A Church Hosts Iftar Dinner, Helps Break the Ramadan Fast

On Wednesday evening the church I serve as pastor (Central Woodward Christian Church) co-hosted an Iftar Dinner with the Turkish American Society ofMichigan. It was our third annual dinner. An Iftar dinner is the meal that breaks the Ramadan fast, which Muslims undertake during the ninth lunar month. Muslims will fast from dawn to sunset. When the sun sets, which was 8:56 in Troy, one can begin eating the meal, though usually you begin by eating a date. For a Muslim this fast covers all food, all drinks (including water), and all intimate activities. I will confess that I did not fast, but I did share in a wonderful meal prepared by our friends from TASM.
While a church hosting such a meal might seem odd, I believe it is an important expression of Jesus’ practice of an open table. In this case we provided the space, TASM provided the meal. Together we shared fellowship, building important relationships. Christians and Muslims, along with Jews, form the Abrahamic faiths. All three tra…

More Thoughts on the Trinity

This Sunday churches around the globe will celebrate Trinity Sunday. Even Disciples of Christ churches may choose to observe the day (we will at my congregation). With that in mind, I wanted to share a little more from an essay I'm working on that is intended to help folks from my tradition consider the value of the doctrine of the Trinity. It's not our way to impose a doctrine, so I will have to be persuasive. So here are few paragraphs from the section exploring the biblical framework of the doctrine. 
While it is understandable that the Hebrew Bible might have few if any explicit trinitarian declarations, one might expect the New Testament to be more forthcoming. However, even here there are no explicit statements of a trinitarian doctrine. The doctrine is a theological construction that attempts to make sense of the biblical witness, especially those texts that affirm the primary relationship between Father and Son. The most explicit statement is the baptismal formu…

Too Many Liberals in the Liberal Arts? - Sightings (Martin Marty)

I am a believer in liberal arts colleges, which are designed to give students a broad education that forms the foundation to life. It's designed to help people learn to think for themselves. They come in all forms, from religious to non-religious. Now, I will confess that I am the graduate of what was a bible college that became a liberal arts college. By bible college, I mean we took a lot of bible! We had a mix of politics on our campus, probably more Republican than Democrat, but I never took a poll. In any case, the point here in Martin Marty's essay is the apparent preponderance of Democrats on the faculty of elite liberal arts campuses. Am I surprised? Not really, especially in light of the recent turn on college education on the part of Republicans. But that's my response.  I invite you to read and consider!

I Saw the Lord! - A Lectionary Reflection for Trinity Sunday (Isaiah 6)

Isaiah 6:1-8 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

6 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2 Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 And one called to another and said:        “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;        the whole earth is full of his glory.”  4 The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” 6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 8 Then I h…

Resist and Persist (Erin Wathen) -- A Review

RESIST AND PERSIST: Faith and the Fight for Equality. By Erin Wathen. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2018. Xii + 171 pages.

On the Saturday following the inauguration of President Trump thousands of women (and male allies) from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C. (as well as many other cities across the land) to give voice to their concerns over the perceived direction of the new administration when it came to issues these women valued. This has led to a record number of women choosing to run for political office. There is a resurgent women’s movement in the land. Where it will lead no one knows, but there is growing chorus of voices that too often is drowned out by male voices that traditionally have dominated public and private discourse. What is true in the broader public, is true for the church.
As I picked up Erin Wathen’s book Resist and Persist,my first thought was the rallying cry that emerged after the Senate majority leader tried to shut down Senator Eli…

The Spirit’s Intercession - A Sermon for Pentecost Sunday (Romans 8)

Romans 8:22-27

Welcome to Pentecost Sunday! It’s time to celebrate the birth of the church and our mission of proclamation and service in the world. Before Jesus ascended from this plane of existence, he promised to send the Spirit to empower the church’s witness to the good news that God’s kingdom is at hand. Just a few days later, Jesus’ followers were hanging out in an upper room in Jerusalem, when a mighty wind of the Spirit blew through the room, inspiring the people to break forth in praise. This small group of disciples began to preach the gospel in languages they had never learned. The crowd that gathered in the square below was amazed. They wanted to know more about Jesus, and so Peter got up and preached. By the end of the sermon, some three thousand people asked to be baptized. This is the story of Pentecost in a nutshell! 
Yesterday morning many of you may have watched the royal wedding. If you did, you got to hear the gospel of Jesus preached. I only caught the end of the s…

Is Barton Stone a Eusebian?

Barton Stone is one of the founding leaders of my denominational tradition. He is known for having a less than orthodox view of the Trinity. In other words, he rejected the concept whole cloth, in part because he found it to be confounding and illogical. How do you have one God in three persons. Not only are the numbers illogical but the idea, in his mind, was not biblical. You won’t find the term Trinity in the Bible. You won’t find an explicit trinitarian formula. So, in the interests of unity and decorum, he rejected the concept that had marked Christian orthodoxy from at least the fourth century.
Stone wasn’t averse to talking about the Trinity and he didn’t make it a test of fellowship, but what he had to say has lead later interpreters to be somewhat confused. Was he an Arian? He definitely believed that the Son was subordinate to the Father (as was also true of the Holy Spirit). He rejected the idea that Christ existed from eternity—only the Father is self-exist…