Amazed

Pentecost
Acts 2: 1-21

I am a sucker for wonder. I love to see a waxing or waning moon at twilight, when you can just make out its three-dimensionality. I jump at the chance to look through a telescope at Saturn, and admit to the occasional, brief squint at the sun—that massive ball that is, for us, a constant, consistent, continuous explosion of the nuclear fusion of hydrogen into helium. Recently, I experienced a glimpse of the sacred, for me a holy moment, while watching a CGI animation of the Earth’s magnetic field dispersing the lethal solar wind that would otherwise strip off our protective ozone layer. A giant shield surrounding the planet, our magnetic field means we can bike to the bakery for bread, through a gentle breeze, without fear of burning to a crisp; it means that you and I can exist. Read more

Surprised by Beauty

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
2 Samuel 11:1-15
Psalm 145:10-18
Ephesians 3:14-21

For those who attended the EP Summer Gathering earlier this month, the occasion provided the opportunity to spend a few days worshiping together, cultivating friendships, and reflecting on the importance of beauty for the church. Throughout the gathering, especially as I listened to Scott Cairns’ plenary talk on Sacramental Poetics, I found myself giving thanks for the people in my life who continually draw my attention to the beauty all around me. Among the many influences who have taught me about beauty and challenged me to grow in my understanding of what is beautiful and true, it should come as no surprise, are the people I share my life with on a daily basis—my wife and my children. In particular, my youngest son, who is five years old, reminds me regularly what it might look to live in a state of wonder at the beauty of the everyday. Read more

Marvelous Things

Christmas Day

Isaiah 52: 7-10
Psalm 98
Hebrews 1: 1-12
John 1: 1-14

And the Word became flesh and lived among us,
and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,
full of grace and truth.

~ John 1:14

Are you ready? That’s the question I often hear around this time of year when out and about. Of course, I understand what is meant by it, but can’t help thinking to myself, how could you ever be?

Last year, gravitational waves were detected from an event that happened over a billion years ago, long before humans even existed on the Earth. Two black holes, each much heavier than our sun, collided, causing the waves. Before they dramatically merged, these two black holes were orbiting each other 100 times per second.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I can barely wrap my head around that. How could I ever be ready for the birth of the Creator of the Universe as a helpless, wee human infant? I can’t entirely wrap my head around it. I have often wondered what Gabriel thought when told by God to go to Mary with the annunciation message. OMG comes to mind. Read more

Preaching the Terrors (and Wonders)

I Samuel 17:32-49
Psalm 9:9-20
Mark 4:35-41

Barbara Brown Taylor says there comes the “time in every preacher’s life when the queasy-making parts of the Bible can no longer be ignored, when it is time to admit that the Bible is not a book about admirable people or even about a conventionally admirable God. It is instead a book about a sovereign God’s covenant with a chosen people.” The Bible, she claims, “is as full of holy terrors as it is of holy wonders,” and while we’d like “to approach the terrors as stray bullets outside God’s plan,” the fact is that we cannot avoid either the terrors or the wonders without avoiding part of the truth Read more