In my younger, decidedly anti-Christian days, I did not like the way Christians asked God for mercy. It reinforced my idea that “the Christian God” was cruel and punishing. After all, if God was a loving and compassionate God, one would not have to beg for mercy. And if God was cruel and punishing but at the same time righteous and just, then human beings were clearly bad and unworthy.
This whole system of thought—shameful people and cruel God—made me want to stay far, far away from Christianity and Christian churches.
I love a good mountaintop experience. It’s a moment when everything changes. Insight flares up in the mind, illuminating the moment, the experience, the problem in a whole new way. You’re never quite the same again.
One such moment for me happened in prayer when I was on a three-day silent retreat.
A father told about the tornado that hit his home in April. Racing to his son's room as it approached, he had just touched his son when suddenly the tornado ripped off the side of their house and pulled his eight-year-old son out into the night. The father and mother held on to their other children and cried out prayers to God.
In my church we've been exploring the idea that God is fully present in each person of the Trinity. Recently our focus has been on the Holy Spirit. On Trinity Sunday, a week after Pentecost, it might be fruitful to consider the implications of this full presence of God in the Spirit.
My church was celebrating a reaffirmation of baptism, and the pastor encouraged us to ask people who were present at our baptism to tell us about it. I called my mom and asked what she remembered. "I don't think you were baptized," she said. "Really?" I responded. "Could you check with Dad? It's kind of important." She did, and they decided that I hadn't been baptized. I was 37.
Jezebel has become a cultural symbol for treachery, seduction,
immorality and idolatry. A Google search for her name brings up four
million hits—more than twice the hits for “Ahab." Why so much focus on
Biblical narrative evokes the emotional depth of human experience and
brings forward core questions about life. In this week’s Old Testament
reading, the widow fully expects to die—and soon, because of a drought
in the land.
When Jesus talks about making wealth our “master,” sometimes he is
speaking to the peasants who may not have bread to eat, and at other
times he is speaking to the collaborators with the Roman Empire who are
able to accumulate wealth for themselves. Somehow he addresses both
groups simultaneously and leads them all toward the justice and peace
of the kingdom of God.
Biblical language about God often reflects the patriarchal cultures
in which that language was crafted, but every once in a while we get a
glimpse of a God who transcends male identity. In Isaiah, God comforts
us like a nursing mother comforts her child. Jesus said that he wished
to gather up the people of Jerusalem like a mother hen gathers up her
A pastor was having a difficult time reading the book of Acts because
she kept thinking about the imperial context in which it is set. How is
her/our understanding of the story changed if we keep in mind that
Jerusalem falls well within the bounds of the Roman Empire?
After Jesus has been taken up in a cloud , the “men in white” convey a
message of hope to the disciples: this Cloud Rider will return in the
same way they saw him go. The cloud that carried Jesus away was the
power and presence of God, the Ancient of Days. It is a powerful
metaphor for God, and reminds us of other metaphors, and other