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I am so happy I got to share this homily with The Riverside Church tonight.  This Christmas Eve homily is adapted from a story shared by friend and colleague Jim Somerville. My friend’s grandfather was a strict Calvinist preacher, a Primitive Baptist for those of you familiar with that tradition–stern, severe and, as my friend always described him, joyless. The gospel he preached was also joyless, uncompromising, and he preached it with… Read More

And Hear the Angels Sing: Love Matthew 1:18–25 We’ve been listening these last few weeks for the singing of angels, waiting in the darkness of Advent for the coming of the light.  We’ve been hearing the prophecies and speaking hope into despair, peace into discord, joy into grief in audacious and counter-cultural ways.  This week, begun today with the Sunday of love, as we try our best to speak love into hatred…we’re… Read More

I thought she was joking when she told me she was a “motivated beginner” but there it was in black and white on the elementary school Christmas Band Concert program: Jingle Bells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Motivated Beginners I’d listened to Jingle Bells, of course, over and over and over (and over)… Read More

How predictable. For one entire calendar year I have visited my orthodontist with a level of commitment that rivals the church attendance of many modern church members. Why? Because I have been flossing my way toward the day when those metal gum-terrorists would be gone, forever, and I would, for the first time in my life, face the world with perfectly straight teeth. That day happened last Friday and, aside from the… Read More

Is the reason I seem to notice theological themes wherever I go just because I am very holy . . . or do you think it is just because I have to write a sermon every week? Not sure the exact reason, but it never fails . . . I can find some theological association in almost everything. Here’s one I noticed the other day.Turns out there is something deeply theological about… Read More

This Advent at Calvary we’ve been worshipping with the theme The Unexpected Season. Through four weeks of Advent we’ve explored Unexpected Paths, Unexpected Prophets, Unexpected People and this Sunday . . . Unexpected Promises. I came up with this theme together with my friend and colleague, Lia Scholl, and to be honest I didn’t know how it would turn out.Turns out this has been a season of unexpected blessing, framed by the… Read More

Calvary is such a goldmine of interesting and talented people . . . I am constantly amazed at the creative ways I am challenged to live my faith with the help of folks in my congregation. One of those folks is Caroline Armijo, who, in addition to having numerous artistic gifts, has this amazing passion to mesh faith and artistic expression. Whenever I am with Caroline, the creative part of me (a… Read More

I noticed a few nights ago while at a holiday party that, once people find out what kind of job I have the first thing they ask is how I am surviving this week. Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, as you know, making regular Christmas Clergy Stress rather intensified (and, in case you’re wondering, no, we do not cancel church for Christmas, the holiday on which we celebrate the birth… Read More

I’ll admit I am not always the most appreciative recipient of my friends’ Christmas letters. I mean, I love hearing about their lives and seeing how much their kids have grown, but it just seems like everyone has the most delightful time writing about their most wonderful year and sending it to all their dearly beloved friends. And I feel that perhaps my life (wonderfully fabulous as it is mind you) just… Read More

At the advice of some of my preacher friends I have been reading a very funny book by Christopher Moore called Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. There have actually been a couple of times that I’ve been reading along and laughed. Out loud. For a long time. One of those parts of the book is when the disciples are waiting out on a boat in the middle of… Read More