Category: theology

Permission for Holy Rest

It’s odd that we so often need to hear permission for what we so desperately need. Rest is one such hellish need. Sometimes rest seems far too much like a luxury. It’s afforded to those of us who finish our to-do lists or who have salaries that cover expenses every month. Even when we have very little to do, our…

Those We Meet on the Road

Roads are thin spaces. I often romanticize thin spaces — their defiance of clear boundaries and their endless possibilities. They represent a reality of spiritual realms that are often rationalised in our pulpits and pews. And I love them for it. The world can drain for us even the desire to believe in what can’t be understood, and thin spaces…

When the Powers are Wrong

This week’s pericope is one that has troubled Christians for millennia. Jesus utters horrifying words like “no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” For those of us raised in conservative traditions, flashbacks of discipleship Sundays, altar calls, and long sermons about unwavering loyalty to the King of Kings…

When Healing Make Life Complicated

When I skimmed this week’s gospel reading from the lectionary, I rolled my eyes a little bit (my mother would be so pleased, quite possibly declaring I was looking for my brains). Jesus heals the man at the pool. Lovely. It was an optional reading, but avoiding difficult texts is a sure-fire way for any clergy person to dive headlong…

A Mothering Jesus

This week’s pericope was a long one — John 21:1-19. The disciples are fishing all night long, Jesus waits for them on the beach, there’s a miraculous catch of fish, breakfast, and suddenly we stop talking about the fish and start talking about sheep instead. I needed to whittle down the text to a perspective often glossed over — a…

Photo of the front of an old church, front wall blown out, and view of a meadow at sunset. Text reads: "And with God-the-Father absent...or somehow remaining invisible ..., God-the-Mother must bear witness.", Erin Thomas

Women of the Crucifixion: The Sound of God

I’ve done it since I was young. Focus on the absence of God, I mean. Not that any one group has any precise, theological understanding of exactly what happened the day Jesus was crucified. No one was actually there — in Palestine or in heaven. If that’s where God-the-Father resides. Which I’ve come to have dubious suspicions about. We’ve fought…

Black & white photo of a bench on a grassy hill overlooking the ocean; a ghostly figure dressed in a hoodie & sneakers sits on the bench; text reads: "Luke 15:11-32, The Parable of the Absent Mother, 'Sometimes absence is my choice, and sometimes it's a choice forced upon me so that I walk upon the earth as a ghost."

The Parable of the Absent Mother

I had the chance to participate in a pulpit swap this past Sunday. My Lutheran congregation occasionally trades pastors for a morning with the local Anglican church a few blocks north of us. It was a great chance to discover different liturgical perspectives as well as meet new folks. The pericope, however, was the prodigal son — familiar to the…

Green figs in a decorative white bowl and plate spilling onto a wooden table; one fig is cracked open to reveal red fruit inside. Text reads: "Jesus & the fig tree: when manure stands in the gap between us and judgment, Luke 13:1-9"

Judgment, Jesus,Figs, & Poop

Preaching on passages known for judgment during their integrative history is difficult. For some reason, we are overly attached to this notion of God as axe-wielder, ready to chop down the useless and pointless with divine gardening wrath. We want God to get rid of all that doesn’t measure up. Having said that, trying to preach a gospel of grace…

Ashes and pieces of old vintage photographs strewn across the ground. Text reads: "Reluctant Mysticism: Ash Wednesday 2019, www.reluctantmysticism.com

Ash Wednesday: Embracing Healing for Lent

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday — the day in the Christian liturgical calendar that marks the beginning of Lent. The day we remember our mortality — we are dust, and to dust we shall return. The day we confess repentance and our need for God’s forgiveness. The text for the day was from Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 — Jesus criticising the religious…

Skyward shot of two doves flying through the air. Text reads: "Learning from John the Baptist and Martin Luther King Jr. -- A Call to Repentance, Rediscovering our new life in baptism

A Call to Repentance

John’s baptism is tricky to preach on. On the one hand, he’s a fiery preacher who makes stark the need for transformation in a dark world. On the other hand, he sounds awfully judgmental and ‘works-based’ (especially in Lutheran contexts). Well, if we can contextualise John’s actions and practices to his own time and place without overlaying our own fears…