. And I am convinced it will be here... sometime. The Ides of March is approaching (bad day for Julius Caesar) and for me, who had two years of Latin in high school; the Ides has always been a date I remember. My personal sense is that spring usually really starts after that day (March 15), so I remain patient... one week to go. The several groundhogs (see my blog of February 2018 where I talked about Punxsutawney Phil and Woodstock Willie) have

The Great Disruptor

In just a few short days, Ash Wednesday will usher in another season of Lent, those 40 days (not including Sundays) prior to Easter Sunday. In the early Church, Lent was a time for catechumens to prepare for their baptism on Easter Sunday. Those who were already baptized observed a time of penitence and preparation in anticipation of Easter Sunday. Lent is meant to reflect Jesus' 40 days in the desert prior to his public ministry. Today, different denominations and faith traditions observe Lent in various ways. Some Christians choose to give up something - chocolate, coffee, and alcohol seem to be favorites - while others choose to add something, like a daily devotional or some other type of

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