Hospital Notes #2: Children are much harder to hate

People often ask me if my job is hard. I am a chaplain in a children’s hospital and they presume difficulty. “How can you stomach all that suffering?” — the subtext of their honest question: “Do you like your job?” My answer: “I couldn’t say I like it; but I think it pleases God, andContinue reading “Hospital Notes #2: Children are much harder to hate”

Being Mindful of God Being Mindful of Me

You know that famous story by O’Henry called the Gift of the Magi? On Christmas Eve, Della Young discovers that she has only $1.87 to buy a present for her husband Jim. She visits the nearby shop of a hairdresser who buys Della’s long hair for $20. Della then uses the money to buy aContinue reading “Being Mindful of God Being Mindful of Me”

Making Room for the Promise

Expanding Promises Advent is the season of promises — those that have been fulfilled in Jesus and those He gave us himself. Advent means “arrival.” The word comes to us from the Latin, “Adventus”, which is a translation of the Greek, “Parousia.” The fancy words don’t matter to me as much as their difference. HowContinue reading “Making Room for the Promise”

Getting off the Track to Murder

Where did the church get this idea that we needed to be hard — like we’re some teacher with a ruler ready to rap your knuckles if you get out of line? People are scared of the church because it is too often like all the other institutions that are constantly watching us. We’re alwaysContinue reading “Getting off the Track to Murder”

A Poem from Galatians Chapter 2 on Peter and Paul’s Feast Day

Today is the feast day of Peter and Paul on the Christian Calendar. I was thinking about their dialogue in Galatians 2 (as Paul tells it), and praying about how my own heart and mind has changed, and hasn’t. This Way of Jesus is a daily discipline. May we be so diligent as Peter andContinue reading “A Poem from Galatians Chapter 2 on Peter and Paul’s Feast Day”

Working With Worry

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Jesus (Matthew 6:34) Recently I was talking to a mother in the cardiac intensive care unit and I stumbled across a new insight about worry in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: Don’t forget toContinue reading “Working With Worry”

Fullfill All Righteousness: a meditation on Matthew 3

Jesus changes the direction of all our religious quests. We had convinced ourselves that by our careful observation we could be righteous, but we had only just begun. We hade barely gotten to the beginning when we thought we had arrived at the end. “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism ofContinue reading “Fullfill All Righteousness: a meditation on Matthew 3”

“Is not the knowledge of difference essential to the deepest love?”

George MacDonald dreams about heaven a lot. It seems like a good thing to do, especially for the hopeless times. If those dreams draw you into some separating reverie and not into love of thy neighbor, stop. Don’t have a UFO theology. Don’t just wait to get beamed out of here. Here is where youContinue reading ““Is not the knowledge of difference essential to the deepest love?””

How to Read the Most Brutal Parts of the Old Testament

Getting to Know the Bible (Part 10) I really like the Bible. I am passionate about helping others get into it, too. It’s pretty intimidating to get started so we created an introduction course called Getting to Know the Bible. It’s 10 sessions given every year to whoever is interested. It is one of ourContinue reading “How to Read the Most Brutal Parts of the Old Testament”

What would Paul say to the Church in the Philadelphia Region Today?

At the Getting to Know the Bible event on July 14th, twenty-five of us gathered to have a group project about understanding Paul as he is described in Acts and how he represents himself in his many letters. It was a 90 minute session so it was obviously just scraping the surface. The best partContinue reading “What would Paul say to the Church in the Philadelphia Region Today?”

How do Yoga and Christianity Intersect?

I would liken the technique of yoga to the gold or silver or stone in Paul’s speech, but not in a dismissive way (I don’t think Paul is being dismissive either). I see yoga as an amazing means for personal well-being made by human design and skill. At its best it brings people very near to an understanding of themselves as people who are in God — living and moving and having their beings. But the means of salvation which is Paul’s proclamation, and, according to Paul, God’s command, is that we need to repent — turn around. I think among the plurality of yogis I know, this repentance is turning from trusting the technique that they can control to trusting the living God that gives them the breath that leads their focused movement.

It’s ok to say the Bible is unbelievable

At my weekly Bible Study in the cafeteria of Rowan College of South Jersey, a community college near me, we are studying the Gospel of John.  This week we were reading about when Jesus feeds five thousand people with five loaves and two fishes. (John 6) It’s a pretty incredible story. And by “incredible” IContinue reading “It’s ok to say the Bible is unbelievable”

Bible Verse for When I’m Feeling Down?

Many people turn to the Bible when they don’t know where else to turn. Even my friends who haven’t been to a church meeting in years, or maybe ever, often revere the power of this holy book. That’s one benefit of living in a culturally Christian country. The Bible is everywhere, and that’s not suchContinue reading “Bible Verse for When I’m Feeling Down?”

Jesus Was Really a Stand Up Comedian

I’m not the first to articulate that stand up comedians are some of the most influential people in our culture. They perform the important function of saying what is deemed inappropriate to say. Like the court jester who might be able to speak truth to the king (I’m thinking of the fool in King Lear),Continue reading “Jesus Was Really a Stand Up Comedian”

Epiphany in Not New Words

There’s this amazing moment in the gospels when Jesus comes up out of the water after John baptizes him and heaven is torn open. The veil between this world and another world is lifted. Such a glimpse beyond the ordinary is an epiphany — a strike of lightning pulsing with inspiration, clarity or God.  FromContinue reading “Epiphany in Not New Words”

People are better than ideas

People change people, much more than ideas do. The best way to bridge divides is bringing people who are different from one another together in love. An idea is a powerful tool; but it is limited, I think, to political power. Jesus was most interested in people’s allegiance to him as a person not toContinue reading “People are better than ideas”

A Paean to “A.D. Kingdom and Empire” on Netflix

They Cancelled This Show in 2015 …but I Just Found Out When NBC cancelled A.D. The Bible Continues, I had no idea it was a thing, but now, three years later, I’m heartbroken. Now I have watched all 12 episodes of A.D. Kingdom and Empire (it got renamed for it’s Netflix Release) and I amContinue reading “A Paean to “A.D. Kingdom and Empire” on Netflix”

The Gospel Must Begin with Love

Where does your gospel start? The gospel does not begin with condemnation. It begins with God’s love. Why then do I know so many people who really want me to condemn them and the people they know? I have been accused as a pastor of not enforcing the rules effectively. They tell me I letContinue reading “The Gospel Must Begin with Love”

What is the Bible IMHO

The Bible is the story of God’s people and how God has related to them for thousands of years. It is a testament to the work of God in the world throughout time but especially of the people of Israel and we who are grafted into it. It is written by witnesses of God’s work.Continue reading “What is the Bible IMHO”