eyes

Eyes to See

Third Sunday after Pentecost
Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13
2 Corinthians 5:6-17
Mark 4:26-34

In an era with a six billion dollar election cycle and more than 90% of elections won by the candidate with the most money, these understated stories of anointed shepherd kings and mustard shrub kingdoms make little sense to our calloused senses. The prophet Isaiah warned, and Mark quotes just prior to the telling of these parables, that people would “look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand” (Mark 4:12). 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

Reading the Bible with Trayvon Martin

Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove reflects on the murder of Trayvon Martin and the practice of reading Scripture–and being read by it–in Christian community.

The constant stream of news this week about Trayvon Martin has re-ignited a national conversation about race–a conversation that has been, in my estimation, neither this public nor this intense since the controversy surrounding President Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, during the 2008 presidential campaign. The deep pain at the center of this conversation reveals a wound that we often try to hide, despite the fact that it will not go away. Our history of race-based slavery colors everything in America. President Obama was both honest and revealing, I think, when he said in a press conference last week, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.”

To read the rest click here.

The Goon Priest

Second Sunday after Epiphany
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

1 Samuel 3:1-20
John 1:43-51

I wonder what a rewrite of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad would look like if the setting shifted from punk rock and public relations to church and public witness. What if someone could draw the unforgettable characters in ecclesial matters that Egan does with musicians? (They might have to tone down the bohemian debauchery a little bit). Read more

The Deeper and Richer Life of Gratitude

Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost

Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37

“O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures for ever.”

Gratitude is at the core of our identity as the people of God.  God has created us and continually provides for us.  Even when times get tough in our broken world, when we’re hungry and thirsty and our soul is fainting within us (v. 5), God hears our cries and delivers us.  The Israelite people certainly knew their share of troubles – being slaves in Egypt, wandering in the desert for forty years, going into exile, and so on – but yet the Psalms, their prayerbook that gave shape to their life together was filled with prayers of thanksgiving like today’s reading from Psalm 107 that celebrate the goodness and the provision of God.

And yet, gratitude is one of the most difficult virtues for us to cultivate in the Western world.  Why is this? Above all, we are extraordinarily wealthy; we have the resources and technologies to take care of almost all our needs, and thus it is easy for us to lose sight of God’s provision. Additionally, we are immersed in a sea of advertising every day that fuels our ingratitude by reminding us of all the things that we don’t have, but that we should want.  We also are so far removed from agriculture that we easily lose sight of God’s providing through creation for our most basic need, food.

So what can we, as Westerners, learn about gratitude from the Israelite people of the Old Testament?

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