Assembling in the Spirit

Acts 2:1-21

“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.” Acts 2:1

I was going to title this post “The Summer of Our Discontent.”

For various denominational bodies, late spring and early summer are seasons for gathering “all together in one place.” United Methodists conference together, Episcopalians and Baptists convene, and Presbyterians generally assemble (or assemble generally). Long-time participants in these gatherings and others like them might say, with a cynical wink, that, except for the “all together” part (and the being “in one place” part), these meetings are a real blast—productive, enjoyable, edifying . . . . . . Not.

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rutilio grande

Show Us the Way

Acts 10:44-48
1 John 4:7-10 OR 1 John 5:1-6
John 15:9-17

(The following lectionary reflection was published in bLOGOS three years ago, commenting on the same gospel text. Except for a few minor alterations, it appears as it did then. The photo is of Rutilo Grande.)

On March 12, 1977, Fr. Rutilio Grande, SJ, and two companions were assassinated as they drove toward evening mass through the fields near El Paisnal, El Salvador. Fr. Grande knew where he was going. Read more


Believe It or Not

Acts 8:26-40

1 John 4:7-21

John 15:1-8

Monday evening as I was sitting down to read the lectionary for this Fifth Sunday in Easter, NPR carried a story that has haunted me since.  It was the testimony of a Methodist pastor, Teresa MacBain who found that she could no longer believe in God.  Her reasons were classic—the problem of evil, etc.  For a time she continued in her role as a minister—albeit a faithless one.  The cognitive dissonance eventually led her to “come out” as an atheist at convention of non-believers.  The video of her coming out went viral on the internet and soon enough her congregation found out, in the way of many an internet age breakup, through social media.   Read more


The Patron Saint of the Tongue-Tied

Psalm 118:1-29

Acts 4:1-20

Healing the lame (last week’s text from Acts 3) may lie far beyond our abilities. But is Peter and John’s courageous speech to the authorities any less miraculous for us?

The church’s speech in our pluralistic setting is increasingly muted and indistinct. Read more

Taste and See


Third Sunday of Easter

Acts 3:12-19

Psalm 4

1 John 3:1-7

Luke 24:36b-48

The cover story for the April 16, 2012 issue of Time Magazine was entitled “Rethinking Heaven.”  In the article, the author contrasted the popular conceptions of heaven (as most recently found in the popular book “Heaven is for Real”) with more full bodied accounts of the afterlife as recently put forward by N.T. Wright and others.  Most people within the average congregation think of the afterlife and heaven as a realm filled with disembodied souls all hugging and congratulating each other on their arrival.  This is the place where we walk down streets of gold with our long deceased Aunt Sally and where God sits in a “reaaally big” chair (this according to Colton Burpo, the child author of “Heaven is for Real”). 

This week’s lectionary text from Luke challenges our common conceptions of life after death. Read more